Friday, December 31, 2010

ML UPDATE 01 / 2011


Vol. 14 No. 01 28 Dec-3 Jan 2011

Binayak Sen's Conviction:

Travesty of Justice and Criminalisation of Dissent

The conviction and life sentence on sedition charges of Dr. Binayak Sen along with two others has met with shock and outrage across the world and all over India. The Raipur Sessions Court, royally disregarding the paucity of evidence, the glaring holes, contradictions and even unmistakable signs of planted evidence in the prosecution's case, delivered a political verdict.

However, this verdict itself, and with it the entire politics of Greenhunt-related witch-hunt, has landed itself in the people's court. In particular, the Chhattisgarh police exposed itself to public ridicule for its attempts to link Dr. Sen's wife, scholar and activist Ilina Sen with terrorism based on her email to the well-known Indian Social Institute of Delhi, which the prosecution mistook for Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). In its account of the place of arrest of one of the accused from whom documents incriminating Dr. Sen are supposed to have been seized at the time of the arrest, the Chhattisgarh police's testimony in the Sessions court contradicted its own earlier statement in the Supreme Court – another crucial fact which the verdict ignored. Confronted with the failure of a key piece of 'evidence' (a letter supposedly sent by Maoists to Dr. Sen) to find a mention in the list of articles seized from Dr Sen's home, the police airily explained it away by saying 'chipak gaya tha' – 'it must have stuck to some other documents.' The verdict, without any questions, accepted this flimsy excuse for planted evidence. The term 'comrade' has also been unquestioningly accepted as 'proof' of being a Maoist.

Another Sessions Court in Raipur on the same day, sentenced a publisher to 11 years in prison for possession of "banned literature" – which included the works of Marx, Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh. This is not the first time that courts have delivered such political judgements criminalising communist literature. Some years ago, the Supreme Court had upheld the life sentence to 14 CPI(ML) activists (including elected mukhiya Shah Chand as well as a minor) convicted under the draconian TADA on no evidence barring the possession of Bihar Pradesh Kisan Sabha literature, Mao's works and other Marxist literature. 

With Binayak Sen's conviction by the Raipur Sessions Court, it seems that faked evidence and farcical trials are joining fake encounters as the Indian State's weapons of mass intimidation. Recently, Ratan Tata declared that if tapes exposing how corporations loot resources and undermine democracy were allowed to be available to the public, it would make India a 'banana republic' where people "go to jail without evidence." In reality, the Raipur Sessions Court verdict indicates that India is turning into a 'banana republic' for the likes of Binayak Sen who expose and challenge corporate loot and state repression, while the governments protect the 'right' of Tatas and Ambanis to loot in 'privacy'.

In a recent speech to IPS probationers, the Prime Minister laid stress on the fact that if "naxalism in the Central India parts where the bulk of India's mineral wealth lies" is not controlled, "we have to say goodbye to our country's ambitions to sustain growth rate of 10-11% per cent per annum." Clearly the Prime Minister is equating mass movements of adivasis and peasants against land grab and mining loot by corporations with 'naxalism.' Obliquely admitting that such land grab and loot are crucial to India's 'growth rate,' the Prime Minister is calling for the continued and intensified police repression of mass resistance. No wonder that the Congress has responded to Binayak Sen's unjust conviction in BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh by disapproving of any criticism of a court verdict!   

The verdict convicting Binayak Sen for sedition is a calculated threat to each and every voice of dissent. But the travesty of justice in Binayak Sen's case, however inadvertently, added fuel to the fire of protest and all-out rejection of the State's policy of silencing and criminalising dissent. The struggle against draconian laws, against the State's war on people's movements, against the silencing of public intellectuals, and for the freedom of all those including Binayak Sen who are jailed on fake charges and political grounds will continue and grow in the days to come.            

"Binayak Sen's Conviction is a Blow to Democracy"

Citizens Protest at Parliament Street Against Unjust Conviction of Binayak Sen

On 27 December, hundreds of people gathered at Jantar Mantar in Delhi to express outrage at the recent conviction and life sentence for Dr. Binayak Sen. The protestors, including students, workers, civil liberties' groups, women's groups and many eminent individuals marched from Jantar Mantar to Parliament Street, raising slogans against the unjust conviction, where they held a protest meeting.

The protest had been organised jointly by AISA and AIPWA along with PUCL, PUDR and a range of other human rights and democratic groups. AISA had also called for countrywide protest on 27 December against the unjust conviction of Dr. Binayak Sen, which took place at Allahabad, Banaras, Patna, Kolkata, Hazaribagh, Bagodar, among many other places.

In Delhi the response to the protest call was overwhelming, with people from all walks of life wanting to give voice to their shock and anger. Students from JNU, Delhi University, and Jamia Millia Islamia under the banner of AISA formed a substantial contingent of the protestors, as also a large number of CPI(ML) activists. The massive protest meeting, conducted by Kavita Krishnan of AIPWA, was attended and addressed by many eminent individuals including Kuldeep Nayyar, historian Prof. Harbans Mukhia, Arundhati Roy, Swami Agnivesh, Manglesh Dabral, poet and Delhi President of Jan Sanskriti Manch, Dr. Mira Shiva, Prof. K J Mukherjee of JNU, Gautam Navlakha of PUDR, Harsh Mandar, as well as representatives of PUCL, National Forest Workers' Forum, Narmada Bachao Andolan.

 Prabhat Kumar, Central Committee member of CPI(ML) Liberation and Ravi Rai, General Secretary, AISA also addressed the gathering and hailed the united initiatives to defend democracy.  

Addressing the protest gathering, participants pointed out that the verdict of the Raipur Sessions Court sentencing Dr. Binayak Sen, as well as Narayan Sanyal and Pijush Guha to life imprisonment on charges of sedition has shocked democratic opinion everywhere. Throughout, the trial was marked by a woeful lack of evidence, fabrication of evidence, and farcical arguments. The wholesale violation of procedural safeguards in seizure of evidence was ignored by the court. A conviction based on such flimsy, unsubstantiated and fabricated evidence is a serious miscarriage of justice and a blow to democracy.

Speakers stressed that the verdict is not only a conviction of Binayak Sen, it is a move to silence and intimidate all dissident voices and public intellectuals who are critical of state repression and corporate loot and land grab. Participants in the protest asked, "If a high-profile case like that of Dr. Binayak Sen could meet such a fate, we can only imagine what happens in the hundreds of cases framing ordinary peasants, tribals, workers, activists, who are earning the State's ire by voicing their dissent, organising people's movements and challenging Operation Green Hunt."      

The protestors also expressed concern at the conviction and 11-year sentence for Asit Sengupta, publisher "A World to Win", for possession of "banned literature" by another Sessions Court in Raipur the very same day. In this case as well as others "banned" literature has included Das Kapital, the Communist Manifesto, and the works of Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh. 

The gathering committed itself to continuing the struggle for the release of Binayak Sen and other dissenting voices framed on fabricated charges in Chhattisgarh and elsewhere, and scrapping of draconian laws like the Chhattisgarh Public Security Act, the UAPA and the AFSPA.

Sankalp Diwas

Twelfth Memorial Day of Comrade VM was commemorated in Odisha at Nagbhushan Bhavan in Bhubaneswar. Party activists and leaders paid tributes to comrades VM and Parasji on this occasion. Politburo member Com. DP Baxi addressed the gathering where he recalled VM's ideas on various aspects of building a revolutionary movement and communist party. Odisha State Secretary Com. Kshitish Biswal recalled his own experiences of working with VM when he used to visit Odisha on various occasions. He also remembered Com. Nagbhushan and his work in this context. Comrade Radhakanta Sethi read out the  party's call for this occasion and called upon the comrades to follow VM's inspiring ideas and works to strengthen the party. Comrades Yusdhistir Mohapatra, Mahendra Parida and Adhok Pradhan also addressed the meeting. The meet was concluded after taking oath to fulfil the dreams of Comrade VM and to strengthen the party among the working class in Odisha as visualised by the departed leader.

In Uttarakhand, Nainital party unit organised Sankalp Diwas in Bindukhatta which was attended by party members and supporters. This was presided over by Uttarakhand Incharge Raja Bahuguna. Comrade Rajendra Pratholi addressed it as the main speaker. After paying tributes to Comrades VM and Ramnaresh Ram by observing two minutes silence, the party's call was read out. Comrade Pratholi called upon the members to enrich the legacy of Comrade VM and Parasji. Com. Raja Bahuguna called for fulfilling the targets set for the mass organisations to strengthen the party. Comrade Girija Pathak presented a work-plan to fulfil the targets for membership, All India Kisan Mahasabha's conference, AISA membership and agitational programmes in the district which was discussed and passed by the members.

AISA State Conference in Uttarakhand

AISA's 5th Uttarakhand State Conference concluded in Dehradun on 21-22 December. Fifty delegates from six centres participated in the Conference. The conference Hall was named after comrade Chandrashekhar, ex-President of JNUSU who was martyred in Siwan on 31 March 1997. The venue was renamed after comrade Nagendra Sakalani who embraced martyrdom on 11 January 1948 while fighting against the Tehri State in Uttarakhand.

The inaugural session was addressed by AISA National President Sandip Singh where he called upon the students to organise widespread resentment among common students against the attacks on campus democracy, corruption and loot of national resources. He criticized governments for turning education into a commodity and for rampant corruption involving bureaucrats, journalists and politicians, which has emerged as an important tool to implement the policies of liberalisation. That is why we now see chain of big scams involving those running the governments and it is for this reason that accused are roaming scot free. AISA General Secretary Ravi Rai hailed organisation's important role during the Uttarakhand movement where it made a distinction by raising the issues of education and employment for the students and youth, and by demanding to address the problems of poor peasants in the state. People were committed to fight for the basic issues of the people and real development up to the grassroots.  Now it is needed to develop a student movement to fulfil the unfulfilled dreams of the people of Uttarakhand. CPI(ML) State Committee member and ex-President of student union in Kumaon University Girija Pathak called upon to intensify the struggle against privatisation and said that now people are fully aware of the adverse and anti-people impacts of the government's policies. He also recalled that two decades ago AISA was among the foremost students organisations fighting against the implementation of the policies of the LPG, whose bad impacts now apparent in all walks of lives of common people.

The conference was also addressed by AISA ex-President Indresh Maikhury, CPI(ML) Garhwal in-charge Kailash Pandey, AICCTU State Secretary KK Bora, and many others. The work report presented by the outgoing committee was discussed and passed by the delegates. A 17-member State Council and 9-member State Executive with Malti Haldar as President, Pawan Nautiyal as Secretary, Lalit Matiyali and Vargese Bamola as Vice-Presidents and Ashish Kandpal as Secretary elected by the conference.

AIKM Nainital District Conference

The Nainital District Conference of All India Kisan Mahasabha concluded in Haldwani on 26 December. A good number of peasant delegates including those who came from various forest villages attended the conference. The conference venue was rechristened in the name of Comrade Ramnaresh ram. The Conference began after paying tributes to the martyrs followed by revolutionary songs by comrade Pankaj. National Secretary of AIKM Purushottam Sharma inaugurated the conference where he criticized central and state governments for imposing the severe crisis in agriculture putting peasants' lives in danger. He said that seventy five percent of peasant population in the state in on the verge of penury owing to the governmental neglect. The state governments have failed in formulating an agrarian policy even after ten years of the state formation. The peasants are being displaced in the name of industrialisation, reserve forests and energy production, while arable lands in the hills are turning into barren lands in absence of any incentives from the state. He emphasised on the need to develop struggle on issues like land management, mandatory Chakbandi, pro-peasant agrarian policy, amendments in APMC Act, land reforms, status of revenue village to many forest villages and khattas, a good panchayati raj system, separate minimum support prices for hill agricultural products, establishing small mandis and cold storage at tehsil level, protection of crops from wild animals, welfare schemes for old peasants, etc.

Comrade Raja Bahuguna addressed the conference as main guest. He attacked state's BJP Govt. for acquiring peasants' lands and displacing them in the name of various projects. The govt. has not provided relief for peasants affected in natural calamities. Terming it a criminal negligence, he called upon to intensify wider and united struggle.

Nainital District Convener Bahadur Singh Jangi presented a report. The conference passed 13 resolutions on various political issues. Pithoragarh district convener Jagat Martolia was present as observer. Comrades Anand Singh Negi, Kailash Pandey, Man Singh Pal, Bhuvan Joshi, Basant Ballabh, Gopal Singh, Narayan Singh, Narendra Singh, Prem Bahadur, Anand Sijwali, Swaroop Singh, Govind Jina, Pushkar and Gopal Garia spoke in the conference.

The conference elected comrades Bahadur Singh Jangi as President and Bhuvan Joshi as district Secretary with a 9-member executive and 33-member district council.

The Haldwani block conference was also held on 19 December in Haldwani which elected a 15-member Block Committee. The conference passed resolutions on various issues affecting peasants in the block including removal of stone crushers from the populated areas as they are causing immense pollution, construction of a separate by-pass for transporting stones to these crushers, demand of revenue villages, BPL cards for all poor, appropriate prices of milk and other facilities for the milk producers, measures to prevent the pollution in canals and rivers, etc.

ML UPDATE 52 / 2010

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 13, No. 52, 21 – 27 DECEMBER 2010

Wikileaks: Unmasking Imperialism

For an empire that cloaks its aggressions and coercions in the benign garb of 'liberation' and 'democracy', those who lay bare the truth are dangerous. Wikileaks, with its devastating exposure of the real face of imperialism, has earned the ire of the most powerful nation in the world. The US has branded the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange as a "hi-tech terrorist" and there have been calls to arrest and even assassinate him.
What Wikileaks has done is to make public the documents that record what imperialism does and says in secret. These documents confirm what anti-imperialist and anti-war forces the world over have always known: that US imperialism is devious, self-serving, brutal, coercive, duplicitous and untrustworthy, not only towards its enemies but even towards its friends.
Wikileaks established its enduring place in history by exploding the myth that imperialist wars were being fought for democracy. The video footage of US armed forces casually and cold-bloodedly indulging in the 'sport' of firing at unarmed civilians in the Baghdad, the evidence, recorded by the US and allied troops themselves, of massacres of civilians, custodial torture and cover-ups in Iraq and Afghanistan – proved the entire US war and occupation of those countries to be continuing war crimes.
Thomas Friedman, famous for having asserted that the hidden hand of the market needed the hidden fist of US imperialism to work, has branded Wikileaks as "anarchy" that "undermines the ability to have private, confidential communications that are vital to the functioning of any society." The leaks reveal the US Secretary of State herself asking US diplomats to spy on a range of international figures including even the UN Secretary General. It shows US diplomatic offices in, for instance, Yemen, being used as fronts to smuggle in military equipment, and using Yemen's Government to cover up drone strikes in the region. It shows coups being planned, torture being covered up, lies being scripted. How can it be a breach of privacy and confidentiality to expose the US' own violation of every norm of privacy of individuals and sovereignty of nations?
Here in India, Shashi Tharoor has declared, in the same vein as Friedman that diplomacy requires privacy and Wikileaks is irresponsible for undermining such confidentiality. At the same time, Ratan Tata, stung by the Radia tapes revealing his lobbyist working both media and political leaders to ensure pliant Ministers, has been righteously claiming the 'right to privacy' and accusing India of having become a crony capitalist banana republic. No 'right to privacy' can prevail over the right of people to know how and where and by whom policies affecting them are made. The most important of the Wikileaks disclosures pertaining to India and the Radia tapes are not 'private' because they pertain to public policies that affect India's citizens.
The media in India has largely chosen to focus on the Wikileaks cables reporting off-the-cuff remarks made by Rahul Gandhi to the US Ambassador, indicating that Hindutva communal groups may be a greater threat to India than LeT-type groups which have supporters only among a small section of Indian minorities. While the BJP has chosen this pretext to launch a shrill offensive against the Congress' heir-apparent, Congress has responded by generalising its stand to equate all forms of terror. Congress today lacks the courage to boldly uphold the stand taken even by Nehru, who had categorically said that while majority and minority communalisms are both dangerous, majority communalism is more so as it can masquerade as nationalism and therefore grow into fascism. The Congress' lack of commitment to combat communal fascist groups and boldly uphold secular democracy has been shown time and again – most glaringly in its failure to prevent the Babri Masjid demolition or punish its perpetrators, its repeated failure to act decisively against communal violence and its refusal to allow an impartial enquiry into the Batla House 'encounter'.
Moreover, behind the red herring of Rahul's remarks on Hindutva communal forces, attention has been diverted from the most significant Wikileaks revelations about India. The leaked cables not only reveal the extent of US interference in India's affairs, especially in matters relating to the Nuke Deal and foreign policy. They show how not only the Congress and UPA Government push pro-US policies, but even the BJP is persuaded by the US Ambassador to calibrate their 'opposition' to the Nuke Deal just enough so as to ensure that the Bill is passed.
They also reveal how both US and Indian officials are very aware that Indian people have no tolerance for US interference or for inequality in the US-India relation, and therefore collude to mask this interference and inequality. For instance, the Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon is heard cautioning the US Ambassador against publicly instructing India on foreign relations: "This government has to be seen following an independent foreign policy, not responding to dictation from the US," he said. In other words, appearances of independence must be kept up. Similarly, P Chidambaram tells the FBI Director, 'We must be able to say we had access, even if Headley did not speak'. Again, the UPA Government is aware that the appearance of equality and independence must be maintained and discrimination (e.g denial of access to Headley) or 'dictation' would prove politically costly. The US officials in turn tell their bosses in the US that while India is a 'raucous democracy', the Indian Government is a "true partner" of the US and "Delhi is much more amenable to cooperating." However they rue the fact that the Indian leaders "loathe to admit publicly that India and the US have begun coordinating foreign policies". In other words, we are being lied to by our Government, about the extent to which 'coordination' and 'dictation' are taking place.
The Indian ruling class should realise that the 'hidden hand' of US imperialism will not remain hidden long from the alert gaze of Indian people – and they will be forced to pay a price for their shameless role as agents of US empire.
Comrade VM's 12th Death Anniversary

Programmes Held Nationwide on 18 December

Cadre Convention in Delhi
To mark the twelfth death anniversary of Comrade Vinod Mishra on December 18, the CPI(ML) Delhi Committee held a Cadre Convention at the Party's Central Office. The Cadre Convention, attended by leading cadres and branch secretaries of the party in Delhi, began by observing two minutes silence for the memory of Comrade Vinod Mishra and Comrade Ram Naresh Ram and other departed comrades.
The 'Resolve of December 18' was read, and cadres spoke of their experiences of different areas of party work in Delhi and pledged to the take up the challenges and implement the resolve to strengthen the movement in Delhi. Addressing the Convention, Delhi State Secretary Com. Sanjay Sharma called upon the leading activists to ensure that every member of the party in every branch was involved in implementing the resolve in its true spirit.
Addressing the Convention, CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar spoke of the need to develop various aspects of work in Deli, suitable to a major urban centre, including struggles among Delhi's unorganized and organized sector workers and among Delhi's rural poor as well as greater initiatives on a range of political issues. He called upon all mass organizations of the party to respond to the challenge, and in particular encouraged students and student party members not only to integrate with working class movement but to integrate with workers' lives.
Memorial Meetings in UP
Memorial meetings were organised all over UP on 18 December to pay tributes to Comrades VM and Ram Naresh Ram. A Sankalp (pledge) meeting took place in Lucknow – where Comrade VM had suffered the cardiac arrest during Central Committee meeting of CPI(ML) – in the State Office. All those present reaffirmed their pledge for fulfilling Comrade VM's dream and resolved to intensify and mobilize people in the struggles against unprecedented price rise, agrarian crisis, epidemic of corruption and growing attacks on democracy. On this occasion everyone reaffirmed their resolve to strengthen the party organisation and 18 December resolve issued by the Central Committee was also read and discussed.
Similar programmes were held in Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi- in both town and rural areas, five blocks of Gazipur- Bhadaura, Jakhniya, Jamaniyan, Karanda and Sadar, in three blocks of Baliya- Maniyar, Nawanagar and Sadar, seven blocks of Chandauli- Chakiya, Naugarh, Sahabganj, Niyamtabad, Dhanapur, Sakaldiha and Mughalsarai, five blocks of Mirzapur- Mardihan, Rajgarh, Jamalpur, Narayanpur and Nagar, three centres in Jalaun dist- Uraieen, Parasan and Madhogarh, six blocks of Sitagarh- Hargaon, Maholi, Aliya, Parsendi, Kasmanda and sadar, five blocks of Lakhimpur Khiri- Paliya, Bijua, Bankeganj, Nighasan, and Mitauli; cadre meetings and GBMs were also held in Pilibhit, Azamgarh, Sonebhadra and other districts. Sankalp Sabha and reading of resolve letter apart from remembering Comrade VM were common feature in all the meetings.
Uttarakhand: Sankalp Sabha took place in Nainital dist's Bindukhatta area. Apart from cadres and members, party sympathisers also participated in remembering Comrade VM. Comrades Raja Bahuguna and Rajendra Pratholi were main speakers at the pledge meet. After observing two minutes of silence to honour the revolutionary legacy of Comrades Vinod Mishra and Ram Naresh Ram and reading of CC's resolve letter the cadres were called upon by Comrades Raja and Pratholi to carry the revolutionary legacy to its logical culmination.
Party's Nainital dist incharge Com. Girija Pathak presented a programme-plan to meet set targets for Nainital and Udhamsingh Nagar in a scheduled timeframe. It was passed by the house after debate and discussion. Membership renewals, district conferences of Kisan Mahasabha, membership targets for AIKM and AISA and other agitational programmes were finalised.
Madhya Pradesh: Sankalp Sabha in Bhind was organised on the occasion of twelfth Memorial Day of Comrade VM. A good number of agrarian labourers, loaders, and small peasants took part in this meeting. Party's CC member Comrade Prabhat Kumar addressed this meeting where he said that the widespread corruption and price rise are menifestation of government's New Economic Policies. The government is now increasing attacks on the workers and peasants. Therefore, we must take a pledge to give a befitting reply to the policies of corruption, price rise and state repression. Comrades Devendra Singh Chauhan, Member Central Control Commission, AIPWA leader Suraj Rekha Tripathy, Hammal-Poldaar Union leader Vinod Suman, Jabbar also addressed the meeting.
A Sankalp Meeting was also organised in Gwalior which was addressed by Comrade Vinod Rawat.
(We will be reporting in the next issue about the 18 December programmes held in many other states and unreported in this issue.)
Protest Demonstration at Kamarkundu (Singur) 18 December
On the 4th martyrdom day of Tapasi Malik, All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) held a protest demonstration demanding capital punishment for the CPI(M)-backed criminals who raped and murdered her in 2006. The gathering was addressed by AIPWA's State Secretary Chaitali Sen and other leaders.
Left Convention in WB
A Left convention was organized jointly by the West Bengal State Committee of CPI(ML), Liberation and the Marxist Communist Party, a breakaway group from CPI(M) and active in the Danton area of Midnapore district, on 20th December at the Vidyasagar Hall of Midnapore town.
Apart from the state leaders of the party, the convention was attended by Comrade Swapan Mukherjee, Party CCM and General Secretary of AICCTU, Comrade Mangatram Pasla, General Secretary of CPIM(Punjab), Comrade Aloke Nandy, General Secretary of Marxist Communist Party and Comrade Jayanta Gupta Bhaya, General Secretary of Marxbadi Mancha, a left group from Burdwan district. In his speech Com. Swapan emphasised the importance of holding such convention in the turbulent situation in West Bengal where the degenerated Left led by CPI(M) is fast giving way to reactionary TMC through their anti-people policies and the prospect of resurgence of a revolutionary Left is brightening.
Com. Pasla spoke of the root causes of degeneration of CPI(M), of which he was once a part. He said, CPI(M) has abandoned the class position of the toiling poor and has adopted the class position of big capital. He expressed strong optimism about the immense prospect of building up a revolutionary Left co-ordination throughout the country by uniting with the struggling left forces.
Com. Alok Nandy and Com. Gupta Bhaya also welcomed the initiative taken by the All India Left Coordination (AILC) to unite the revolutionary Left forces in the country and expressed their willingness to be part of such initiative. Com. Partha Ghosh, State Secretary of CPI(ML) underlined the significance of holding the convention in the district of Midnapore which has, of late, emerged as the most turbulent hot bed of political activism in the state, be it at Nandigram or in Jangalamhal. Com. Kartick Pal, WB State Committee Member and Polit Bureau Member of the party proposed to have further interaction among such like-minded parties and groups in West Bengal shortly to chalk out further course of action and forge stronger unity.
Uttarakhand: Conference of All India Kisan Mahasabha
On 19 December, AIKM organised its Haldwani Block Conference. The Conference elected a 17-member block committee. The conference passed various resolutions concerning the working people of Haldwani block. Prominent among these is the demand to relocate the dangerously polluting stone crushers from inhabited areas to uninhabited areas. Comrade Raja Bahuguna was the main speaker who said that the increasing misery of peasants and pauperisation of workers lays bare the true colours of UPA-NDA's claims of an economically resurgent India.
AIALA TN Unit's 4th State Conference

Intensify the Struggles of Rural Poor; Put an End to the Corrupt, Treacherous DMK Government

AIALA's 4th State Conference of Tamil Nadu was held on 18-19 December in Kumbakonam. The conference was held in a background in which the ruling DMK is thoroughly discredited by the spectrum scam, Radia revelations and TN CM Karuna's desperate attempts to shield the tainted ex-minister A Raja. On the other side all the election promises of Karunanidhi are thrown to the winds and he has the audacity to declare that he cannot fulfil his promise on 2 acres of land as there are no lands. His recent announcement of Rs.500 monthly pension for the members of Agricultural Labourers and Farmers Welfare Board and the claim that TN elders can have a dignified life independent of their wards with the schemes such as Re.1 rice, concrete housing, free TV, free gas and health insurance, has only rubbed the wound with salt. The TN peasantry suffered a heavy damage and the agricultural labourers in particular could not find jobs to sustain themselves during the rains and total relief package announced by the TN government was only Rs.500 crores. The TN peasantry could not help comparing this meager Rs.500 crores with Rs.1,76,000 crores involved in spectrum scam. There is a simmering anger against the anti-people commissions and omissions of the DMK government and the contrary claims which was aptly reflected by the support the Conference and the rally preceding the Conference received from among the rural poor of TN.
The heavy downpour during the membership campaign, conference preparations and propaganda did not dampen the spirit of the comrades and 51,180 members were recruited before the conference. This membership is from 129 panchayats. There are over 10,000 members in three districts, over 1000 in 9 panchayats and over 1600 members in one panchayat. This is a significant improvement in this conference. Panchayat level conferences with more than 500 members were held in 34 panchayats before the state conference.
Working class comrades worked in the villages of Villupuram and Tanjore districts during membership campaign for a period of 7 days in November and involved in mobilizing the rural poor in Tanjore district for the rally in December. Com. NK Natarajan, State GS, AICCTU, camped in Tanjore district since December 1 and concentrated on the mobilization work.
An impressive and colorful rally was held on December 18 in Kumbakonam with a participation of 1500 rural poor. The rally went through the main streets of Kumbakonam raising slogans against the DMK government not full-filling the just demands of rural poor: 2 acres land, house stead lands and pattas, inclusion of rural poor in BPL list, Rs.200 wages and 200 days job under NREGA and so on. The rally culminated near the Mahamaham Tank which is well known in TN for the death of hundreds on devotees in the tank in stampede when Jayalalitha along with her close aide took a dip in the tank during her rule. The mass meeting was presided over by Com.TKS Janardhanan, State President of AIALA. Martyrs Torch carried through from Manaloor, the martyrdom cite of Comrades Chandrakumar and Chandrasekar was presented to AIALA and Party leaders. Two minutes silence was observed in memory of Comrades VM, Ramnaresh, martyrs and departed leaders. Com. Dhirendar Jha, AIALA GS, Com. S Kumarasami, PBM of the party, Com.Thenmozhi, AIPWA State President spoke in the meeting.
Several resolutions were passed placed by Com.Venkatesan, State Secretary of AIALA. Coms Palanivel and Krishnamoorthy, AICCTU office bearers, donated Rs.40,000 to the Conference, collected from Pricol, TIDC, MRF, Hyundai workers and masses led by Com. Kumarasamy, NK Natarajan and other leaders and cadres. Com. Rameshwar Prasad, AIALA National President, Com. Balasundaram, State Secretary, CPI(ML), NK Natarajan, State GS, AICCTU, Com. Bharati, State President of AISA, Com. Balasubramanian, CPI(ML) State Secretary of Puducherry, and office bearers of AIALA were also present in the meeting.
On 19th December Com. Rameshawar Prasad hoisted the flag in front of the conference hall named after Comrades VM-Ram Naresh Ram, inaugurated the delegate session. The Conference paid homage to other martyrs and departed leaders. Greeting the conference, Com. Rameshwar told that in Tamil Nadu too AIALA is emerging and appealed to intensify the land struggles at panchayat level in the coming days. The conference was attended by 123 delegates including 33 women from 14 districts. The conference was conducted by a 9-member presidium, with 4 women members, chaired by Com. Ilangovan. Com. S Janakiraman, outgoing GS presented the work report. Fifteen delegates including 4 women put their views on the report. The report highlighted the significant improvements that AIALA has made after the 3rd conference and put forth certain key questions for debate such as developing an internal dynamism in AIALA work from the top to bottom, raising the work at the block level, developing network of promising activists and cadres that is necessary for AIALA to rise up and move forward in the coming days. Com. Janakiraman summed up the discussions and the draft report was unanimously adopted by the house.
Election for the next AIALA state body was conducted by Com. Dhirendar Jha and Balasundaram, All-India Vice-President of AIALA. A 55-member State Council was elected which in turn elected a 19-member state executive and 11 member- TKS Janardhanan, S. Janakiraman, C. Ponraj, P. Usha, M. Venkatesan, Senbagavalli, S. Ammaiyappan, V.M. Valathan, Rajangam, S. Ilangovan, and T.Kannaian- office bearers. Com. TKS Janardhanan was elected as State President and Com. S. Janakiraman was re-elected as State GS.
Comrades S.Kumarasami, Balasundaram, S Balasubramaniam, Com. NK Natarajan, Com. Bhuvaneswari, State Dy. GS, AICCTU, Com. Rameshwar Prasad, AISA State Secretary, Com. Mathikannan of Manuda Vidudhalai Pannpattu Kazhakam (cultural forum) addressed the Conference. The new office bearers, volunteers, cultural troupe members, artists were greeted by All-India President and GS with mementos.  The conference came to a close with the Internationale.
Unorganised Workers under AICCTU Banner Held Protest in front of Orissa Vidhan Sabha
On 15th December 700 unorganized workers from different sectors joined in a protest rally and dharna in front of the Orissa Legislative Assembly. A huge rally started from Nagbhusan Bhavan for Vidhan sabha with unorganised workers raising slogans for permanent patta of land and ration card to all unorganized sector workers. The rally was led by AICCTU president Com. NK Mohanty, AICCTU General Secretary Com. Radha Kanta Sethi and Com. Mahindra Parida, Secretary AICCTU.
Forest workers, Rickshaw Kooli Sangh, Motorboat Workers Union, Chilika and construction workers from different parts of Orissa constituted the rally. The rally demanded Rs.1000 as pension for construction workers, to stop workers retrenchment in State and curb unemployment, 200 days work for all workers, constitute unorganized workers board and identification of forest workers and issue card to them with insurance benefits.
Veteran Socialist Surendra Mohan Passes Away
On December 17, veteran socialist ideologue and leader Surendra Mohan passed away. He was 84. He is survived by his wife, Ms Manju Mohan, a son and a daughter.
With Surendra Mohan's passing, the left, democratic and progressive struggles of India have lost an invaluable friend and activist.
A whole time activist in the socialist movement since a young age, Surendra Mohan was one of the founders of the Janata Party in 1977. While he was closely involved with the Janata Party government in 1977 and the VP Singh-led Government in 1989, he never sought ministerial berths for himself. He served as a Parliamentarian in the Rajya Sabha from 1978 to 1984. He was the President of the recently constituted Socialist Janata Party.
At a time when various parties and governments of the socialist stream are caught in the morass of political opportunism and corruption, Surendra Mohan remained steadfastly committed all his life to democratic values and struggles, and true to the anti-authoritarian and egalitarian legacy of the socialist movement. He was active in civil liberties' movements all his life and was an eager and enthusiastic advocate of unity amongst left and democratic people's movements. Right till the end of his life, every manner of people's movement could count on his solidarity, support and active cooperation and intervention, and one could be sure of his active participation in all manner of large and small protests for people's rights.
CPI(ML) activists will warmly remember the many occasions when Surendra Mohan's presence and voice strengthened their struggles – among them, in the protest against the arrest of students, youth and women who were arrested during the Shaheed Mela at Ayodhya in 2002; in the TADA Bandi Rihaai Abhiyan (Free TADA Prisoners Campaign) in Bihar in 2004; in the Sankalp Sabha in Delhi against Comrade Mahendra Singh's assassination; and in the citizens' meet at Delhi against the false cases framed on CPI(ML) activists and the party General Secretary by the BJP Govt in Jharkhand in 2006.
CPI(ML) expresses heartfelt condolences to Surendra Mohan's family and friends at this time of loss. The left and democratic movement all over the country will deeply feel his loss and mourn his passing.


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:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

ML UPDATE 51 / 2010

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 13, No. 51, 14 – 20 DECEMBER 2010


Nobel Prize and the Price of Peace

This year's Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. China termed the award a calculated affront, and with Liu Xiaobo in prison serving an 11-year sentence and his wife under house arrest, the prize was awarded to an empty chair.

That the Nobel Peace Prize more often than not carried a political charged message is nothing new. Last year's award to US President Barack Obama was calculated to boost the US' bid for renewed prestige and credibility after the universally condemned Bush era. The choice of Xiaobo is very likely inspired by the intention to delegitimize Communist Party-ruled China as an authoritarian regime. If so, however, China has walked headlong into that trap.
Liu Xiaobo, associated with the Tianenmen protests of 1989, is an advocate of political reforms to bring China in line with Western-style liberal democracy. His Charter 08, for which he was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009, advocates a gradual path of reform including property rights and multi-party democracy. In a media interview in Hong Kong in the late 1980s, Xiaobo is also said to have spoken approvingly of colonialism's role in Hong Kong's development and prescribed "300 years of colonialism" for China.
In China, spectacular capitalist growth in the economy is accompanied by continuing oversight and direction as well as political control by the CPC. Behind the clamour by the US and other capitalist countries for 'democracy' in China is the hope that this contradiction between China's increasingly neoliberal economic trajectory and its communist-ruled political structure could be sharpened to push for wholesale capitalist restoration in that country. However it must also be recognised that China's market reforms in the economy are providing a material basis for demands of commensurate political reforms as well. For China to deal with that contradiction by muzzling the advocates of such change is to play into the hands of its detractors. By imprisoning Xiaobo, pressurising various other countries to boycott the Nobel ceremony and preventing Xiaobo's wife from receiving the award in his stead, China has obliged its opponents with the most potent symbolic weapon they could have hoped for.
It must also be recognised that it is not only advocates of capitalist political reform that have been muzzled in China – it appears that even voices highlighting the growing social disparities too have been similarly suppressed. Not long ago, a man whose five-year-old son was poisoned by toxic milk in China was sentenced to jail for setting up a website to organise other parents against melamine poisoning. Workers' protests too are known to meet with repression. The same repressive stick has been wielded to deal with popular outbursts at regional and cultural disparities in Xinjiang and Tibet.
The Nobel episode also unavoidably highlights the hypocrisy and double standards of capitalist liberal democracies. Even as Obama and others express pious outrage at how China treats its dissidents, they have all participated in the manhunt for Julian Assange, the founder of whistleblower website Wikileaks which blew the lid off the horrific war crimes that were the daily feature of the wars and occupation in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world. A 22-year old US solider, Private Bradley Manning, languishes in prison on suspicion of having leaked documentary evidence of war crimes to Wikileaks, including a video of US soldiers deliberately firing from the air to kill unarmed civilians in Baghdad. Even as the Nobel ceremony was underway in Norway, neighbouring Sweden was partnering the US in its bid to hunt down and silence Assange. Had the Nobel Committee really wanted to give a powerful contemporary message of peace, surely a more suitable candidate for the Peace Prize would have been Manning or Assange, for exposing the real face of war to people all over the world at the cost of personal liberty?
The double standards are no less visible here in India. How would the Indian state and mainstream media, quick to castigate China on Xiaobo and Tibet, have responded were Irom Sharmila, that powerful icon of protest against the Indian state's war on its people, to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?


The Resolve of December 18:

We Must Rise to the Occasion

As 2010 draws to a close, the country is witnessing an unprecedented spate of mega scams. The 2G spectrum scam alone is estimated to be of the order of Rs. 176,000 crore – 2,750 times the size of the Bofors scam which had once rocked the country and led to the downfall of the Rajiv Gandhi government which enjoyed a massive 400-plus majority in Parliament.

What however makes the current spate of scams unprecedented is not just their enormous magnitude, but the range of institutions afflicted by the spreading rot. The Delhi Commonwealth Games turned out to be a mega circus of corruption. The Adarsh Society scam in Mumbai has exposed the corrupt nexus involving chief ministers, top bureaucrats and the Army top brass. The Radia tapes have revealed the intimate links between governments, big corporations and influential mediapersons. The Supreme Court has objected to the appointment of a tainted official as the Central Vigilance Commissioner. Accusing fingers have also been raised against the judiciary itself, both from within the judiciary and without. From the Prime Minister's Office to Chief Ministers in key states – be it Congress-ruled Maharashtra or BJP-ruled Karnataka, from the Army to the judiciary and corporate media, all ruling class parties and pillars of the state-system are today under the scanner.
This clearly shows that corruption has emerged as the essential bridge between bourgeois economics and politics in the era of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation. This is the lubricating oil that runs the machine of state-power and corporate power in India today. The rulers had of course made a contrary claim while initiating the new policies two decades ago. We were told that market-driven policies would clean up the system by abolishing the licence-quota-permit raj. But there is now overwhelming evidence to show that the market is gobbling up everything, subjecting the entire decision-making process to a shadowy market mechanism where every law of the land is thrown to the winds and all resources of the country and rights of the people are sacrificed at the altar of corporate power and greed.
An all-pervasive agrarian crisis which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives of Indian peasants, sky-rocketing prices that are daily pauperising large sections of the toiling masses, draconian laws and repressive campaigns that are bent upon throttling every voice of reason and dissent, and now this epidemic of corruption which is fast landing the system into its worst crisis of credibility – this is the big picture of today's India. The ruling classes and the UPA government are trying to combat this crisis with American certificates declaring India as a 'key strategic partner' and an 'emerged power' and promises of a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. But as the recent Obama visit clearly showed, India's partnership with the US may guarantee a bailout package for a crisis-ridden America, but for India it is certainly no passport to prosperity.
The more the Indian ruling classes cling to the US imperialism in the name of a strategic partnership, the more the US deepens its intervention in India and seeks to use India as a vehicle of American interest and influence in Asia. This only weakens our independence and vitiates our security environment. A recent study has also estimated that more and more Indian wealth is fleeing the country in search of grener pastures and safer havens abroad. Between 1948 and 2008, the country has been drained of an estimated Rs. 20,000 billion, and this outward flow has only been accelerating in recent years.
It goes without saying that this unfolding situation calls for a much bigger and much more assertive role of revolutionary communists to strengthen people's struggles on different fronts. In 2010, the Party took a couple of important initiatives in this direction – the launch of the All India Kisan Mahasabha in May and the formation of the All India Left Coordination in August. Together with the agricultural labour front, the peasant front is going to play a crucial role in the coming days not only from the point of view of resisting the agrarian crisis and advancing the campaign for land reforms, but also in terms of strengthening the anti-imperialist battle of the Indian people. The AILC too has made a good beginning, and it has already demonstrated some potential to attract the attention of serious Left forces in different parts of the country. In the coming days, we must make every effort to strengthen the AILC and carry it forward in the cherished direction of radicalization and rejuvenation of Left politics in India.
While most of our efforts and initiatives in 2010 yielded encouraging results, the results of Bihar Assembly elections have certainly come as a rude shock to the entire Party and all our friends and well-wishers. The continued presence of the Party in the legislative arena was the source of an added political profile for the Party not only in Bihar but in Left circles all over the country. Now that the NDA has swept the Bihar polls, rightwing forces and dominant sections of the media will surely try to use this sweeping victory of the NDA to mount an anti-Left offensive. The BJP having tasted extraordinary success in Bihar is bound to step up its role in Bihar and also try and use its success in Bihar for a countrywide rejuvenation of the BJP and the NDA. This will undoubtedly introduce new elements of tension in the political situation and we must boldly face every eventuality with our consistent anti-feudal anti-communal role.
The Party will surely learn every lesson that needs to be learnt and take every measure that needs to be taken, but electoral reverses cannot and must not be allowed to dampen the spirit and weaken the role and initiative of a revolutionary communist party like the CPI(ML). The Party will take the electoral shock in its strides and even use it as a "shock therapy" to strengthen the movement and streamline the organisation, and in no way will it allow reactionary forces to rob the people of the hard-won gains of decades of revolutionary struggle.
This 18th of December, along with Comrade Vinod Mishra we also remember Comrade Ramnaresh Ram (Parasji) who breathed his last on October 26 after giving his very best to the communist movement and the people for more than sixty years that changed the face of Bhojpur and much of erstwhile central Bihar. Comrade Ramnaresh Ram's long political journey from the days of freedom struggle through the historic struggle of Ekwari (his native village in Sahar block of Bhojpur district) to the glorious assertion of the rural poor against feudal oppression and domination will remain a treasure house of inspiration for generations to come.
Comrade VM and Comrade Parasji played a historic role in reorganising and reviving the CPI(ML) after the setback of the early 1970s and also in upholding the revolutionary banner of Marxism and communist movement in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union when weak-hearted communists had started wavering and deserting the communist movement. This 18th of December, the entire Party takes a collective vow to carry forward their glorious and inspiring legacy. This 18th of December, we rededicate ourselves to the revolutionary communist mission of the CPI(ML) and to the challenge of fulfilling the unfinished tasks of all our martyrs and departed leaders. We inherit the legacy of learning from mistakes and turning defeats into victories. Let us rise to the occasion with renewed and stronger resolve and take the Party forward with bold and energetic steps.
Massive Demonstration in Patna by Sand Labourers
Thousands of labourers employed by big businesses in sand extraction in the Ganga-Son river belt of central Bihar held a massive demonstration in front of the Bihar Vidhan Sabha on 8th December 2010. This demonstration was led by the Balu Mazdoor Sangathan (sand workers' association) and CPI(ML). Comrades Gopal Singh, Secretary of Balu Mazdoor Sangathan and Rameshwar Prasad, President of All India Agricultural Labourers' Association (AIALA) led the militant demonstration. The rally caused the blockade of most main streets of Patna.
Recently, the contractors, who are mainly patronised by the JD(U), BJP and RJD have brought huge machines for sand extraction purposes thereby rendering jobless thousands of workers in the Bikram, Bihta Maner block of Patna district and Sandesh and Koilwar blocks of Bhojpur dist. Most of the thrown out workers had to migrate to other states to earn livelihood. The demonstration, first of this strength after the formation of Nitish Kumar's Govt. in Bihar demanded withdrawal of the big machines creating unemployment, besides other demands of balu mazdoors.
Senior Govt. officials met a delegation of Sand Workers' Association and CPI(ML) leaders and have given a verbal impression that the workers rendered jobless will be given employment either by withdrawing of machines or MG-NREGA. If the promises that the officials made are not respected by them, the Party will launch a bigger movement.
Condemn P Chidambaram's Anti-Migrant Slander
The national capital has been witness to four shocking rapes of women in the past month. Faced with this evidence of the Delhi Police's inability to curb the growing rise of crimes against women in the capital and nab the perpetrators, the Home Minister has resorted to blaming the culture of migrants living in unauthorised colonies! Not surprisingly, although Chidambaram was forced to withdraw his remarks, the Shiv Sena has welcomed this legitimisation of their anti-migrant hate campaign from no less than the Home Minister from the Congress party.
Migrants in Delhi and other cities are themselves the most vulnerable to exploitation and violence. In Mumbai, for instance, the Congress Government miserably failed to curb organised violence by the Raj Thackeray and Shiv Sena brigades. In Delhi too, the collapse of a building in Laxminagar that claimed the lives of 70 migrant workers is a comment on the shameful callousness of the Congress Government of Delhi towards migrants and the question of their housing. To blame this vulnerable section of people for the growing violence against women in the city is to add insult to injury.
It must also be remembered that in Delhi, migrant women from the North East face discriminatory attitudes from the police and administration in addition to sexual violence, and migrant women working as domestic workers are especially vulnerable to sexual exploitation and violence.
It is urgently needed that rape, sexual harassment and violence against women in Delhi be dealt with sternly, and this cannot be done without challenging and changing the patriarchal attitudes and racial/regional prejudices of the Delhi Police and authorities.
 8th CPI(ML) Assam State Conference
The 8th CPI(ML) Assam State Conference took place on 11-12 December, 2010 at Ramnaresh Ram Auditorium (Samhati Bhawan) of Swahid Mukul Baruah Nagar (Dibrugarh). The manch was named after Shaheed Comrade Kshitipati Das, who had laid down his life along with 7 comrades in Tripura in the Huruwa massacre in the 1980s. On the first day of the Conference an impressive mass rally was organized in the main streets of Dibrugarh town, where more than 3000 people, from both Dibrugarh district and nearby Tinsukia district participated. Most of the participants were Tea Garden and rural workers.
After the procession a mass meeting was held in the premise of Samhati Bhawan. Mass singer and leader of Sadou Asom Janasanskritik Parishad Comrade Loknath Goswami presided over the meeting. Party's State Secretary Com. Rubul Sarma, Party leader from Karbi Anglong Com. Chandra Kanta Terang, Com. Mira Tanti, Com. Premchand Singh (Manipur), Com. Vivek Das and Com. Gangaram Kol addressed the mass meeting. In the open session a Souvenir was released by Com. Hasan Swarif Ahmed, former IPTA leader and associate of Jyotiprashad Agarwala.
PB member and central observer Com. D. P. Buxi hoisted the party flag and after that Com. Chandra Kanta Terang started Shaheed Tarpan and leaders, delegates and guests paid homage to the martyrs.
A presidium comprising of Com. Subhas Sen, Anju Borkatoky, Chandrakanta Terang, Gangaram Kol, Subhasis Bhadra was formed to conduct the Delegate Session, which began with the welcome address by the secretary of Dibrugarh district committee of the party Com. Partha Dey. Thereafter, central observer Com. D. P. Buxi delivered the inaugural address of the conference.
Party State Secretary Com. Rubul Sarma placed the Draft report which was discussed by delegates on the first and second days. Following this the draft report was unanimously adopted by the house.
The conference resolved to strengthen mass movements and rise in the occasion with a campaign from the month of January itself. The conference decided to implement the call of 18 December by mobilizing all cadres and members of the party. The call will be linked up with specific issues of the state. The conference resolved to come forward with a new vision to develop and expand party work in the state as well as in the rest of the North East.
Thereafter a 17-member Assam State Committee comprising of Com. Rubul Sarma, Vibek Das, Pankaj Das, Subhas Sen, Arup Mahanta, Naren Borah, Partha Dey, Shrubhrajyoti Bardhan, Gangaram Kol, Lila Sarma, Mrinali Devi, Rajiv Dutta, Balindra Saikia, Jiten Tanti, Mira Tanti, Bhadrawati Gogoi and Swapna Sarma was unanimously elected by the house. Com. Rubul Sarma was re-elected as the state secretary.
Central observer Com D P Buxi placed his observation in detail and called upon the house to take up the challenge of strengthening the revolutionary movement in the state.
Why WikiLeaks Must be Protected

(Excerpt from article by John Pilger)

The case of the Afghanistan war logs and the hounding of Julian Assange prove that there's never been greater need to speak truth to power than today.

On 26 July, WikiLeaks released thousands of secret US military files on the war in Afghanistan. Cover-ups, a secret assassination unit and the killing of civilians are documented. In file after file, the brutalities echo the colonial past. From Malaya and Vietnam to Bloody Sunday and Basra, little has changed. The difference is that today there is an extraordinary way of knowing how faraway societies are routinely ravaged in our name. WikiLeaks has acquired records of six years of civilian killing in both Afghanistan and Iraq, of which those published in the Guardian are a fraction.
There is understandably hysteria on high, with demands that the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, be "hunted down" and "rendered". A senior official in the Washinton defence department referred me to the "ongoing criminal investigation" of a US soldier, Bradley Manning, an alleged whistleblower. In a nation that claims its constitution protects truth-tellers, the Obama administration is pursuing and prosecuting more whistleblowers than any of its modern predecessors. A Pentagon document states bluntly that US intelligence intends to "fatally marginalise" WikiLeaks. The preferred tactic is smear, with corporate journalists ever ready to play their part.
The Pentagon line - On 31 July, the American celebrity reporter Christiane Amanpour interviewed the US secretary of defence, Robert Gates, on the ABC network. She invited him to describe to her viewers his "anger" at WikiLeaks. She echoed the Pentagon line that "this leak has blood on its hands", cueing Gates to find WikiLeaks "guilty" of "moral culpability". Such hypocrisy coming from a regime drenched in the blood of the people of Afghanistan and Iraq - as its own files make clear - is apparently not for journalistic inquiry. This is hardly surprising now that a new and fearless form of public accountability, which WikiLeaks represents, threatens not only the warmakers but also their apologists.
Their current propaganda is that WikiLeaks is "irresponsible". Earlier this year, before it released the cockpit video of a US Apache gunship killing 19 civilians in Iraq, including journalists and children, WikiLeaks sent people to Baghdad to find the victims' families in order to prepare them. Before the release of last month's Afghanistan war logs, WikiLeaks wrote to the White House asking that it identify Afghan names that might draw reprisals. There was no reply. More than 15,000 files were withheld and these, Assange says, will not be released until they have been scrutinised "line by line" so that the names of those at risk can be deleted.
A duty to publish - On 16 August, the Guardian, citing Daniel Ellsberg, described the great Israeli whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu as "the pre-eminent hero of the nuclear age". Vanunu, who alerted the world to Israel's secret nuclear weapons, was kidnapped by the Israelis and incarcerated for 18 years after he was left unprotected by the Sunday Times, which had published the documents he supplied. In 1983, another heroic whistleblower, Sarah Tisdall, a Foreign Office clerical officer, sent documents to the Guardian disclosing how the Thatcher government planned to spin the arrival of US cruise missiles in Britain. The Guardian complied with a court order to hand over the documents, and Tisdall went to prison.
The WikiLeaks revelations shame the dominant section of journalism, devoted merely to taking down what cynical and malign power tells it. This is state stenography, not journalism. Look on the WikiLeaks site and read a Ministry of Defence document that describes the "threat" of real journalism. And so it should be a threat.


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: