A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 15, No. 05, 24 – 30 JANUARY 2012
'Green Hunt' in Jharkhand:
State Repression and Witch-hunt Against CPI(ML)
ollowing a landmine blast by CPI(Maoist) in Garhwa, Jharkhand, CPI(ML) leaders were abducted by Maoists, and the police is implicating the CPI(ML) in the blasts, and torturing its local village activists for 'conspiring' with Maoists.
Local village activists of the CPI(ML) including elected mukhiya Ramdas Minz were leading a protest at Badgad village in Bhandaria block in Garhwa district, demanding that the Bhandaria BDO meet them and address their grievance over the site chosen for a health centre.
A landmine blast by Maoists claimed the lives of several policemen who were accompanying the BDO to meet the agitating villagers. The Maoists also abducted Comrade Sushma Mehta, elected Zila Parishad Chairperson from the CPI(ML) and CPI(ML)'s Jharkhand State Committee member Comrade Akhtar Ansari who were on their way to the protest site, along with Comrade Sushma's security guard and the driver of their car.
Shamefully, instead of making efforts to rescue the abducted CPI(ML) leaders and others, the Jharkhand police falsely implicated the CPI(ML) in the landmine blast, alleging that the roadblock and protest were being held by the party as a ploy to 'lure' the policemen into the Maoist trap. In his press conference, the DGP even refused to acknowledge that the abduction had taken place. Several CPI(ML) activists included the Badgad mukhiya were tortured and beaten up in custody in the name of 'interrogations' to establish 'links' with Maoists.
The Maoists owned up the abduction, and subsequently three of the hostages including both CPI(ML) leaders were released on January 24, though the guard continues to remain a hostage to the Maoists. The Garhwa bandh called by the party on 24 January was very successful, but several CPI(ML) activists including Party state committee members Anant Prasad Gupta and Kalicharan Mehta, veteran CPI(ML) leader Kishore Kumar and President of Danda Panchayat Samiti (Block council) Comrade Rahina were severely injured in a brutal assault by the police. All these comrades are hospitalised with fractured limbs.
Garhwa is still very much in the grip of feudal forces and the feudal power centres in the district deeply resent the growing assertion of the rural poor with the CPI(ML). There have been powerful struggles for land redistribution, ration cards, against corruption in welfare schemes, and for workers' minimum wages and rights. On the basis of these struggles Party candidates polled impressive votes in the district in the last Assembly elections and won many victories in the panchayat elections held in 2011. Sushma Mehta was elected Zila Parishad chairperson and Party nominees also won many panchayats and blocks.
The police and local administration have for some time now, launched an all-out drive to falsely implicate the CPI(ML) leaders and discredit the party, to crush the growing assertion of the party in Garhwa.
Not long ago, in Garhwa, the police raided the home of CPI(ML) activist Sita Paswan, claiming without any evidence, that fake currency had been found, indicating CPI(ML) leaders' links with 'ISI'. Similarly, the effort is on to link CPI(ML) with Maoists and intimidate CPI(ML)'s mass base.
By fabricating a link between a mass democratic protest by villagers with a Maoist blast, the Jharkhand police and Government are trying to tar every democratic protest with the brush of 'terrorism', to justify crackdown on every such protest in the name of anti-Maoist operations and Green Hunt.
The Maoist actions of massacring policemen, abducting political activists, and holding a security guard hostage are highly reprehensible and condemnable. Further, as is happening in Garhwa now, such actions are inevitably used by the state as a pretext to unleash repression on activists of mass struggles. The brunt of this repression is borne by the mass of rural people and activists emerging from these oppressed sections. It is these activists, too, who are the targets for Maoist abductions and killings – which can only serve the interests of the ruling class and the state. In the case of the assassination of Comrade Mahendra Singh by the Maoists, the killing directly benefited the corrupt nexus of police, politicians, and mining mafia. The killing by Maoists of social activist Niyamat Ansari too benefited none but the contractors and politicians benefiting from MNREGA corruption.
Seeking to discredit and crush the CPI(ML)'s assertion by hook or crook, the Jharkhand Government and police are indulging in a witch-hunt and outright repression of CPI(ML) activists and leaders. But history has shown, time and again, that such repressive tactics have failed in the face of revolutionary determination and resistance. The party calls upon its supporters and democratic people to beat back this political conspiracy and emerge victorious!
Fact line on Maoist Abduction and State Repression of CPI(ML) Activists in Garhwa in the Wake of the Maoist Blasts
On 21 January 2012, an agitation by local villagers demanding the shifting of the proposed site of a health centre was being led by elected mukhiya and CPI(ML) activist Ramdas Minz, at Badgad village in Bhandaria block in Garhwa district. The police arrested Comrade Ramdas Minz during the agitation, but the protest continued, blockading the road with the demand that the Bhandaria BDO meet them and address their grievance.
Comrade Sushma Mehta, elected Zila Parishad Chairperson and well-known local leader of the CPI(ML) was coming from Garhwa by car to the protest site, along with CPI(ML)'s Jharkhand State Committee member Comrade Akhtar Ansari.
A land mine blast by Maoists in the same area claimed the lives of several policemen, though the BDO's car, apparently on the way to meet the agitating villagers, passed safely. When Comrade Sushma's vehicle approached the area, the Maoists stopped the car and snatched the gun from Comrade Sushma's bodyguard. Comrade Sushma, her bodyguard Sunesh Ram, CPI(ML) State Committee member Comrade Akhtar Ansari, and the driver of the car, Ahmed, were abducted by the Maoists.
The Jharkhand police made no attempt to rescue the hostages, and instead falsely implicated the CPI(ML) in the landmine blast, alleging that the roadblock and protest were being held by the party as a ploy to 'lure' the policemen into the Maoist trap. Several of our activists: Comrade Ramdas Minz, elected mukhiya from the CPI(ML), Fida Husain, Annu Lakra, Maqsud Ansari and Budlal Kerketta - who had been protesting at Badgad with the demand that the site of a health centre be decided by villagers rather than at the behest of contractors - are being tortured and beaten up in custody in the name of 'interrogations' to establish 'links' with Maoists.
Three of the people (Comrades Sushma Mehta and Akhtar Ansari and their driver) were released on 24 January, though the security guard continues to remain a hostage.
CPI(ML)'s Garhwa bandh on 24 January got overwhelming support of local people. Impressive mobilisation also happened in Majhiaon, Nagar Untari, Bhawnathpur amd Ramuna. However, it seemed that police were avenging the Maoist blasts by venting their anger on peaceful protestors. In the lathicharge women, older people, none was spared. Over a dozen CPI(ML) activists were severely injured, with broken limbs, in a brutal lathicharge on a peaceful protest during the bandh. Those injured include Comrade Sushma's husband Comrade Kalicharan Mehta, her father Comrade Kishor Kumar, Comrade Rahina Begum, the elected Pramukh of Danda block in Garhwa district, and the party's State Standing Committee Member Comrade Anant Gupta whose left leg has been broken.
The CPI(ML) activists who have been in police custody since January 21 were produced in front of a magistrate and charged only on 24 January. As we go to press, we learn that they have been shifted to Garhwa thana from Badgad thana, and may soon be sent to jail.
Earleir on 22 January, protests were organised all over Palamu that included Garhwa, Daltonganj, Chhatarpur, Barwadih, Nagar Untari, Ramuna and Dhurki in which more than thousand people took to the streets in protest of the arrests and abduction of our comrades by Maoists. On 23 January, protests were held throughout the State. At Ranchi, Jharkhand's capital, a dharna was held at Albert Ekka roundabout attended by senior Party leaders. Protest marches and demonstration were held in all the sub-divisions and blocks of Giridih district. Dharna was held at Randheer Verma Chowk in Dhanbad. Demonstration wa held at Jhanda Chowk in Koderma. Protest meetings were organised at Ramgarh, Bokaro, Hazaribagh, DUmka, Mohanpur in Deoghar, Lohardaga, Barwadih and Manika in Latehar, apart from several other places. There was thick participation from people in these protests of 22nd and 23rd that helped to put pressure on the State Govt as well as the Maoists.
A CPI(ML) delegation met with the Jharkhand Governor and demanded action against concerned officials for the criminal apathy of the Government in releasing those taken hostage by the Maoists, and for unleashing state terror and custodial violence against CPI(ML) activists who had been involved in peaceful protests and now are falsely accused of involvement in the Maoist blasts. The Governor did not seem very serious towards the issues raised by us, however, he tried to assure us that nobody should suffer injustice.
A CPI(ML) delegation comprising its State Secretary Comrade Janardan Prasad, CC member Comrade Suvendu Sen and Bagodar MLA Comrade Vinod Singh demanded the DG of Police for urgent intervention. We, however were given the impression that for the DGP controlling the reaction emanating from the massacre of policemen was the only priority.
Condemning the Maoist blast and abduction, as well as the ongoing state repression and police brutality in the strongest terms, the CPI(ML) reiterated its demand that the State and Central Governments make every effort to secure the safe release of the abducted guard; and to end the appalling conspiracy and campaign by the Jharkhand police and administration to suppress democratic people's movements led by the CPI(ML).
Outrage Against Gang Rape in Odisha
Odisha's BJD Government has been rocked to the foundations by protests against the brutal gang rape and attempted murder of a 19-year-old dalit girl in Arjungoda, in Pipili constituency of Puri district. In the wake of the incident and the protests, Naveen Patnaik has been forced to get a Cabinet Minister Pradeep Maharathy to resign following allegations that he has been shielding the rapists.
Maharathy is a notorious mafia of the area and is the BJD MLA from Pipili. The four rapists are known to be close associates of Maharathy and members of BJD's local goon brigade. They gang-raped the 19-year-old, and then strangled her, leaving her for dead. Her parents found her in a coma. But when they went to the Pipili Hospital, they found that the hospital, under pressure from Maharathy, refused to admit her. The Cuttack Medical College Hospital also refused to admit her. The Pipili Police Station refused to let them lodge an FIR. When they approached the State Women's Commission in Bhubaneshwar, they were told to 'come back tomorrow.'
Only when the parents approached the State Human Rights Commission did they get some relief, with the SHRC demanding an explanation from police and doctors for their inaction. The media also picked up the story at this point.
The victim's family had first approached the police station on November 18. But the FIR could be lodged only on January 9, following intervention by the Odisha High Court.
The girl is the key eyewitness in the gang rape of her friend in 2008. Her friend was mysteriously killed and she herself was attacked twice since 2008, in an attempt to silence her. And now, she herself has been gang-raped and left nearly dead, but the BJD Government has been protecting the perpetrators.
The first protest in the state on this issue was held by the AIPWA and CPI (ML) Liberation in the state capital, Bhubaneshwar, on 9 January. The protest was led by State Committee member Radhakant Sethi, Sanjukta Panigrahi of AIPWA, Mahendra Parida, National Secretary of AICCTU, Comrades Janaki Rao, Upendra Sahoo, Seema Sethi and others.
Subsequently, all Opposition parties in the state protested the incident, demanding a CBI probe and resignation of the Chief Minister. The entire spectrum of political opposition, media, social groups and NGOs united under the banner of Odisha Gan Samaj, convened by two senior journalists.
The Odisha HC has directed the Government to provide proper treatment to the girl, protection to her and her family, and punishment for culprits and officials who tried to cover up the matter.
The girl is unlikely to recover, since she has suffered from a brain haemorrhage. In a face-saving attempt, Naveen Patnaik has got Maharathy to resign from the Cabinet and has ordered a judicial probe. But judicial probes are widely perceived as eyewash in Odisha; since in Naveen's tenure there have been 17 judicial probes on various issues. Many of them are yet to submit a report, and in cases where reports have been submitted, no action has been taken. The Inspector-in-Charge of Pipili police station, Amulya Champatiray, was first transferred to police HQs at Puri, and then suspended on charges of dereliction of duty.
But these measures cannot assuage the outrage felt by people in the State against the heinous gang rape and murderous assault and cold-blooded cover up and protection of perpetrators by the ruling establishment. The protests continue demanding a CBI enquiry and resignation of the CM.
Struggles For Rights of Cyclone Affected in TN
CPIML, AIALA and AIPWA held daily road roko, gherao, and protest demonstrations between 4 -21 January in the cyclone-affected areas, to press for speedy relief and rehabilitation. On 4th January, a demo at the Town Panchayat Office turned into a gherao of the Tehsildar, led by the CPI(ML) State Secretary. For over an hour, a large number of people including a large number of Muslim women thronged the Tahsildar's chamber. The latter assured that electricity, water and PDS distribution would be resumed forthwith. In Tirunavalur block, several demonstrations were held in which angry people encircled the RDO Sub-Collector, Tehsildar and Revenue Inspectors, forcing these officials to order a fresh survey of the affected families. In one incident, the administration deployed forces to disperse the agitators. Party District Secretary Venkatesan intervened, and the protesting people compelled the Rapid Action Force to retreat. Protestors led by our party blockaded the NH 45 more than thrice.
More than 3000 people participated in these protests, from both the Dalit and Vanniar (most backward) communities. On 8 January, CPI(ML) and All India Agricultural Labourers' Association (AIALA) activists occupied government buses in Senthanadu, and the protests spread further. Of the total 44 panchayats in the block, our agitations and demonstrations covered around 20. Of the total 17000 families, 5000 families (20000 people of the total 70000 in the block) got the relief amount of Rs 2500 each. The District administration's plan was to distribute relief in a very limited section. Now people from many adjoining villages are approaching the CPI(ML) and AIALA for help in taking forward their demands.
In Cuddalore district, a road-roko was organized on 14 January, in which more than 250 people participated, forcing the administration to order a fresh survey. Just 14 families were in the initial list, after the fresh survey, the number jumped to around 200!
District Secretaries Comrades Venkatesan and Ammaiyappan and other district committee members and mass organisation leaders are actively organizing the protests.
Workers and AICCTU in TN Raise Fund for the Cyclone Victims
Cyclone Thane: TN government's callousness in relief and rehabilitation measures has only added to the woes of the cyclone affected people. Even after 3 weeks people in many parts of the districts affected by cyclone are not getting adequate food.
All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) appealed to the workers to fight against the indifference of the Jayalalitha Govt toward the cylone affected people and to come forward to help them. Within 2 days Pricol workers mobilized Rs.53,000 and workers in Chennai mobilized Rs.70,000 toward the relief fund. Contract workers of Hyundai who earn less than Rs.6000 a month participated enthusiastically in the relief fund mobilizing activities and they too contributed to the relief fund. TIDC workers contributed Rs.20,000. In Tirunelveli, AICCTU leaders and cadres approached the small vendors in the main market and mobilized Rs.10,000 in a day. Similar fund-raising was also conducted by AICCTU in Namakkal and powerloom workers contributed for the relief fund. In addition to the ongoing preparations for the 7th State Conference of AICCTU, AICCTU leaders and activists all over the state have collected over Rs 1 lakh in relief funds. The relief funds will be distributed in a public programme in Cuddalore, Villupuram, and Puduchery in the first week of February.
Rajasthan: AIPWA's 2nd State Conference Held
The 2nd State Conference of the All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) was held in Jaipur on 23rd January with the call to "Fight against oppression, discrimination and violence, fight for employment, emancipation and justice". Women delegates from several districts like Pratapgarh, Bhilwada, Tonk, Udaipur, Jaipur and Ajmer actively participated in the Conference and the debates and discourse.
Comrade Srilata Swaminathan, National President of AIPWA inaugurated the Conference and hoisted the flag. She said that equality, dignity and respect, and a repression-free society is still a dream for women. Despite all sorts of official schemes the women are continuing to fall victims of feudal, capitalist oppression, repression and exploitation. Emancipation is only possible through resolute struggle, that in turn is possible only through a fighting organisation like AIPWA. CPI(ML)'s State Secretary, Comrade Mahendra Chaudhary also addressed the Conference. Several women delegates spoke in the Conference.
The Conference adopted 11 political resolutions mainly centring on NREGA, employment, pensions, BPL, price rise, withch-hunt, honorarium, 33% women's reservation among others. The Conference elected a 13 member State Executive Council. Comrade Sudha was elected State Secretary and Comrade Bhanwari as President. The Conference concluded with the participants taking pledge to build struggle on the resolutions and spread and strengthen the organisation in Rajasthan.
AIPWA's Udaipur District Conference was also held recently, at Salumber on 15 January.
The Party in Punjab suffered a tragic loss when Comrade Paramjeet Singh Ghuman, a young promising organizer from agricultural labour background in Bathinda district, passed away at the Chandigarh PGI hospital in the early hours of 21 January following a motor-cycle accident a few days ago. Comrade Paramjeet (35) had been actively involved in the ongoing Assembly election campaign in Maur constituency in Bathina district. The funeral took place on 23 January afternoon in his village and was attended by hundreds of people from his village and many Party leaders and activists including Comrades Swapan Mukherjee, CC incharge for Punjab, Rajvinder Singh Rana, secretary of Punjab state unit, Ruldu Singh, President of All India Kisan Mahasabha and Party candidates in the Assembly election including Comrades Bhagwant Samao, Gurjant Singh and Harvinder Sema. Comrade Paramjeet was a brick kiln worker and became a full-time Party organizer in 2009 in the wake of the militant movement of the rural poor in Mansa district for homestead land. He is survived by his wife and three children. The Party pays homage to this young comrade and expresses deep condolences to the bereaved family members.
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