A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 16 No. 37 3-9 SEP 2013
Obama Administration, Hands off Syria and Iran!
Even as the US and NATO forces claim to be contemplating their exit from Afghanistan, the Obama Administration has chosen Syria as America's next war target. Of course, Obama does not call it war, only a 'limited military action'. And the excuse is to punish the Syrian government for using chemical weapons against the Syrian people. Never mind if the team of UN inspectors is yet to study the samples from Syria. Never mind if reports coming in from Syria indicate that the chemical weapons were used accidentally by Syrian rebels and supplied deliberately by the Saudi Arabian intelligence. Never mind if a former US Chief of Staff sees Israel's hand behind the chemical weapons and terms it a 'false flag' operation aimed at implicating Bashar Assad's regime.
Never mind if the US attacking another country in the name of stopping chemical weapons is bound to be seen by every informed citizen of the world as one of the worst hypocrisies in history. The US is the only country to have used nuclear weapons nearly seven decades ago. And who can forget the 'Agent Orange' and the napalm bombs that the US dropped on the children of Vietnam? The Iraqi people continue to experience the horrific effects of the depleted uranium used in US attacks. As a Senator, Obama had questioned America's Iraq war. As President he evolved his own distinct 'Drone' way of continuing with the war without running the risk of getting bogged down in a military occupation. And now with Syria, Obama is finally stepping right into the shoes Bush had left for him.
Ever since the Second World War it has been established time and again that the US loves war, not on its own soil but in any other part of the world. The US economy is predominantly a war economy; arms and ammunitions, war technology and post-war reconstruction fetching endless contracts and profits for the US and its corporations. US foreign policy has always been one of engineering and conducting war, the theatres of war keep changing but the trajectory goes on. It is this political economy of war which has sustained America's global power and domination and control over key resources. So after Afghanistan and Iraq, America's war machine has kept moving on, somewhat surreptitiously in Africa and is now knocking openly on the doors of Syria. What the US and its allies – in this case there are only three of them, Israel, Saudi Arabia and France – want is not just another regime change in the Arab world, but most importantly to corner Iran, the only remaining power in the Middle-East or the entire Islamic world that continues to defy and resist the hegemonic game-plan of the US-Israel nexus.
The Syrian people have their own reasons to fight for change. The aspiration for democracy and pluralism that respects individual liberty and social diversity is undeniable among large sections of the Syrian people. The ongoing civil war in Syria has already exacted an enormous human cost, with thousands killed and hundreds of thousands of people rendered homeless. It is one thing for the international community to intervene diplomatically through the UN to help restore peace and normalcy in the strife-torn country and facilitate a political solution, but unilateral American military intervention will only cripple Syria further and subject the Syrian people to a prolonged state of far greater misery and insecurity.
From Afghanistan and Iraq to Egypt and Libya, there are examples galore to show that American intervention and democracy cannot go together. Egypt has now gone back to a military-dictated order after toppling the elected Islamic Brotherhood government. Democracy and justice remain distant dreams in all countries that have experienced regime change through American invasion or intervention. If the Syrian rebels have any concern for the future of Syria, they must fight their own battle and reject American intervention by all means.
Luckily the war-mongers are not finding it easy this time. In the wake of the severe economic recession the Obama Administration is finding it difficult to hard-sell the idea of another war adventure not only to the American people but even to large sections of a war-weary US establishment. This is why Obama has chosen to appear 'democratic' enough to seek authorisation from the Congress even though he is not constitutionally required to do so. In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron lost the vote with several from his own party also opposing as for once the House of Commons felt it could not take the risk of imposing another war on the increasingly disillusioned British public. The French President is now wary and says France needs no parliamentary approval. International opinion must now come out still more loudly and forcefully to save Syria from the threat of impending American aggression and push back the US war machine.
Thanks to the growing strategic subservience of the Indian ruling classes to US imperialism, successive Indian governments have failed to oppose the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. India also voted twice against Iran in the IAEA and is now seen globally as a key American accomplice in the US-led war campaign. We cannot therefore rely on the UPA government to show the courage to take an anti-war position on Syria. The Indian people must come out boldly against war and American intervention and warn the Indian government against extending any kind of support to the US-led war campaign in Syria and elsewhere.
Shame on Saffron Support and Congress Soft-Pedalling
for Sexual Assault Accused Asaram
Asaram, a self-styled 'saint' and godman, has been accused by the 16 year old daughter of his own devotees, of having molested her in his Jodhpur ashram in the name of curing some illness. The matter is all the more serious because the girl had been a student at his ashram in Chhindwara, MP, and aides of Asaram at that ashram had falsely claimed the girl was 'in the grip of spirits' and advised her parents to take her to Asaram at Jodhpur for a cure.
A team of activists from women's and people's organisations from Lucknow including Tahira Hasan of AIPWA, Arundhati Dhuru of NAPM and Dr Rooprekha Verma recently visited the complainant's family in Shahjahanpur to extend support.
The assault happened on 15th August. The complaint was lodged on August 20th in Delhi. But Asaram was arrested 12 days later! The contrast with the prompt arrest of the accused in the Delhi and Mumbai gang rape cases could not be more stark. The Congress Government of Rajasthan kept delaying the arrest on the pretext of 'investigation.' And the Congress also justified the delay in arresting, citing a potential 'law and order' problem since Asaram's supporters and BJP cadres were threatening violence if he were to be arrested. Meanwhile Asaram went to Gujarat and MP, and openly addressed a huge Sangh Parivar-backed gathering in his support, declaring no one could dare arrest him. He also commented on the complainant, saying she is not a minor, she is 'very intelligent' ("Ladki bacchii nahin hai, 12th class ki hai, badi hoshiar ladki hai"). In MP, when the police eventually came to arrest him, he told them, "Very soon the CM will call you. There are so many devotees here, who knows what they will do if you arrest me?". At the gates of his ashram in Indore, was the local BJP MLA Ramesh Maindola, sitting with hundreds of supporters and raising slogans in support of Asaram.
Why is it that Congress Governments are willing to unleash batons, tear gas and water cannons on peaceful protesters in the December 16th gangrape case, but are so deferential and soft in their handling of Sangh gatherings threatening violence in support of a sexual assault accused?
The BJP and Sangh Parivar have been vocal in their defence of Asaram from day one. Uma Bharti tweeted that Asaram was innocent and has her support, since he is a victim of a Congress ploy to defame Hindu saints. Since then, several other BJP leaders have flocked to Asaram's defence. After a spate of such statements, the BJP's campaign chief Narendra Modi (whose Government has been protecting Asaram in Gujarat in pending murder and land grab cases) advised BJP leaders not to defend Asaram officially. Since then the official stance of the BJP has been voiced by Sushma Swaraj when she said 'The law will take its own course.' But how can the law take its course when even after Modi's formal 'advice', BJP and Sangh leaders are openly blocking the course of justice and mobilising in Asaram's favour?!
VHP leader Pravin Togadia declared that "Asaram is innocent, he is a real saint." VHP leader Ashok Singhal at a press conference declared Asaram's arrest to be an "attack on Hindu culture.' Clearly the Sangh's view of 'Hindu culture' involves allowing girls to be molested in its name! Singhal said that the arrest "is telling the Hindu community that we will finish your feelings of respect towards a religious leader." Amazingly he asked if the complainant was "not ashamed" to make an accusation against such an old man, saying "It is understandable if such allegations are made against a young person."
Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh declared Asaram to be innocent, even as Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena goons went on a rampage in Asaram's support in Raipur, attacking mediapersons. TV channel camerapersons were attacked in other states as well.
Subramanian Swamy, vitriolic communal hatemonger who has recently joined the BJP, tweeted that "I have sent my legal sharp cookies to assess the police documents on the Asaram Bapu case." His 'legal sharp cookies' will help Asaram, the accused, against a teenage girl, a 16 year old survivor of sexual assault!
Vocal and aggressive in Asaram's defence are the very Sangh terror outfits implicated in Dabholkar's murder – the Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janajagaran Samiti. The HJS website proclaims "Saints and Hindu activists unite against defamation of His Highness Asaram Bapu" (http://www.hindujagruti.org/news/17241_asaram-bapu-surat-program.html#.UiLNf8JqbLY.twitter). According to this report, Asaram declared at a massive gathering in Surat, "Nobody can arrest me now or even in future !", and that Pramod Muthalik of the Sriram Sena (of Mangalore pub attack infamy) declared support for Asaram! We recall that Asaram himself had said that the December 16 Nirbhaya was also responsible for the rape, which she could have prevented by calling her assailants 'brother' and begging them to spare her! Moral policers of the saffron brigade unite in defending rape!!
The HJS in another report titled, "Outrage throughout Maharashtra against treachery towards Dharma!" (http://www.hindujagruti.org/news/17271.html) tells us that organisations demonstrating in Asaram's support include the "Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh, Vishva Hindu Parishad, Art of Living, Bajrang Dal, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, BJP, Shiv Sena."
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of Art of Living, in his tweets, has also made some ambiguous and dubious statements regarding Asaram. He tweeted, "A person should not be considered guilty until the allegations are proven" and "If you're a public figure & have made a mistake, you must publicly admit it. People have bigger hearts than you think. They'll forgive & forget." He also tweeted, "When men with high caliber & integrity make a mistake, they would punish themselves much more severely than the laws, while adding that "doesn't mean that anyone is above Law." Why all this equivocation in a matter of sexual assault? Why should anyone forgive and forget rape and sexual assault? Is Asaram now a man of 'high calibre and integrity' who has just 'made a mistake'?! Or is he in fact some one who has used his power as a godman to coerce and cheat a girl into submitting to his 'ritual' and on that pretext, sexually assaulting her?
We must offer every support to the complainant, and demand protection and a speedy trial for her, while exposing and resisting the saffron support for Asaram and the Congress' shameful delay in acting against Asaram.
Protest against Soft-paddling of Asharam
Women in Pithoragarh burnt effigy of Asharam and condemned Rajasthan Govt. for being soft towards latter who is accused of sexual harassment of a minor girl. The protest was led by Namrata Bohra, Ambika Mahar, Asham Saun, Madhvi Bohra, Minakshi, Jagat Martolia, Sushil Khatri, Vijeta, Lata, Dhiraj Patni, Alok Samant, Lalit Punera, Vidya Kalkhuria and Vipin Kasnial.
Jan Panchayat in Gumla
CPI(ML) Gumla District Committee organised a Jan Panchayat at district collectorate on 26 August against loot in MNREGA funds and for special district status for Gumla in order to protect it from maneuverings of HINDALCO. It was also demanded to link the district with railway network and to build an aluminum factory soon.
The Jan Panchayat was addressed by Party's State Secretary Janardan Prasad who said that scant monsoon have left whole state drought affected but the state government has failed to take any steps in favour of rural poor and peasants while loot of natural resources by corporates goes on under governmental protection. Jharkhand is continuously facing neglect while state of irrigation, employment, health, education etc. are deteriorating day by day.
Veteran leader Bahadur Oraon said that law and order situation is worsening further while crimes, particularly crimes against women, are increasing. The Jan Panchayat was also addressed by Bhuvaneshwar Kewat, Vijay Singh, Gajendra Singh, Suresh Bhagat, Prakash Oraon, Aditya Singh, Devanti Mishra, Bharat Gope and Mustakim Ansari.
AIALA Protest in Puducherry
On 19 August 2013 All India Agricultural Labour Association (AIALA) in Puducherry and Karaikal districts of Puducherry Union Territory went on a big demonstration infront of District Magistrate Offices of Puducherry and Karaikal respectively. At Puducherry the demonstrators took out a procession demanding complete food security to all families/individuals who live below poverty line and inclusion of all rural workers as well as all construction workers and other unorganised workers in the BPL list. They also demanded Rs. 3,000/- as monthly pension to all unorganised workers. The demonstrators also insisted on right to livelihood and political rights to the unorganised workers and rural poor. In Puducherry the demonstration was led by R. V. Lenin, District Organiser, AIALA, S. Balasubramanian, National Secretary AICCTU, G. Palani District Secretary CPI (ML), AICCTU Puducherry State Secretary S. Motilal, P. Murugan, Co-Organiser AIALA and M. A. Akbar (AICWF) addressed the protestors. J. Sakthivelu, Organiser Movement for protection of roofless flagged off the procession. A memorandum was submitted to the Chief Minister of Puducherry through the District Magistrate.
At Karaikal the demonstration was led by Com. Ramesh District Secretary, Movement for protection of roofless, P. Sankaran, Vice President AICCTU, A. S. Singaravelu, Local Committee Secretary CPI (ML) and others.
Kisan Mahasabha Protest in Dharchula and Joshimath
Peasants from three villages near Gothi in Pithoragarh under banner of All India Kisan Mahasabha gheraoed the Tehsil premises on 26 August but they found out that the SDM and other officials are not present in the office. The protesters issued an ultimatum of one hour for the SDM to come to listen to the them. Though unsatisfied with latter's answers they declared to hold a chakka-jam on national highway on Sep. 5.
Peasants had earlier held a mass hunger strike on August 1, on the demands of foodgrains, electricity among other things. After 25 days of inaction villagers from Baun, Dugtu and Kalika again assembled near Dak Bungalow and then started a march with the slogan 'SDM Dharchula Haajir Ho'. Even after so many days of the devastating floods in Uttarakhand, many villages are still reeling under fear. Adjoining Kali river is still sweeping away its banks near Gothi and other places leaving people more insecure and terrified, while the administration remains mute, inactive and insensitive. CPI(ML) District Secretary Jagat Martolia blamed local MLA too for this state of affairs in his speech. The administration has been informed of the forthcoming blockade of the national highway if the demands are not met in time.
A Kisan Panchayat was organised in Joshimath which was attended by people from 6 villages. A memo to the State Governor was sent by the Panchayat. 36 villages, including Ganai, Tangari and Molat, in Joshimath block are demanding rehabilitation for many years as they are situated in disaster prone areas leaving people to live in constant fear and imminent danger. The CPI(ML) has demanded an effective and pro-people rehabilitation policy besides immediate resolution of villagers woes.
Comrade Suleiman Hafizi
Comrade Suleiman Hafizi, a popular mass leader and party district secretary of North Dinajpur in West Bengal, passed away on 26th August, at an early age of 59 years, succumbing to cardiac failure. He had had an angioplasty two months back and was advised complete bed rest. It was not in his nature, however, to stay bed-ridden. He was resisting corruption and malpractices surrounding the mid-day meal scheme at the local primary school in Harirampur, where he served as the headmaster. On that day, too, he got involved in protests against the offenders, and came home tired from the exchanges. That afternoon he fell ill and was admitted to the Raygunj Sadar Hospital, where he breathed his last.
Party comrades and local people bid comrade Hafizi farewell in a procession that went from his home to the block party office and finally to his birthplace. Central committee member Abhijit Mazumder, state committee members including comrades Jayatu Deshmukh, Taslim Ali, Pabitra Singh, and several members of the district and local committees paid their last homage along the way.
Comrade Suleiman Hafizi had served as state committee member from 2009 to 2012. In 2008 he stood firmly for the party when the party was going through an organizational crisis in North Dinajpur. He played active role in unifying party organizers and cadres in the district and took up the district secretary's role. Ever since his joining the party in 2000, he fought one Lok Sabha and two State Assembly elections as a party candidate. Apart from being a mass leader, he was also well-known in cultural circles.
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