Thursday, February 28, 2013

ML Update 10 / 2013

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 16, No. 10, 26 FEB – 04 MARCH 2013

The Message of Feb 20-21General strike:

Heed the People's Voice or Quit Office

Even as the Parliament in India began its annual budget session, millions of Indians went on strike across the country calling for urgent policy changes. The general strike called by 11 central trade unions and large numbers of sector-based federations and independent trade unions evoked massive response across the country. This was the 15th general strike called by Trade unions in the last two decades when liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation became the religion of India's ruling elite. But this was the first time when trade unions called for a two-day strike and stuck to it despite the government trying to mislead the unions with empty last-minute gestures. And this was one trade union strike that truly became general with broader social support and all-out involvement of the CPI(ML) and other parties of the Left and a section of the non-Congress non-BJP opposition.

The powerful pan-union strike reflected a growing unity and assertion of the Indian working class. The unity one sees above in the form of all trade union centres including the INTUC and BMS – the trade union wings of the Congress and the BJP, the two parties that must share the biggest responsibility for the pro-corporate pro-imperialist policies that have been proved ruinous for the working people – coming together for a pan-union strike reflects a much more powerful united resolve of the working class at the factory/office/occupation/sector level. It is the growing assertion of the unorganised/contract/honorarium-based workers, of young men and women, who now constitute the overwhelming majority of the Indian working class which has forced all trade unions to join hands even though unions in the railways once again hesitated to join the strike.

The demands raised by the strike reflected the common interests of all sections of workers, of workers as a class cutting across sectors and categories. The strike was as much against privatisation as for regularisation of contract/honorarium-based workers, social security for unorganised workers and a minimum monthly wage of Rs 10,000 for all workers. It is equally significant that workers have come out loud and clear against the government's decision to open up the lucrative retail sector with an estimated annual volume of 450 billion dollars and the crucial pension fund for the global retail and financial giants, reflecting the common concern of small traders, shop employees, small peasants, low-income consumers and pensioners. And then there has been the most burning issue of rising prices that are making big holes in every pocket.

In the Delhi-NCR region, especially in NOIDA, the Strike has been followed by a massive crackdown and the imposition of a virtual emergency on the entire working class. An instance of arson and looting by miscreants in the wake of the Strike has been used as a pretext for wholesale witch-hunt and framing of falsified charges against Trade Union activists and ordinary workers alike, for imposition of Section 144, and for deployment of paramilitary forces in the industrial and working class localities.

The strike has sent out a message of warning from the people to the country's rulers. The people have made it clear that they want the government to act fast and show results, and not deliver empty rhetoric. The aam aadmi wants prices to be checked and all essential goods and services made adequately available and affordable to the common people. The decision to allow FDI in retail sector and pension fund must be scrapped. The land acquisition bill must be discarded and law made to protect agricultural land. And the government will also have to act on the two big issues that have been rocking the whole country – corruption and assault on women. Let the government just take three immediate steps – terminate the chopper contract, blacklist Finmeccanica and Wal-Mart for paying bribes and implement the recommendations of Justice Verma Committee in letter and spirit.

The popular resolve reflected in the strike must now be carried forward towards a greater assertion and awakening of the people. As the Lok Sabha election approaches, let the whole world know that 2014 will not be about making a certain Modi or a certain Gandhi the next PM of this country, but about changing the course of the Indian economy and Indian politics, and saving India from corporate plunder and American domination.

First-ever Two-Day Nationwide General Strike

The strike called by 11 central trade unions including AICCTU against the pro-corporate and anti workers' policies was unprecedented throughout the country affecting all vital sectors bringing the life to a standstill. The banking system collapsed. The transport sector has responded magnificently in most of the States. The strike was observed in oil, telecom, mining- coal & non-coal, defence, power, port & dock, insurance, State Government employees. Post offices were on strike; income tax offices have largely been hit by the strike. Industrial workers all over the country have shut down the production. Public and private industrial centres have been heavily affected. The industrial area of Gurgaon and Dharuhera at Haryana remained virtually closed on 21st. In many states trains were stopped and highways were blocked for several hours.

There was unprecedented participation of unorganised labour including largest sections like agriculture, construction apart from other rural and urban workers. Significantly Contract workers have joined the strike in a magnificent way.

The impact of the strike has been considerable in all the States. Several states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Puduchery and Kerala observed complete Bandh. The strike was magnificent in Assam, Orissa, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Andhra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, U.P. and W. Bengal.

Many areas have reported the incidents of attack on workers, lathi-charge and indiscriminate arrest. In Noida, there was a brutal lathi-charge on a peaceful demonstration causing serious injuries to a number of workers and death of one worker. Trade Union leaders including 17 AICCTU activists have been indiscriminately arrested, picked up from their offices and homes. A leader of Haryana Transport Corporation union was even killed in Ambala Transport Depot by class enemies.

In Bihar, complete Bandh was observed. At various stations trains were stopped and different highways were blocked. At Patna, the march to ensure a successful bandh was led by Party Gen Sec, Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya. At Dak Bangla crossing he addressed the gathering and met the leaders of unions of bank, insurance, etc. and also addressed them.

Jharkhand observed total Bandh in response to the call of CPI(ML). Thousands of workers led by Party and AICCTU came out on streets to make the Bandh successful in every district. AICCTU played a leading role in organizing the strike in coal belt in Jharkhand. CCL Ramgarh (Hazaribagh), ECL Mugma area and ECL in W Bengal were in total strike. In Mugma area in Nirsa 100 activists were arrested. At Jarangdih and Swang of Kathara area the activists of AICCTU, CITU and AITUC were arrested. At Bokaro, steel contract workers went on strike in leadership of AICCTU.

In Delhi, there was a massive and spontaneous response of industrial and unorganized workers to the strike call. In Wazirpur industrial area, which was in total strike around 20,000 workers gathered and held a rally on 21st February. Many workers were also arrested here. In Okhla industrial area too, around 10,000 workers gathered and held a rally. Construction workers led by AICCTU held demonstration and rallies.

In Tamil Nadu, joint demonstrations were held in Chennai city, Ambattur, Chennai, Tiruvellore district collectrate, Kanjipuram, Tirunelveli, Alankulam, Karur, Kumarapalayam, Dindigul, Tiruchi Collectorate in which thousands of workers from both unorganized and organized sectors with state leaders of AICCTU participated. Also there was a massive demonstration at Karanodai which went for more than 1 ½ hours and was addressed by comrades A S Kumar, Janaki Raman (General secretary of state AIALA) and others. In rural areas of this district, NRGEA work was stopped in 6 panchayats by AIALA vangaurds. In Namakkal cadres of AICCTU implemented strike in powerloom sector, while other unions abstained from enforcing strike. In Tiruchi, public sector BHEL and Ordnance factory came to a standstill. In BHEL, the trade union wing of AIADMK also joined the strike.

Coimbatore: AICCTU affiliated unions at Pricol and Suba plastic firmly went for successful two day strike in spite of pressure from all quarters to reduce it to one day strike. In Tirupur district, Loadmen of AICCTU union in public distribution system almost closed 17 godowns to give a clear message to Govts of state and Centre of their precarious living conditions.

In Pudukottai district, Kandarvakottai Taluk, NRGEA work was completely stopped because of AIALA's strong propaganda among rural poor about the importance of joining this strike.

In Salem, on AICCTU's initiative on both days more than 3000 workers took part in the strike. More than 100 workers of AICCTU union took part in Mettur thermal power station.

People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy participated in the strike with AICCTU. On 21st, a joint demo with AICCTU at Idinthakarai of Koodankulam was addressed by PMANE leader Dr. S P Udayakumar.

In West Bengal, despite the Chief Minister's intimidation and threats, overwhelming working people of the State gave a befitting reply to the autocratic State Govt by actively taking part in the 48 hour all India Strike. Workers of the entire industrial belt, from jute, engineering, hosiery, port, coalfields, brick kiln in south to tea gardens in north Bengal along with thousands of unorganised sector workers took part in this strike. 16 brick fields participated in this strike defying the terror of TMC hooligans at the initiative of AICCTU at Shibdaspur, 24PGS(N). Transport Workers of Bongoan of the same district also took part in the strike and as a result all export business along Indo-Bangladesh border was stopped. AICCTU workers organised Rail roko at Chandpara 24PGS (N). The construction workers of Konnagar Hoogly, organised a militant rally which was attacked by the TMC hooligans but was valiantly resisted by the workers. Rallies were organised at Budge Budge, 24PGS(S), Nadia, Bardawan, Kolkata and in different dists.

Apart from joint TU programme, AICCTU along with CPI(ML) took independent initiatives all over the state, organised processions, meetings and dharnas at different factory gates. The Transport Workers under the banner of AICCTU organised meetings at different Depots and defying the oppressive steps of the state transport dept. took part in the strike.

CITU of West Bengal deviated from the central decision and proposed industrial strike on 21st February exempting transport on the pretext of international mother language day which all other striking TUs opposed. Ultimately, CITU decided to observe 21st as general strike exempting the transport. The TUs belonging to the left front supported this position of CITU but AICCTU opposed it.

In Karnataka, AICCTU had an impressive participation at 5 centres, with hundreds joining the demonstrations, holding road blockade, rallies and enforcing strike. These centres are Bangalore, areas Surrounding ITPL, areas Surrounding Electronic City, Koppal district, Tumkur, Mangalore, Mysore and Davangere districts. In Mangalore an impressive rally was held.

In Puducherry, a total Bandh was observed on 21st February. During picketing 200 activists of AICCTU were arrested at 3 places. In Maharashtra, in Thane district 2 impressive rallies were held at Palghar and Dahanu tehsils by AICCTU. In Nagpur 300 workers under AICCTU banner joined the meeting at Reserve Bank Chowk.

In U.P., a massive strike of unorganized and industrial workers was held in Kanpur. The highway was blocked at Dadar Nagar industrial area. Tanneries were closed. In Lakhimpur a big rally was held. In Deoria, an impressive rally of scheme workers like Anganbadi etc. was held under the banner of AICCTU.

In Rajasthan, hundreds of construction workers under the banner of AICCTU participated in rallies and demonstration in Pratapgarh, Salumbar, Udaipur, Jhunjhunu, Ajmer, Bhabri and Jaipur. In Gujarat, AICCTU activists organized successful strike in sectors like Forest, Water supply and public works.

In Guwahati, trains were stopped.AICCTU leader Bibek Das and several others were arrested. Under the banner of AICCTU construction, contract and ASHA workers participated in the strike throughout the state and held programmes. In Dibrugarh women workers under the banner of AICCTU were arrested while organizing road block. In Guwahati Oil refinery, loading and unloading workers affiliated to AICCTU and others held strike. In Tea gardens also, affiliated union of AICCTU organized strike in several tea gardens. On 21st trains were stopped for several hours at Dibrugagarh and Tinsukia stations by workers led by AICCTU.

In PGI, Chandigarh, the contract workers led by AICCTU were on total strike on the issues of implementation of agreement of same wage for same work and provision of housing. An impressive rally of 700 workers and road blockade was organized at the crossing of sector16-17- one of the most important centres in Chandigarh.

Mansa witnessed a total Bandh in the leadership of CPI(ML) and AICCTU. In Batala, NH-1A was blocked for several hours. In several other disticts like Sangrur, Gurdaspur and others, AICCTU took leading role in organizing strike.

AICCTU activists protested at different places in Odisha including the capital Bhubaneswar, and 700 of them were arrested at different places in Odisha. AICCTU led the bandh protests at Rayagada, Bhadrak, Puri, Bhubaneswar, Kendrapara, Pipili, Gajapati, Lanjigarh and Bhabanipatna, Rourkela, Jharsuguda and Khordha. Led by Radhakant Sethi, a procession in Bhubaneshwar marched from Nagbhushan Bhavan to Rajmahal. 100 activists including Mahendra Parida, AICCTU Secretary, Seema Sethi, Janaki Rao, Bharat Ghadei, and Ajit Nayak were arrested. In Bhadrak, 100 activists were arrested. In Rayagada Tirupati Gamango and 200 other workers arrested; in Gajapati 300 construction workers were arrested when they demonstrated at distt. head quarters. In Puri, workers were arrested when blockading trains. At Balugan, 100 were arrested when they halted trains, after which the procession moved to Balugan NAC areas.

On the second day too, several were arrested while blockading important trains. The East Coast Sweepers and Contractual Workers Union, Rajdhani Rickshaw pullers' Union, NIRTAR sanitation and contractual workers union, Konark cylinder workers union, Maa Kalijayee Motorboat workers union, Odisha construction workers federation, Laxmi Health Care Pvt. products workers union, and BMC Asthai workers union participated in this bandh in different parts of Odisha.

People's Watch Over Parliament

Are Our Lawmakers Ready to Listen to the Voice of the Movement Against Sexual Violence?

On February 21st, the first day of the Budget Session of Parliament, hundreds of protesters, on the call of the Bekhauf Azadi campaign, held a massive Peoples' Watch Over Parliament to demand that parliament enact an effective law against sexual violence based on Justice Verma Commettee recommendations, and to reject the government's ordinance as an eyewash.

Several student groups performed songs and plays. The Manzil Mystic Band performed several songs; women students of Maitreyee College performed a play on the theme of the ongoing movement, Nimisha of Maitreyee College performed a Bharatnatyam dance against gender violence; Manipuri students of the Artists Creative Theatre performed several powerful protest songs; Hirawal from Patna, which had performed the street play Bekhauf Azadi several times in Delhi in the campaign towards the People's Watch, rendered several songs. Asmita Theater Group enacted a street play; Mandala Circle performed a play based on poetry. Women activists of Saheli and Jagori and many others introduced the protesters to time-honoured protest songs and got all the protesters to join in. And at the end of the day of protest, when the sun set, Maya Krishna Rao's dynamic Reclaim the Night dance performance made the darkness come alive with the spirit of women's autonomy, rebellion, and determination to win freedom and defeat fear. Beautiful poetry posters by Anupam, Sagar, Bablu and other artists were on display.

The day-long gathering was addressed by Annie Raja of NFIW, Kavita Krishnan of AIPWA and the Bekhauf Azadi campaign, Ranjana Kumari, Binalakshmi Nepram from Manipur, lawyer-activists Karuna Nundy and Madhu Mehra, activist and educator Gautam Bhan, Kamal Chenoy from JNU, Ruchira of Apne Aap, and many others. Vrinda Grover, Farah Naqvi, Pamela Phillipose, Nilanjana Roy, Rahul Roy, Mukul Manglik, Anuradha Chenoy, and several other lawyers, activists, journalists, writers, filmmakers, university teachers and many others participated in the protest.

Actor Shabana Azami came in support of freedom without fear campaign and condemned the dilution of JVC recomendations. Much to the enthusiasm of the protesters, she also sang two poems for women's and people's freedom by Faiz Ahmad Faiz ('Bol') and Kaifi Azami (Uth Meri Jaan). The programme was conducted by women students - including Sucheta De, Shivani Nag, and Raj Rani. The protestors demanded resignation of Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson PJ Kurien as well.

Post Script: Far from heeding the people's voices, Parliament is preparing now to follow up the ordinance with a Bill amending sexual violence laws - in the wrong direction, by making women the accused in rape and sexual assault! The Delhi gang-rape braveheart suffered unimaginable brutality and lost her life - and sparked off a remarkable movement with her spirit. Now, insulting her spirit, the Government is preparing a rape law (that will replace the ordinance) that says rape and sexual violence are gender-neutral. The whole country asked for better laws to protect women from violence by men. The Govt is giving us a law that can be used against women, whereby women can be accused in rape cases. So now, not only will women have to fight against accusations that they 'asked for' or 'provoked' sexual violence, they will also have to be accused of being the perpetrators of sexual violence rather than its victims. According to the Govt, rape and sexual violence are crimes that women commit against men just as much as men commit against women. So, according to the Government, rape is no more a crime of male power - it is a mere sexual crime that women, too, can be accused of by men. Shame to the Delhi braveheart's memory that the Govt can use her to introduce a law that is openly, blatantly, anti-women. To say that rape is a crime committed BY women rather than AGAINST women is simply a blatant lie and an insult to women! We must of course continue to protest for progressive changes in the sexual violence laws - but now above all, we have to fight tooth and nail against these anti-women changes in the law.

Protest Against Land Grab

CPI(ML) Liberation, SUCI (Communist), CPI(ML) ND, and CPI(ML) held a protest dharna in front of the Odisha Assembly on 25th March to demand a stop to the acquisition of fertile agriculture land in the interests of corporates. In Odisha around 2 lakh hectares of agricultural land have already been handed over to corporates. The protest demonstration against corporate plunder of fertile land was addressed by Prof Nilamani Shaoo, Prof Birendra Naik and Prof LP Singh as well as Left leaders including Comrades Radhakanta Sethi, Sivaram and Bhalal Chandra Sadangi.

Resolutions Adopted by AILC Meeting February 24-25, 2013, Delhi

1) The AILC hails the working class for the successful and historic two-day All-India Strike of February 20-21, which is a fitting rebuff to the anti-people, anti-worker policies being imposed by the UPA Government at the behest of corporations and imperialist forces. The AILC cals upon the UPA government to fulfil the key demands of the strike in the budget session, roll back price hikes and enact food security legislation to provide 50 kg of subsidised foodgrains per month for every poor family. The AILC salutes the martyrdom of Narendra Singh, a striking worker of the Haryana Roadways who was crushed to death in Ambala, Haryana, on the first day of the strike, and condemns the crackdown on the working class in the Delhi-NCR region, especially NOIDA, Okhla, and Wazirpur, and the attempts to falsely frame trade union leaders and ordinary workers for the arson and looting that took place during the Strike. The AILC demands the unconditional release of all the arrested TU leaders and workers, and withdrawal of cases that have been booked against them.

2) The AILC condemns in the strongest terms the heinous bomb blasts that took place on February 21st evening in Hyderabad, and expresses condolences to the families of the blast victims. Whosoever be the perpetrator of the blasts, the timing – on the heels of a successful 2-day All-India Strike and the beginning of the Budget Session of Parliament – has served to fan divisiveness and deflect attention from the burning issues – price rise and rights of the working people; corruption; and sexual violence - that face the country. The AILC calls for a thoroughgoing, professional enquiry to identify and punish the culprits of the blasts, and cautions against any repeat of the trend of false framing of innocents in terror cases while the real perpetrators escaped.

3) The AILC condemns the statements of the Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde which amount to a virtual clean chit to the communal RSS and related outfits in terrorism cases. Mr. Shinde's original statement was irresponsible in so much as it linked terrorism to particular religions. But Mr. Shinde's subsequent clean chit to the communal outfits whose role in terrorism has been indicated several times but is yet to be thoroughly probed, is highly unfortunate and is a case of capitulation to the saffron fascist brigade. Such capitulation and collusion on the part of the Congress is bound to strengthen the pro-Modi clamour launched by communal forces and endorsed by big corporate houses and imperialist powers. The AILC calls upon all secular democratic forces to strengthen their vigil against communal fascist forces.

4) The AILC hails the powerful and sustained people's movement against sexual violence following the December 16 Delhi gang-rape, that demanded justice, freedom, and equality for women. The AILC rejects the ordinance introduced by the Government, as a deliberate attempt to dilute and subvert the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee. The AILC demands effective changes in the sexual violence laws based on the Justice Verma recommendations, that respect the autonomy of women, ensure accountability of the police and other authorities, and end the impunity of the powerful in cases of sexual violence.

5) The AW-101 chopper scam has brought to light yet another shocking case of high level corruption in defence purchases. Indications are that kickbacks were received to induce the purchase of a dozen VVIP choppers at needlessly exorbitant prices. The AILC demands immediate termination of the chopper contract, blacklisting of the Italian company Finmeccanica that paid bribes, and a thorough, time-bound and independent investigation to identify all those in the Indian Government, defence establishment and political and business circles who were complicit with this scam. The chopper scam highlights the need for a thorough scrutiny of India's exorbitantly high defence budget and massive arms import bill. The national exchequer cannot be defrauded in the name of national security to facilitate such scams even as priority social sector expenditure remains starved of funds.

6) The AILC calls for an immediate halt to the Delhi-Mumbai corridor project which entails massive acquisition of agricultural land and displacement and dispossession of large numbers of families along the Delhi-Mumbai route.

7) Building on the spirit of united action generated by the February 20-21 strike, the AILC will launch a countrywide mass campaign from 1 May against the UPA government and various state governments which are pursuing pro-corporate anti-people policies resulting in relentless price hikes and mega corruption. The forthcoming Assembly and Lok Sabha elections must become major platforms of anti-corporate anti-corruption mass resistance and the powers that be must be forced to discard the present set of policies and reorient the economic policies of the country in the interest of public welfare and national self-reliance.

8) The AILC reiterates the demand that the UPA Government heed the popular demand for a separate state of Telangana and Gorkhaland, and cease the vacillating and delaying tactics on this score.

9) The recent revelations that indicate the alleged custodial killing by the Sri Lankan Army of the young son of LTTE leader Prabhakaran once again underlines the genocidal nature of the war on the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. The AILC demands an independent tribunal to probe the entire extent of the war crimes in Sri Lanka, and severe punishment for all those guilty. Only punishment and justice, rather than cover-up, impunity, and continued subjugation of the Tamil people, can be the grounds for any reconciliation or peace in Sri Lanka.

10) The AILC hails the ongoing popular movement of youth in Bangladesh demanding punishment for those guilty of the war crimes committed during the Bangladesh Liberation war of 1971, and representing a powerful cry for justice and democracy, and a blow to the fundamentalist and right-wing forces.

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:

Friday, February 22, 2013

ML Update 9 / 2013

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 16, No. 9, 19 – 25 FEBRUARY 2013

The AW-101 Chopper Scam:

Another Skeleton from India's Defence Cupboard

As the beleaguered UPA government braces for the Budget session of Parliament and the country gets ready for an unprecedented two-day general strike called jointly by all recognised central trade unions, yet another defence purchase scam has come to light resurrecting the memories of the Bofors scam that had nailed the coffin for the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1989. This time round, the scam concerns a dozen VVIP choppers bought from the Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland, the contract is valued at Rs 3,760 crore and kickbacks paid to the Indian side reported amount to 10 per cent of the contract value which works out to more than Rs 370 crore.

With a view to pre-empting the chopper scam from snowballing into a political earthquake, the government is pretending to adopt a belatedly pro-active posture. It has ordered a CBI inquiry and issued a show-cause notice to the firm to cancel the contract by invoking the 'integrity pact' which prohibits the payment of bribes to influence defence deals. Defence Minister AK Antony has also talked about blacklisting Finmeccanica, the Italian conglomerate of which AgustaWestland is a UK-based subsidiary if bribery charges are to be proved. The government must not be allowed to get away with this belated show of activism and the truth of India's defence purchases must be exposed in its entirety.

A few questions demand immediate answer. Bribery charges against Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi – who was the head of AgustaWestland at the time of finalisation of the chopper contract in 2010 and subsequently took charge of the Italian parent company Finmeccanica – have been under investigation in Italy since 2011. His arrest a week ago may have been hastened by the elections due in Italy later this month. Finmeccanica is after all Italy's second largest industrial group with high stakes in core sectors like aeronautics, defence, energy and transportation and the Italian government owns 30% shares in the company. Why has the Government of India been sitting idle since the scam came to light in 2011, reacting only now after Mr Orsi has been arrested? And instead of entrusting the CBI which is notoriously slow and politically pliable why can't we have a special investigation team monitored directly by the Supreme Court?

It has now turned out that the Obama administration had rejected the offer of AgustaWestland for similar VVIP choppers finding it too costly. Instead White House opted for the more economical option of upgrading its existing fleet. The question obviously arises why the government of India did not bother about the exorbitant price and went ahead with the deal? This clearly shows the Indian government's profligacy when it comes to defence purchases, and the reason is obvious: the people involved in defence deals are assured of part of the inflated costs coming back to their pockets as kickbacks! Finmeccanica has been an important defence supplier for India since 1970s and for one AW-101 chopper scam that has come to light one wonders how many scams must have been buried unknown!

This brings us to the larger issue of India's defence purchases. In March 2012, Defence Minister AK Antony had informed the Rajya Sabha that during 2007-11 India had emerged as the world's largest arms importer leaving China way behind. According to the Stockholm International Peace research Institute, India accounted for 10% of world's arms imports while China's share was just 5%. The reason why Chinese share is so low is answered by China's success in indigenisation of much of its defence requirements while India continues to depend heavily on imports and scams continue to thrive. India's defence budget is never subjected to any rational scrutiny and is treated as a holy cow in the name of national security. How many more scams will it take to convince us that the defence budget is routinely raised and inflated only to hide more scams even as the government of India claims not to have the resources to spend for public health, education and other key social sectors?

And finally we now know the key Italian actors responsible for the scam some of whom are already in jail? When will we know about their Indian counterparts and when will they be in prison? And if the government can blacklist Finmeccanica on bribery charges what prevents the government from blacklisting Wal-Mart on exactly the same ground? After all, it is on Wal-Mart's own record that bribes have been paid in India to lobby for Wal-Mart's entry.

Nationwide Trade Union and General Strike is Enormously Successful on 1st Day (20th Feb) of the 2-day Strike

CPI(ML) and AICCTU Congratulate the Working People for the Massive Response

The two-day (20-21 February) Nationwide strike called by central trade unions including the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) and supported by Left parties including the CPI(ML) has been a massive success on the 1st day of the strike- 20th February, by the time we go to press.

AICCTU has heartily congratulated the working class and the general working people of the Country for their militant and collective response in effecting the unprecedented Nationwide strike. Congratulating the organised and the unorganised working class and the common working people the AICCTU said that their resolute action that has made the strike a huge success was all the more commendable given the Govt's warning and attempt to create confusion among the working people. The Govt had also tried to pressure the central TUs who refused the plea of the Govt to call off the strike.

CPI(ML)Liberation had given a call in October 2012 itself to turn the two-day strike called by central TUs into a general strike. Subsequently, most of the State committees and different level of Party committees had passed resolutions in their State Conferences and meetings to that effect. Today (20 February) the states of Bihar and Jharkhand is completely bandh supporting the strike. At Patna, the march to ensure a successful bandh was led by Party General Secretary, Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya.

Among other reports from industries and states so far, financial institutions including banks and insurance are completely bandh, the tanneries are completely bandh in Kanpur, in Delhi auto-rickshaws and taxis are completely off the road, transport strike is near total in states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, AndhraPradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, and organised as well as the huge unorganised sector has completely struck work.

The two-day strike has been called on the following charter of demands:

(1) concrete measures to contain price rise, (2) concrete measures for employment generation, (3) strict enforcement of labour laws, (4) universal social security cover for organized and unorganized workers and creation of National Social Security Fund and (5) stoppage of disinvestment in Central and State PSUs / Undertakings, (6) No Contractorisation of work of permanent/perennial nature and payment of wages and benefits to the contract workers at the same rate as available to the regular workers of the industry/establishment, (7) Amendment of Minimum Wages Act to ensure universal coverage irrespective of the schedules and fixation of statutory minimum wage at not less than Rs 10,000/- linked with cost price index, (8) Remove all ceilings on payment and eligibility of Bonus, Provident Fund; Increase the quantum of gratuity, (9) Assured Pension for all, and (10) Compulsory registration of trade unions within a period of 45 days and immediate ratification of the ILO Conventions Nos. 87 and 98.

Demand Justice in the Suryanelli Rape Case

Anti-rape protesters have been outraged by the fact that the new rape law will be discussed in Parliament, with a rape-accused presiding over the discussions! The Deputy Speaker of the Rajya Sabha, PJ Kurien, is accused in the Suryanelli rape case: a case of gang rape of a 16-year-old girl in Kerala, 17 years ago.

The 16-year-old girl in Kerala's remote Idukki district, was defrauded by a man whom she had befriended, was drugged, beaten and taken to places across the Tamil Nadu and Kerala countryside, where she was raped by around 40 men. Eventually she was put on a bus back home, after which she filed a complaint of rape. 40 persons were named as accused in the main petition, by the State Government. The rape survivor later saw Kurien's photograph in a newspaper and recognized him to be one of the rapists, and filed a private petition against him to the court, when the police refused to register her complaint against him.

Kurien had tried to appeal against his being named as an accused, but his appeal was rejected thrice: by the lower court, by the High Court and by an Additional Sessions Court. A Special Court had convicted 35 of the 40 accused in the original case. A division bench of the Kerala High Court, in 2005, however, overturned the convictions, in a shockingly misogynist verdict. Only one man was found guilty of sex trade (procuring and selling a minor for purposes of prostitution). Only after that, based on the acquittal of the other accused in the main petition, was the case against Kurien rejected by the Kerala HC and later the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile the rape survivor also faced political victimisation, being falsely accused of financial irregularities and losing her job. 

However, the Supreme Court recently responded to the appeal against the 2005 verdict, expressing dismay at the verdict and setting aside the Kerala HC's acquittal of 2005.  The case has been sent back to the HC for a fresh look.

Several crucial witnesses, including the man convicted in the case, have now stated that Kurien was in fact guilty and that the prosecution had made them suppress facts.

The Kerala HC verdict of 2005, shockingly, seems based more on the judges' view of the girl's morals rather than on the facts of the case. Based on its moralizing, it concludes that the girl was a prostitute who agreed to sex with 40 men by consent. For instance, the verdict comments that the girl's "inclination to have such friendly relationship with a stranger like Kochumon must also be taken note of while appreciating her evidence." It notes that "She is thus shown to be a girl of deviant character. She was not a normal innocent girl of that age." One of the judges notes that "It is easy to assume that no minor if prudent and intelligent, and if her faculties of reasoning and sense of righteous behaviour are properly developed and intact, would choose in the Indian context to consent to extra marital and pre marital sexual intercourse…. In the fiercely consumerist society that we live in, a young girl child is also exposed to so many temptations that it is difficult for the child which has not been groomed in proper atmosphere with a proper value system inculcated in it, to resist such temptations. Such children can be termed deviants but cannot be merely condemned and left to their fate." And therefore the judge advices raising of the age of consent to 18 years rather than 16! The verdict shares all sorts of patriarchal ideas about how a 'righteous' and 'good' girl would behave, and with all the patriarchal moral outrage and disgust, brands as 'deviant' a young girl who chooses to fall in love with a man. Once assumed to be a 'deviant', her own testimony about being raped by other men is viewed by the judges with suspicion, based on their assessment about her character and morals. And at the end, while doing a grievous injustice to the complaint of rape and branding her a liar, they ask that the freedom of all young girls of 16-18 years, to have friendships of their own choice, be restricted by raising the age of consent! One of the Judges who delivered that verdict has recently said on TV that the girl was a 'deviant' and a 'child prostitute.'

The Congress party has shamefully yet to remove Kurien from his post as Deputy Speaker of the RS. Moreover, asked by a woman journalist about the Kurien case, UPA Overseas Minister Vayalar Ravi made a sexist remark, asking her whether she too had had a past relationship with Kurien! The Congress is yet to act against either Kurien or Ravi.

Speaking to a national daily, the rape survivor who is fighting for justice said, "I am no longer the 16-year-old school girl who fell for her first love, and lost her life. Yet, at 33, I am battling the same nightmares; my world is a grey longwinding road that stretches from my house to church and office.

People have a tendency to smirk when I recount the 40 days when I was turned into a female body that could be used anyway they liked — sold like caged cattle, pushed into dark rooms across the state, raped day and night, kicked and punched. ...I can remember all those faces clearly. Raju comes first. The man I loved, and trusted. That he would turn me into the victim of Kerala's first sex racket was the twist in my love story. The man whose face I searched for during my every day trip to school was one among the many I had to point to in an identification parade, and come face-to-face in the court corridors. In those days, I really wanted to kill him, my first love.

I feel relieved that the Delhi girl died, or she would have faced the same pointed, porn-tinted questions from everywhere, forced to explain countless whys, and would have had to live a life fearing her own shadow and without a friend.

I belong to the Latin Church which is the largest individual church in the Catholic Church, but in all these 17 years, not even a single prayer was said for me in any church anywhere. No rosaries marked the Hail Marys, and no angels came to my doorstep to offer kind words.

But my belief has not wavered. It gives me the strength to watch 24/7 news channels where the protectors of law call me a child prostitute, and eminent personalities discuss why my case won't stand. Even when I am framed in a financial fraud case in my office, and when my parents go down with major health problems, I convince myself that this too would pass. One day." 

Protest Against Victimisation of Kashmiri Students

In Dehradun, too, Kashmiri students protesting against the recent killings in Kashmir, the blockade and the hanging of Afzal Guru, were beaten up on 12 February by Bajrang Dal goons and arrested. Kashmiri youth, who had not even participated in the protest, were also beaten up in the market place by the Bajrang Dal mob, which demanded that the police book the Kashmiri youth for sedition or else 'hand them over' to the lynch mob. Democratic intelligentsia, activists, and journalists intervened and eventually the 16 Kashmiri youth were released late at night on bonds.

On 16 February, at Gandhi Park, Dehradun, there was a joint Left protest against the incident, demanding:

1. Immediately drop all the charges against the protesters.

2. Arrest all the Bajrang Dal/BJP goons as people have enough proof (visual and otherwise) to identify them.

3. Suspend all the police officers who participated in this brutal attack and shielded the right wing goons.

Protesters included Indresh Maikhuri and Malti Haldar, State Committee members of CPI(ML), the CPI(M)'s Uttarakhand State Secretary, CPI's State Secretary, and leaders of CPI(ML) New Democracy, as well as Gautam Navlakha and several others.


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:

Friday, February 15, 2013

ML Update 8 / 2013

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 16, No. 8, 12 – 18 FEBRUARY 2013

The Politics of the Execution of Afzal Guru

When in his recent address at the Jaipur 'Chintan Shivir' of the Congress Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said that he had got investigation reports that the RSS and the BJP were promoting 'Hindu terrorism' through their training camps and a slanging match ensued between the Congress and the RSS-BJP on the issue, little could one suspect that the Congress was actually getting ready to give in to one of the BJP's most strident demands – the clamour for hanging Afzal Guru convicted in the 13/12 Parliament House attack case. The secretive hanging took place in Delhi's Tihar jail in the early morning of 9 February. The government did not care to inform Afzal's family; his wife Tabassum had petitioned the President in 2006 seeking clemency and her right to know if and when her petition had been rejected was simply not honoured. There was also no question of Afzal being allowed to say a final farewell to his dear and near ones.

The BJP is understandably in a gleeful mood that one of its key demands had been met, however 'belatedly'. 'Der aaye, durust aaye' (better late than never), tweeted Narendra Modi. The Congress claims the execution proves its no-nonsense 'zero tolerance' stand on issues of terrorism. The dominant media, especially the big TV channels, are celebrating the two 'back-to-back' executions of Ajmal and Afzal, a media equivalent of the sweet distributing jingoistic celebration on the street. The CPI(M) too has chosen to join the chorus with Sitaram Yechuri describing it as a case of the law completing its due course in 11 years! Among political parties the lone voice of sanity has come from the CPI(ML) which described the execution as a travesty of justice and democracy and an act of appeasement of the communal-fascist brigade.

It is impossible to see the execution in a narrow legal framework and miss the political context and content that stare all of us in the face. It is well known that Afzal did not have a lawyer of his choice to represent him in the trial court and yet the courts passed adverse remarks against the police about the quality of investigation and evidence. When the Supreme Court upheld the capital punishment awarded by the trial court, it could not do so on strictly legal grounds – the evidence against Afzal had been only of a very weak circumstantial kind – and had to invoke the strange and dangerous argument that considering the enormity of the crime (the attack on Parliament), the collective conscience of the society will be satisfied only if capital punishment is awarded to the convict.

More crucially, Afzal has been hanged not just because the Supreme Court upheld the death penalty awarded to him by the trial court but because President Pranab Mukherjee rejected the petition for clemency lying with the President's office since 2006. And the information of rejection by the President was kept absolutely secret to prevent Afzal from seeking a possible judicial stay on the ground of the delay in the process of disposal of his petition, a ground upheld by the Madras High Court in staying the execution of the three convicts who have been awarded death penalty in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The Congress had earlier said the Afzal petition would be taken up after petitions from earlier dates had been disposed. Why was the queue suddenly jumped, and the execution carried out in such tearing hurry and shrouded in such supreme secrecy?

The fact that it was a political decision to hang Afzal Guru on the eve of the budget session with the 2014 Lok Sabha elections not too far away – the BJP says the Congress is in fact planning to hold it in advance – is clear to anybody who cares for facts and the truth that comes out of them. The government is only too aware of the political message this execution has sent out to Kashmir. This is why curfew was clamped down in Kashmir and newspapers stopped from being printed or uploaded online. Even chief minister Omar Abdullah, currently the closest ally of the Congress in Kashmir, has voiced his concern about the medium and long-term impact of this incident on the Kashmiri psyche. He has gone on record saying that the new generations of Kashmiris who may not identify with Maqbool Butt – the Kashmiri leader who was hanged and buried in Tihar jail on 11 February, 1984 after having spent years in jails in both India and Pakistan – will surely identify with Afzal Guru. He has also said that Kashmiris will consider this a case of selective execution unless the government also executes the people convicted in the cases of assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh.

Omar and Manmohan Singh know it very well that even if the government were now to show parity in execution, the alienation of the average Kashmiri has been deepened immeasurably once again by this one single execution. Refusal to hand over the mortal remains to the family in the fear that Kashmiris will get another rallying point and turning Tihar jail into a graveyard for Kashmiris can only add to this deep sense of alienation, not lessen it. It is also no secret how soon after the hanging of Afzal Guru SAR Geelani (the Delhi University lecturer who had been arrested along with Afzal Guru as a 'mastermind' in the same 13/12 Parliament attack case and sentenced to death by the trial court before being acquitted by the Delhi High Court) and the journalist Iftikhar Geelani (jailed earlier on charges that proved later to be fabricated) were detained by the police, and mourners in Jantar Mantar including Kashmiri students and noted human rights activist Gautam Navlakha were allowed to be manhandled by a bunch of Bajrang Dal goons in full view of the Delhi Police.

Only those can afford to ignore the implications for Kashmir who imagine Kashmir only as a piece of barren land devoid of its real people and their real pains. And what about the implications for the millions of people who are fighting for justice and democracy in the rest of India? When the state as executioner becomes synonymous with good governance and the communal fascist forces celebrate the execution as victory, what portents do we have for the future of democracy in India? For all of us who have a stake in democracy and who have a dream of a better tomorrow, the hanging of Afzal Guru and the political trajectory underlying and unleashed by it can only be a serious wake-up call. The battle for justice will have to be waged with greater determination and strength. The fascist forces who feel so elated and emboldened will have to be resisted and stopped.

Hanging of Afzal Guru:

Travesty of Justice and Democracy

(Statement issued by CPI(ML), New Delhi, 9 February 2013)

The hanging of Afzal Guru at the crack of dawn on 9 February, done in an extremely secretive manner without even informing his family, will be recognised by every justice-loving person as a case of justice being hanged to appease the communal fascist forces who want to make Narendra Modi India's Prime Minister.

It is well known that Afzal was a surrendered Kashmiri militant who had given himself up to the BSF in 1993 and had since been working in the shadow of the Special Task Force of the Kashmir police, and was implicated in the December 13, 2001 Parliament attack case. He had no lawyer to represent him when the trial court convicted him without any direct evidence and yet the Supreme Court upheld the death penalty in the name of satisfying 'the collective conscience of society' even as the High Court and the Supreme Court passed adverse remarks on the shoddy nature of investigation and dubious quality of evidence produced by the police.

Nobody has ever been hanged in this country for the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom, for all the anti-Muslim violence including the horrific Mumbai and Surat riots of 1992 and the 2002 Gujarat genocide, or for the massacres of dalits, adivasis and other oppressed sections by private armies or the state. Far from satisfying the 'collective conscience' of the Indian society, the hanging of Afzal Guru only exposes the double standards of justice.

Faced with growing popular opposition and resistance on every front, the Congress party and the UPA government are desperately trying to appease the BJP and the communal-fascist brigade. The democratic movement in the country will reject and resist this Congress-BJP collusion and intensify the battle for justice and democratic rights for the common people of India.

Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary, CPI(ML) Liberation


Protest Against Afzal Guru's Execution

On 9 February at 8 am, news of the stealthy and shameful execution of Afzal Guru came in. The PUDR called for a silent protest demonstration at Jantar Mantar. CPI(ML) Central Committee member Kavita Krishnan, Comrade Girija Pathak of CPI(ML) central headquarters, and AISA and RYA activists joined the demonstration. A small band of Bajrang Dal goons were at Jantar Mantar 'celebrating' the execution. When some Kashmiri young men and women raised placards of mourning and outrage, they were attacked by the Bajrang Dal men, who collected some other men from around Jantar Mantar by whipping up hatred against 'anti-nationals.' The police stood as mute spectators as the mob grew in aggression, and allowed the saffron goons to inflict violence on the peaceful protesters, including young Kashmiri women and men. A human rights activist's face was blackened. The police, instead of arresting the saffron mobsters, arrested several of the peaceful demonstrators, especially the Kashmiri youth, and took them to Mandir Marg police station. However they were released later on the intervention of human rights lawyers.

Massive Protest against Modi's Visit to DU

Hundreds of students and teachers of Delhi University and other campuses in Delhi held a spirited protest on 6th February against Narendra Modi's visit to Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) in Delhi University. All India Students' Association (AISA) along with other student groups joined the protest. Students and teachers expressed shock and anger at the politically motivated use of academic space to whitewash the image of the mastermind of Gujarat carnage for his future political ambitions.  AISA leaders said that the justice loving students, teachers and people of Delhi will never forgive and forget Modi's real character, while the victims of the Gujarat massacre are still crying for justice. Democratic minded people will continue to foil Modi's farcical image building exercises, in Delhi and elsewhere.

One participant in the protest said, "In the barbaric Delhi gang-rape case, we held the Sheila Govt responsible even though the Govt did not actually mastermind the brutal rape. In Gujarat 2002, equally barbaric rapes and killings took place. The rapists and killers (like Babu Bajrangi who ripped Kauser Bano's foetus out with a sword) proudly boasted that 'Narendrabhai' was the one who made all that carnage possible. Can we, then, fail to hold Modi responsible for those horrific rapes and killings?"

Protesters recalled the custodial rape and murder of Kauser Bi, wife of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, in which Guj Home Minister Amit Shah, a close associate of Modi, is accused. Modi might me masquerading inside SRCC as though the 2002 carnage were a thing of the past, but his supporters outside were proving otherwise. Women protesters were also subjected to sexist abuse by police personnel, and ABVP goons openly threatened protesting women with rape, brandishing iron rods ripped from police barricades and saying, "We'll thrust this in your body and repeat Gujarat unless you shut up."

The Delhi Police water-cannoned and lathi charged the protestors and on top of which the police let goons from the ABVP beat up the peaceful protestors. Several protestors, including the JNUSU Joint Secretary Piyush Raj, AISA activists Shafi and Chintu and SFI activist Kopal were beaten up and arrested by the police and were detained at Maurice Nagar police station. Following the protests 12 people, including 8 AISA activists and one DU teacher, have been named in an FIR by the police.

Later the Maurice Nagar thana was gheraoed by the protesters demanding action against those police officials who did this lathi charge on peaceful protestors. AISA also demanded that the ABVP goons who indulged in open violence be identified and punished. The police refused to register FIRs against police officers and personnel, however, complaints were registered.

AISA played a leading role in the spirited protests outside SRCC at Delhi University where Narendra Modi had been invited to speak. The police caught AISA activists and other protesting stduents and handed them over to ABVP goons to be beaten up. In spite of the repression, the large number of protesters who gathered at very short notice to protest killer Modi's entry into DU, showed the determination of students to resist communal fascists.

AISA-RYA Protest against Rajapakse's Visit

When Sri Lanka President Rajapakse visited Bodhgaya in what he claimed was a 'spiritual' journey to a place of peace associated with the Buddha, apostle of peace, he was greeted with protests reminding that his hands were stained with the blood of Tamil people. AISA and RYA showed protest placards to Rajapakse at Bodhgaya visit at a short distance from where he stood. They demanded he be tried for crimes against humanity. Eight cadres, belonging to All India Students Association (AISA) and Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA), were detained, while Nandkishore Singh and Mahendra Singh of Aurangabad district were arrested when they tried to raise slogans against Rajapakse. Protests were also held at Patna.

Protest against Posco Land Acquisition

A joint protest was organized at Bhubaneswar by four political parties CPI(ML)Liberation, SUCI(Communist), CPI(ML), and CPI(ML)New Democracy, on 4th February at Odisha Vidhan Sabha against forcible land acquisition in Jagatsinghpur district by the Odisha government. Around 55 betel vines were destroyed by the district administration and 7 children and 25 women were beaten-up by the police.

The protest meeting was addressed by Comrades Yudhistir Mohapatra and Radhakant sethi from CPI(ML)Liberation, Comrade Sivram from CPI(ML), Comrade Purna Behera from SUCI and Comrade BC Sarangi from CPI(ML)ND. Around 300 activists from the four parties participated and raised slogans against Posco and BJD Govt's anti people policy, demanding immediate withdrawal of police force from Gobindpur.

On 6 February a four member team comprising Mahendra Parida (CPIML Liberation), Sivram, Udhab Jena (SUCI-C) and Pratap (CPIML-ND) went to Posco site to express solidarity with the people of Govindpur. There the team led a march of 1000 people to protest police presence at land acquisition site. After intense protest by people the administration came for discussion and three demands was raised by leaders – withdraw police force, register case against IDCO officers who beat 7 children seriously and no flag march inside villages. The demands were met partially as the police force was withdrawn and destruction of betel vines was stopped.

On 25th February 2013 all four parties have called for a day long dharna in front of Odisha State Assembly to demand halt in forcible land acquisition in the State.

Demonstration against Rape in Tiruvallore Dist

In Tiruvallore district a dalit girl, 15, was raped and sexually assaulted repeatedly for the past six months by a local businessman, 53, with the help of another woman in the area. The issue came to light when the mother of the victim suspected pregnancy. Her complaints to the police were not taken seriously as the culprit has influence in the local police station. When the mother approached our Party, CPI(ML) and AIPWA filed an FIR in the same police station. After our intervention the culprit and the woman who helped him have now been arrested.

On February 2, the Party and AIPWA organized a demonstration in which more than 300 people participated. Local people also joined the demonstration. Leaders of local women self-help groups attended the demonstration. Following demands were raised in the demonstration: the culprits should not be given bail, he must get fitting punishment, adequate compensation for the victim, and implementation of Verma Committee recommendations.

Tiruvallore District Party Secretary Com. S Janakiraman, RYA State Convenor Com. Bharathi, AISA State President Com. Malarvizhi, AIPWA State Vice-presidents Com. Kuppabai and Com. Devaki addressed the demonstration.

Peasants Register Splendid Victory in Paddy Procurement Movement

Peasants in Bhojpur led by All India Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM) registered splendid victory in the paddy-sale movement. The movement's demand was that the paddy be procured in cash from all peasants including the share-croppers without the need for any document or paper on the lines of Punjab, procurement period be reduced to two months (15 Nov – 15 Jan) from the existing five months, CBI enquiry into the paddy-procurement scam, finishing the nexus of middle men-beuracrats-politicians that virtually rule the paddy procurement centres, and toning up the irrigation system in the district. Large peasant demonstrations along with tractors filled with paddy were held at Jagdishpur sub-divisional HQ, Piro, Charpokhri, Gadahani, Agiaon, Sahaar, Tarari, Udwantnagar, Sandesh and Koilwar blocks pressing for immediate purchase of paddy from the peasants and share-croppers. The demonstrations were victorious in forcing the administration to spot buying their paddy in cash.

As is known, that the minister in the Nitish Govt had declared that the Govt will purchase paddy and wheat directly from the fields and farms of thepeasants in cash, which turned out to be a an empty promise. On 7 November 2012 the Govt laid new conditions on criteria for procurement that included cumbersome paperwork, basically to compel the needy peasants to distress-selling their paddy to the middle-men (850-900 per quintal) who would sell it to Govt at the official price of 1250-1280, making windfall profit in the process. The movement forced the administration to follow the Punjab process. About 3300 quintals of paddy were purchased by the peasants and share-croppers on 21 January, the day when the movement culminated in large demonstrations at the block offices/purchase centres. The target of the Govt for Bhojpur was for 1 lakh and 11 thousand metric tonnes out of 30 lakh for whole of Bihar.

Prior to 21 January mobilisation, two-weeks of intense campaign, village level meetings, nukkad meetings and block-level cadre conventions were held from 7-17 january. Ten thousand leaflets were distributed. On 21 December 2012 a district level cadre convention was organised at Charpokhri by AIKM. A Kisan Panchayat was organised at Arrah on 5 January in front of District Magistrate Office to send the demands of Peasants to the Chief Minister through the DM. However, no official showed up. The programme ended with the calls to make the 21 January demonstration really militant.

On 21 January, when the numerous tractors and other vehicles loaded with paddy, along with several hundred peasants and share-croppers started to roll into the Sub-Divisional headquarters, the rolling-in continued for two hours. All the while, slogans that could be heard far away were being raised on microphones. There were forty tractors besides numerous other vehicles. There were peasants beating drums. A lot of people had gathered already at the arena just to see whether the peasants are able to compel the administration to purchase their paddy or they are forced instead to return empty-handed. There was also a lot of press presence.

The administration agreed to purchase the paddy but only after the cumbersome paper work, which was vehemently rejected by the AIKM leaders. Late in the afternoon the administration yielded and declared that they were buying all the paddy without any paper. When the announcement was made, the leaders of JD(U), BJP, RJD and Congress tried to pressurise the administration not to yield to the peasants' demands and that they be dealt with force, however, they had to face embarrassment publicly. More or less similar militant demonstrations took place at other blocks where peasants and share-croppers after initially facing resistance from administration were successful in selling their paddy at the Govt rate without any need to produce documents. This all happened due to strong determination of the movement and gradually built confidence of the peasants in our organisation. (for detailed report see Lokyuddha)


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:


ML Update 07 / 2013

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  16             No. 07                                                                             5-11 FEB 2013

No to Ordinance That Dilutes and Subverts Justice Verma Recommendations  

The ordinance on sexual violence laws introduced by the UPA Government is a mockery of the month-and-a-half long continuing struggle demanding justice and freedom for women. Instead of implementing the Justice Verma Committee recommendations, the Government has brought in an ordinance that undermines the spirit and thrust of the Committee's Report and its key recommendations.

Any ordinance is promulgated as an emergency measure. Women live in a daily state of 'emergency', their freedom curbed by the fear of sexual violence. But it is not that emergency which has prompted the Government's ordinance. Rather, for the Government, the 'emergency' was the desperate need to somehow dilute and divert the Justice Verma recommendations, which reflected the aims and demands of the ongoing countrywide movement.

The ordinance expands the definition of sexual violence, recognises stalking, acid-throwing, and voyeurism, and introduces more severe punishments. But on a range of key questions, the ordinance goes against women's autonomy and rights, and avoids ending impunity of powerful rapists, and ensuring accountability of police and other institutions.

The ordinance makes the perpetrator of rape 'gender-neural': i.e both men and women can be accused of rape. This will mean that if a woman files a rape complaint against a man, he can file a counter-complaint of rape against her! What a joke with women of our country!

The ordinance does not respect the right of young girls between the age of 16-18 to have sexual contact by their consent with male friends of a similar age. Instead, by automatically branding all such sexual contact as 'rape', the ordinance will strengthen the khap panchayats and moral policing brigades who seek to curb the freedom of young people of that age.

The ordinance legitimises marital rape and strengthens the idea of the wife as the 'sexual property' of the husband. It also retains the provision of lesser sentence (minimum sentence of 2 years) for a husband who rapes a legally separated wife! Therefore, even if a wife has taken the pains to separate herself from an abusive husband, the law will make excuses for him if he rapes her. The exclusion of marital rape and the lesser sentence for rape of a separated wife are shocking violations of the principle that the relationship or prior relationship of the accused with the victim will not be grounds to undermine the rape complaint or show leniency.

Not only that, according to the ordinance, wives cannot accuse husbands of sexual assault – but because of the 'gender-neutral' provision, husbands can accuse wives of sexual assault! Husbands cannot get life sentence or death sentence for sexual assault even of a separated wife, but a wife accused by a husband of sexual assault, can under the ordinance get life sentence and even death sentence for repeat offences. 

The ordinance continues to protect the powerful. There are no provisions against candidates charge sheeted for sexual violence. The ordinance retains the requirement of 'prior permission' for prosecution of public servants/judges/magistrates/army officers. So, no Ruchika Girotra or Soni Sori (molested by a police officer), Geetika Sharma or Rupam Pathak (raped by MLAs), or Thangjam Manorama (raped by army personnel) can expect justice under this ordinance! Senior police/army officers will not be investigated or punished for custodial rapes that are committed at their orders or with their knowledge in custody by their junior officers. Sexual violence during caste or communal massacres and against of SC/ST women have not been recognised as 'aggravated sexual assault.'

To ensure accountability of the police, Justice Verma has stipulated a punishment of 5 years imprisonment for failure to register an FIR or biased investigation, in order to instil fear of consequence in police personnel who fail to abide by the law. But the ordinance dilutes this to a mere 1 year, and so clearly sends a message of leniency out to the police.

The ordinance retains patriarchal language, continuing to call molestation as 'outraging modesty.' Not only does the ordinance fail to ban the demeaning and sexist two-finger test, and its definition of rape actually legitimises the two-finger test, in the name of 'penetration for medical purposes.' 

The shoddily-drafted and anti-women ordinance, promulgated by stealth before any citizen of the country had even seen it, is a disservice to the painstakingly prepared Justice Verma Report that adopted a thoroughly democratic and rigorous process, and came up with a report showed the way to promoting women's freedom, rights, and safety. 

Meanwhile, the BJP, which is quite comfortable with the anti-women provisions in the ordinance, is now trying to make political capital by naming a museum after the Delhi braveheart. A leader of the same BJP had, when the girl was fighting bravely to live, insulted her by calling her a 'zinda laash' (walking corpse); the BJP defended the RSS chief when he implicitly blamed the girl for inviting rape, by saying 'rapes happen in westernised India, not Bharat'; a BJP leader of MP justified rape as the inevitable consequence of crossing 'Laxman Rekha'; and recently another BJP leader of MP said that protecting girls was their parents' responsibility, not the Government's. For this party that openly encourages the culture of victim-blaming for rape, to try and cash in on the braveheart's name, is a shame.   

It is a triumph of the ongoing movement, that it has kept the issue of women's freedom and safety alive for a month and a half. The movement has spiritedly resisted the eyewash of an ordinance, and will continue to agitate for full implementation of the Justice Verma Committee Report. In the coming Budget Session of the Parliament, fighting young people and women will certainly intensify their struggle, and keep a close watch on Parliament, to force it to implement the Justice Verma recommendations!   

CPI(ML) State Conference in Punjab

The first Punjab State Conference of CPI(ML) was held in Mansa, Punjab on 30-31 January 2013. The Conference was preceded by a well attended mass meeting of agrarian workers, peasants, workers and people from other walks of life who came mainly from the Mansa district. This was addressed by Central Committee members Kavita Krishnan and Swapan Mukherjee, Party's Punjab State Secretary Rajwinder Singh Rana, Gurmit Singh, AIALA leader Bhagwant Samaon, RYA leader Kanwaljeet Singh and some other state leaders. Comrade Ruldu Singh, President of All India Kisan Mahasabha presided over this meeting. Central Committee members Rajendra Pratholi and Sanjay Sharma also attended this rally.

A delegation of local traders and shopkeepers' Association attended the rally to express their solidarity with our movement. Comrade Samuel John, the lead actor in a Punjabi film 'Anhe Ghore Da Daan', based on the life and struggles of dalits in Punjab which won many international and national awards, was felicitated by Com. Kavita Krishnan and other guests at the rally. Comrade Samuel stages two plays on this occasion.

The Conference Hall was named Comrade Hakim Singh Samao Hall and the stage was named after Comrade Jeeta Kaur. The delegates from many districts of Punjab including Mansa, Sangrur, Bhatinda, Barnala, Gurdaspur, Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Hoshiarpur, participated in the Conference. Nearly 15 percent of the total delegates were women. The Conference elected a 5-member Presidium and 3-member Steering Committee to conduct its proceedings.

Rajwinder Rana placed the report before the delegates on behalf of the outgoing State Leading Team. Twenty six delegates, including a number of women delegates, spoke on the report. The major issues came in the discussions included functioning of Party structures, Party education, recruitment of new members and developing the new cadres especially from among women, students and youth, development of cultural organisation, to give a systematic shape to the work among migrant worker particularly in industrial cities and expansion of our struggles in rural belts of Punjab. After very lively discussions the report was passed unanimously with some incorporations and changes.

The Conference elected a 21-member State Committee with Comrade Rajwinder Rana as its Secretary. Com. Rajendra Pratholi, Central Observer, conducted the election process. The Conference was concluded with his encouraging speech.

The Conference passed resolution to transform 20-21 Feb. All India General Strike into the successful political strike in Punjab and for the success of Party 9th All India Congress to be held in Ranchi on 2-6 April 2013. The Conference adopted resolution paying tributes to the Martyrs including comrades Sankar Mitra and Gurusharan Singh. The Conference ended with the singing of the Communist Internationale.

Protest in Delhi against Forcible Land Acquisition for POSCO


AISA organized protest on February 4 at Odisha Bhawan in New Delhi against forceful entry of 15 platoons of the Odisha police in Gobindpur village of Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha in order to forcibly acquire land for the proposed POSCO project. Slogans were raised against the lathi-charge on men, women and children who resisted the forcible acquisition of their land by the police and local administration in Gobindpur village and to prosecute the guilty officers. The protestors also demanded scrapping of the POSCO project immediately as it has no statutory environmental clearance and the concerned MOU of the project has also lapsed. The protestors marched inside the Odisha Bhawan and submitted a memorandum addressed to the Governor through Resident Commissioner. The protestors demanded that Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik should stop behaving as agent of POSCO against the interests of the poor villagers. Addressing the protestors, AISA President Sandeep Singh said that movement for Jal, Jangal and Jameen is intensifying everywhere in the country against the government policies of handing over natural resources to private companies for pittance. The meeting was also addressed by speakers from National Alliance for People's Movement (NAPM) and other organizations who joined the protest. The speakers expressed their solidarity with the struggling and brave villagers of Gobindpur who are standing their ground against the brutal police clampdown. They condemned in unequivocal terms the manner in which force was used even against the protesting children. It is noteworthy that this time around, the police and administration are attempting to acquire 700 acres of land for the proposed steel plant.

AIPWA Meet in Odisha

On the eve of 64th republic day  AIPWA held a meeting in the wake of the ongoing nationwide movement against Delhi gangrape incident, at Nagbhusan Bhavan, Bhubaneshwar, where around hundred activists participated. Ajoi, Sabita and Sarita Rao addressed the members and reiterated the demands being raised by the AIPWA. Mahnedra Parida, Janaki Rao and Yudhistir Mohapatra also addressed the meet.

AICCTU Protests in Solidarity with the Struggling Maruti Workers

AICCTU held a protest demonstration in Delhi in support of the struggle of workers of Maruti-Suzuki plant in Manesar. The protest was held on the nationwide call given by the provisional committee of the Maruti-Suzuki Workers' Union to hold protests in solidarity with the demands of the workers of Automobile sector who are facing continuous attacks on their democratic and trade union rights, particularly by Haryana and Central governments.

The protesters demanded to withdraw cases from all Maruti workers and release more than one hundred and fifty jailed workers immediately. They also demanded to reinstate all retrenched workers who have been expelled violating the laws of the land to satisfy the Maruti Management. The speakers warned the governments for institutionlising attacks on industrial democracy, trade union rights and general democratic rights of the working class all over the country. They appealed to make the forthcoming all India general strike on Feb. 20-21 '13 a success. Comrades Rajiv Dimri, AICCTU Secretary, Sanjay Sharma, CPI(ML) Delhi State Secretary, VKS Gautam AICCTU Delhi President, CPI(ML) leader Girija Pathak and AISA's Akbar Chaudhary addressed the protesters.

Meet in Memory of Gorakh Pande

Jan Sanskriti Manch and 'Sangwaari' organised a meeting in remembrance of revolutionary people's peot Gorakh Pandey to commemorate his memorial day on 29 Jan. at Charu Bhawan in Delhi. Gopan Pradhan, poet Chandrabhushan, film maker and activist Sanjay Joshi, Mitra Ranjan and Girija Pathak addressed the gathering. Speakers said that Gorakh's poetry fights against injustice and inequality and exposes oppressing classes at philosophical ideological level in a popular way. His poetry showed immense sensitivity towards the oppressed and repressed classes and now it is an invaluable treasure for the common masses as well as cultural activists. CPI(ML) activists Amarnath Tiwary and Subodh Sinha recalled their association with Gorakh Pande and said that while his poetry deeply reflected ground reality, the poet himself was very keen on going among common masses and working class localities to share his thoughts and poems with them. Poet Shyam Sushil read out some of Gorakh Pande's poems on the occasion.


Alakhnath Upreti

Comrade Alakhnath Upreti, a veteran of the communist movement and a people's artist passed away on 12 December 2012. Born in Bareilly and brought up in Almora, he post-graduated from Allahabad Univ. where he had joined the communist movement and later worked in Almora where he inspired many youths towards communism. In 1962 he came to Delhi to work as a school teacher where he was in leading role in Delhi teachers' struggles. He was a good theater artist and had given performances in many plays. He also worked in a movie Megha Aa.

ML Update pays tributes to the departed communist.


Kishori Lal

Comrade Kishori Lal passed away on 14 January 2013 in a hospital in Delhi of multiple organ failure due to a prolonged illness caused by cerebral tumor. He was a leading comrade in Narela area and President of Jhalani Workers' Union. He was a straight-forward and disciplined cadre who always remained vocal against alien ideas in party and the workers' movement. He had migrated to Delhi from Mau district of UP years ago, had also led people in his native village against the oppressing classes. His dedication for the party in spite of various difficulties he faced will be inspiring for the party members.

A memorial meeting was organised in Narela, Delhi, which was attended by comrade Rajendra Pratholi, CC member, and many leading comrades of Delhi.

AISA, RYA and AIPWA Protest against the Govt Ordinance on Sexual Violence, Terming it Eyewash

AISA and AIPWA organized a protest demonstration at Jantar Mantar on Feb 4, and also at Shastri Bhawan where Finance Minister Chidambaram and Congress Spokesperson Manish Tewari were holding a press conference on the issue, under the banner of 'Bekhauf Azadi' along with representatives of AIDWA. The protest unequivocally condemned the government ordinance amending laws related to sexual violence. They raised slogans, 'The Govt's Ordinance is an Eyewash' and 'Chidambaram and Tewari Must Answer: Who Gave the UPA Govt the Right to Truncate And Dilute the Justice Verma Recommendations?' 


Comparison of the JVC Recommendations With the UPA Govt's Ordinance



the JVC Recommendations

UPA Govt's Ordinance


For the first time in India, spelt out a constitutional Bill of Rights for women, and the means to ensure those fundamental rights to equality, freedom, and autonomy


Ignores the Bill of Rights 


Recognised that sexual violence is not an act of sex or lust: it is an act of patriarchal power. Therefore, to reduce sexual violence, we must safeguard women's freedom and rights; and to ensure that perpetrators are punished, we must undo the impunity and protection for such offences that is built into the laws and into our system   

Maintains the inbuilt ways in which laws protect powerful perpetrators


Recognised women's rights to autonomy: including her sexual autonomy and her right to choose her partners, friends, and spouses. Recommended changing the archaic and anti-women vocabulary of laws. Understood sexual violence as a violation of a woman's bodily integrity and her dignity, rather than as 'outraging modesty', 'robbing honour' or bringing 'shame'.

Has many clauses that go AGAINST women's autonomy and freedom, and retains the anti-women wording of 'outraging modesty' instead of molestation or sexual violence


Recognised women's rights to autonomy: including her sexual autonomy and her right to choose her partners, friends, and spouses. Recommended changing the archaic and anti-women vocabulary of laws. Understood sexual violence as a violation of a woman's bodily integrity and her dignity, rather than as 'outraging modesty', 'robbing honour' or bringing 'shame'.

Accepted the changed definition of 'consent' as recommended by JVC, BUT retained many of the substantial provisions that fail to recognise and respect women's 'consent' – in case of married women, 16-18 year-old girls, and women who complain against the powerful people such as judges, magistrates, police officers, bureaucrats, and army officers.


Redefined the meaning of 'consent': stating that unless a woman indicates 'Yes' to sex, either by word or by gesture, no one can 'assume' that she consented. In the present system, many rape cases go unpunished because a woman is 'presumed' to have consented unless she has marks of injury on her body or on the body of the accused. She is 'presumed' to have consented if she is married to the accused. A girl is 'presumed' to be incapable of consent to sexual contact if she is 16-18 years old, even if her partner is of a similar young age, unless she is married to him. Moreover, she is 'presumed' to be lying if the man she accuses is a public servant; a judge; a magistrate; or an army officer; that is why, in such cases, prior permission from the Govt is needed in order to prosecute the accused. Justice Verma sought to challenge and change these in-built, wrong assumptions that go against justice for women. 


Accepted expanded definition and scope of sexual assault, and more severe punishment


Expanded the meaning of sexual assault to cover a range of forms of sexual violence: from sexual harassment to stalking to voyeurism (making MMS etc) to acid-throwing to rape by insertion of an object or a male body part. Recommended higher and more severe punishment for various forms of sexual violence. 


Makes the perpetrator/accused in the rape law gender-neutral – i.e both men and women can be accused of rape. This will mean that if a woman files a rape complaint against a man, he can file a counter-complaint of rape against her!


Recognised that the victim of sexual violence could be 'gender-neutral' (i.e could be female/male/transgender/hijra etc), but that the perpetrator is male.

All mutual sexual contact between young girls and boys of the age group 16-18 is automatically termed as 'rape'. This means that innocent young boys will face rape charges, for no crime except that they befriended young girls of their own age. And a generation of young boys who grow up without learning to see girls as equals and as friends, will be more likely to be violent towards women as adults.


Recognised that young people between the age of 16-18 do, naturally, indulge in sexual experimentation, and that such sexual contact between young people by mutual consent cannot automatically be termed 'rape'.

Legitimises marital rape – i.e forced sexual contact by husband against wife's consent. Therefore strengthens the idea of the wife as the 'sexual property' of the husband. Retains the provision of lesser sentence (minimum sentence of 2 years) for a husband who rapes a legally separated wife! Therefore, even if a wife has taken the pains to separate herself from an abusive husband, the law will make excuses for him if he rapes her, on the grounds that she was once his wife, and so he can be excused for thinking of her as his property! Not only that, according to the ordinance, wives cannot accuse husbands of sexual assault – but because of the 'gender-neutral' provision, husbands can accuse wives of sexual assault! Not only that, husbands cannot get life sentence or death sentence for sexual assault even of a separated wife, but a wife accused by a husband of sexual assault, can under the ordinance get life sentence and even death sentence!


Recognises that rape happens even within marriage. Asserted that sexual contact, even within a marriage, must be with a woman's consent; a wife is not her husband's property, and cannot be 'expected' to have sex with her husband, against her will. Therefore, recommended removal of the existing exemption of 'marital rape' from the rape law. Upheld the principle that in the case of rape and sexual assault, the relationship of the accused with the complainant will not be the basis for denying her claim of rape; neither can it be the basis for a more lenient sentence. Therefore recommended deletion of the provision of lenient sentence in case of rape of a legally separated wife by a husband.

Continues to protect the powerful. No provisions against candidates charged with sexual violence. Retains the requirement of 'prior permission' for prosecution of public servants/judges/magistrates/army officers. So, no Ruchika Girotra (molested by a police officer), Geetika Sharma or Rupam Pathak (raped by MLAs), Thangjam Manorama (raped by army personnel) can expect justice!


Sought to get rid of protections for powerful offenders. Recommended that politicians against whom a charge sheet has been filed for sexual violence, be prevented from contesting elections. Recommended that no sanction/prior permission be required to prosecute judges/magistrates/public servants who are accused of sexual violence; and similarly that the AFSPA be amended to do away with the requirement for sanction/prior permission to prosecute an army officer accused of sexual violence. Justice Verma's argument is clear: no army officer nor any judge or public servant can claim to have raped in the course of his duty. As in any case, the Court can be the best judge, based on available evidence, of whether a complaint is false or true.  

Senior police/army officers will not be investigated or punished for custodial rapes that are committed at their orders or with their knowledge in custody by their junior officers.


Recommended changes in the law based on the principle of 'command responsibility' in case of custodial rape by police or army: i.e the principle that a superior officer will be held responsible if he orders or knowingly allows a junior officer to commit rape or sexual assault against a woman who is in custody, or is in a conflict area. This principle is very important if one looks at the rape of Soni Sori (Chhattisgarh SP Ankit Garg ordered his men to sexually torture her) or the rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama in Manipur in the custody of personnel of the Assam Rifles. Such rapes could not have occurred without the knowledge and explicit orders/tacit consent of senior officers. Given the widespread prevalence of sexual violence in conflict areas, the JVC also recommended a review of the AFSPA, which is encouraging such violence. That AFSPA in any case has a provision for periodic review, which has however not been done.    

Does not prohibit 'two-finger test,' whereby a doctor puts two fingers into a rape survivor's body to check if she is 'habituated to sex.' In fact, the ordinance's definition of 'rape' (Section 375) legitimises this test, by stating that penetration or touching of private parts 'for medical purposes' (without specifying the need to obtain prior consent of the patient) will not be considered rape. The rape definition in the ordinance also, strangely, justifies penetration of the body for 'hygienic' purposes – so now, many rapists can try and explain away rape as a lesson in hygiene!          


Recommended changes in the existing medical investigation protocol rape survivor. Recommended prohibition of the demeaning two-finger test and other forms of medical examination that investigate women's past sexual history. Also recommended a protocol to ensure sensitive medical care of a rape survivor.

Accepts changes in judicial procedure, but does nothing in the direction of speedier justice


Recommended more judges, more courts to ensure speedier trials and timely justice; also changes in judicial procedures to make rape trials gender-just.   



Did not recommend death sentence. 

Includes death sentence for rapes that result in death or permanent vegetative state of the victim. In the case of death of the victim, the provision of death sentence already exists and is nothing new. Death sentence for causing permanent vegetative state is dangerous for women: since the risk of hanging for murder and rape are the same, it is likely to become an incentive for the rapist to make sure to kill the victim so that she cannot testify against him.


made the Govt responsible for the failure to protect women from violence

a)      recommended 5 years imprisonment for police personnel who fail to do their duty (i.e filing FIRs, pursuing a fair investigation), recommended comprehensive police reforms 

b)      recommended setting up of well-equipped Rape Crisis Centres; safe houses for women facing violence; forensic investigation; and juvenile justice homes

c)       Spelt out the Govt's duty to ensure safe and adequate public transport, and safety at bus stops and on streets, and a range of other governance measures.    

No efforts to ensure police accountability or governance;

a)      Punishment for failure to register FIR or biased investigation is just a token 1 year; no police reforms

b)      No provisions for rape crisis centres, forensic facilities, safe houses, juvenile homes etc

c)       No governance measures such as public transport etc to ensure safer public spaces for women   


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:, website: