A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 14 No. 50 06 - 12 December 2011
NATO Firing on Pakistan Troops:
Perils of Partnership with Imperialists
On November 26, a NATO air attack on a border patrol in North-West Pakistan claimed the lives of 28 Pakistani soldiers. The attack, which took place around 2 am, reportedly lasted two hours. While the US military has maintained that the attack was unintentional, Pakistan has asserted that the attack was not inadvertent, since NATO possessed detailed information about the position of border posts, and worked in close coordination with Pakistan's military.
The incident has sparked off huge protests in several cities in Pakistan, including at the US Embassy in Karachi. This attack is not the first by US and NATO troops on Pakistani soil. Since 2001, Pakistan has facilitated the US and NATO war in Afghanistan and been an active part of the US-led 'war on terror.' Increasingly, the US put pressure on Pakistan to launch an offensive on its Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and North West Frontier Province (NWFP), causing huge civilian casualties and displacement. Since 2008, US drone attacks, ostensibly in the name of targeting Taliban forces in Pakistan, have claimed a large number of civilian deaths, even as the US military claims 'zero collateral damage.'
Pakistan's ruling class has incurred the wrath of its people for its complicity with these imperialist attacks. The Wikileaks cables revealed the Pakistani Government telling the US that they did not much mind the 'collateral damage' in drone attacks, but explaining that they would have to adopt a posture of condemnation in the National Assembly for public consumption. The US military raid which killed Osama bin Laden was yet another violation of Pakistan's sovereignty that had Pakistan's people frustrated and angry with their Government's subservience to imperialist aggression.
The latest attack which claimed the lives of Pakistani troops has been the proverbial last straw – and public anger has forced the Pakistan Government to take an unusually tough posture. Pakistan boycotted the Bonn Conference which was held to mobilise international support for the continued war and occupation in Afghanistan; closed its borders to NATO convoys supplying international troops in Afghanistan; and expelled the US from its drone base in the country: one of the major bases for drone operations over Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The US response to the drone attacks smacks of its characteristic audacity. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Dempsey, ruled out any apology for the incident. US President Obama, too, has refused to make any formal apology for the attack, in spite of the US ambassador to Pakistan explicitly requesting a formal video statement from Obama to help defuse the escalating public anger against the US. Meanwhile, in the wake of Pakistan's move to close convoy routes and expel the US from its drone base, two US Senators, one Republican and one Democrat, have urged the White House to initiate "tough diplomacy" and threaten to withdraw funding unless Pakistan restores full cooperation. These statements and the US' brazen refusal to apologise, only underline the essentially unequal relations between the US and its 'junior partners.'
More shameful is India's silence on the issue of such a major attack by imperialist forces on a close neighbour's soil. With its silence, the Manmohan Singh Government is displaying its abject loyalty to its US masters. Secretly gloating at the growing rift between Pakistan and the US, the UPA Government hopes to have India replace Pakistan as the US' most trusted lieutenant in the subcontinent. Democratic and anti-imperialist forces in India must condemn the NATO attack in Pakistan and the Indian Government's silence.
The US is notorious for its shabby and arrogant treatment of its 'friends,' once the latter have served their purpose. The US has revealed that such 'friends' can be no more than subservient allies for it. Having killed innumerable civilians and 28 soldiers in Pakistan, its most loyal and long-serving ally, the US cannot even pay it the basic courtesy of an apology. Pakistan's experience ought to serve as a grim warning to India, as her rulers aspire to be the US' new 'best friend' and junior partner, of the inevitable fate of US imperialism's friends and partners.
Resolutions Adopted at CPI(ML) CC meeting
(Patna, 24-25 November)
On Kishanji's killing
The CPI(ML) demands a judicial enquiry into the killing of Maoist leader Kishanji by security forces in Bengal. Last year, questions had been raised about the authenticity of the 'encounter' in which Maoist leader Azad had been killed, and Mamata Banerjee herself had endorsed the demand for an enquiry. However, no credible enquiry followed. Now, a judicial enquiry should be ordered into the killings of Azad as well as Kishanji, without delay.
Promises of peace, and talks with Maoists before elections – followed by severe repression and liquidation of Maoist leaders immediately after coming to power: this is a familiar pattern seen in the behavior of the Congress Government in Andhra Pradesh in 2004, and now, the TMC Government in Bengal. The CPI(ML) condemns the repressive tactics of the TMC Government and the demands that the Governments at Bengal and the Centre withdraw its repressive operation and seriously initiate talks.
On FDI in retail
The CPI(ML) condemns the Cabinet decision to introduce 51% FDI in multi-brand retail. This measure will hand over the Indian consumer market to the big multinational retail corporations like Wal-Mart etc., and will jeopardize the livelihood and survival of innumerable small retailers, employees, small producers and marginal farmers in India. The decision has been taken under pressure from Indian corporates, MNC lobbies and their parent governments. The CPI(ML) calls for sustained countrywide protest against this anti-people move.
NATO Attack on Pakistan
The CPI(ML) condemns the continued air strikes by NATO and US forces on Pakistani soil. The latest NATO attacked claimed the lives of 28 Pakistani soldiers, while many attacks have claimed civilian lives. The CPI(ML) calls upon the democratic people in India to stand in solidarity with the Pakistani people in the face of these attacks, and demands an end to these imperialist assaults on Pakistan's sovereignty.
Ishrat Jahan's Killing
The SIT appointed by the Gujarat High Court has termed the supposed encounter by Gujarat police of a 19-year-old student Ishrat Jehan in 2004 to be a cold-blooded murder. Both Narendra Modi's Gujarat Government and the Congress Government at the Centre have maintained all along that Ishrat Jahan was a terrorist – the SIT report has exposed these claims to be lies. The Gujarat HC has now ordered a CBI enquiry into the killing.
Ishrat Jahan and three others killed with her were said to be terrorists targeting the Chief Minister. Now that Ishrat Jahan's killing stands exposed as a fake encounter, the enquiry into this killing must look into the complicity of Narendra Modi as well as top Gujarat police officials. Those responsible for the shameful assassination of this young girl must be brought to book.
The Pension Fund Regulatory & Development Authority Bill tabled in Parliament is a move to rob the lakhs of government employees of their due pensions, and put these pension funds on the stock market. The Government has ignored the long-standing working class opposition to this neoliberal measure. The CPI(ML) demands withdrawal of this Bill that seeks to erode the rights of the employees and working class.
On Notification of Rules Nuke Liability Law
The Nuclear Liability Law passed by the UPA Government was in any case weak and tailored to limit the liability of foreign suppliers. However, even that weak law failed to satisfy the global nuclear industry and their parent governments, especially the US, which have been clamouring for further dilution. The UPA Government, in notifying the rules for the Nuclear Liability Law, has further diluted the provisions relating to liability of foreign suppliers in case of a nuclear accident. At the same time, the Government is determined to force through the nuclear projects at Koodankulam, Jaitapur and other places, ignoring the huge people's movements against these.
In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, there is a new and urgent awareness worldwide about the dangers of nuclear disasters. The global nuclear industry is keen to free itself from any liability obligations, leaving host countries (in this case India) to bear the burden of compensation and clean-up.
Not only must the rules notified by reviewed and made stringent to ensure that foreign suppliers bear their full share of liability; the CPI(ML) also reiterates the demand for the UPA Government to announce a moratorium on nuclear projects pending a thorough review of the whole question of nuclear power in India.
CPI(ML) March Against Communalism on 6 December
On 6 December, marking the anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition, the CPI(ML) held a March Against Communalism, For Secularism and Democracy. Participants – including students, teachers, workers, women and intelligentsia – marched from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar, raising slogans and displaying placards and banners demanding action against the perpetrators of communal violence and fake encounters.
At Jantar Mantar, the march culminated in a public meeting. Addressing the public meeting, Kavita Krishnan, Central Committee member of CPI(ML), said the date 6 December stands out as a dark day for India's democracy. On that day, in 1992, the Babri Masjid was demolished by the communal forces and BJP leaders in full public view – while the police and Central Government headed by the Congress stood as a mute spectator. Today, nearly two decades later, even after the Liberhans commission of enquiry held LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and many other BJP leaders guilty for the demolition, the UPA Government lacks the political will to take any action against them.
Girija Pathak of CPI(ML) said the Babri Masjid demolition was a result of an organized political campaign of communal hatred by the saffron forces. Today, that organized political campaign of communal violence and hatred continues in many forms. In Gujarat in 2002, the Modi Government sponsored riots that killed thousands of minorities. Senior police officers who gave evidence of CM Narendra Modi's role in that violence have been victimized. The Modi Government has also been implicated in a series of fake encounters. Pointing out the recent SIT finding that the 'encounter' of a 19-year-old girl, Ishrat Jahan, was a cold-blooded murder by police officers, Sandeep said it was ironic that the Central Government, headed by the Congress, was uniting with the Modi Government to brand Ishrat as a terrorist.
General Secretary of AISA Ravi Rai spoke of how nine innocent Muslim men were framed, jailed and tortured in the Malegaon blast case, before Swami Aseemanand's confession proved that the Malegaon bomb blasts had been done by the saffron forces. Only recently, these men were granted bail, but there has been no move to compensate them or redress the injustice done to them. JNU unit President of AISA Akbar Chaudhary said that the Malegaon case is a reminder of how common it is for communally biased investigative and police agencies to frame innocent Muslim youth in terror cases. In Delhi, too, the Congress Government has refused to allow a judicial enquiry into the Batla House 'encounter' – though there are ample indications that the 'encounter' was fake.
Senior Journalist Anand Pradhan, Social activist Mehtab, AISA leader from Jamia Naseem and from DU, Anmol, and many other also addressed the gathering. They emphasised on the Congress party and UPA Government's betrayal to the cause of secularism and justice, repeatedly. The latest instance is the UPA Government's vacillation on the question of passing the Communal Violence Bill, which is intended to fight the communal biases embedded in the police force. The BJP is trying to whip up a communal campaign against the Bill. And the Congress, instead of defending and enacting the Bill, is dragging its feet.
Prabhat Kumar and Rajaram, Central Committee members of CPI(ML) and Sanjay Sharma, Delhi State Secretary, CPI(ML) led the procession. The meeting ended with a call to the people of the country to reject and resist the communal forces, as well as communally biases in police and government, and expose the doublespeak of the Congress on the question of defending secularism and democracy.
Rape of Tribal Women in Tamilnadu
On 22nd November, TN police unleashed brutality in T. Mandam hamlet of Vizhupuram district. Four women from the Irula tribal community were raped by the Tirukovilur police in the early hours of the morning.
Hearing the news, a six-member team of CPIML and AIPWA led by Party State Secretary Balasundaram visited Vizhupuram district to investigate the incident. The team members visited the Irula hamlet and the Government Hospital in Vizhupuram, where the victims were admitted for medical examination, and interacted with the relatives of the victims, leaders of Irula tribes' association, human rights organizations, media persons and lawyers. The fact finding team comprised Com. Balasundaram, State Secretary, Com. Venkatesan, District Secretary, Com. Gopalakrishnan, Com Suseela, AIPWA district secretary, Com. Baby and Com. Ranjani.
The Irulas are a local tribe numbering barely 40000 in the Vizhupuram district. They live by catching rats, snakes and iguanas, and sometimes by working in quarrying. They are at the lowest rung of the ladder in terms of socio-economic status. It is routine for the police to slap theft charges on them and jail them. Irula men are the scapegoats in every unsolved theft case.
The team found that on the day of the incident, six men of a family were falsely implicated in theft charges and arrested by the police. Around 8 pm the police ransacked the house; the girls were beaten and forcibly pushed into the police vehicle, took them to a remote place at midnight and raped them. The girls were threatened with dire consequences if they divulged the matter.
As men of their family were in lock-up, the girls were unable to act, till one R Gopalakrishnan helped them to reach the Irula tribes' association. With the help of this association, the girls approached the District Superintendent of Police to lodge a complaint. But the SP, instead of sending them to hospital for a medical examination, or arresting the culprits, detained them in his office for 18 hours. The SP and his team, including women police, intimidated them and forced them to sign blank papers. Only after the media highlighted the issue, an FIR was filed and court proceedings began. The Madras High Court, on a PIL petition, directed the SP to send the girls for medical examination. As a damage control exercise, the Chief Minister announced Rs 5 lakh as compensation, and 5 police men have been suspended.
The fact finding team demanded that the Chief Minister Jayalalitha should own responsibility for the incident and take stringent action against the culprits immediately. The police involved in the heinous crime should be imprisoned immediately, and the District Collector and the DSP and SP should be suspended for dereliction of duty and be booked under the SC/ST Act. Stringent action should be taken against the police personnel who indulged in suppressing the facts.
Further, the team has demanded an impartial enquiry by the State Women's Commission and State Human Rights Commission and SC/ST commission, as the investigations under the district police machinery, which itself is the accused party, cannot render justice. The team demanded proper protection for the victims and their family and the release of the men of the victims' family who have been arrested under fabricated theft charges. We also demanded a review of all cases filed on Irula men, and implementation of special socio- economic programmes.
CPIML and AIPWA leaders, Comrades Balasundaram, A S Kumar, Venkatesan, Ammaiappan, Thenmozhi, Devaki, Kuppabai and Lilly met the DGP on December 2, and demanded the immediate arrest of the culprits and action against the SP and DIG under SC/ST Act.
On December 5, a militant protest demonstration was held by CPIML and AIPWA in front of Vizhupuram Collectorate. Comrades Suseela, AIPWA, Venkatesan, CPIML district secretary of Vizhupuram, Ammaiappan, district secretary of Cuddalore, Dhakshanamurthy of AIALA and Dhanaval of RYA addressed the demonstration. Addressing the demonstration, Balasundaram, State Secretary of CPIML, castigated the police administration for crimes on tribal women. He also charged the education minister, along with District Collector, MLA and MP of AIADMK and DMK, for getting photographs with the rape victims to appear in dailies, citing several Supreme Court judgments and norms against revealing the names and identities of rape victims. He demanded that the High Court should take action suo moto in this matter; and the Chief Minister should drop the Education Minister from the council of ministers. He also noted that in the AIADMK regime, police repression and violence on the Dalits at Paramakudi, women at T.Mandapam and other weaker sections is on the rise.
Protests Against FDI in Retail
A massive protest demonstration was held on 1st December 2011 at Puducherry town opposing UPA II's Cabinet decision to allow FDI in retail to MNC's like Walmart, Metro, Tesco, Lawsons etc. The protest, held in support of the traders' bandh on the same issue, was led by Comrade G Palani, SCM and the protestors demanded withdrawal of UPA's decision. A large number of CPI(ML) and AICCTU activists and workers took part in the protest. S Balasubramaniam, State Secretary CPI (ML), P Sankaran, State Convenor, AIALA, S Motilal, State Secretary, AICCTU, and J Sakthivelu, co-convenor, Movement for Protection of Roofless, Puducherry, addressed the demonstrators.
In Delhi, on the same day, the party expressed support for the traders' bandh. The party and AICCTU activists distributed leaflets in the marketplaces, held mike meeting and raised slogans against FDI in retail in Narela, Wazirpur, Govindpuri, Mayur Vihar, Shahdara and Mandawali.
ASHA Wokers Protest in Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand ASHA Health Workers' Union held out protest demonstrations in various centres of the state. A protest was held in Nainital on 8 November. Protest in Bageswar Distt. was also held on the same day while in Champawat, the it was organized on 2 November. A protest in Pithoragarh was held on 1 November. ASHA workers and representatives from various blocks in respective districts participated in these protests. CPI(ML) and AISA leaders also took part at various places. Memoranda addressed to the Chief Minister were sent through the District Magistrates in these protests reminding the latter of the promises made earlier.
AIPWA Pratapgarh District Conference
All India Progressive Women's Association's Pratapgarh (Rajasthan) District Conference was held on 4 December 2011. The Conference was addressed by AIPWA National President Srilata Swaminathan who called upon to intensify the struggle against unemployment, price rise and corruption along with the struggles against the women's inequality, malnutrition and starvation which have become inseparable parts in women's lives. The conference was also addressed by CPI(ML) Rajasthan State Secretary Mahendra Chaudhary who emphasized on the need for greater interventions by women on national scale on their issues. AIPWA State Secretary Sudha Chaudhary also addressed the conference. The conference elected a 11-member Executive with Abida as its Secretary. Various resolutions were passed by the conference including against price rise, for making MNREGA available for the whole year, increase in its wages to Rs. 300 per day and to appoint woman supervisor where women workers are more in numbers, for old age pension to women, homestead land for landless women, easy availability of Diesel, kerosene, and LPG, medical facility for pregnant and poor women, etc
Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication,
R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22518248, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.cpiml.org