Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fwd: ML Update Vol. 13, #27, 29 June - 05 July 2010

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 13, No. 27, 29 JUNE– 05 JULY 2010

'Free Prices' and 'Chain the People': Latest Motto of UPA-II


he UPA government has once again announced a major hike in the prices of petrol, diesel, cooking gas and kerosene oil. This is the third time since February that fuel prices have been raised. While the magnitude of the hike itself is quite major, what is even more significant is that the hike has come as part of a new policy of 'freeing of prices'.

The whole country has been crying for a check on prices and the government too is shedding crocodile tears on the issue of soaring prices, but the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has accepted the recommendations of the Kirit Parikh panel to decontrol the prices of petro-products. The panel had recommended 'freeing' of petrol and diesel prices and hikes of Rs. 100 per LPG cylinder and Rs. 6 per litre of kerosene. The EGoM has freed petrol prices, and announced its readiness to free diesel prices in a phased manner, while agreeing to hikes of Rs. 35 per LPG cylinder and Rs. 3 per litre of kerosene oil.

Henceforth prices of petrol and diesel will vary according to international market fluctuations, and the EGoM says the government will intervene only if there is an exceptional surge in prices. In other words, we will now have a steady, continual rise in petrol and diesel prices. This decision to free petrol and diesel prices will also pave the way for large-scale entry of private players in the business of oil retailing. Till now, public sector companies used to have an almost exclusive control on the oil market, but now that state-run oil marketing companies will no longer have any price advantage, private players can also be expected to enter the oil retailing business in a big way.

The Finance Minister and his chief economic adviser Kaushik Basu both agree that the hikes will have an immediate inflationary impact. They argue that core inflation would rise by about 0.9% - but what about the cascading effect of fuel price hike? Mr. Basu also argues that in six months, the freeing of prices will have a dampening effect on prices. How on earth will this happen? In six months we will most likely see a few more hikes in petrol and diesel prices, making for a relentless upward push in overall prices.

In fact, what Messrs. Pranab Mukherjee, Kaushik Basu and Kirit Parikh all have in mind is that the government will have to deal with a lower deficit even as consumers will directly have to face the burden of enhanced prices. But in the real world of acute income disparities, the poorer the consumer, the heavier will be the burden. Mr. Parikh would like us to believe that "Incomes of rural people have increased since the kerosene price was last revised in 2002" and as a result even at enhanced rate poor consumers will be paying a lesser share for kerosene oil! This is downright mockery. While the multiple car-owning rich may not feel the effect of 'freed' petrol prices, the 77% people living on a daily budget of less than Rs. 20 cannot afford higher prices for kerosene oil or diesel, which is the most important input for irrigation.

Mr. Parikh says he has been taken by pleasant surprise to see the government accept his recommendations so quickly. He congratulates the government for choosing the most 'opportune moment'! For the government, the most opportune moment depends on electoral calculations. Over the next few months, only Bihar is scheduled to go to polls where the Congress does not have much stake. Next in line are states like West Bengal and Kerala where the CPI(M) is in power and the anger of the electorate is all set to be directed against the CPI(M)-led Left. So, the Congress may well find the present juncture most 'opportune' for all its disastrous policy experiments.

It is now for the people to prove these calculations wrong. The July 7 rural strike called by AIALA and supported by All-India Kisan Mahasabha, AICCTU, AISA and AIPWA gives us a great opportunity to vent the rural poor's anger against price rise, especially the hike in the prices of kerosene oil and diesel. Apart from demanding a roll back of the hikes, we must mount pressure on the government for adequate direct subsidies – for subsidized supply of at least 5 litres of kerosene oil per family per month and for effective diesel subsidy for peasants and tenants/share-croppers.

Call to Intensify People's Struggles against Price Rise, Corporate Loot and Assault on Democracy

(statement issued to the press in Pune on 26 June by CPI(ML) leaders Comrades Dipankar Bhattacharya and Swapan Mukherjee and LNP(L) leaders Comrades B Kerkar and Mukta Manohar)


Leaders of CPI(ML) (Liberation) and Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) met in Pune on 25 June to discuss ways to intensify people's struggles on issues of national importance and mass concern. CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya and AICCTU General Secretary Swapan Mukherjee had a daylong discussion on June 25 with members of the LNP(L) state secretariat. The two organizations have decided to unitedly resist the anti-people policies of the UPA government and fight for the rights of the working people.

The two organizations condemned the UPA government's decision to increase the prices of petrol, diesel, cooking gas and kerosene oil. Instead of taking steps to check prices, the government is continually adding fuel to the inflationary fire. The working people and especially the rural poor are the worst victims of the inflationary price spiral, but the government is doing nothing to fulfill its poll promise to enact food security legislation.

The two organizations want the government to amend the existing BPL criteria and ensure automatic inclusion of all agricultural and other rural labourers, small and marginal peasants and unorganized and contract workers in the BPL population. The food security legislation must ensure a monthly supply of at least 50 kgs of subsidised foodgrains and 5 litres of Kerosene oil for all BPL families. The CPI(ML) and LNP(L) have also called for doubling of MNREGA provisions to guarantee at least 200 days of assured employment every year at daily minimum wages of Rs. 200. The all-India coordination of Left forces will also fight for implementation of the recommendations made by the land reform panel set up by the Rural Development ministry of the previous UPA government.

The CPI(ML) and LNP(L) leaders have also rejected the UPA government's new Bhopal package as a belated eyewash. The so-called enhanced compensations have been announced on the basis of ridiculously low figures of the dead and the injured and the government is still protecting Dow Chemicals on the crucial issue of its liability on the issue of clean-up of the contaminated Bhopal site. In this context, the two organizations have appealed to all justice-loving people to reject the nuclear liability bill and resist the proposed nuclear power plant in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra.

The two organizations have described the ongoing Operation Green Hunt as an assault on democracy, much on the same lines as the infamous Emergency clamped down by Indira Gandhi 35 years ago. While democratic forces reject the Maoists' line of action, the government has made it a policy to invoke the bogey of Maoism so as justify brutal state repression on every popular struggle and every voice of dissent. The CPI(ML) and LNP(L) have therefore appealed to all democracy- and justice-loving citizens to rise against this UPA policy of witch hunt and defend democracy in every sphere.

Stop Killing Kashmir's Youth

Withdraw Troops from Kashmir & Scrap AFSPA

The Prime Minister on his recent visit to Kashmir had declared that human rights violations would not be tolerated. As if in mockery of that assurance, the CRPF and security forces in Kashmir have since gone on a killing spree – with fake encounters coming to light and a series of police firings claiming the lives of Kashmiri civilians. The overwhelming majority of lives lost are those of young people, including teenagers and minors, and the latest to succumb to injuries in police firing include a 9 year-old child. In the past fortnight, eight have been killed in firing or tear-gas shelling by CRPF on civilians protesting against fake encounters and firing. Three of the victims have been killed in the past two days.

The UPA Government headed by Omar Abdullah in Kashmir and blessed by the Centre, has presided over ever-intensifying repression in the Valley. Lip service towards 'zero tolerance for human rights violations' and 'human face for AFSPA' will not do – the UPA Government at the Centre must immediately put a stop to the repression, withdraw troops from the Valley and scrap AFSPA.

Prabhat Kumar,

For Central Committee, CPI(ML) Liberation


Nationwide Protest against Price Rise & Continuing (Undeclared) Emergency

Uttar Pradesh: Price hike of petroleum and LPG was condemned and protested throughout the State by CPI(ML). In Lucknow a dharna was organised at Shaheed Smarak and Manmohan Singh's effigy was burnt. State Secretary Com. Sudhakar Yadav led the protest march against price rise and loot and repression at Pilibhit. A two-day Nyaya (justice) Mahadharna consisting of 500 people was held at Gazipur District Headquarters on 25-26 June. It was led by Com. Ishwari Prasad Kushwaha and Rampyare Ram, both State Standing Committee members. In Mirzapur, hundreds of CPI(ML) members gheraoed and held demonstration at Dist. Collectorate on 25 June. Same day demonstration was also held in Ballia. Many party cadres were injured in police lathicharged at Robertsganj on 26 June while they were holding a protest demonstration. Two cadres have been arrested and jailed. Party has strongly condemned these actions. A large number of Party members marched at Sitapur led by Comrades Krishna Adhikari and Arjunlal.

Apart from these places, marches, demonstrations and meetings were also held in protest at Allahabad, Varanasi, Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Deoria, Azamgarh, Mau, Chandauli, Lakhimpur Khiri, Jalaun, Ambedkar Nagar and many other places in the State. Demand letter was also sent to the Governor demanding for immediate roll-back of the price hike and withdrawal of all false cases against CPI(ML) activists.

Karbi Anglong: CPI(ML), AISA, Karbi Students' Union, AIPWA, KLCA, KANKIS and KNKA – had called for 12 hour Karbi bandh against petroleum and LPG price hike which was significantly successful despite Youth Congress cadres threatening the people against the bandh and trying to force the business establishments to open. The people supported the bandh which was evident from complete shutdown except the emergency services like hospitals and examinations that were kept out of purview of bandh. Local markets, Govt. offices, businesses, transport, everything was closed and no administrative work took place.

Kolkata: Remembering the notorious Emergency day, 26th June, a joint protest march by some of the prime mass organizations of West Bengal, AISA, RYA, AICCTU, AIPWA and Gana Sanskriti Porisad demanded real justice for the thousands of Bhopal Gas Disaster victims. Protestors raised their voice against the shameful verdict and demanded that Warren Anderson be extradited and Dow Chemicals made to pay for cleaning up the polluted sites and for medical care of the victims. They also demanded scrapping of the Civil Nuclear Liability Bill to ensure that the tragedy of Bhopal and its shameful consequences are never repeated on Indian soil. Marchers also raised their voice against the recent oil price rise, deregulation of petrol prise and ongoing state atrocity in Lalgarh. The march started from College Square, Kolkata, and after the march a mass meeting was held at Esplanade Metro channel. Malay Tewary of AISA, Souvik Ghoshal of RYA, Indrani Dutta of AIPWA, Basudev Bose of AICCTU addressed the gathering. Members of Ganasanskriti Porisad sang songs. Amit Das Gupta presided over the meeting.

Protests were also held in Bihar, Jharkhand, Delhi, Tamil Nadu and many other states.

AIPWA Protests Price Rise

The All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) called for nation-wide protests on 29 June against the latest steep hike in prices of petrol, diesel, kerosene and cooking gas and deregulation of fuel prices.

In a statement issued today, AIPWA said, "India already has the shameful notoriety of having more than half of its women anaemic and suffering from malnutrition, while nearly half of its children suffer from malnutrition and India alone accounts for 21% of the deaths of children under the age of five around the globe. Hikes in fuel and cooking gas and deregulation of fuel prices inevitably leads to hikes in food and essential commodities – and can only make women and children even more vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition."

Protests demonstrations and burning of effigies were held under the banner of AIPWA on and around 29 June at district headquarters in several States including Bihar, UP, Andhra Pradesh, W Bengal, Tamilnadu and Assam.

AICCTU Fact-Finding Team Investigates Death of Worker in Chhattisgarh Factory

A fact-finding team of AICCTU visited Siltara-tada in Raipur district to investigate the death of a contract workers Patiram Yadav in the Godavari Steel and Power Ltd and subsequent protest by villagers. The team met villagers, workers and members of the victim's family. The team comprised Comrades Brijendra Tiwari, Ashok Miri, Narayan Banjare and Kanhaiyya Sahu.

The team was told that on 21 June at around 12 noon, the worker Patiram Yadav was sweeping the street inside the factory. A backing truck collided with him and he was killed. Villagers were informed of his death at 5 in the evening. They approached the factory management to discuss compensation but the officials gave no assurance and denied the need for any compensation. Villagers protested, and police arrested 9 of them – of whom two were Std. IX students and two were workers employed in the factory itself. On 22 June, after post mortem was conducted, the body of the dead worker was brought to Tada village and workers protested with the body at the gates of the factory. Only after this did the company give a cheque for Rs 4 lakh and Rs 50000 in cash to the victim's family. The management also assured that a child of the worker would be given a job in the factory and the worker's wife a monthly pension of Rs 5000. They also assured that they would secure the release of the arrested workers immediately and would not pursue any criminal charges against other workers.

The team feels that violation of security regulations led to the death of the worker. There was no cleaner when the truck was being backed. The factory management's highhandedness led to the protest by villagers. Labour laws and security regulations are being blatantly flouted inside the factory. Villagers are also infuriated by the attitude of the police – which turns a blind eye to illegalities by the factory management while targeting workers.

The team demanded Rs 10 lakh compensation for the family of the worker who was killed and implementation of the management's assurances; withdrawal of false cases against the villagers and release of those arrested; strict implementation of labour laws and security regulations; jobs for local people; strict curbs on pollution and prosecution of company officials under Section 304 (culpable homicide) for the worker's death.

Subsequently, an organisation of industrialists met the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh regarding this incident, and the police arrested three more people, including CPI(ML) leader Kanhaiyya Sahu who was among those who led the demonstration at the factory gate with the workers' body. Under pressure of that demonstration, the factory management had then agreed to meet some demands like a job and monthly pension for the victim's survivors – but since then they have backtracked from these assurances. Villagers are angry at this betrayal of the assurances and are determined to continue the struggle.

Call for Furthering Baba Nagarjun's Heritage

Jasam's 3rd Bihar State Conference

3rd Bihar State Conference of Jan Sanskriti Manch (Jasam) – 'dedicated to creation and struggle against the culture of loot and lies' – was successfully held at Samastipur on 25 June. On 26 June the Conference' delegates and guests proceeded to people's poet Nagarjun's village Vitrauni via Darbhanga. A seminar titled 'People's Movement and Poetry' was held at Darbhanga and street plays based on Nagarjun's poetries were performed at Tarauni as part of his birth-centenary celebrations.

Inaugurating the Conference, Jasam's General Secretary Pranay Krishna called for associating ever more cultural activists in preparation of a bigger movement of the peasants and workers against the rulers' culture of loot, lies and repression. He said of Baba Nagarjun's conviction about fundamental transformation not possible without the fundamental class of people and that he showed in his poetries about oppressed workers, about revolutionaries being sent behind bars or being killed in encounters. He said that Nagarjun will be the poet of the new nation true to the aspirations of the toiling masses and working classes. He emphasized the urgency of linking cultural work with ideology and also making it into a political activity, and here we have to learn a lot from Nagarjun.

Jasam's Vice President Ramji Rai hailed Nagarjun as the ruthless critic of Indian democracy whose basic character has been feudal, communal and casteist and which seeks blessings from imperialism. He always opposed the autocracy thrust on people in the name of democracy. For him the role of poetry was in creating a wave of revolution in India. He got involved in peasant movement along with Rahul Sankrityayan and Sahajanad Saraswati. Nagarjun always struggled against the forces that are preventing land reforms today in Bihar. Nagarjun never casually associated with a movement, but with his ideas and conscience.

The Conference was also addressed by Jasam's UP President Prof. Rajendra Kumar, Prof. Vipin Bihari of Progressive Writers' Association (Prales), Shankar Yadav of Democratic Writers' Association (Jales) and critic Ramnihal Gunjan among others. Pranay Krishna also released the first issue of Jasam's Bihar organ Samkalin Chunauti at the inaugural session. This issue is focused on Baba Nagarjun. Well known intellectuals like Namwar Singh, Manager Panday, Vishwanath Tripathi, Kedarnath Singh and Manglesh Dabral have written for the introductory issue. Also released was Kasim Baba's book 'Khusbuon ka Safar'. The inaugural session was conducted by Santosh Jha.

The organisational session specially underlined the possibilities of Jasam's expansion in northern Bihar. 41 member State Council and 15 member State Executive was elected this time. Story writer Suresh Kantak, Dr. Vindheswari, poet Jitendra Kumar, Pramod Yadav, theatre activist Deepak Sinha, Kalyan Bharti and Surendra Prasad Suman were elected State Vice Presidents. The State Executive re-elected Santosh Jha as State Secretary and Ramnihal Gunjan as State President.

Workers' Held Their Ground in Delhi

Ploys to Finish-off the Struggle is Defeated

As reported in the last issue (ML Update, Num.26) workers were continuing their dharna and strike in W.C. Steel Factory in Wazirpur Industrial Area against non-payment of minimum wages and ensuring their basic mandated rights. Perceiving the unrelenting mood of the workers, on 27th June goons were brought in service to attack the workers, chase them away, open the Factory gates and bring in outside workers. However, this (most tried ploy of the factory owners) failed and instead backfired when the workers instead of being feeling threatened got incensed and beat up and chased away the goons. The workers had told the goons not to try to break their strike and do the things they were going to do. The goons being goons took the workers for granted.

Then came the Local BJP Councillor, who is himself a local muscleman. He also tried to end the workers' struggle in favour of the owner. Later police came to arrest union leaders for attacking the goondas and workers entered into an argument with the police who were clearly siding not only with the Owner but also the goons who came to attack the workers. Next day a huge procession was taken out in the industrial area that also included student leaders and students from All India Students' Association (AISA). The procession then proceeded to DCP office and formed a gherao demanding for action even against Factory Owners' Association for their anti-worker stance. DCP was told that the administration is protecting not only the owners but also the goons. This mass action by workers put some pressure on the police who began looking for avenues for talks. The same procession then reached labour commissioner office and gheraoed his office too. He was told that if administration is bent on giving protection to the Owners who are violating all labour laws, instead of protecting the workers basic rights– then workers will intensify their agitation.

The militant mood of the workers who marched through the entire industrial area attracting immediate attention of thousands of workers facing similar exploitation, and gheraoed DCP and Labour Commissioner in quick succession helped to publicise the stark injustice thus creating pressure on all quarters of administration. The Owner's lawer came instead for talks in presence of Labour Inspector, Police officers and workers' leaders Comrades Mathura Paswan, Munna Yadav and RP Singh – where an agreement was made for implementing the minimum wages. Also, in their presence workers entries were registered and legalised plus their attendance was registered.

The Wazirpur Induatrial Area has seen something new- workers' victory in the face of challenge from Owners' Association, goons, bourgeois politicians of BJP etc. and police. The workers of the entire Wazirpur Industrial area are upbeat and it will definitely raise their consciousness for resolute unity and solidarity in similar or worse situations. It is noteworthy that workers of other factories have supported the protracted struggle with funds etc. Still three workers including two leaders have not been taken. However, it is no small victory.


Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail:, website:

Friday, June 25, 2010

ML Update 26 / 2010

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  13               No. 26                                                                                                                     22 - 28 JUNE 2010

35th Anniversary of Emergency:

Down With the Undeclared Emergencies

June 26, 2010 will mark the 35th anniversary of the imposition of the infamous Emergency. Formally speaking, there has been no second imposition of Emergency since 1975. The Congress party that had imposed Emergency in 1975 suffered its first defeat at the Centre in 1977, in the first post-Emergency election. On the face of it, it may therefore appear that the ruling classes and their parties have drawn their lessons and we can look back at the 1975 Emergency as an aberration. But a closer look at the state of our democracy clearly reveals that 1975 was no aberration but a trend-setter. Indian democracy is now permanently embellished with several undeclared mini emergencies.

In states like Jammu and Kashmir and several North-Eastern states, the armed forces enjoy special powers which grant them not only the 'right' to shoot and kill (and also rape) but also impunity. During his recent visit to Kashmir, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh waxed eloquent about human rights and said human rights violations by armed forces would not be tolerated. But independent observers and even official reports record any number of fake encounters, custodial killings and mass rapes over the last two decades of virtual army rule in the valley. The J&K state police, for example, report 52 rape cases by armed forces between November 2002 and January 2009. From time to time the Government of India talks of improvement in the situation in the valley, but withdrawal of armed forces and scrapping of the AFSPA remains an absolute no-no.

Where there is no AFSPA, there is UAPA and Operation Green Hunt. The other day the whole country was treated to a most shocking glimpse of Operation Green Hunt from Lalgarh in West Bengal. Central paramilitary and state police forces are jointly spearheading a combing operation in the area for last one year. The other day, as the operation approached its first anniversary we were told that the joint forces have had a major success in a close encounter with a Maoist squad and 8 dead bodies and lots of weapon and one injured Maoist had been captured from the site. The identity of the killed Maoists was never revealed, the captured weapons were never displayed, but we had a shocking televised display of how the dead are treated by our security forces.

Security forces were seen carrying the body of a young woman exactly the way the carcass of a wild animal displayed as a 'trophy' of a hunt would have been carried – trussed up on a bamboo. How better could we possibly expect the Indian state to treat the 'preys' of Green Hunt! The oppressed poor are denied their right to human dignity even in their death. The same security forces presented a mute and mentally challenged young man named Rameshwar Murmu as a hardcore Maoist "too stunned to speak". The reality of Operation Green Hunt as a war on the oppressed poor could not perhaps have been revealed more graphically than what we saw in the "anniversary victory" footage of the combing operation from Lalgarh.

Even in the rest of the country where there is no 'insurgency-like situation', the state is no less repressive while dealing with popular protests and struggles. In rural areas where the poor are asking for land and food, or jobs and wages, or the peasants are demanding seeds, water and power – the state routinely showers lathis or even bullets and imprisons people in false cases. Every struggle of workers is facing victimization by employers, with the administration and judiciary often siding with the employers to crush the genuine grievances and demands of the workers. The scene is similar in most of our university campuses where students are being systematically denied their democratic rights to organize and struggle against injustice. And the Union Home Minister loses no opportunity to target human rights organizations and dissenting intellectuals.

When the footfalls of Emergency get louder, it is surely time for the people to heighten their vigilance and intensify the resistance. Let us insist on the scrapping of all draconian laws and bringing all perpetrators of crimes against the people and democracy to justice.

GoM Recommendations Seek to 'Settle' Bhopal with Rs. 1500 crore of 'Enhanced' Compensation

Faced with a massive public and media outrage over the ridiculously light June 7 verdict of a Bhopal trial court, the UPA government had appointed a dubious Group of Ministers to review the issue and suggest remedial measures. The GoM has come up with recommendations including enhanced compensation for the Bhopal victims; pursuance of extradition of Anderson; a curative petition against the Supreme Court's 1997 order that diluted charges against UCC and UCIL from 'culpable homicide' to 'negligence'; and funds and proposals towards clean-up of the contaminated site. In a nutshell, the GoM's brief and intent seem to be to exonerate Rajiv Gandhi and the Congress leadership from charges of colluding with the US in saving Anderson and the UCC and hushing up the debate by announcing enhanced compensations. In other words, while bailing out the Congress rulers and corporate criminals, the GoM taxes the Indian people to bear the cost of compensation and clean-up.

But even on this score, the GoM uses the dubious figures used in the infamous 1989 sellout brokered by the Supreme court. For example, the GoM puts the number of the dead at 5,300 as against the actual figure of 22,146. Likewise, the figures for the permanently and temporarily injured are also gross underestimations.

And the biggest betrayal is once again on the issue of Dow's liability. While the State Government of MP and the Centre will now argue about who foots the bill and bears the responsibility for clean up of the site, and Indian taxpayers will pay for compensation, there is virtual silence on Dow. The recommendations include no proactive measures to push Dow to pay for compensation and clean up or penalise it for not doing so. Rather, the attempt is to tacitly 'settle' the Bhopal issue without bringing Dow to book. It is significant that Chairman and CEO of Dow Chemicals Andrew Liveris will not attend the Indo-US CEO Business Forum meeting scheduled to be held in Washington on June 22 even as a high-level Indian delegation led by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee alongwith Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia and prominent corporate leaders from India will be attending the meeting.

The GoM recommendations are also silent on the prevention of future Bhopals: they ignore the protection offered to future corporate offenders by the Nuclear Liability bill.    

If justice is to be served, what we need and must demand is an independent and time-bound probe to fix culpability for the escape of Warren Anderson, and for subsequent attempts to absolve Dow Chemicals of responsibility. Dow must be made to pay for cleaning up the polluted sites and for medical care of the victims and must be blacklisted forthwith, the Nuclear Liability Bill must be scrapped, and Bhopal victims must be guaranteed not only comprehensive compensation and clean up, but also justice. Only these measures can ensure that the tragedy of Bhopal and its shameful consequences are never repeated on Indian soil!       

RSS Goons Attack CPI(ML) Leader in Kalahandi –

Police Station Gheraoed in Protest

In protest against the brutal attack by RSS, BJP and BJD goons on Orissa state committee member Com Nilanjan Bhattacharya and demolition of tribal and dalit Christian houses in Ulladani village panchayat of Rampur block in Kalahandi district, nearly 500 activists of CPI(ML) gheraoed Kalahandi police station on 19 June.  The CPI(ML) has been fighting for last four years for land and housing rights of local tribal and dalit Christian people. The local RSS unit however has been trying its level best to stop these people from getting their land rights so that communists did not get any foothold in that area. Yet defying RSS pressure, the land rights campaign succeeded in securing patta for some people. The RSS-BJP-BJD goons then forcibly demolished the huts set up by the CPI(ML) supporters on 9 June. When on the next day, Comrade Nilanjan went to investigate the case, the RSS-BJP-BJD goons assaulted and abducted him. Following intervention by the State Committee and a visit to the area by State secretary Comrade Khitish Biswal on 11 June, Comrade Nilanjan was eventually released. On 19 June nearly 500 people led by Comrades Nilanjan Bhattacharaya, Mahendra Parida,Arjun Majhi, Sanjay Naik, Balaram Hota and Joseph gheraoed the Kalahandi police station and asked the SP to take immediate action against the RSS-BJP goons. It may be noted that the area borders the Kandhamal region where the RSS-BJP had repeatedly unleashed anti-Christian communal violence in recent past.

CPI(ML) Team Visits Anti-Posco Struggle Area

A CPI(ML) team of leaders from Odisha comprising State Secretary Comrade Khitish Biswal, State Committee member Comrade Yudhisthir Mahapatra and AICCTU leader Comrade Mahendra Parida visited the anti-Posco struggle area on 7 June 2010 and talked to several activists and local people involved in the anti-Posco people's struggle. Five years ago, Posco had signed an MoU with the Odisha government for setting up a steel plant in Jagatsinghpur. Billed as the biggest ever FDI project in India (involving an investment of $12 bn or Rs. 52,000 crore), the project has invited tremendous mass opposition ever since the MoU was signed five years ago. The project involves more than 4,000 acres of land including 3,000 acres of forest land and a proposed port at Jatadhari near the Bay of Bengal which clashes with the jurisdiction of the Paradip port.

While the local people have successfully resisted the Posco project for so long, official pressure for the beginning of the project has intensified in recent months. CPI leader Abhay Sahoo had a leading role in the movement, but during the last Lok Sabha elections the CPI entered into a seat-sharing alliance with the ruling BJD and won from Jagatsinghpur (the constituency that covers the proposed Posco project area) with BJD support. And then this year, the South Korean President was the guest of honour for the Republic Day parade and he threw all his official weight behind the project. In a clever move to divide the anti-Posco movement, Naveen Patnaik has requested Posco to relinquish its claim on the 300 acres of privately owned land leading to speculation that the government would like to facilitate a deal by separating the state land from privately owned land. In their discussion with movement activists, the CPI(ML) leaders cautioned against the government's ploy and reiterated the party's unflinching support for the land and livelihood issues of the people over the entire 4,000 acres of land and against any attempt to reduce the movement to the question of defending only the 300 acres of privately-owned land. Unfortunately, during the Rajya Sabha election the CPI had a discussion with the BJD under which the movement leaders have been persuaded to allow Posco officials to enter the area in the name of carrying out land survey.

Movement for Protection of the Roofless

Shri Aurobindo Ashram in Puducherry is getting ready to celebrate the centenary of Shri Aurobindo's arrival in the Union Territory. Shri Aurobindo, a great freedom fighter and poet and philosopher who had inspired many young Indian patriots in the battle for national liberation from the clutches of British colonialism, had reached this French Protectorate to evade the dragnets of British Rule.

Today, Shri Aurobindo Ashram has about 1400 inmates from different countries, living in about 500 spacious bungalows spread over 1000 acres. The Ashram also has about 2000 acres of vacant lands and around 1000 acres of Garden Estates Land for agriculture, horticulture and dairy farming. The Ashram Trust that was formed on the basis of the cardinal principle of "liberty, equality and fraternity" now presides over different kinds of businesses and commercial and industrial activities employing hundreds of workers and a large number of domestic helps, men as well as women, who are all being paid meagre wages, contrary to the founding principles of the Ashram and minimum wages and other relevant labour and social legislations of the country.

On the eve of the Centenary celebrations in Puducherry, the Movement for Protection of the Roofless has submitted a memorandum to the Aurobindo Ashram Trust management highlighting the following demands:

Ensure payment of minimum living wage to the workers and domestic helps who are working in different industrialand commercial units, and agricultural/horticultural/dairy operations run by the Ashram Trust and its subsidiaries and in Ashram housing quarters and shops;

Construct housing quarters for these workmen and domestic helps;

Run separate shools exclusively for the children of workmen and domestic helps; and

Provide a free hospital for the general public in Puducherry.

The memorandum, signed by S. Motilal, General Secretary of the Movement for Protection of the Roofless, has been submitted on June 7.

AICCTU leads Determined Struggle in Wazirpur Industrial Area of Delhi

A workers struggle has been on for past several months in the Wazirpur industrial area in Delhi. The workers of W.C. Steel factory have been fighting a protracted struggle for ensuring their basic mandated rights and facilities as the owner of the factory continues to deny them even the minimum wages. The struggle started in January with a petition submitted to the labour minister who is yet to take any action on the matter. With the Delhi government, labourv office and courts all siding with the recalcitrant owner, the workers faced retrenchments and all kinds of threats. However, the workers, despite being thrown out, have chosen to organise themselves under the banner of AICCTU and strike back with determination. For the past few weeks, the retrenched workers along with workers from other factories in the area have been sitting on a dharna at the factory gate braving all the usual intimidatory tactics, including a court case, by the factory owner to break the struggle.

On 21 June, AICCTU organised a massive demonstration at the local Deputy Labour Commissioner's office. A large number of demonstrators with significant participation of women gheraoed the DLC office protesting against the collusion of the labour department with the guilty factory owners and demanding implementation of minimum wages and other legal provisions in the industrial area. The demonstration was led by AICCTU State Secretary Com. Santosh Roy and All India General Kamgar Union General Secretary Com. VKS Gautam. Several student leaders and activists from AISA also joined the demonstration in solidarity.

Addressing the demonstration, Com. Mathura Paswan of AICCTU unit of North-West Delhi accused the Delhi govt of wilfully allowing the violations of labour laws to continue in all the industrial areas. The fact that the labour laws are so brazenly violated even in the national capital exposes the real anti-working class politics of both the Congress and BJP, who have ruled Delhi all these days only to benefit the factory owners, he added. Com. Santosh Roy said that while the Sheila Dikshit govt is draining thousands of crores to project the Commonwealth Games as a symbol of 'Delhi's pride', the wilful denial of legal rights of the millions of workers in Delhi's vast unorganised sector and their abysmal working and living conditions should indeed be a matter of Delhi's shame. 

The demonstration forced the DLC to ask the factory owner to come for negotiations. The factory owner, however, refused to come to the spot. In fact, while staying away from negotiations on pretext of illness, the factory owner has mobilised other factory owners in the area to speak to the leaders of the struggle. In this meeting, they said that minimum wages were not paid anywhere in Delhi and they (the owners of other factories) would not allow it to be paid in a single factory. Local MLAs from the Congress and the BJP are clearly active on behalf of the owners.

Workers have decided to continue with their dharna at the factory gate till the guilty factory owner is brought to the negotiating table, all the retrenched workers are taken back and all pending payments according to the minimum wage laws are cleared. The ongoing struggle has become a rallying point for other workers in the area, who for too long had been browbeaten into submission and denied their mandated rights by a nexus of local police, labour department and govt officials, labour courts and the factory owners.  AICCTU is determined to intensify the struggle and ensure that the unholy stranglehold of factory owners, local goons and government officials is decisively challenged by the collective unity of the workers in this industrial area.

RYA Indicts Nitish Kumar for Betraying the Bihari Youth

Thousands of activists and members of Revolutionary Youth Association took out a protest march in Patna on 10 June indicting Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for his act of betrayal against the youth of Bihar. The march led by RYA National President Mohammad Salim, General Secretary Kamlesh Sharma and Bihar State RYA Secretary Amarjit Kushwaha focused on the issue of increasing unemployment and job insecurity facing the Bihari youth. The marchers insisted on immediate filling up of 600,000 vacant posts in government employment in Bihar. They termed Nitish Kumar's development rhetoric hollow and empty. "How can there be 'development' without employment, and how can there be employment without land reforms and industrialization", asked the RYA marchers. The march also condemned the UPA government at the Centre for its shameless act of appeasement of US imperialism on the question of justice for the gas victims of Bhopal.

Rural Poor Resist Pro-BJP Feudal Conspiracy to Stop Construction of Rural Road in Patna

Like the Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), Bihar Chief Minister too has a scheme of construction of rural roads in the name of "Mukhyamantri Gram Sadak Yojana" (Chief Minister Rural Road Scheme). But the scheme of a 300 metre road linking village Ghurnabigha in Paliganj to the main road, which was recommended by the local CPI(ML) MLA and approvedin 2006 itself could not be completed because of the stubborn resistance pro-BJP feudal elements.

Ghurnabigha is a predominantly dalit-backward village – it has 80 dalit households, 50 Yadav households and 20 families belonging to Extremely Backward Castes. Before the road was approved, all concerned households in Ghurnabigha and neighbouring villages had given their consent. Ghurnabigha residents even readjusted their houses to make room for the road, but pro-BJP feudal elements in neighbouring Bhedariya village refused to part with the 45 cents of land belonging to 9 families in their village and blocked the construction of the road.

Nitish Kumar government which brandishes roads as its single biggest achievement and loses no time to acquire poor peasants' lands for building 4-lane roads (meticulously avoiding the land of the rural rich and feudal elements, even redesigning roads if necessary) could not settle the issue with 9 families for mere 45 decimal land. Comrade NK Nanda, CPI(ML) MLA from Paliganj repeatedly raised the issue in the Assembly and with concerned administrative authorities, but to no avail. Paliganj Area Committee of the CPI(ML) organized a dharna in front of the Paliganj SDO on May 26 and announced direct action on 14 June if the administration failed to resume construction work till June 13.

With administrative inaction continuing, hundreds of people led by Comrade NK Nanda began construction work on 14 June. Some miscreants from Bhedariya village had threatened to invite the Ranvir Sena to settle scores, but had to retreat in the face of the advancing contingent of the people which stormed barricades put up by the CRPF and Bihar Police commandos to proceed towards the road construction site. The people eventually relented only after the administration gave assurance of completing the construction work within 15 July.

Protesters Block Israeli Cargo Ship at Oakland Port in US

In a historic action in the early morning hours of 20 June, over 800 labour and community activists blocked the gates of the Oakland docks, the sixth largest port of the US, prompting longshore workers to refuse to cross the picketlines where they were scheduled to unload an Israeli ship.

From 5:30 am to 9:30 am, a militant and spirited protest was held in front of four gates of the Stevedore Services of America, with people chanting non-stop, "Free, Free Palestine, Don't Cross the Picket Line," and "An injury to one is an injury to all, bring down the apartheid wall."

Citing the health and safety provisions of their contract, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU)workers refused to cross the picketline to report for duty.

To loud cheers of "Long Live Palestine!" Jess Ghannam of Free Palestine Alliance said, "This is truly historic, never before has an Israeli ship been blocked in the United States!"

The ILWU has a proud history of extending its solidarity to struggling peoples the world over. In 1984, as the Black masses of South Africa were engaged in an intense struggle against South African apartheid, the ILWU refused for a record-setting 10 days to unload cargo from the South African "Ned Lloyd" ship. Despite million-dollar fines imposed on the union, the longshore workers held strong, providing a tremendous boost to the anti-apartheid movement.

Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication,
R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22518248, e-mail:, website:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

ML UPDATE 25 / 2010

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 13, No. 25, 15 – 21 JUNE 2010

Nitish Kumar Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai?

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been angered no end by the appearance of advertisements in Bihar newspapers showing him together with Narendra Modi. The advertisements were issued on the occasion of the BJP's national executive meeting and state rally held in Patna on June 12-13. An infuriated Nitish Kumar not only threatened to take legal action against the people who placed the advertisements but also cancelled a dinner he was scheduled to host in honour of the BJP leaders. He also said he would find out if any flood relief money donated by the Gujarat government remained unspent, in which case his government would return the money to Gujarat.

Nitish Kumar did not say the photo was 'fake' – the photo in question was genuine and most probably taken during an NDA rally in Chandigarh during the last Lok Sabha election. The fact is he did not want the people of Bihar to see or be reminded of this photo on the eve of the coming Assembly elections. Has he got any principled aversion to Modi? Certainly not. When Gujarat happened and the whole country demanded the dismissal of Narendra Modi, Nitish Kumar remained very much a cabinet member of the NDA government at the Centre, the government which did everything possible to protect Modi. This belated aversion is entirely artificial and meant exclusively for poll-time public consumption in Bihar. Nitish Kumar hopes to add a 'secular' coat of paint to his image through this publicized display of his aversion to Modi.
The BJP has never disowned Modi or the Gujarat genocide. As far as Modi is concerned, not only has he never regretted the Gujarat genocide, he has always defended it and treated it as a question of Gujarati 'pride' or self-'respect'. If Nitish Kumar is really allergic to Modi, how come he has all along been in alliance with the BJP even as the latter upheld Modi as a national political icon. And Nitish Kumar's alliance with the BJP is not confined to Bihar, his party is a key partner of the BJP in the NDA and as already noted, he was an NDA minister in Delhi while Modi's men and government set Gujarat afire in 2002. And indeed, how come Nitish Kumar was ready to host a dinner for the BJP national executive in which Modi would have surely been a star guest!
Probably Nitish Kumar's office would have made sure that the dinner would not have been photographed or in any case Kumar would not be photographed in Modi's company. The Nitish Kumar government is known to be the most media-conscious government Bihar has ever seen – the projection of the chief minister in the media is micro-managed by his office through a deft combination of advertisements and political patronage. This is why perhaps the advertisements hurt Nitish Kumar all the more – here was the same game of advertisement being played against him in what he considers his pocket borough, the print media of Bihar. Which media hero can really relish the tables being turned against him?
However much Nitish Kumar may pretend to be annoyed with the BJP, the fact remains that the latter could not have had a share in power in Bihar without his willing cooperation. And the BJP and its Sangh siblings have used this opportunity to the hilt to advance their feudal-communal agenda in Bihar. RSS central sessions are being held in Bihar and the Modis and Togadias now have every freedom and opportunity to run their hate campaigns in the state. On the issue of land reforms too, the BJP has been particularly vocal against the Bandyopadhyay Commission report and the government has done everything possible to appease the feudal lobby by virtually abandoning the entire report and the agenda. And who will forget Nitish Kumar's service to the feudal bosses, not only in the BJP but also in his own party and other dominant formations, by disbanding the Amir Das Commission and making sure that the killers of the Ranvir Sena and their political patrons will continue to enjoy impunity? Nitish Kumar's clever protestations and publicized display of his 'injured innocence' cannot veil the essential feudal-communal character of his regime.
Shielding Carbide-Dow and US Corporate Interests,

Shedding Crocodile Tears for Bhopal:

Congress-led Governments' Role Then and Now

Facing flak over revelations of how the Congress Government of Madhya Pradesh in the wake of the Bhopal Gas Disaster helped Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson to flee India and evade justice, the Congress party and UPA Government are in damage control mode. The UPA Government has set up a GoM to look into remedies for Bhopal victims, and the Prime Minister himself has urged the GoM to meet soon. Meanwhile some sections of the Congress are seeking to blame Anderson's escape on Arjun Singh who was then MP CM, and Pranab Mukherjee has instead sought to defend both Arjun Singh as well as the then Central Government headed by Rajiv Gandhi.

None of these attempts, however, can conceal Congress' culpability in the crime of shielding and exonerating Bhopal's perpetrators. In the first place, the attempts to shield the Rajiv-led Central Government's role by blaming Anderson's exit on Arjun Singh alone holds no water. A CIA Document dated 8 December 1984, a day after Anderson fled India, observed: "The Central Govt's quick release of the Union Carbide Chairman from house arrest yesterday, however, suggests that New Delhi believes state officials were overly eager to score political points against the company." If this is not proof enough of the Central Government's full involvement in pulling Anderson safely out of the clutches of justice, there is the additional fact that Anderson actually was given an audience with the then President of India before leaving India!
Nor is Congress' culpability restricted to spiriting Anderson away from justice. In a bid to protect Union Carbide, the MP Government in 1984-85 even banned treatment of the disaster victims by sodium thiosulphate, for fear that success of this treatment would establish that the poisonous Methyl Isocyanide had entered the bloodstream and result in heavier damages for Carbide. In other words, the Congress-led MP Government was callous enough to withhold the only effective treatment for the victims because for it protecting Carbide was more of a priority than saving lives!
Pranab Mukherjee's defence of the then MP Government is that Anderson had to be removed from Bhopal to avert potential unrest that his presence might provoke. This claim begs the question: if keeping Anderson in Bhopal posed a law and order problem, why could he not be detained in Delhi instead? Why was he allowed to flee justice in the CM's own official plane?
More than 25 years later, nothing much has changed. Even today, the Congress-led UPA Government is busy shielding Union Carbide and its successor Dow Chemicals while shedding crocodile tears for the victims of these companies, denied justice as well as clean-up and compensation. In 1984, the CIA document quoted above had expressed the apprehension that "Public outcry almost certainly will force the new government to move cautiously in developing future foreign investment and industrial policies and relations with multinational – especially US – firms." Governments from 1984 till the present have bent over backwards to prove to the US that these apprehensions are misplaced, and that they are willing to ignore or trample upon any public outcry in order to protect MNCs, especially US MNCs.
If Anderson remains an 'absconder', his successor, Dow CEO Andrew Liveris is a proud member of the US-India CEO Forum, which continues to play a key role even in the recent Indo-US Strategic Dialogue. Liveris, along with Indian counterparts like Ratan Tata have for years lobbied to free Dow from responsibility for cleaning up the Carbide factory site and other affected areas. Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia as well as Congress leaders and UPA Ministers P Chidambaram and Kamal Nath have since 2006 been actively pushing Dow's and Tata's suggestion that a 'Site Remediation Trust' be set up, funded by Indian CEOs, that will effectively free Dow of any responsibility to clean up the disaster area. Kamal Nath is on record for backing this suggestion on the grounds that this would "an appropriate signal to Dow Chemicals, which is exploring investing substantially in India and to the American business community."
Can it be a coincidence that the very same Chidambaram and Kamal Nath are members of the GoM on Bhopal? It is apparent that the GoM today, far from delivering justice to the victims of the gas disaster, is planning to betray the victims yet again by implementing that recommendation to let Dow off the hook! Not only that, the UPA Government is further seeking to send suitable signals of submissiveness and sell-out to US MNCs by pushing the Nuclear Liability Bill which will protect US reactor supplier firms in advance from any responsibilities towards compensation or clean up in the event of any disaster.
The third member of the GoM is Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh - who, on the 25th anniversary of the disaster in December 2009, insulted the victims by holding up a handful of earth from the factory site and declaring that since he was still alive, the site was free of all contamination! The GoM clearly comprises of the very leaders who have defended Carbide and Dow and insulted the victims. No such GoM can pretend to deliver any credible compensation, clean up or justice for the victims of the Bhopal disaster.
The BJP, which is trying to score political points over the Congress over Bhopal, too must be confronted with the fact that it has partnered the Congress in betraying the people of Bhopal. The Vajpayee Government never demanded that the US extradite Anderson. And in December 2009, the BJP State Government of MP joined Union Minister Jairam Ramesh in declaring that the factory site was free from contamination and proposing to turn it into a 'tourist site'!
The GoM with a brief to implement a recommendation that protects Dow is meaningless and mere eyewash. If justice is to be served, what we need and must demand is an independent and time-bound probe to fix culpability for the escape of Warren Anderson, and for subsequent attempts to absolve Dow Chemicals of responsibility. Dow must be blacklisted forthwith, the Nuclear Liability Bill must be scrapped, and Bhopal victims must be guaranteed not only comprehensive compensation and clean up, but also justice.
RYA Organisers & Engg. Students

Suspended in Punjab

Statewide Protest on 18 June

The Management of famous Punjab Engineering College located at Chandigarh illegally suspended five students and fined one girl student for raising the issues of mess workers who have long been compelled to work on exploitative terms. Most of the suspended students belong to the dalit community. These students are also members of Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA). It is to be noted that the mess workers agitation had been going on for long for gaining basic democratic rights and minimum wages. These six students were also part of the agitation for workers' basic rights.
The management has long been using the police to clamp down on workers to the extent that on 23rd March – Bhagat Singh's martyrdom anniversary – the police were all over the Campus to stall any celebration and association of workers and students. The immediate context of the latest suspension and fining of these students was the launching of a signature campaign by these students to mobilize referendum against terminating the current mess workers and contractualising the whole mess system. The management had decided to adopt the contractual system from the new session of 2010. The institute was closed for summer vacation, most hostels empty and hence there were few students when the suspension order was announced. The RYA, Punjab, held a press conference on 15 June and announced it will hold a State-wide effigy burning and protest demonstration on 18 June. The Institute is elitist in its administrative functioning where it does not tolerate any democratic assertion by students and the staff.
Reports from Uttarakhand
All India Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM) has taken a string of initiatives on people's issues in Pithoragarh dist. of the Himalayan State of Uttarakhand. Block Conference of AIKM was held on 29 May at Munsyari where presence of women participants was significant. State's Party incharge Comrade Raja Bahuguna was also present. A rally was held on 26 May to call for cancellation of NTPC's project at Munsyari and to highlight and demand action on issues of water, power, roads, health, education and essential commodities. Demonstration was held at Dharchula's Dy.Collector's office on 1st June on same issues. A meeting of gram pradhans, area panchayat and dist. panchayat members and forest panchayat sarpanchs (chief of panchs) was organised at Munsyari on 10 June in which it was decided to involve and integrate these elected members also with the movements. Road blockade was organised for five hours at Thal-Munsyari on 12 June on the issues of Sainranthi, Bedumhar and Kimkhet villages. The blockade was lifted after a written agreement from the Tehsildar.
Members of All India Students' Association (AISA) burnt the effigy of BJP Govt. at Gandhi Chowk in Pithoragarh to protest the decision to fill the 75 thousand posts of Group C and E through UPSC and demanded that the seats be reserved for youth from the State. AISA leaders Narendra Singh, Naresh, Ravi, Pawan, Rakesh and Brijesh led the campaign.
AISA Condemns Corrupt AMU V-C's Suspension Spree and Repeated Crackdowns on Students' Rights
AMU under its present VC is being run in a style that will put even any medieval monarchy to shame. A prestigious Central University with a glorious past is being turned into a concentration camp for the students and faculty alike, with not-too-hidden blessings of the UPA govt at the centre. Continuing with his authoritarian and draconian crackdowns on the students, the AMU VC has suspended one more student, Mohd. Adil Hossain, of M.A. (Previous) Mass Communication on 3 June, 2010, ostensibly for "incessantly indulging in rumour mongering, canard spreading, defaming the Aligarh Muslim University," and that he has "lowered down and tarnished the image of the University over the internet"! Can anything be more absurd and outrageous than this, where a university systematically throws out its students for merely airing their opinions about the institution they study in?
We have not forgotten how a senior faculty member, Dr. Siras, was witch-hunted for his homosexual orientation, illegally suspended and finally pushed to death by the AMU administration. The VC and his cohorts orchestrated and enacted this barbaric show even in the face of nationwide public outcry and condemnation.
Mired in numerous charges of financial and administrative corruption and facing high-level enquiries, the corrupt VC is hell bent upon quelling any criticism in any form. For this the campus has virtually been turned into a Prison Cell with 57 CCTV cameras, night-vision devices and other high-tech gadgetry worth Rs.10 crore have been installed for a 24x7 vigil on the campus. All kinds of posters and notices have been banned. In reply to an RTI filed on the issue of pasting of posters, the Proctor's office has replied that "pasting of news paper cuttings/posters on the walls of the Hall and other premises of the university would also be dealt harshly with the students( they may face severe punishment)." The earlier notice board at the entrance of Moulana Azad Library was also removed making it impossible for students to convey any information through this medium. Clearly, there is no way a student can register dissent on campus – neither through posters and leaflets nor through holding signature campaigns or rallies as that gets them suspended from the university. To cap it all, the spy network in the campus called the 'Local Intelligence Unit' (LIU) has been made omnipresent. Its criminal role in the witch-hunt of the senior faculty member Dr. Siras is well known by now. In a report in the Indian Express dated April 10th 2010, AMU Proctor Md Zubair Khan confirmed: "There is such a proctorial team on the university. You can call it a local intelligence unit where students give information about campus activities and unwanted elements." After a huge public outcry over the presence of a 'spy agency' -a first of its kind- in any educational institution in India, the AMU administration, including the Vice-Chancellor, went over to deny its presence and have started calling it a mere "watch and ward" team. In an RTI filed to confirm details regarding the existence of the LIU, the Proctor's Office has admitted that the LIU exists in AMU and that they spend 1.2 lakh per month in paying salaries to people employed to carry out its activities. The PIO (Budget) of AMU in its response to an RTI (vide D.No.990/FO dated 30.10.09) stated that "AMU doesn't have any fund meant for anything called LIU". So the obvious question that arises is- who pays for the 14 lakh per annum spent by the administration on this spy agency and whether funds from other heads are being diverted for its functioning?
Ostensible 'reasons' for Adil's suspension "that he has been incessantly indulging in rumour mongering, canard spreading, defaming the Aligarh Muslim University," and that he has "lowered down and tarnished the image of the University over the internet" arise from the fact that Adil has been raising concerns about each of these grave violations of basic democratic rights of the campus community through sustained RTIs and write-ups in the blogs. However, Adil is not the only victim. He is the 149th student to be suspended or rusticated during the term of the current Vice Chancellor. Recently, another Mass Communication student, Mr. Afaq Ahmed has also been suspended from the university since April 22, 2010 for the 'crime' of filming the experiences of the student-managed Dining Hall system at V.M.Hall. This was also a case of total denial of his fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression. Recently suspended Adil filed an RTI to the PIO of AMU ( Ref No. 98/CAPIO/F/10-11 dated 28/04/2010) about the grounds for arbitrary suspension of Mr.Afaq Ahmad. In the reply to the RTI (vide D.No 93/BRH dated 29.05.2010) to the question "whether a student need permission from Provost or not to shoot a video inside a Hall", Provost accepted "there is no Rule/Ordinances/ Regulation explicitly prohibiting making of video clip of Hall without the permission of the Provost." And yet Afaq stood suspended! And now with Adil's suspension, the VC seeks to assert that students are debarred from airing any opinion even on blogs and websites!
With students getting more and more vocal about the official surveillance, the number of suspensions and rustications is likely to rise. What is most unfortunate is that in this reactionary game of the AMU administration, it has found support from the powerful Prof. Irfan Habib lobby of 'progressive' CPI(M). In a shocking stance (reported in Tehelka, UP edition, 30th April), Prof. Habib has justified the presence of spies and LIUs in AMU – since such agencies free teachers from administrative chores and enables them to concentrate on academics! It is indeed shocking that such a defence of blatant violation of civil rights in a university campus has come from a historian of Prof. Habib's stature. The fact that he commands considerable sway in the AMU campus and draws clout from CPI(M)'s political establishment, makes his stance doubly detrimental and goes against the struggle for democratising the AMU campus.
Adil's suspension is just the last example in a long list of autocratic decisions that the VC of AMU has taken since his term started. The University was closed Sine Die last September amidst protests regarding the murder of a student on the campus and the bad safety conditions and poor security facilities prevailing on campus. Six students were then suspended for voicing their protest against the security conditions prevailing on campus. The shameful role which the university played in the witch-hunt, suspension and subsequent death of Dr. Siras was nothing short of criminal. Student Union Elections remains banned on campus and clearly so is speaking out against the administration.
AISA condemns this state of worst ever emergency in the AMU campus. It would be a national ignominy and shame if a public funded central university of the country of AMU's repute is allowed to become the burial ground of the very ideas and values that define a university. We call upon all the democratic voices in different university campuses and larger civil society to join us in this campaign to uphold the right to freedom of expression and basic rights of the students and faculty of AMU.


Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail:, website: