A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 13, No. 39, 21 – 27 SEPTEMBER 2010
Kashmir All-Party Visit: More Hype, Less Hope
Since June, the Kashmiri people have shown remarkable courage and endurance in the face of brutal repression, meeting each firing on mass protestors with fresh and unabated protests. After months of bloodletting of ordinary Kashmiri people in firing by security forces, the government at the centre finally took some political steps in Delhi – of these, the main one is an all-party meeting followed by an all-party delegation's visit to Kashmir.
While these moves are a positive gesture, there is always the danger that on Kashmir, the "all-party route" could well be a pretext for political inaction. It may be recalled that the Prime Minister, in his address on Kashmir, had made the possibility of autonomy contingent on a 'consensus.' It is well known that repeal of Article 370 is a part the BJP's core agenda and this party opposes even dilution of the draconian AFSPA. For the Congress to invoke 'consensus' on Kashmir in this backdrop is a thinly veiled excuse for doing nothing. The Jammu unit of BJP has reportedly boycotted the all-party delegation in protest against the non-inclusion of "nationalist organisations" – i.e., the communal fascist RSS and VHP! The choice of Chidambaram – known for his Green Hunt gospel – to head the delegation too is hardly likely to inspire confidence in Kashmiri people.
Meanwhile the situation in Kashmir remains dismal. In Bandipora some weeks ago, a man returning home in the evening was shot dead by security forces – who later claimed they 'mistook him for a militant.' This incident is one of many that illustrate the draconian character of the AFSPA, which allows security forces to use force to kill even on 'suspicion.' Some days back in Mendhar town, Jammu, firing on a procession protesting against reported burning of the Quran took three lives. Giving the lie to official attempts to paint protests in J&K as sponsored by Pakistan/militants, large numbers of Hindus and Sikhs joined Muslims in mourning and protesting the deaths in Mendhar. Even on the eve of the delegation's visit, four people including a 19-year-old girl were reportedly killed in firing on protests, bringing the death toll to 105.
The visit was projected as an attempt by the spectrum of political forces in Delhi to feel the pulse of Kashmir. But the curfew clamped on Kashmir for the two-day duration of the delegation's visit could not have inspired much credibility or confidence in Kashmiri people. With curfew in place, the delegations' meetings with Kashmiri people could hardly be open and frank. But even at these carefully planned and policed meetings, the people's resentment and anger could not be suppressed.
The visit by some members of the delegation to the home of separatist leaders who had spurned the offer to meet the delegation has become the most-discussed aspect of the delegation's visit. This move to reach out to separatist leaders, while positive, cannot mean real issues are confronted and real and meaningful dialogue initiated by the Indian Government.
As it is, the visit has failed to usher in any real change in New Delhi's policy towards Kashmir. Even while the delegation is in Kashmir, the Minister of State for Defence in Delhi ruled out dilution or revocation of AFSPA, going further to declare that AFSPA and the Army are being needlessly 'demonised' in Kashmir. The visit also failed to address the humanitarian crisis (caused by lack of access to food, milk, medicines etc) building up in Kashmir in the wake of continuous curfew. Hundreds of Kashmiri youth arrested for stone-pelting are in jails, facing charges of 'waging war against the state.'
Overall, the all-party delegation's Kashmir visit falls far short of the Centre's promise of a 'healing touch.' The visit can serve as an image-correction exercise for the UPA Government, but cannot compensate for the lack of real political initiatives within Kashmir. Until and unless the Government revokes the draconian AFSPA, releases all political prisoners and withdraws charges against arrested youth, shows a will to acknowledge and end state repression rather than continue to rationalise it by praising the 'restraint' showed by security forces and begins unconditional talks with all forces in Kashmir, the Government's gestures and words on Kashmir can only remain cosmetic.
All India Left Coordination (AILC) Statement
Vigilantly Resist Possible Communal Mischief in the Wake of Ayodhya Verdict
New Delhi, 20 Sep. 2010: Secularism and democracy in India have suffered deep scars due to communal violence and the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Now, again, as the Allahabad high Court verdict in the Ayodhya land dispute approaches on September 24, communal forces are once again making an effort to whip up communal sentiments. The Congress, which on every crucial occasion in the past gave ground to communal forces at and over Ayodhya (when the locks at the Babri Masjid were broken, when Rajiv Gandhi began his election campaign from Ayodhya with the slogan of 'Ram Rajya', when the Masjid was demolished, and subsequently by allowing the instigators and perpetrators of the dastardly act to go unpunished) cannot be trusted to ensure peace and security of the minorities. The AILC appeals to the people to exercise vigilance, resist and rebuff all attempts to whip up a communal frenzy, and to create pressure on Governments at the Centre and the states to ensure safety and dignity of all citizens.
Excerpts of the PB Meeting held on 17-18 September
The Polit Bureau met at the Party Central Office in Delhi on 17-18 September. Before starting the meeting, the PB paid homage to three comrades who recently breathed their last: Comrade Subodh Majumdar of Nadia, West Bengal, Comrade Budhram Paswan of Bhojpur, Bihar, and Comrade NK Talukdar of Namrup, Assam.
The main deliberations and decisions taken at the PB meeting are summarised below:
1. Ayodhya Verdict: The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court is scheduled to announce its verdict on the Ayodhya title suit on 24 September, 2010. In anticipation of the verdict going against their claim, the Sangh brigade has already begun attempts to reignite the communal fire over Ayodhya. It is a welcome sign that there has been no popular response to the desperate communal attempts by RSS-BJP leaders and Kalyan Singh's visit to Ayodhya was largely ignored by the local people. We must however remain alert to face any eventuality and rebuff any attempt by communal forces to whip up communal frenzy over the verdict. Party committees in sensitive areas must take all necessary precaution and initiative in this regard.
2. The SC Verdict on Food Distribution: The UPA government has refused to obey the Supreme Court order to stop the rotting of food grains by urgently arranging free or subsidized distribution of grains among the starving poor and the PM has asked the Court not to meddle in policy matters. This exposes the true nature of the UPA government. We must make full use of the SC order to expose the central and state governments and intensify the struggle for an effective PDS cushion for the poor and the needy.
3. AILC Convention and after: The PB expressed satisfaction over the successful conclusion of the All India Left Convention in Delhi and the formation of the All India Left Coordination. At the call of the AILC a National Day of Solidarity with the People of Kashmir was observed in many centres all over the country on August 20 and all constituents of the AILC played an active role in the September 7 strike. The AILC has planned to hold a number of conventions in some major states in the coming months. As part of this plan, conventions will be held in Kolkata and Ranchi on October 5 and 7 respectively.
4. The Popular Upsurge and Continuing Repression in Kashmir: Indiscriminate state repression is continuing in Kashmir taking the death toll to more than 100 over the last three months. The government has belatedly begun to take some political steps like the holding of an all party meeting and the visit of an all party delegation to Kashmir, but to create conducive political atmosphere, the government must immediately withdraw the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, stop state repression, release all political prisoners and begin unconditional talks with all concerned.
5. September 7 All India Strike: The all India strike called jointly by most central trade unions in the country evoked a good deal of response cutting across states and industries and sectors. In Jharkhand, the Party had called a Jharkhand bandh in support of the strike and it witnessed considerable mass participation in our major areas of work and also in the coal industry. The strike has rightly pointed to the need for conducting sustained and systematic mass political propaganda among the working class in all our areas and sectors of trade union work.
6. Preparing for Bihar Elections: The PB cleared a list of about 100 constituencies and candidates for Bihar elections which will be released by the Bihar State Committee following its forthcoming session in Patna on 25-26 September. Talks are on with other Left forces in the state for a possible seat-sharing arrangement. Our election campaign will highlight the centrality of land reforms to any real development in Bihar. It will expose the all-round betrayal and failure of the Nitish government on the basic issues of rural employment and rationing for the poor, the crisis of education and healthcare and rampant corruption and loot of public funds and challenge his pretentious claims on secularism, rapid economic growth and good governance.
The CC had appealed to all Party committees and comrades and sympathizers for contribution to Bihar election campaign fund. We need to urgently collect these contributions to help the Bihar election campaign.
7. New Government in Jharkhand: After months of President's Rule, a new government has been formed in Jharkhand with the BJP's Arjun Munda as Chief Minister. It was during his first term that a whole lot of infamous MoUs were signed between the Jharkhnd government and different corporate houses. By all accounts, the new government comprising the BJP and a new-look JMM as well as the AJSU, JD(U) and some independent MLAs has been formed under corporate pressure. Utilizing the recent cancellation of the bauxite mining lease for Vedanta and the SC order for free distribution of food grains among the poor, we must launch a popular campaign in Jharkhand against illegal mining, land acquisition and tribal alienation, violation of PESA and for proper rationing measures for the toiling masses. It should be noted that even after ten years of formation of Jharkhand, there is still no separate food and civil supply corporation in the state!
CPI(ML) Appeal on Ayodhya
Appeal to Observe Peace in the Wake of Ayodhya Verdict
On September 24, the Supreme Court verdict on the Ayodhya case is due to be pronounced. Disturbingly, there are already signs of communal mobilisation by Hindutva outfits, who have called for a 'Dharm Sansad' of religious leaders to coincide with the verdict.
Even as the verdict on the title deed of the Babri Masjid site is awaited, it must be recalled that the entire 'dispute' was manufactured by communal forces who, without any historical basis, propagated the myth that the Babri mosque site demolished a Ram temple marking the 'birthplace of Ram.' This became the pretext for widespread communal violence and the demolition of the Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992. The BJP, riding a wave of communal politics, increased its strength considerably an even enjoyed a long stint in power.
Subsequently, however, the BJP and communal politics at large have been badly exposed and their strength and appeal stand considerably eroded. Now in the name of the Supreme Court verdict, the Sangh Parivar and the BJP are trying once again to recreate the 'Mandir' frenzy to fuel the communal chariot that has run out of steam. But by all accounts, such attempts have been rebuffed: in Ayodhya itself, BJP leader Kalyan Singh's recent march met with a cold response from the people of Ayodhya.
In 1949, the Congress Government presided over the breaking of the locks at the Babri Masjid; and in 1992 at the demolition of the Babri Masjid too. Congress' calculated compromises with communal politics are the reason that those responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid are yet to face any punishment.
The CPI(ML) appeals to people of the country to remain vigilant and rebuff all attempts to whip up violence in the wake of the verdict and demands that the Central Government guarantee the security of the minority community.
Questions by Kashmiri Youth to P Chidambaram
(as reported in Indian Express and ToI)
When the all-party delegation visited Ward 16 of SMHS hospital in Srinagar and met 18 injured patients, one of the patients shouted, "Give us freedom or kill us all." Hundreds protested outside. Fearing more protests, the delegation dropped the plan to visit more hospitals.
At Tangmarg, a young Tariq Ahmad Lone from the crowd asked Chidambaram: "If you call Kashmir an atoot ang (inalienable part) of India, then why are your people showering bullets on Kashmiris?... If you say Kashmir is atoot ang of India, then why are you putting your own ang (body part) into frying pan? If we are a body part of India why do you feel no pain when you fire at us?" Another student Yasin Mir asked Chidambaram, "I want to ask you, why are you firing bullets at us whenever there is a protest. Protests are always peaceful but unlike other states, you fire at us here. Why is it different in other states?" The Home Minister stood silent.
Karnataka: Demonstration for Land and Wages
Harapanahalli unit of CPI(ML) organised a demonstration demanding disbursement of wages under NREGA scheme and regularisation of Bagairhukum lands on 16 September. Hundreds of demonstrators marched to the office of the Assistant Commissioner to fulfill the demands immediately. The struggle was a follow-up of a fortnight-long agitation few months back that resulted in the suspension of corrupt panchayat officials. The follow-up agitation is a reflection of the determination of agricultural labourers and poor peasants to continue their struggles to fulfill their demands. Students, including girls, also participated in the demonstration in scores.
September 7 General Strike: More Reports
Maharashtra Rajya Sarwa Shramik Mahasangh participated in nationwide strike. In Mumbai all PSUs, banks, financial institutions, State & Central Govt. offices, even employees of most of the foreign banks participated in the strike and domestic workers like housemaids also participated to some extent. Textile mills workers of the few remaining mills also went on strike. A rally was held at Azad Maidan. BEST & Railway workers did not participate in the bandh. In Pune Corporation, workers did not participate in the strike (as they were on strike in previous week) but they participated in rally with other workers. In Ahmed Nagar municipal and sugar workers, agriculture labourers participated and took part in rally. In Kolhapur Dist. our (LNP-L) workers organized rallies in all talukas. In the parts of Marathwada our centres participated and took part in rally. Maharashtra's entire sugar factory workers participated in actions as INTUC participated in the bandh.
ANDHRA PRADESH: In Sattupalli, Khammam district, AICCTU and AIALA held a rally on the strike eve led by comrades Damodar and K Janardan. In Kakinada district HQ of East Godavari, 100 activists of AICCTU, RYA, AIALA held a march and joined a day-long blockade organised by the Strike Joint Action Committee. AICCTU State President Ch. Nageswara Rao addressed the gathering. In Prathipadu mandal of East Godavari, nearly 500 people held a rally under the AIALA-AICCTU banner and blocked the NH for an hour. In the mandal towns of Jaggampeta, Yeleswaram, Ronthulapudi, Kotanandanu, Sankhavaram, AICCTU and AIALA activists held programmes to implement the strike. In Visakhapatnam, AICCTU activists joined the JAC in implementing the strike.
Strikes: Outmoded in 'Modern Societies'?
The day after the historic September 7 All India General Strike, the Times of India carried an editorial advising unions to "shun bandh politics." The editorial argued, "In a democratic age, bandhs have lost their pre-independence aura and have outlived their purpose. They …reek of the old style of doing politics… With rising literacy and growing economic activity, modern societies search for moderate political methods such as debate, discussions or protests that do not involve public disruption."
India may be 'backward' and less than 'modern.' We wonder if the paper considers advanced capitalist countries like France and Britain to be 'modern societies' equipped with literacy and all other marks of modernity? What does the paper make of the fact that September 7 was 'International Action Day' for workers all over the world, and on that day, millions of French workers poured out on Paris streets against pension reforms, and transport workers of the London metro-rail system observed a 24-hour strike? Why are workers in these unquestionably 'modern' countries showing such zeal for 'outmoded' methods like strikes rather than 'debate and discussion'?!
French workers' September 7 Strike
Two to three million workers took to the streets across France on September 7 in a nationwide protest against plans by the French government to raise the minimum pension age from 60 to 62 by 2018.
The maximum pension age would also rise by two years to 67 as has happened in a number of other European countries. The changes are especially unpopular among employees who perform manual work. It was the biggest demonstration on any issue since President Nicolas Sarkozy came to power in 2007.
The 24-hour walk-out disrupted rail and air passengers, schools, hospitals and the postal service. Approximately 25% of all flights in and out of Paris were affected and an estimated half of rail and underground services were cancelled.
Union leaders said more people turned out than the previous protest in June, when two million people took to the streets. Dozens of rallies have already taken place in many cities across France.
The protests were timed to coincide with the introduction of Sarkozy'z legislation to make the change in the pension eligibility age and to "reform" other aspects of the country's national pension system.
Workers' Strikes Hit London Underground
London's tube workers went on a 24-hour strike on September 7. The entrance to an Underground station in west London was locked during the strike. Buses were diverted from central London because streets were at a standstill. The strike affected about 3 million passengers.
The strike was called by two unions -- the Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) and the Transport Salaried Staff Association (TSSA) -- over plans by London Underground to cut 800 jobs.
Anti-Repression Day Observed in UP
Against the barbaric lathi-charge of 14 September on para-teachers in Lucknow, CPI(ML) organised statewide protests on 18th September to observe anti-repression day in Uttar Pradesh. On this occasion a dharna was held at the "Shaheed Smarak" in Lucknow and a memorandum was sent to the Governor.
Thousands of para-teachers from all over the State, who have been struggling for long, had converged in Lucknow to demand regularisation and decent pay. No-sooner they had started to march towards the State Assembly from Shaheed Smarak that batons were rained on them injuring and fracturing bones of many including women para-teachers. Later, even criminal cases were filed by the police against hundreds of protesting para-teachers.
Through the protests, the Party has demanded that the Mayawati Govt. abandon its repressive tactics and use of barbaric force against people's movements and punish all those officials that were responsible for the offensive on para-teachers. The Govt. should immediately withdraw fabricated cases against them and seriously consider their demands regarding job regularisation and salary.
The protests were also held at 3 places in Chandauli dist. namely Chakia, Naugarh and Chandauli, and Ahiraura and Jamalpur in Mirzapur dist. In Allahabad a protest march was held. At Nichlaul in Maharajganj, CPI(ML) and RYA jointly held a demonstration. Anti-repression day was also observed in Deoria, Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Sonbhadra, Sitapur, Jalaun, Banda, Muradabad, Mau and Gonda among other places.
In a separate demand the Party State Committee of UP has held Mayawati Govt. responsible for the death of 18 people from toxic liquor on 17 September in Mirzapur and has demanded resignation from State's Excise Minister who along with the police department has been patronizing large supplies of illicit liquor on the eve of panchayat elections in the State.
AISA's Torchlight Procession to Reassert the Demand for Judicial Probe in Batla House 'Encounter'
19th September, 2010, marked two years since two young men were killed by police bullets in a flat in Batla House, Delhi. Despite the publication of the post mortem reports which clearly established that the two slain youth were killed from close range and that they did not receive a single bullet wound in the frontal regions of their bodies—an impossibility in the case of a genuine shootout. It is obvious to anyone now that the NHRC enquiry was sham and partisan in its conclusions. There has been no sign that the UPA government is willing to order a free and fair probe.
Indeed, both the BJP and the Congress governments have been united in unleashing a communal witch hunt in the name of combating terrorism. The recent revelations about the deep involvement of Hindutva organizations like Abhinav Bharat in planning and executing bomb blasts reveals the biased nature of the investigations so far. It shows how easy it is to execute Sohrabuddins and Ishrats and legitimize it as a counter terror operation; and how difficult it is to even conceive of Hindutva organizations as terrorist outfits.
All India Students' Association's (AISA's) torchlight procession was taken out against this politics of witch hunt and stereotyping; and to assert the struggle for justice and truth, on the eve of the second anniversary of the 'encounter'. Students and teachers from Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi University, and JNU, as well as civil rights activists and filmmakers participated in large numbers.
West Bengal: Students and Youth Seminar on State's War against Tribals
On 29th August AISA and RYA held a seminar on "New Tactics of Imperialism and Operation Green Hunt" at Rabindra Niloy Hall in Midnapore town just 40 km from Lalgarh where State and Central forces are jointly carrying out a campaign of terror against the tribal population. The Maoists operating in the area have also not budged from their anarcho-militarist ways. In such a climate an initiative by the students and youth received encouraging response from local intellectuals and the seminar witnessed participation from many of them. The main speaker at the seminar was Nabarun Bhattacharya, President, West Bengal Gana Sanskriti Parishad. Other speakers at the seminar were Amit Dasgupta, Secretary, WB's GSP, Arup Dasgupta from APDR, Sudarshan Pal, Professor, Kharagpur College and Com. Jul Mukherjee, AISA leader. Com. Shoumyadip Bannerjee, an AISA activist from IIT Kharagpur anchored the session.
Over-bridge Collapse: Delhi Govt. Criminally Culpable for Endangering CWG Workers' Lives
In yet another horrific accident yesterday, a foot-over-bridge under construction towards the CWG collapsed, injuring 27 workers, four of whom are battling for their lives in hospital.
Congress' 'Shining Delhi' is being built on the graves of exploited workers. In a series of past incidents, workers at Delhi Metro and CWG construction sites have been grievously injured and even killed. The reason is clearly the deeply ingrained corruption which results in compromises in quality of materials and in bypassing of safety regulations. Workers are not only being paid far below minimum wages (as noted by the Delhi HC on several occasions), they are also paying with their lives and limbs for this criminal corruption and negligence as they work day and night to meet CWG deadlines.
CPI(ML) Liberation demands the arrest and prosecution of officials and contractors responsible for the foot-over-bridge construction. Trade union and human rights organisations should be entrusted with a thoroughgoing probe of the work conditions and implementation of labour laws at construction sites all over Delhi – and officials found to be blinking at labour law violations must face exemplary punishment. The Governments at Delhi and the Centre cannot simply pass the blame on to private contractors; they must directly answer for the violation of labour laws resulting in workers' loss of lives and limbs and underpayment of workers.
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: email@example.com, website: www.cpiml.org