A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 14, No. 35, 23 – 29 AUGUST 2011
Combat Corruption, Protect Land, Defend Democracy
The PM's Independence Day speech had already shown the way for this crackdown, by warning against peaceful forms of protest, and branded democratic activists as 'people who are trying to create disturbances.' The President's Independence Eve speech also warned that people's movements could lead to 'erosion of credibility and authority' of Parliament. Earlier, the Home Minister P Chidambaram had argued that since the Lokpal Bill has been tabled in Parliament, any 'extra-parliamentary protests' on this issue would be 'unconstitutional.' The huge people's protest that greeted the arrest of Anna Hazare is a signal of how thoroughly the people have rejected such dishonest arguments. The people have made it clear that if anything is unconstitutional and a threat to democracy it is the government's attempts to muzzle protest, and not people's movements!
The countrywide resurrection of the anti-corruption movement in August has made it clear that the April 'upsurge' was no flash-in-the-pan media-created show. The degree of popular awakening and participation has only increased since April and the farcical way the government went about the whole process of drafting the Lokpal bill – virtually dismissing the joint panel – has only hardened the people's mood against the corrupt and treacherous powerlords of the discredited UPA regime. It is true that with the Baba Ramdev stream effectively pushed out of reckoning, the RSS network has started throwing its entire weight behind the Anna agitation, and the attitudes and views of many of Team Anna including Anna himself are often contradictory and inconsistent on many integral aspects of democracy or a progressive social vision. But that makes it all the more important for all in the progressive camp to step in with all their might and lead the popular anti-corruption awakening in a consistently democratic direction.
In April, it was the new idea of Lokpal which had captured the imagination of the popular anti-corruption campaign. Now the debate has clearly moved beyond Lokpal. With the government coming out with its own version of a farcical Lokpal bill, the anti-corruption movement has rightly called for its rejection even as debates continue about the preferred kind of Lokpal legislation. There are concerns over the prospect of concentration of too much power in the hands of the proposed 'Jan Lokpal', there are also concerns over the JLP bill's silence over corporate corruption given that corruption today thrives not just under the table in government offices but is fuelled most prominently by the private sector, whether thanks to outright privatisation or through the ubiquitous public-private partnership.
But beyond the specific content of Lokpal legislation, the government has made it into a people versus parliament debate and even some in the Left have fallen for the claim of saving parliament from the people or saving parliamentary democracy from the whims of mobocracy as they would like us to believe. Thus the movement has already progressed from 'Lokpal' to 'Loktantra' – from the specific turf of an ombudsman to the domain of democracy, be it resisting state repression or asserting the rights of the people's movement.
Whether one focuses on the issue of corruption or the defence of people's movement in the face of an overbearing corporate-dominated state and government, it is necessary to emphasise the organic links between the anti-corruption movement and the anti-corporate thrust of a whole range of ongoing people's struggles. With the rural development ministry releasing the draft of the proposed land acquisition bill, it is also clear that the government is bent upon legalising and accelerating the ongoing corporate war on farmland and forest and tribal-inhabited land. The anti-corruption campaign must therefore seek closer unity with the anti-privatisation struggles of the working class and students as well as ongoing people's movement in defence of land and livelihood.
The CPI(ML) seeks precisely to emphasise and embody the linkage between the anti-corruption movement and the broader resistance against corporate plunder of productive resources and state-inflicted denial of people's rights. The August 9 jail bharo agitation and the August 9-12 student-youth day-and-night barricade at Jantar Mantar marked both the culmination of one phase and the beginning of the next phase with the battlecry "Combat Corruption, Protect Land, Defend Democracy." Let us take this message to every corner of the country and mobilise the masses in their millions to oust the corrupt and authoritarian UPA government and reject and reverse the pro-corporate policies that are daily ravaging the country and the people.
Grave Findings by Kashmir SHRC
It's official now: thousands of 'disappeared' Kashmiri civilians did not vanish into thin air or across the border. They lie buried in unmarked mass graves – the victims of custodial murders by security forces in the Valley.
A probe by the Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) establishes that more than 2000 bodies lie in 38 unmarked graves in northern Kashmir.
For the people of Kashmir, this is not a sensational discovery. They can only feel a grim sense of vindication of what they have long been alleging. The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, in March 2008, released a report, 'Facts Underground', that pointed to the presence of the unmarked graves. The SHRC enquiry was initiated in response to the APDP campaign.
In 2009 a report of the International People's Tribunal (IPT) on Human Rights and Justice documented 2,700 unknown, unmarked, and mass graves.
Now the SHRC has stated that "beyond doubt," 2156 bullet-ridden bodies have been found in 38 mass graves. Many of these were handed over by police to locals for burial as 'unidentified militants.' The SHRC report accepts that "There is every probability that these unidentified bodies may contain bodies of enforced disappearances." In light of these findings, the SHRC has ordered a state-wide investigation including exhumation of the bodies, DNA profiling and matching with relatives of disappeared people, and lodging of FIRs.
Some of the bodies were defaced; 20 were charred and five only had skulls remaining. 18 of the graves contained more than one body each. The report also suggests that "to stop the misuse of powers under AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) and Disturbed Areas Act, it is necessary that wherever anybody is killed — whether he is a militant or an innocent civilian — his or her identification profile including DNA profile should be maintained properly." This suggestion itself is an admission of how the draconian AFSPA is being used – as a license to murder civilians and maintain a reign of terror over the people in the areas where it is deployed.
The APDP estimates that around 10,000 people 'disappeared' during the last couple of decades. In some of the cases, where the disappeared person had been picked up by police or army officials from his home, the families pursued the matter, and probes were even ordered against the concerned security officials. But such enquiries mostly came to naught. The APDP is headed by Perveena Ahangar, whose son went missing in police custody 17 years ago. She has called for international human rights groups and Indian authorities to identify the people buried in the mass graves.
The families of the disappeared seek closure for the terrible uncertainty and pain they have endured. They also seek justice and punishment for the unconscionable murders, by Indian security forces, of their loved ones.
It is imperative that an unbiased drive to identify the bodies be launched before there is any chance of destruction or further decay of the evidence. As ordered by the SHRC, FIRs must be lodged in the case of all disappeared persons, and pursued at a fast track.
In the unmarked mass graves lie buried the dark reality of civilian life in Kashmir under military jackboots. It is a stark reminder that every Kashmiri family lives in terror of their loved one 'vanishing' after being picked up arbitrarily by security forces. This state of terror can end only when the right to self-determination of Kashmiris is respected and a political solution acceptable to the Kashmiri people sought and found.
We publish below further reports of Country-wide Protests by CPI(ML) on 16-17 August against Congress-UPA Government's Crackdown on Anti-corruption Movement
Assam: As part of the movement against corruption and to demand an effective Lokpal Bill, the CPI(ML) on 20th August launched agitations in Assam. In State capital Guwahati, CPI(ML) took out a protest procession in the main areas of Ambari, Dighalipukhuri, Cotton College, DC office and High Court. More than hundred members and supporters of CPI(ML) and members of AICCTU affiliated trade unions, marched in the main streets of the locality and later they joined a fast organized by 'Save Democracy Campaign Committee'.
In Jorhat, Party's district committee, organized a bicycle procession from Teokto Jorhat covering a long distance. The protesters shouted slogans against corruption, demanded 'save democracy, save India', called upon the people to root out corruption from all spheres.
In Jakhalabandha, Nagaon, Party's district committee, organized a torch light procession of one hundred protesters on the same demands.
On the other hand 'Save democracy save India', a joint forum comprising of All India Agricultural Labourers'Association (AIALA), Sangrami Chah Sramik Sangha, AIPWA, bank trade unions, Anti-Eviction and Development committees etc. organized a 24-hour fast on the footpath of Ambari from 11 am of 19th to 11 am following day. Different organizations extended their support to this programme.
Karnataka: Harapanahalli unit of All India Students' Association (AISA) organized a rally and demonstration in front of Taluk office on 16 August against corruption, corporate loot and for democracy. The rally was led by Prasad, AISA National Executive Committee member and was addressed by Manjunath, AISA NCM, Prakash, district convenor and Chowdappa, AIALA among others. Comrade Ramappa, state secretary of CPI(ML) lambasted the central government for arresting Anna Hazare and other anti-corruption activists. The students were called upon to continue fight against corruption till the neo liberal policies are reversed. The speakers also emphasised that Jan Lokpal is only a beginning and not an end of anti-corruption movement being spearheaded by CPI(ML).
On 17th, hundreds of students led by AISA staged 'rasta roko' against corruption for the second day.
In HDKote, CPI(ML) activists led by Javaraiah, SLTM, joined the struggle with other progressive organisattions on 16th. The demonstrators submitted a memorandum to the President through Tahsildar.
In Gangavati too, CPI(ML) and AICCTU activists led by AIALA State President Com. Bharadwaj participated in joint programmes with other progressive organizations.
Tamil Nadu: In Coimbatore, 400 Pricol workers held demonstrations at two factory gates on 16 August. On 18 August Pricol workers held a demonstration in City Centre too. Comrades Damodharan, SCM of the Party and N Krishnamurthy, Balasubramaniam and Gurusami led these protests.
In Chennai, over 100 TIDC workers immediately participated in a demonstration at the factory gate and raised slogans against UPA government demanding UPA to quit power, quit India and to stop repression. Following this demonstration, workers of another 4 factories held factory gate meetings immediately and demanded UPA government to give-up its policy of repression. In the evening over 100 workers and Party members held a demonstration at the busy Ambattur Market. In all these six centres about 500 workers participated on 16 August. These protests were led by comrades AS Kumar, SCM, Sekar, SCM and Palanivel, State Secretary of AICCTU. Comrades in government service released a pamphlet condemning UPA's repressive measures.
At High Court, Chennai, around 40 advocates participated in an 80-strong demonstration on 18 August. The demonstration was led by Com. K Bharathi, SCM of the Party.
On August 17, Comrades of Namakkal district held demonstrations at two centres with 100 power loom workers. Comrades Arumugam and KR Kumarasami led these demonstrations.
In Kumbakonam, a demonstration was held on 18 August in which around 50 rural poor participated. Comrades TKS Janardhanan, S Elangovan (SCMs), led the protest. In Tirunelveli also a demonstration was held on 19 August. In Kanyakumari and Salem poster campaign was taken up.
AICCTU Initiatives towards CPI(ML)'s August 9 Jail Bharo
All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), Tamil Nadu, held its State Working Committee meet on July 9 – 10 and discussed in detail about preparations for QUIT INDIA DAY protests and for the forthcoming National and State Conferences of AICCTU. The SWC emphasized in reaching new sections of workers, with particular concentration on construction workers in big projects of MNCs, big government projects and migrant constructions workers in and around Chennai, among contract workers in Sriperumbudur, the Detroit of TN, and organizing unorganized workers, particularly women, in living areas. SWC decided to organize padyatras (march on foot) to reach these sections of workers to take up propaganda for QUIT INDIA DAY protests. To begin all this, the SWC decided to hold district level cadre meetings.
In the month of July, in Coimbatore, Chennai, Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli, Namakkal and Salem - district level cadre meetings were held and around 200 cadres and advanced activists attended these meetings.
In Coimbatore, Comrade S Kumarasami, PBM, camped for a month before August 9. He participated in all 24 padayatras held in Coimbatore in the workers localities in which around 150 workers were involved. 28,000 pamphlets were distributed. 550 workers participated in the jail bharo protest on August 9. Com. S Kumarasami courted arrest along with them in Perianaickenpalayam, a centre where the police denied permission even to hold a public meet on earlier occasions.
Before this campaign Com. S Kumarasami stayed in Pricol Workers' Union office for 15 days and met over 750 workers in groups of 5 to 20 and discussed with them about their views on union activities, political initiatives in the area and future course. This has led to enhanced participation of Pricol workers in July 26 public meet and the campaign toward August 9.
In Chennai, 30 padyatras were held in which 425 workers participated. 32,000 pamphlets were distributed and the campaign reached over 50,000 workers. New sections of construction workers were identified and membership campaign among them was taken up. Workers from Bihar and Jharkhand employed in a factory in Ambattur also joined the campaign. On August 9 around 250 workers participated in the Jail bharo protest. The protest was led by Com. Sekar, AICCTU State Scretary and Party District Secretary.
In Tirunelveli, on August 9 roads were blocked in two centres and over 100 courted arrest led by Comrades T Sankarapandian and Thenmozhi, SCMs of the Party. In the run up toward August 9, Beedi workers Conference and padayatras were held. In Kanyakumari, padayatras and vehicle campaigns were held and on August 9 over 100 courted arrested under the leadership of Com. Anthonimuthu, SCM of the Party and State Vice-President, AICCTU.
In Namakkal district also padayatras were held in the localities of power loom workers and on August 9 roads were blocked in two centres led by Com. A Govindaraj, State Secretary of AICCTU and SCM of the Party. In Kanchipuram on August 9 over 100 workers participated in the road block and courted arrest led by Com. C Eraniappan, State Secretary, AICCTU and SCM of the Party. In Salem a demonstration was held on August 9 in which around 100 workers participated. In all, over 1300 workers participated on August 9; 60 to 70 padayatras held; over 60,000 pamphlets released; campaign reached out to over 1 lakh workers.
AIPWA's Massive Demonstration in Nainital for Jan Lokpal Bill
Thousands of women and young people under the banner of the All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) held a massive demonstration against corrupt Congress/UPA and for an effective lokpal bill at Lakuan in Nainital district on 21 August. The protest demonstration in the form of a rally started from Car Road, Bindukhatta, and marched through Lalkuan bazaar. The rally was led by AIPWA leaders comrades Vimla Rauthan (AIPWA's district convener), Kamla Joshi, Hema Joshi, Bachuli Devi, Kalawati Sijwali, Kamla Majara, Panuli Jeena, Anandi Joshi, AISA's Udham Singh Nagar Dist. Secretary Rubi Bhardwaj and Bhagirathi Joshi.
The women in rally vigorously demanded for the Jan Lokpal Bill to be passed before 30th August. The demonstrators raised slogans – "Murderer of Democracy, Manmohan Govt. Quit Power", "anti-nationals come to your senses, bring all country's money back", etc. The rally was addressed by CPI(ML)'s State incharge Comrade Raja Bahuguna who said that the movement and fight against corruption is linked with uprooting the whole rotten system and Jan Lokpal is but one stopover. Other CPI(ML) and Kisan Sabha leaders also participated in the rally.
Comrade BB Thapa
Comrade BB Thapa passed away on the morning of 21 August 2011 in Delhi. He was 82. Throughout his life he remained active in people's movements. During his service years he led the trade union movement and after retirement he joined IPF in the 90's and later CPI(ML). Afterwards, during Uttarakhand statehood movement he had left the Party and joined joint forum for separate State. He faced state-repression was in jail. State Party Unit of CPI(ML) expressed deep condolence on his demise.
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