A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 16 No. 29 9-15 JUL 2013
Intensify the Struggle for Justice for Ishrat Jehan
The chargesheet filed by the CBI in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case is a belated and partial step in the direction of justice for a young 19-year-old girl, drugged and gunned down in cold blood with 3 others by Gujarat cops in connivance with IB officers. The ugly details of this heinous murder now stand confirmed by the testimony of some Gujarat policemen themselves.
Nearly a decade ago, the Gujarat police displayed the bodies of Ishrat Jahan and 3 others, claiming they were terrorists killed in an encounter, and that they had been aiming to kill Narendra Modi.
Subsequently, in 2009, the Ahmedabad Metropolitan Magistrate SP Tamang termed the encounter as "fake". In 2011, the Court-appointed SIT also concluded that the encounter had been staged. The Tamang report, the SIT report and the findings of the CBI enquiry ordered by the Court, have all confirmed what Ishrat's mother and family maintained all along: that Ishrat was killed in cold blood. The killing was staged to fit in with the script of an FIR that was prepared prior to the killing! And there are also leads to suggest that Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah (today BJP's campaign in-charge in UP) and the Chief Minister Narendra Modi gave a green signal for the killing.
Testimonies of Gujarat cops to the CBI, including a sting operation by one of the cops, reveal the involvement of Gujarat's senior-most police officials, as well as senior officers of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), those known to be very close to Amit Shah and Narendra Modi.
It is clear that this particular fake encounter was not just a case of some trigger-happy cops. There are all indications that there is an elaborate political plot behind the killings. The fact is that a series of 'encounters' in Gujarat – of Sohrabuddin, Kauser Bi and Tulsiram Prajapati, of Sadiq Jamal, of Samir Khan – now established as fake by investigating agencies, all played out to a certain political script. The same team of Gujarat cops led by DG Vanzara are implicated in all these killings, which were all aimed at promoting the myth of Modi as the target of terrorist attacks by Muslims. The question of who ordered all these killings that benefited Modi politically, and that were carried out by Gujarat's top cops needs an answer.
The BJP has been accusing the CBI of acting as a tool for the Congress-UPA Government to target Narendra Modi. But the truth is that the Congress-UPA Government itself seems interested in a cover-up. The Home Ministry, which in the past done its best to help cover up the Ishrat fake encounter, has made it clear that they are seeking to protect the IB officers implicated in the case, by claiming that the CBI will need 'sanction' from the Ministry in order to prosecute the IB. The IB cannot continue to remain a shady institution that acts without any accountability to the Indian Constitution. Lawlessness by IB officers must be punished as severely as lawlessness by any citizen.
The CBI's chargesheet has not named IB officer Rajendra Kumar and other IB officers as accused. Yet the chargesheet states that Rajendra Kumar assisted in managing the illegal custody of Ishrat Jahan; and had, along with top Gujarat cops including Vanzara had met Javed and Ishrat during their illegal custody. With such material in the chargesheet, there can be no excuse for failing to book Rajendra Kumar. The BJP, and even the Samajwadi Party have been accusing the UPA Government of weakening the fight against terror by allowing the CBI to 'demoralise the IB'. Fake encounters cannot help identify or punish real terrorists – and the shameful politics of condoning murder in the name of IB 'morale' must be exposed and resisted.
Suggestions by media commentators that India must institutionalize 'controlled killings' or that 'order' may not be compatible with 'law' are extremely dangerous. In any genuine democracy, and in the spirit of the Indian Constitution, Courts, not cops, get to decide who is guilty of crime or terrorism. The pleas for condoning or rationalizing extra judicial executions in any form must be firmly resisted by democratic citizens.
The IB has tried to claim that they have tapes of phone conversations between LeT terrorists which prove that Ishrat was a terrorist; they also claim that David Headley confirmed that Ishrat was an LeT operative. None of these claims are backed up by any facts. The so-called tapes of LeT phone calls have no mention of Ishrat, plus the IB can't answer why these tapes, if genuine, were not handed over to the Tamang enquiry or the SIT during their investigations. The claim that Headley named Ishrat as a terror operative during interrogation by the NIA is yet to be confirmed by the NIA itself. And even the sentence attributed to Headley by sections of media by no means confirms that Ishrat was a terrorist.
Failing to establish a definite terror link, the BJP is now falling back on sexist slandering of Ishrat's character. BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi has been saying that Ishrat, a young woman, travelled alone with men, and this in itself is suspicious. She also said that since Ishrat was a young woman from a poor family, she was an ideal candidate to be a terrorist.
The political slanging match between BJP and Congress cannot hide the fact that the Congress simply has not walked its secular tall talk – be it in the Ishrat Jahan case where the Home Ministry has continuously helped to cover up the fake encounter, or in other cases of communal violence and fake encounters, where Congress Governments have never taken decisive action to punish the perpetrators. Congress governments have also been involved in fake encounters and false framing of innocent Muslims in terror cases: witness Batla House, Malegaon, Mecca Masjid cases. And Congress governments took no action against Advani and other BJP leaders in the Babri Masjid demolition case even after the recommendations of the Liberhans commission, or against Bal Thackeray in the Bombay riots case after the recommendations of the Srikrishna Commission. The Supreme Court has pulled up the Manipur Government for a series of fake encounters, while in Kashmir, mass graves stand as grisly evidence of hundreds of fake encounters. Any progress in the Ishrat Jahan case is due, not to the Congress government, but to the courageous efforts of her family and rights activists.
We must struggle to ensure that the killers – as well as the political conspirators behind the killing – are punished in the Ishrat Jahan case. Justice for Ishrat Jahan can pave the way for justice for victims of extra judicial killings in the whole country.
Resolutions Adopted by
ALL INDIA LEFT COORDINATION
The All India Left Coordination (AILC) held a meeting on 6th July 2013 in Delhi, attended by representatives of constituent parties.
The meeting expressed condolences for departed Left leaders: Comrades Jagjitsingh Lyallpuri, Comrade Satyapal Dang of CPI, Com. Saudamini Katre of LNP(L), Comrades Kala Tamang and Bhim Sher Thapa of the CPRM, and Comrade Brij Bihari Lal (Mahashayji) of CPI(ML).
The resolutions adopted at the meeting are as below:
1. The AILC expressed condolences at the flood calamity in Uttarakhand, and resolved to intensify the efforts to collect and disburse relief to the survivors of the tragedy. The people of Uttarakhand are struggling to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of the disaster, and relief efforts by the State and Central Governments are extremely inadequate. The AILC will pursue the question of relief and rehabilitation with the governments. The AILC also demands a thorough review of the model of development being followed in Uttarakhand and other ecologically sensitive areas of the country, since it is apparent that the environmental devastation is at the root of natural calamities.
2. The AILC welcomed the filing of a chargesheet in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, which exposed yet again the communal and undemocratic character of the Modi model of governance. The AILC said that over the past nine years, Ishrat's family and rights activists had struggled for justice in the face of all odds, while not only the Gujarat Government, but also the Central Government's Home Ministry had conspired to cover up the crime. Even now, the Home Ministry's reluctance to allow prosecution of IB officers implicated in this heinous crime was condemnable. The AILC said that the political conspiracy behind the encounter must be laid bare, and all those involved in staging the fake encounter – including Gujarat police officials, IB officers, and political leaders – must all be identified and booked. The AILC said that governments of every hue have been complicit in extra judicial killings and the witch-hunt of innocent Muslim youth. The AILC called for resisting this politics of Islamophobia tooth and nail, and hoped that justice in the Ishrat Jahan case would pave the way for justice in other cases of fake encounters in Gujarat as well as in the rest of India.
3. The AILC condemned the attempts of the UPA Government to bypass Parliament and pass a diluted Food Security Ordinance instead of a truly effective Food Security Act. The Ordinance reduces the entitlement of food; limits the rations to cereals alone; opens the door for cash to replace food rations; does nothing to boost procurement and revitalize agriculture; denies maternal benefits to mothers with more than two children; and continues with the dubious method of 'targeting' the needy, which excludes large sections of the poor. The Ordinance claims to cover 67% of the population. The Arjun Sengupta report had found that 77% of India's people spend less than Rs.20 per day. The Government is yet to refute these findings, and clearly, at least 77% are undoubtedly poor, while even those spending more than Rs 20 are also poor and needy. Therefore AILC demands universal food security coverage, which instead of seeking to identify the poor can target and exclude only the obviously rich – those who enjoy property and salary above a certain ceiling. AILC demands an effective Food Security Bill to be passed in Parliament, which ensures at least 50 kg of foodgrains for each family at Rs 1 per kg; other essential food items such as millets, pulses and oil; absolutely no option of cash transfer replacing food rations; no weakening of maternal entitlements; and measures to boost procurement and revitalise agriculture.
4. The AILC condemns the UPA Government's craven attitude of endorsing US spying operations, and denial of asylum to whistleblower Edward Snowden who exposed the spying. The AILC hails the offer of asylum to Snowden by Bolivian President Evo Morales, and condemns the shocking and unprecedented violation of international protocol by Governments of France, Portugal, Spain and Italy in denying permission for the plane carrying President Evo Morales of Boliva through their airspace. AILC demands that India resist US snooping operations and also stop its own attempts to violate the right to privacy of Indian citizens.
5. The AILC will hold a Convention on 11 August at Constitution Club marking the Centenary of the historic Ghadar movement, which represents a unique revolutionary legacy.
Meeting Demands Justice for Ishrat Jehan
A public meeting was held by the Justice for Ishrat Jehan campaign at Constitution Club on 6th July in Delhi where activists demanded justice for Ishrat. There was an attempt by Hindutva activists to violently disrupt the meeting, but this was thwarted by women activists. The meeting was addressed by Ishrat Jahan's sister Mussarat Jahan, her mother Shamima Kausar, and her uncle, as well as by her lawyer Vrinda Grover, who together have made the remarkable effort to pursue justice and expose the truth.
The meeting, conducted by Shabnam Hashmi of Anhad, was also addressed by CPI(M) Politburo member Brinda Karat, CPI(ML) Politburo member Kavita Krishnan, CPI leader Annie Raja, historian Dr. Uma Chakravarty, Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Manisha Sethi of JTSA, JNUSU President Lenin Kumar, and many others. Syeda Hamid, Gauhar Raza and Mohammad Farooqui rendered poems on the occasion. The meeting was followed by a candlelight vigil for Ishrat.
Advocates' Demonstration Demands CBI Enquiry Into Ilavarasan's Death
Democratic Advocates Association (DAA) of Madras High Court held a demonstration before the Madras High Court on July 5th demanding arrest of those responsible for Dalit youth Ilavarasan's suspicious death that TN police is claiming to be a suicide.
DAA also held Ramadoss, Anbumani Ramadoss and Kaduvetti Guru of PMK responsible for not only for attacks on dalit dwellings in Dharmapuri and Marakkanam but for the death of Ilavarasan death also and demanded their immediate arrest.
Speakers in the demonstration came down heavily on the state government which failed miserably in providing security for the dalit masses in the state and particularly for Ilavarasan whose life was in obvious danger.
More than 100 advocates of Madras High Court participated in the demonstration led by Com.Bharathi, Convenor, DAA. Senior Advocates SankaraSubbu and Tamilinian who spoke in the demonstration also held the proceedings of the court in the habeas corpus case responsible for Ilavarasan's death.
The demonstration in its course turned into a road roko and the main road was blocked for a while. The speakers called for powerful mobilization of advocates against caste oppression in the state.
Demonstrations on these demands were also held in two centers in Pudukottai district. Com.Pala.Asaithambi, SCM of the Party led the demonstrators.
Dalits in TN Assert Defy Untouchability, Assert Right to Enter Temple
Pudukottai district in Tamilnadu is known for continued untouchability. CPI(ML) has waged struggles in this area for the rights of dalits since its inception.
Dalits were prohibited from entering into Azhageri Amman temple situated in Periakottai village since time immemorial. Com.Govindasamy, District committee member of CPI(ML) is the elected President of the Panchayat of this village now and dalits were determined to enter into the temple for the festival this year. Castiest forces belonging to all backward communities do not want this to happen, and they mobilised MPs, MLAs and bureaucrats behind them. When peace talks convened by the Tahsildar failed, he announced cancellation of festivities.
CPI(ML) declared that cancelling the festival means succumbing to untouchability or 'untouchability by the backdoor', and organised a wider campaign to pressurise the district administration to take a stand against the castiest elements.
After a few rounds of discussion with district administration and police authorities it was decided to give protection for dalits to worship. Strong police pickets were posted and thousands of dalits entered the temple. There were minor skirmishes but police restrained both sides. Com Asaithambi, CPI(ML)'s district secretary, State Committee member Valathan and other district committee members of the party played an active role.
Dalit Landless Lay Claim to Gairmazarua Land in Siwan
Resist Armed Assault By Landlords Led by BJP MLA
In Chilmarvan village of Guthni block of Siwan, Bihar, dalit landless poor led by CPI(ML) has been conducting a 'Allot Land, Give Papers to Allottees' campaign. Recently, the dalit landless bravely resisted armed assault by BJP-supported landlords. The landless poor had laid claim to 12 bighas of gairmazarua land, and erected hutments on 1 bigha of the land. The Nitish Government's promise of allotting land to mahadalits has proved hollow, but when the mahadalit landless poor themselves took the initiative to claim land, the administration came to evict them. CPI(ML) leaders had talks with administration on the night (9 pm) of 5th July. During the talks the administration assured that having checked the land records and ascertained its gairmazarua status, the poor would be given legal rights to the land. CPI(ML) leaders Amarnath Yadav and Amarjit Kushwaha returned after the talks. But even as the administration conducted talks, there was firing by BJP-backed landlords, which the police did nothing to stop.
The next day, 6 July, the landlords and their hired goons, at the behest of BJP MLA Ramayan Majhi, returned shouting 'Long Live BJP' and again attacked the settlement of landless dalits, armed with firearms and sticks. There were preparations to terrorise and massacre the dalit poor, and the administration was missing in action, doing nothing to apprehend those who came in a mass to attack dalits in their homes. The dalit poor had no choice but to defend themselves, and thanks to their brave resistance, two of the landlords' hired goons were killed.
Subsequently, the administration is trying to fix false charges against Bihar AIALA State President and former MLA Satyadev Ram, and RYA National President Amarjit Kushwaha. CPI(ML) leaders were not even present at the site, having returned following an assurance by the administration that the land would be allotted to the dalits. Why, then, were CPI(ML) leaders The administration should answer why they took to action to prevent an armed mob of landlords and goons from launching an assault on dalits? Given the absence of police and administration, would the Nitish Government prefer that the dalits fail to defend themselves, and allow themselves to be massacred?
On 9 July, AIALA and RYA held a statewide protest day demanding withdrawal of the false cases against ML leaders and demanding arrest of BJP MLA Ramayan Majhi. In Siwan, scores of youth led by Amarjit Kushwaha marched in protest and burnt an effigy of the CM Nitish Kumar, braving repression by the police. When the police stopped protesters at JP Chowk, protesters kept JP Chowk blockaded for hours, till they were arrested. Protests were also held at Patna's JP Golambar, as well as at districts and towns all over Bihar.
TN AICCTU In Support of Struggling Maruti Workers
At a demonstration cum rally organized by the Maruti Suzuki Workers' Union in Faridabad, Haryana on 7th July 2013, a solidarity fund of Rs. 50,000/- was handed over to the leaders of the Union by three worker leaders of AICCTU from auto companies of Tamil Nadu – Coms. John Sundaram, President Pricol Workers' Union, K. Palanivel (CWC member of AICCTU) from Diamond Chains, and Gokul Krishnan from MRF, who came all the way to Delhi to donate this fund to Maruti workers.
This was the first installment of fund of one lakh rupees collected by the workers of these auto companies in Tamil Nadu in support of struggle of workers of Maruti Manesar on the call of Tamil Nadu unit of AICCTU. The 2nd and final installment of this fund will be donated to them on 11th July in Chandigarh (capital of Haryana and Punjab), where AICCTU's Chandigarh and Punjab units have organized a big demonstration programme with the participation of Maruti workers to raise their voice in the seat of Haryana government.
In continuation of their struggle, the Maruti union has taken up a series of programmes since 1st July which will culminate in indefinite sit-in and hunger strike at Manesar from 18 July, the day when last year 147 workers were thrown into the jails and 2300 workers were terminated under the pretext of an incident of violence in Maruti, Manesar Plant.
In this series of programmes, on 7th July 2013 in Faridabad, Haryana, the union organized a rally and demonstration before the residence of Labour Minister of Haryana. The mass meeting held at Pyali Chowk before rally was addressed by, among others, the national secretary of AICCTU, Rajiv Dimri. He said that the last years' 18th July incident and subsequent repression unleashed on Maruti workers is yet another proof to the fact that the democracy in India, known as the largest democracy in the world, is the democracy only for the big corporates and MNCs such as this Japanese company owning Maruti, but at the same time an autocracy, a regime of repression and oppression for working class, the down-trodden and the toiling people of the country. While saluting the heroic struggle of Maruti workers in the face of repression of all kinds, he exhorted them to make the 11th July demonstration in Chandigarh and indefinite sit-in cum hunger strike at Manesar from 18 July a resounding success. He reiterated AICCTU's continued support for them in all situations and declared that AICCTU will organize an all-India protest Day on 18th July by picketing in front of Maruti's Showrooms and offices in all major cities including Delhi, apart from joining in large number the sit-in at Manesar. At the end of his address, he introduced the comrades of Tamil Nadu to the Maruti workers after which the solidarity fund was handed over to them with short speeches by them. In the mass meeting and rally, ten banners containing signatures of thousands of workers of auto companies, lawyers, and intellectuals from Tamil Nadu in support of the struggle of Maruti workers were displayed and handed over to them.
The rally was participated by leaders and activists of AISA, RYA, All India Kisan Mahasabha and Jan Sanskriti Manch including Sandeep Singh, Aslam Khan, Prem Singh Gehlawat and Kapil Sharma.
At the end of rally, a big section of demonstrating workers forced into the house of Labour Minister of Haryana led by a delegation comprising of leaders of Maruti union- Katar Singh, Mahavir, Rajpal and others; Prem Singh Gehlawat, vice president of Kisan Mahasabha and AICCTU leaders Santosh Roy, Ranjan Ganguly and Rajiv Dimri. The delegation then submitted a memorandum demanding the Minister's urgent intervention for release of all workers and other people lodged in Kaithal jail on 18-19 May, release of 147 workers lodged in Gurgaon Jail for last one year, reinstatement of all terminated workers and an impartial inquiry into the 18th July 2012 incident.
The next day i.e. on 8th July the leaders of Maruti Suzuki Workers' Union visited the central office of AICCTU and met the President and General Secretary Coms. S. Kumarasamy and Swapan Mukherjee to thank them for the support and to discuss further course of action.
CPI(ML) Protests Arrest and Custodial Killing of Adivasi Youth in Mirzapur, UP
A 22-year old adivasi man Mahesh of Rampur village, Madihan thana in Mirzapur had left the village some days back with a married woman from the same community. The police apprehended both some days back, and then arrested Mahesh. CPI(ML) and AIPWA leader Jeera Bharti and other CPI(ML) leaders had protested the arrest and gheraoed the Patehra police chowki where he was being held. Jeera Bharti along with the woman's family were trying to facilitate the woman's divorce from her husband, and marriage with Mahesh, in keeping with her wishes. But the police, far from releasing Mahesh, instead brutally beat him all night, even as protesters remained gathered outside the chowki. In the morning of 8th July, Mahesh was dead – killed by brutal beating in police custody.
The police have been trying to cover up the case by filing a 'non cognizance report' and claiming the death to be a suicide. CPI(ML) intensified the protest, led by CPI(ML) CC member Mohd Salim and local leaders, and other parties too joined the protest. As a result of the protest, an FIR with murder harges has been lodged, and some cops suspended, but the killer cops are yet to be arrested.
Uttar Pradesh is gaining notoriety for custodial deaths – the death of Khalid Mujahid in police custody is still being protested, and meanwhile, Mahesh has been killed in custody. Even the arrest of Mahesh was completely illegal, since he had committed no crime requiring arrest by having a consensual relationship with a married woman.
Relief Work in Uttarakhand
Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication,
R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22518248, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.cpiml.org