Thursday, December 26, 2013

ML Update 53 / 2013

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  16            No. 53      24-31 DEC 2013


The Khobragade-Richards Episode:

Tale of US Govt.'s Racism and High-Handedness, 

and Indian Govt's Class Bias and Irresponsibility 

Several urgent concerns need to be addressed in the wake of the arrest of Indian Deputy Consul Devyani Khobragade on charges of visa fraud and under-paying her domestic worker. The issues of the mutual and reciprocal dignity of nations, reflected in diplomatic protocol, and those of the rights of domestic and migrant workers; the rights and dignity of Devyani Khobragade as an Indian diplomat and those of Sangeeta Richards as an Indian citizen and worker should not be used to undermine each other.  

The charges against Ms. Khobragade are serious. But let us first look at the manner in which the US Government has dealt with them, before coming to the Indian Government's role in the entire affair.

Would the US Government have treated a diplomat from a non-'Third World' country, charged with the same offences, in the same manner? US Attorney Preet Bharara states that she was not hand-cuffed or arrested in the view of her children, but he does admit that a strip search and cavity search – routine in the US – were conducted. But this is neither here nor there. The question is – would a diplomat from, say, the UK or France have been subjected to invasive searches and treated like a common criminal, and would the US allow its own diplomats to be thus treated in other countries? Again, this is not to undermine the seriousness of the charges brought against Ms. Khobragade. Rather, the question is, are the rules somehow different where US diplomats are concerned? When CIA operative Raymond Davis was charged with killing two men in Lahore in broad daylight in 2011, the US quickly claimed diplomatic immunity for him, even though he was not even officially a diplomat. So the US claims 'diplomatic immunity' even for its clandestine operatives charged with heinous crimes like murder, but claims it has no choice but to arrest, invasively search and jail an Indian diplomat? It is really this double standard that is the primary factor behind the anger that many Indians feel at the treatment meted out to Ms. Khobragade. It is difficult to evade the conclusion that imperialist high-handedness, as well as the structural racism of the US criminal justice and prison system, played a part in allowing the US Government to forget diplomatic conventions that it would expect as its due for its own diplomats. Of course, the US was no doubt encouraged in its high-handedness by the fact that the Indian Government never made an issue of the US' refusal to extradite David Headley or Warren Anderson, of the shooting of an Indian fisherman by a US warship in 2012, or of repeated instances of frisking of senior Indian Government representatives in US airports.    

What about the Indian Government's response to the ongoing episode involving Khobragade and Richards? When the issue surfaced several months ago, India's Ministry of External Affairs took no measures to prevent the matter from escalating. The MEA is well aware of the fact that Indian diplomats regularly employ and under-pay domestic help, drivers, gardeners etc from India. The infamous 'double contract' is an open secret – where there is one contract that complies with the US regulations and another 'real' contract that actually governs pay and other conditions. In the past couple of years, there have been other cases involving Indian diplomats accused of employing 'bonded' or 'slave' labour. The diplomats' complaint has been that the MEA does not pay them enough to employ workers at US rates. This cannot, of course, be an excuse for underpaying workers – the point is that the MEA was well aware of the issue and did nothing to resolve it.     

Further, the Indian Government seems to think it owes no duty to the other Indian citizen in the matter: Sangeeta Richards, the domestic worker. Instead, they have endorsed the action initiated by Khobragade against Richards, including charges of blackmail, fraud, theft; making insinuations that Richards was attempting to facilitate illegal immigration of her husband and child; and revoking Richards's passport. Richards attempted to legally raise her grievances, terminate her employment by Khobragade, seek a fresh passport and visa so that she might work elsewhere, and sought a payment of $10,000 since she claimed to have worked 19 hours a day. The Indian Government seems to have decided that for a worker to raise such grievances against an Indian diplomat, amounts to betrayal of the Indian State and Indian nationalism! Disturbingly, the Indian Government seems to ignore the indications that Khobragade's conduct towards Richards (and perhaps of other Indian diplomats towards their employees) amounts to human trafficking.    

The discourse of much of the media and most political parties in India is equally disturbing. Richards's actions are being described as a conspiracy. BJP leader Yashwant Sinha talks of how it's common for servants to get 'star-struck' by the 'glittering lights' of the US, and to want to illegally immigrate and feel dissatisfied with their lot! People have said to me that the domestic worker should be happy with her wages because she would make less in India.  Would these same people agree that an Indian who works in Microsoft in Seattle should make the same as an Indian who works in Infosys in Bangalore? 

The Delhi High Court injunction of September 20 restraining Richards from moving court against Khobragade outside India, says: "It is pertinent to mention here that the plaintiff and her family treated defendant No. 1 [Sangeeta Richards] as a member of their own family...The (plaintiff's) house is equipped with all modern domestic gadgets. Defendant No. 1 was being given leave/off on Sundays when she used to visit a beauty parlour, church and her friends." In India, the most common euphemism for exploitative domestic labour and even child labour is "we treat them like family." "Like family" justifies every feudal relationship with the domestic worker, suggesting that a formal work contract regulated by the law would somehow corrupt the "family relationship." Similarly, of course, any attempt by women to invoke laws regarding dowry harassment or domestic violence inside the household, is painted as a violation of the sacred "family ties." Domestic workers in India face exploitative work conditions, with no norms of work hours, pay, leave, and vulnerable to sexual violence and even bondage and torture. India is yet to ratify the ILO Convention on domestic workers' rights.

Yashwant Sinha declared that India should retaliate to the arrest of Khobragade by arresting US diplomats with same-sex partners, since homosexuality is illegal in India. Flaunting homophobia as 'national pride' and implying that minimum wage and anti-trafficking laws are 'foreign' to India is condemnable and truly shames India as a democracy.

It also needs to be pointed out that while employing highly exploited domestic workers is of course more prevalent in the Indian middle class, it is also a major and growing phenomenon in the US among professionals and elites. In the US, large numbers of households employ Latina, Filipina and other migrant women as maids and nannies. Their work conditions are usually exploitative, and they are often profiled as 'illegal' and very vulnerable to harassment. Some years ago,  these 'undocumented' workers participated in huge numbers in a series of massive protests against being branded as 'illegal' by US immigration laws, which, far from protecting such workers, render them much more vulnerable to exploitation. The draconian provisions of the US visa regime under which Khobragade was arrested are in fact primarily targeted at controlling and limiting the rights of these workers themselves.

Instead of muscle-flexing and grandstanding, India and the US must work on resolving the diplomatic impasse, without compromising either on India's sovereignty and the dignity of its diplomats, or on the rights of Indian workers. India must work to end the exploitative practices and trafficking by diplomats and protect all Indian workers from such practices. And India and the US both need to protect the rights of domestic workers in keeping with the ILO Convention norms in their respective countries.      

"Are we expected to bring back the dead to give evidence?"

(Survivors of Bathani Tola and Laxmanpur Bathe Massacres speak at People's Hearing For Justice. A report of the Hearing and the signature campaign and Journey for Justice that preceded it, in which 5 million signatures were collected on a petition to the President of India.)  

"The Bihar government is in connivance with the Ranveer Sena. The lower court had awarded death sentence to 3 of the killers and life imprisonment to 19, but the High Court acquitted all these Ranveer Sena men. The High Court asks for evidence. Are we expected to bring back the dead to give evidence? There are 3 police pickets there, why don't they ask those policemen? 14 witnesses braved life threats to give evidence, yet the High court let the murderers go scot free and called the witnesses liars. When Barmeshwar Singh was killed a CBI enquiry is ordered, but the poor are being subjected to injustice even through the court. We have gone to the Supreme Court to demand justice. Come what may, we will not give up our fight for justice." These were the words of Bathani Tola eyewitness and survivor Naeemuddin Ansari at the People's Hearing conducted at Jantar mantar, New Delhi by the CPI(ML) on 18 December.

In 1996 the Ranveer Sena had brutally massacred 21 people from dalit-minority communities, out of which 6 women and children belonged to Naeemuddin's family. He testified in court as an eyewitness – but the Patna High Court rejected his testimony.

After the Public Hearing, 5 million signatures (collected between 30 October and 10 December in an intense campaign all over Bihar) were submitted to the President of India. Signatories included the general public, well-known intellectuals, litterateurs, cultural activists, journalists, and human rights activists. The petition appealed to the President to raise his voice in support of the struggle for justice, and to intervene to reopen the Justice Amir Das Commission that had identified the political figures behind the Ranveer Sena, but that had been disbanded by the Nitish Government before it could submit its findings.

The signatures had been brought to Delhi in a Nyay Sangharsh Yatra (Journey for Justice) that began on 10 December (Human Rights Day) from Bihar's capital Patna. Traversing through the carnage affected areas and talking to the victims, holding public meetings in Durgavati, Mughalsarai and Benaras on the question of justice, the Yatra arrived in Delhi. Around 60 mass meetings were held during this period. CPI(ML)'s former MLA Arun Singh, Bihar State Committee member Mahanand, Anwar Hussain from Inqulabi Muslim Conference, RYA National President Amarjeet Kushwaha, Raju Yadav and Qayamuddin from Revolutionary Youth Asociation, folk singers Krishna Kumar Nirmohi, Raju Ranjan and others were part of the Yatra. The Yatra culminated in the Public Hearing held in Delhi on December 18th – the death anniversary of former CPI(ML) General Secretary Vinod Mishra.

At the hearing, Laxmanpur Bathe carnage survivor Ramugrah Rajvanshi said: "Nitish took our votes in the name of 'mahadalit' but got the perpetrators of the carnage acquitted, because he wanted to maintain good relations with feudal forces. It is only the CPI (ML) which is with us in our fight for justice."

Laxman Rajvanshi who lost 3 family members in the Bathe carnage said, "After the acquittal, the killers are threatening us, saying now we will kill 116 instead of 58; we are all-powerful from top to bottom, what can you do against us?

Rita Devi, survivor of the Bathani Tola massacre, described the gory scene that greeted her eyes after the massacre – walls spattered with blood and flesh. She said, "People testified at risk to their lives, in the hope of justice – and their hopes were dashed to the ground." Later, speaking to Delhi students, she said, "I had to go to court recently with my little son, in some other matter. My son, seeing the judges in the court, said – 'Are these the judges who let the killers go scot free? I don't want to be a judge when I grow up.'"      

On 15 August 2013 feudal forces had attacked the dalits of Baddi village (Rohtas district) for daring to hoist the flag. Shriniwas Ram, son of 70-year-old Ramvilas Ram who was killed in this attack, said that he had also come to demand justice for his father's murder. Madhuri of AIPWA who has been fighting for the victims' struggle for justice, said that the then President KR Narayanan had called the carnages a national shame. Is the acquittal of the murderers not a shame? Sharing her experiences from the signature campaign she said that women feel that the High court verdict comes as a morale booster for criminals and today the women of Bihar are facing violence from such criminals. These women signed the petition not only to get justice for the carnage victims but also to deter the ongoing violence against women in Bihar.

CPI (ML) Arwal district Secretary Com. Mahanand said that if the Supreme Court does not give us justice we will go back to the same 5 million signatories of the petition for justice. Com. Anwar Hussain, CPI(ML) leader from Bihar, said that the Nitish government has provided all amenities to the villages which attacked Miyanpur, while Miyanpur itself lacks even basic amenities and the licences for weapons which had been provided for self defence are not being renewed.

Prof. Nandini Sundar of Delhi University, Chittaranjan Singh of PUCL, Prof. Sona Jharia Minz and Dr. YS Alone of JNU, Prof. Nawal Kishore Choudhary of Patna University, and JNUSU Vice President Anubhuti Agnes Bara were the Jury members at the People's Hearing. Prof. Nandini Sundar condemned the High Court verdict as the worst possible verdict and said that we all want justice for the victims; this fight is not only for these victims but also for the victims of violence all over the world. Chittaranjan Singh of the PUCL condemned the refusal of the President to give time to meet the deputation from the People's Hearing.

The Jury said that it expects the Bihar government to file an appeal in the Supreme Court without delay, guarantee safety of witneses, reinstate the Amir Das Commission and make its report public. At the same time the Union Home Ministry should also give the necessary directives to the Bihar government. Prof. Nawal Kishore Choudhary said that the Nyay Yatra (journey for justice) is not over yet. The killings at Bathani, Bathe and Miyanpur were not ordinary killings but tantamount to the murder of Indian democracy, Constitutional values and human rights. It is the minimal responsibility of the Indian State to fulfil the demands of this Jury and the duty of every citizen to fight against massacres.

At the start of the People's Hearing Bihar State Committee member and former MLA Arun Singh said that the Ranveer Sena was not just a criminal gang, it had the full protection of political parties. Feudal-communal in character, it was supported by the BJP, and also by the Lalu-Rabdi and Nitish governments. On this occasion the founder of People's Front of India (PFI) and Supreme Court lawyer Tahir Hussain said that even in the case of a single murder, the High Court has to think a hundred times before overturning a Lower Court verdict; the acquittal by the High Court of these brutal mass murderers is astounding. Taramani Rai of the CPRM said that he would mobilise public opinion on this issue in Darjeeling. Atul Dighe of the Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) said that the fight against feudal forces would continue till the end, and PFI National Vice President Satyapal Singh assured full support in the fight for justice. Former CPI(ML) MP Rameshwar Prasad was also present on the dais.

Addressing the People's Hearing, CPI (ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya said that after a long and brave fight the people got justice from the lower court but the High Court cast suspicion on the witnesses, which is a matter of great shame. Today this fight belongs not only to Bathani, Bathe and Miyanpur but to all poor, oppressed, dalit, and working people of the entire country. This fight is related to the fight for justice and freedom for women which the streets of Delhi have seen during the past year. It is related also to the fight for justice for the oppressed minorities in the relief camps at Muzaffarnagar. From Kashmir to the North East, wherever people are fighting for their rights, we are fighting with them. Com. Dipankar said that the CPI(ML) is going to launch a countrywide campaign in the new year, on 2nd January, to demand justice for the Muzaffarnagar victims. He stressed the demand for an effective anti-communalism law, pointing out that throughout the country youth belonging to the minority communities were being hounded and witch-hunted. The question of people's justice includes the release of all the innocent people languishing in jail.

The proceedings were conducted by Com. Ravi Rai, RYA General Secretary. Com. Krishna Kumar Nirmohi, Raju Ranjan, and Nanhaku Paswan presented folk songs on the theme of justice: "Kaahe bhayil Bathani se beimaani, Bathe se beimaani ho judge sahib poochh taani, nyay ke murti hoke anyay kari dihal, nyay sange kayil manmaani" (Why did you betray Bathani and Bathe, we ask you Mr.Judge, being a representative of justice why you do this injustice, why did you interpret the law according to your whims?)

Lokpal Act: Inadequate Measure Against Corruption

The Lokpal law has finally been passed by both houses of Parliament. This historic achievement has been possible only because of the enormous public awareness and movement against corruption. 

But the Lokpal that has been enacted falls short of an institution that can effectively combat corruption. The appointment of the Lokpal will be by PM, Leader of Opposition, Speaker, CJI and one jurist nominated by these four. This still fails to ensure a Lokpal that is truly independent of the political representatives. Removal of the member of the Lokpal also lies in the hands of elected political representatives alone, and no citizen can initiate a move to remove a Lokpal member.     

The Lokpal fails to include corporations and conduct of MPs in Parliament in its ambit. This means that the crucial corporate element in huge scams, as well as scams like questions-for-cash or cash-for-votes, will remain outside the ambit of the Lokpal.  PPP projects are also left out of the ambit of the Lokpal – in spite of the fact that these are the norm in the neoliberal regime, and PPP projects have been known to be riddled with corruption. 

The Act fails to have any provision for protection of whistleblowers – and surely, without this provision, it will be much harder to establish corruption. Not only that, the Act actually has a provision that will intimidate potential whistleblowers – it states that a person who makes a false or frivolous complaints can be jailed for up to one year. The law also does not mandate States to enact Lokayuktas. Corruption in the judiciary and armed forces is yet to be addressed.

The Lokpal Act passed by Parliament, therefore, shies away from confronting and correcting the worst practices of corruption that we witness today.

Demand Relief, Rehabilitation, and Justice for Muzaffarnagar's Riot Survivors

Observe National Protest Day on 2nd January 2014



The bitterly cold winter has begun. And the stories of Muzaffarnagar's relief camps jolts our conscience.

Thousands of people, who have watched their loved ones killed in cold blood, and who have been raped, and lost their homes and means of survival, languish in the relief camps of Muzaffarnagar. The Uttar Pradesh Government had pleaded earlier that they were helpless to prevent the communal violence. But why has the Government turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the plight of those in the relief camps?

         28 children have died in relief camps in Shahpur, Budhana, Malarpuur and Sunhati due to the cold, and lack of medicines.

         There have been instances of rapes in the relief camps. FIRs have been filed in rape cases that took place during the communal violence – but the accused are yet to be arrested.

         Meanwhile, the BJP shamelessly felicitated its MLAs who are accused of leading the communal violence.

         And the Akhilesh Government issued an order forcibly evicting the riot-hit from the relief camps, and pressurising them to accept a Rs 5 lakh payment in exchange for giving up their right to return to the villages from where they were evicted! In exchange for the Rs 5 lakh, they are being asked to sign an affidavit saying ""Main aur mere parivar ke sadasya apne gram mein hui hinsatmak ghatnaon se bhayakant hokar gaon va ghar chhodkar aaye hain, tatha in kinhi bhi paristhitiyon mein ab apne mool gaon evam ghar nahin lautenge (I and my family left our village and our home due to the violent incidents there. We will not return to our village and home under any circumstances)."

         Also, the the UP forest department has booked thousands of Muzaffarnagar riots victims for setting up relief camps by "encroaching" on forest land.

         The report submitted to the UP Government by the 10-member committee of Ministers  under the leadership of senior SP Minister Shivpal Yadav, appallingly, blames the madarsas running of the relief camp for not wanting to wind up the relief camps in spite of the situation having returned to 'normal'!

         The SIT constituted to enquire into the riots is doing a mere token job of it and not bothering even to talk to the victims. 

We cannot watch this travesty of justice in silence.

The CPI(ML) appeals to people all over the country to contribute funds that can be used to buy relief materials (warm clothing, firewood, medicines, food) that are urgently for the Muzaffarnagar riot-affected. A CPI(ML) team will visit Muzaffarnagar on 28 December to distribute the first batch of relief materials collected. 

CPI(ML) also appeals to begin the new year with a resolve to secure justice for Muzaffarnagar's riot victims. On 2nd January 2014, the CPI(ML) has called for an all-India protest day demanding immediate arrest and prosecution of all rioters and rape-accused named in FIRs, and demanding that the State Government of UP ensure urgent relief and rehabilitation measures for the riot-displaced and riot-affected people.

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:

Thursday, December 19, 2013

ML Update 52 / 2013

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 16, No. 52, 17 – 23 DECEMBER 2013

The Winds of Change for Fearless Freedom Won't Be Stopped by the Wall of Reaction

"What has changed since last December?" is the question everyone is asking a year after the brutal gangrape and murder that sparked off a massive movement. After all, the number of rapes and sexual assaults are higher than ever, and women certainly don't feel safer.

In fact, the changes are enormously significant and precious. The winds of change that made last year's slogans of fearless freedom possible, continue to blow strong, in spite of the many obstacles.

Last year, many had wondered why only a handful of the most brutal of gangrapes where slumdwellers were perpetrators, made it to headlines, while the everyday sexual degradation faced by women, or sexual violence by powerful men passed unnoticed. A year later, 16th December saw sexual harassment by a retired Supreme Court judge making it to the headlines and editorials. The fact that sexual harassment and violence faced by women at the workplace, and the need to end the impunity of the more privileged perpetrators, has emerged as a matter of public concern is an important and welcome change.

In the past year, many women have spoken of how the protests made them feel more empowered to raise their voice against sexual harassment and violence. The lawyer who wrote of the harassment at the hands of Justice Ganguly has spoken of how the protests of last December might have helped her to go public. "What has changed," she said, "is that women ...feel there is a small group, a small segment of society that will stand by them. Of course, that number is still very small, but for those who have been at the receiving end, it means a great deal." The journalist in the Tejpal case could talk of the violence she faced to her male colleagues – confident of their understanding, support and solidarity, and they stood staunchly by her. Soni Sori, the fighter against custodial rape by Chhattisgarh cops, was greeted with long applause this year at a Delhi gathering of last year's protestors, as she told them, "I got strength from the movement you have sustained since last December. The torture had demoralized and shattered me physically. In jail, I realized there are women in worse conditions than me. I reached out to you and you responded. The movement you launched and the strength I got from it kept me going." The fight against sexual violence is still long and hard – but it is significantly less lonely, and the ranks of the fighters have swelled.

The other immensely significant change can be witnessed in the spontaneous outburst of outraged protest against the Supreme Court's Section 377 verdict re-criminalising homosexuality. In another day and age, a Supreme Court ruling that homosexuals are criminals would have further isolated and demoralised an already marginalised group of gay rights activists, who could not count on support even from some of the largest women's organisations. This year, days before December 16 2013, enormous street protests declared that the Supreme Court ruling bends shamefully to religious reactionaries and fails to protect the rights of homosexuals. Public opinion has forced even most ruling class political parties to break their silence and at least say the right thing. Some prominent supporters of the BJP among young celebrities, who had been touting Modi as the leader of 'modern, young India', have been embarrassed by the BJP's retrograde support for Section 377 and BJP leaders' homophobic utterances. Even in the mainstream media, the dominant opinion is that Section 377, that declares homosexuality to be 'unnatural', is a relic of a patriarchal, unscientific, and discriminatory colonial order. Such a law had no place in India prior to colonial rule, and should certainly have no place in modern democratic India. In a world where even the Pope is having to modify the Catholic Church's homophobic stances, personal freedoms and constitutional liberties cannot be violated to defer to the opinion of a handful of religious leaders and godmen. A significant section of India's vocal younger generation finds it troubling that the Supreme Court, which chooses to be vocal about red lights on cars, should be 'recuse itself' from protecting people from an unconstitutional law.

Doubtless, the forces of patriarchal reaction too are gathering their forces. The communal rapists of Muzaffarnagar are yet to be arrested even after an FIR has been registered. Communal and casteist forces still seek to curb women's freedoms and unleash violence on minorities and oppressed castes in the name of 'protecting women.' Dalit and adivasi women battling rape continue to struggle for justice. Rapes by Armed Forces continue to be shielded by the AFSPA – the AFSPA that is imposed not only in Kashmir and Manipur but has also recently been given an extension in CPIM-ruled Tripura. Stalking by the Gujarat Government and its 'Saheb' is being justified in the name of 'protecting' the victim from her male friends. The Chairperson of the NCW, herself a leader of the Congress, echoes the sentiment of the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat when she blames rapes on urbanisation and advises women to keep themselves safe by adhering to 'Indian culture.' Justice Ganguly sticks to his post as West Bengal Human Rights Commission Chairperson in the face of sexual harassment charges that have been upheld by a Supreme Court panel – and a former Speaker and a former Chief Justice are part of his team of defenders. A Central Minister and senior judges alike warn that if women complain against sexual harassment, they won't get jobs.

Still, these forces of reaction are forced to shout louder – because they know they have to work harder to be heard above the slogans of 'bekhauf azaadi.' The battle for fearless freedom is a long one, by no means easy – but the fighters' ranks have swelled, their voices have grown more confident, and their spirits are high. The winds of change won't be stopped by the wall of reaction.

 Construction Workers' Rally in Kolkata

In India, an overwhelming number of people seek employment in the construction sector, second only to agriculture. In fact according to the last NSSO survey, close to 4.5 crore (45 million) people in India are construction workers. In spite of a 1996 legislation meant especially for construction workers, little has changed for them in real terms. Wages are abysmally poor, far below the stipulated minimum wage. There are wide discrepancies in minimum wages across states. Interstate migration laws are never adhered to. Women workers face wage and gender discrimination, and no benefits that they are entitled to as per provision. Social security measures exist on paper and various state governments have collected Rs.11,127 crores of cess tax for this purpose but spent only 1,448 crores on workers' social security so far!

In West Bengal the situation is no different. Most of the big projects surveyed by AICCTU pay less than the minimum wage, including govt projects! The Construction Workers' and Employees' union of West Bengal (affiliated to AICCTU) which is 4 years old, has functioning committees in 10 districts with close to 10,000 membership so far. The union held its maiden State-level rally on 11th December where workers gathered together to voice their demands at Esplanade, the heart of Kolkata, and sent a deputation to the labour ministry. The rally saw an enthusiastic assembly of close to 2500 workers who marched to the venue, carrying red flags, banners and placards, in two processions starting from Sealdah and Howrah stations respectively. Participation of women workers was conspicuous. The rally was addressed by comrades Atanu Chakrabarty, Kishore Sarkar, Basudeb Bose, Partha Ghosh and Dwaipayan. Prabir Das conducted the proceedings.

December 16th: 1st Anniversary of Nirbhaya Case

Demonstrations in West Bengal: Women and student-youth activists of AISA, AIPWA and RYA held a day-long protest-demonstration at College Street on December 16, marking the anniversary of the spark that lit a prairie fire of movements against gender violence in the country. A stretch of the busy street, facing the legendary Coffee House, was lined with posters decrying the Supreme Court verdict on article 377, calling for justice for countless rape victims of the State, demanding Justice Ashok Ganguly's resignation as chairperson of the WBHRC, and calling for a CBI inquiry into the Chit-fund scam that robbed the poorest toiling masses of Bengal by a nexus patronised overtly by the TMC Govt. The protest was addressed by Comrades Bhuvana, Partha Ghosh, student activist Debmalya, women activists Shukla Sen, Chandrasmita, Kasturi, Krishna Bandyopadhyay, LGBT activist Anurag and many others. Several songs were sung as passers-by stopped over and joined with their voices. A street play was also performed. Protests were held at Hooghly and other places in the State.

(Below we carry two reports published in the ToI of 17th December 2013, Delhi edition, with minor changes)

Nirbhaya case: At JNU, the cause has grown wider

NEW DELHI: Students of JNU have kept alive the flames of protest they sparked a year ago after city girl Nirbhaya was gang-raped and brutalized on December 16, 2012. On Sunday they held a night vigil where through soul-stirring performances and inspiring speeches they extended their movement to encompass issues such as marital rape, the Armed Forces (Special powers) Act and the draconian Section 377.

On Monday, they kept their solidarity show going. Joining hands with students from Jamia Millia Islamia and Delhi University, gay rights activists and professors, they marched with candles from Ganga Dhaba in JNU to Munirka bus stop where Nirbhaya and her friend boarded the bus that winter night.

Sunday evening started with a five-minute short film - "In the Body of Justice" by Eve Ensler, author of 'The Vagina Monologues'. Prof Nivedita Menon of JNU delivered a moving lecture on how the common man must "take back the republic".

She called for a new sexual assault law. "We need a freshly-designed law that will reflect gender neutrality." This legislation, she said, should take into account mass violence during communal riots, violence on women in caste situations where dalit women are raped. "We need a law that reflects the realities of our society."

Actor Maya Rao presented a skit called "Walk" developed against the backdrop of the Nirbhaya incident. Her message: "The battle got much bigger since 2012". Freedom, not protection, is what this battle is about, she said.

The longest applause was for Soni Sori, a suspected Dantewada Maoist, who was allegedly tortured and raped brutally by policemen. "I got strength from the movement you have sustained since last December. The torture had demoralized and shattered me physically. In jail, I realized there are women in worse conditions than me. I reached out to you and you responded. The movement you launched and the strength I got from it kept me going," she said.

On Monday nearly 800 students marched to Munirka where Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association and gay right activist Gautam Bhan addressed the gathering with Prof Kamal Mitra Chenoy. Supreme Court lawyer Vrinda Grover addressed the students before the march began.

Nirbhaya fire burns bright, heat on ex-judge

NEW DELHI: A year after the Nirbhaya case, activists and protesters find women's liberty a far cry. They came together once again at Jantar Mantar on Monday to assess the changes brought by the yearlong campaign that catapulted the issue to the forefront of Delhiites' consciousness.

Topping their list of demands was removal of Justice A K Ganguly as the chairman of West Bengal Human Rights Commission. Women who had experienced sexual assault also came forward to share their stories. At a protest organized by All India Democratic Women's Associaton ( AIDWA), All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA), National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) and several others, activists presented a memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister, demanding the removal of former Supreme Court judge Justice Ganguly besides taking steps for the creation of committees against sexual harassment at every workplace.

"When people were protesting against Nirbhaya's gangrape here on December 24, Justice Ganguly, in a five-star hotel nearby, was sexually harassing this law intern. The PM has to assure us that whether it is a man from jhuggis, a high-profile journalist, or a Supreme Court judge, no one will escape punishment," said human rights lawyer Vrinda Grover as protesters shouted slogans.

Aruna Kumar, senior private assistant to the principal of ARSD college in DU, spoke about how her position had not been restored even after a chargesheet was filed on her complaint of a sexual assault by the former principal. "My room at the college office has been closed. I have not been given any work since I filed the complaint and am still being discriminated against. Many such harassment cases in DU are now coming out," she said.

Tribal schoolteacher from Chhattisgarh, Soni Sori, attended the protest but did not address the gathering. She sat quietly as other activists described how she was allegedly stripped naked and faced brutal sexual abuse in custody.

Revati Laul, journalist and a friend of the Tehelka journalist allegedly sexually assaulted by editor Tarun Tejpal, said she and the victim had been covering Nirbhaya's case extensively and couldn't imagine that their editor would assault somebody. "If there was a sexual harassment committee at work, my friend would have had the option to see her case pursued systematically."

Salma (name changed), who used to be the national programming head with a radio channel, recollected the trauma after she was allegedly assaulted by the CEO of the company. "I have been fighting the case for three years but have got no support," she said.

Gourab Ghosh, a JNU student leader, had come with many other students. "Every institution should have a gender sensitization committee against sexual harassment like that in JNU."

Kavita Krishnan, secretary, AIPWA stressed that the government should immediately start a public education campaign on women's rights and freedoms.

Assertion of AISA in the Academic Space of Madurai

The 47 year old Madurai University faces for the first time indefinite closure from 10th December. The struggle started on 4th, continued for 8 days, till the police evacuated students, demanding revoking of dismissal of AISA leaders comrades Arun and Pandiyarajan and redressal of demands raised by AISA.

It all started in January, 2013, just 11 months ago when AISA Madurai, decided to intervene in the happenings of Madurai Kamaraj University (MKU). The universities in Tamilnadu have become fiefdom of the ruling party of the State and are being looted. The education system is collapsing due to semi-privatization, corruption and suppression of dissent.

The present Vice- Chancellor of Madurai Kamaraj University (MKU) is a family member of an AIADMK leader (late). She started to fill all the legal bodies (Senate, Syndicate) with her loyalists and the Registrar was frequently changed to suit her needs. The new VC created self financed courses of her liking without any infrastructure and funding from UGC or any relevant agency and closed a girls' hostel to create space for a theatre. She took little interest in providing atmosphere for teaching-learning, for example fellowship to the research scholars has not been paid for the last 10 to 12 months. She had taken no effort to spend Rs 2 Crore, which the University has to spend this academic year out of 10 Crore transferred by the UGC towards scholarship for M.Phil and PhD students. However the VC is now listing out that she had added Wi-Fi, solar energy and so on, for reasons well known. However, no Wi-Fi or washing machine or refrigerator or inverter is found in hostels (as per UPE standard) as mentioned in the Self Assessment Report by the university for NAAC.

AISA tried to resist VC's move to disintegrate the integrated education institute. It organized several protests in various forms this academic year. On the Convocation Day (23rd October) Comrades Arun and Pandiyarajan tried to meet the Vice Chairman of UGC demanding early release of fellowship. However the MKU administration used police to prevent the leaders and students from meeting him. The students turned towards the collector office, which is 15 KM away and presented the petition to him. It was widely covered in the local media.

The MKU management has tried to browbeat the movement and the students, however, we have resisted them at every step. After trying several ways for silencing and threatening the AISA leaders, on 3rd December the Syndicate decided to rusticate Arun and Pandiyarajan. The Syndicate decision to suspend a worker who is also SC/ST Union leader, who fought for reservations in employment, demotion of a reputed professor to non-academic post and sending out PDF scholar who is differently abled single woman and also an associate of the demoted professor infuriated the entire campus.

AISA's organization is relatively new. However, it knew its strength is its drive for better academic atmosphere and aspiration of the academic community for democratic environment. We decided to go for what was required and started our protest on 4th December in which more than 100 students participated. Madurai Kamaraj University Faculty Association (MUFA), as it got another blow from the VC, joined the protest. In a matter of 2 or 3 days hundreds of students, defying authoritarian grip of VC through the Chair Persons, HoDs and others joined the struggle.

AISA joined hands with SFI and also initiated an idea of creating 'Save MKU Coalition'. On 12th December students and professors were arrested. All the students sat in front of VC's office demanding revoking of undemocratic decision of the Syndicate. The management invited the students and MUFA for discussion. The so-called peace committee constituted by the VC demanded unconditional apology from our leaders, our comrades staged walk out.

However no solution was possible as the peace committee was just a stooge of the VC and the academic community staged bigger mobilization with vigor. The management announced closure of all schools, departments and hostels of the university at dusk, throwing all the students including girls on the street. Unprecedented struggle in the history of MKU happened as girls and boys marched the roads of university and gheraoed the VC's office at midnight. AISA and SFI leaders declared indefinite fast which emboldened the students. However, the intervention of RDO made it possible to open the hostels late at midnight.

The next day morning the management forced the students out by cutting electricity and water. In the early morning students walked to the main gate with their luggage and started to protest. The fast continued. As the hostels were closed, students organized community kitchen.

The RDO intervened again and the management came down to revoke the dismissal of scholars unconditionally. However, the students were not ready to conclude struggle without winning their demands. The struggle continued and the police damaged the community kitchen and warned the students to disperse. However, the students decided to court arrest. 400 students including 92 girls and 12 professors were evacuated to halls. Protest continued there too, demanding food and access to hostels and to provide accommodation to girls who cannot reach home safe. Later all of them were released and the MKU was compelled to open hostels to girls till morning.

The struggle has created new hope among academic community. MUTA (Association of teachers of 4 southern universities and affiliated colleges), UCC (Coordination committee of teachers associations) and TANFUFA (Tamilnadu Federation of University Faculty Associations) joined in the struggle and conducted agitations. The MKU students struggle gathered support from other universities of the State too.

AISA took initiative again and sat with SFI and formed AISA-SFI Coordination to sustain the struggle and the coordination has decided to organize signature campaign in affiliated colleges and bigger joint struggles and mobilisations.

Jan Adhikar Rally at Dharchula in Uttarakhand On the issue of Rehabilitation and State Repression

A large number of people participated in the 25 November rally at Dharchula in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand under the banner of CPI(ML) organised on the issue of rehabilitation and state repression. We are the only Party that mobilised people in such huge numbers on these issues after the disaster. The rally lambasted the Congress Govt of the State on the issue of rehabilitation and exposed the real intentions behind the repression unleashed on people in the name of fighting Maoism. Apart from sizeable participation from villages close to Dharchula, a significant participation of people from far-flung villages has influenced political discourse in this district bordering Nepal and Tibet.

The issues of disaster-affected people seems to have been forgotten by most other parties, therefore such a large mobilisation in our rally. Various sections of people joined the rally including ASHA workers, Aanganbadi workers, Bhojanmatas, Kisan Mahasabha, and most importantly the youth of the region. Most of the area falling under Dharchula is affected by June16 disaster. The BJP which has 32 legislators in the State Assembly is not raising its voice on the issue of disaster affected people.

Comrade Raja Bahuguna, Party's CCM was the main speaker. He said that the claims of rehabilitation and reconstruction of the State after the disaster have failed. The meeting of reconstruction committee under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister is yet to take off. CPI(ML) has been raising the issues with due seriousness and its leaders as a result are being branded Maoist or being falsely accused under various charges and arrested.

The Congress Govt is also trying to eke-out political gains out of the sad situation. It had declared earlier that the electricity and water bill for the period June 2013 – March 2014 will be waived off in view of the difficulties brought on people about by the disaster. Now it says that it is meant only for the disaster affected. The disaster affected have already lost their houses where they could have the electricity and water connection.

Comrade Harish Dhami conducted the proceedingsof the rally while several leaders including District Secretary Jagat Martoliya, Govind Kafalia, Munsyari's branch secretary Surendra Brijwal, AICCTU leader Deepa Pandey among others addressed the public meeting after the rally.

AISA's Workshop in Uttarakhand

A two-day long State-level workshop of All India Students' Association (AISA) was held at Srinagar in Garhwal on 19-20 November. The workshop discussed current students' movements, AISA's history, organisation building and current political situation.

Student leaders Om Prasad, Sandipan and others facilitated debate and discussion.



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:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

ML Update 51 / 2013


A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  16               No. 51                                                                                                                       10 - 16 DEC 2013

Message from the Latest Assembly Polls and
the Big Battle of 2014

Results from the last round of Assembly elections before the big battle of 2014 have been stunning to put it in just one word. The trends revealed in the polls were discernible to political observers for quite some time, most exit polls had also given a fair indication, but it is the intensity of the final outcome which is really telling. In Rajasthan and Delhi, Congress seat share has been reduced to ten percent or even less. The Congress had gone to these polls with three states in its kitty, the BJP having the other two. Among the five, the Congress is now left with only Mizoram; the BJP has added one more state to make it three, while Delhi has been left with a tantalisingly hung Assembly where coalition engineers are finding it hard to produce a post-poll arrangement with the magic number of 36.

Outside of Chhattisgarh and Mizoram, the Congress has been virtually decimated in these polls. If this sounds like a vindication of Modi's aggressive call for a 'Congress-mukt Bharat' (Congress-free India), it has not exactly translated into an unchallenged domination of the BJP. Even in Madhya Pradesh where the party got a 2/3 majority, several ministers were roundly defeated. In Chhattisgarh it was a close battle till the end. And in Delhi, the BJP just marginally managed to stay ahead of debutant AAP and fell five short of the majority mark. The BJP may well attribute its victories to Narendra Modi, but the jury is still out on how much of an electrifying effect Modi really had in the polls. Of the six seats for which Modi held rallies in Delhi, only two elected BJP candidates. 

AAP has indeed been the biggest story of these elections. For a party that is not propelled by any of those conventional factors like caste, community, nationality or regional identity to make such a powerful impact in its first electoral appearance and rewrite the political landscape in the national capital is indeed a remarkable feat. While there is a lot to be studied within the AAP success-story, the spectacular emergence of AAP perhaps also tells us a larger story about the churning going on in India today. What we see here is a political reflection of India's changing urban demography and the popular quest for an answer to the growing systemic rot. AAP's idea of change however seems to prioritise legal change, some sort of 'governance modernisation' if you will, over basic socio-economic transformation and we will have to see how AAP evolves in terms of economic policies and key questions of democracy and social, environmental and gender justice.

It is interesting that while AAP began by tapping into the popular anger against corruption and the Congress, it attracted not just anti-Congress votes but perhaps primarily erstwhile or traditional pro-Congress votes. As AAP walked away with a highly impressive 29.3% vote, the Congress saw its vote-share drop by 17% while the BJP too lost 5%. From the results it is clear that many sections of traditional or core Congress voters – whether in the resettlement colonies or in Muslim-dominated neighbourhoods or among government employees – have voted for AAP triggering a collapse of the Congress and placing AAP objectively in contention with the BJP. It will be interesting to see how AAP handles this new phase of contention. While AAP has declared its preference to sit in opposition, a senior AAP leader has reportedly mooted the idea of conditional support to BJP. An internal AAP survey had apparently indicated that 31% AAP supporters would like to see Modi as PM.

The polls have been widely described by the media as semi-final before the big 2014 final. Well, there are always two semi-finals before a final. Beyond the states where the polity is marked predominantly by Congress-BJP bipolarity, there are vast areas of multipolarity including areas where the BJP has little presence and the Congress presence has also got marginalised over the years. The big message from these elections is that even one of those conventional bipolar bastions has also turned tripolar leading to a hung Assembly in Delhi. By all indications the battle for 2014 will be an intensely fought multipolar battle in many parts of the country and the key issues of corruption and corporate plunder, communalism and democracy, and the rights and resources of the people will loom large. We must turn it into a battle of the people, for the people, by the people against the dangerous corporate-communal nexus.

Nelson Mandela Will Always Remain an Inspiration for the Struggle for Justice and Liberation  

Nelson Mandela breathed his last on 5 December. He leaves behind a lasting legacy of determined struggle against discrimination and oppression, for liberty and justice.

The plunder and enslavement of Africa, in a sense, laid the foundations of the modern capitalist world as we know it today. When Nelson Mandela waged his struggle against apartheid in South Africa, it is important to remember that the apartheid regime enjoyed the support of the very countries that wage war and occupation in the name of 'democracy' and 'liberation.' 

Mandela will be remembered then, primarily as an icon of the protracted struggle for justice, equality and liberation, of the undying spirit of resistance. People the world over, waging battles for liberation against centuries of oppression and injustice, will always draw inspiration from Nelson Mandela. Mandela passed away on December 5 – a day before the Mahaparinibban Diwas of Babasaheb BR Ambedkar, another icon of struggle against entrenched oppression and injustice.

The struggle waged by Mandela and Ambedkar is far from over, racism, apartheid and social oppression, hand in hand with neoliberal globalisation, continue to hold people in chains. Inspired by their legacy, fighters for liberation will continue to wage struggles with determination and courage till racism and social oppression are fully eliminated.

Dipankar Bhattacharya,

General Secretary, CPI(ML)  


(We reproduce an excerpt from a speech by Nelson Mandela, which reminds us of Mandela's roots in and concern for the communist movement. Few of the media eulogies for Mandela focus on this aspect of the South African liberation struggle led by him. Also, his thoughts on the working class movement's role in keeping the ANC from betraying the true cause of liberation, is a useful reminder at all times. Looking back on the Marikana massacre of mineworkers in South Africa not long before Mandela's death, and the COSATU's widely critiqued response to it, this speech is especially thought-provoking.)        

"ANC President, Nelson Mandela delivered an opening address to the September COSATU Special Congress.  Having completed his prepared speech, comrade Mandela put aside his notes and spoke directly and spontaneously to the 1 700 worker delegates.  He asked a question that was uppermost in the minds of many." -- The African Communist (1993)

COMRADES, I would like to make one more remark.

I fully believe the ANC will never betray the cause of democracy, the cause of the workers.  We have a track record in which we have worked closely with workers' movements.  But your defence is not just the ANC, it is you, the workers yourselves.  It is you who must take the defence of your rights, your aspirations in your own hands.

How many times has the liberation movement worked together with workers, and at the moment of victory betrayed the workers?  There are many examples of that in the world. . . (prolonged applause)

It is only if the workers strengthen their organisation before and after liberation . . . (applause) . . . if you relax your vigilance, you will find that your sacrifices have been in vain.

You must support the African National Congress only so far as it delivers the goods, if the ANC government does not deliver the goods, you must do to it what you have done to the apartheid regime (prolonged applause, and shouts of "Buwa! Buwa!").

The South African Communist Party, as well, must not be complacent.  I do not think we will ever betray the South African Communist Party.  It has been our ally for more than 70 years, we have fought and suffered together, our comrades have died together.  Many of them remained in the battlefield and never returned.  I don't think with such a tradition, with such a background, it is possible for the ANC ever to betray the South African Communist Party. .. (applause)

But, it will be foolhardy for the South African Communist Party to become complacent and to rely exclusively on the bon

fides of the ANC.

Who ever knew that the Soviet Union would disappear?  Who ever knew that the eastern democracies would disappear from the scene, and become something totally different from a socialist society?  That is an experience which requires the SACP and its leadership not to be complacent.

It is only if all the partners of the tripartite alliance take the defence of democracy in their own hands and co-operate with the broad democratic movement in that capacity.

This alliance is here to stay . . . (applause).  It is this alliance, and not De Klerk, it is this alliance that is going to liberate you, and that is why we must prepare very, very efficiently, very effectively for the 27th of April, and make it in theory and in practice the day of liberation.

Thank you.
Nelson Mandela 

CPI(ML) Liberation Activists Arrested As 'Maoists' In South Odisha

On 12th December, a massive meeting against mining loot in South Odisha is planned in Rayagada, Odisha, to be addressed by the party General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya. In preparation for this meeting, our activists have been distributing 10000 leaflets in these areas. The BSF detained 6 comrades, arresting them when they failed to stop distributing the leaflet in spite of threats by the BSF. On

December the party protested in front of Odisha assembly, demanding immediate release of our comrades. The actions of the BSF and police are an attack on freedom to propagate political ideas freely. Arresting those engaged in a democratic activity as 'Maoists' smacks of Operation Greenhunt, under the aegis of the Naveen Patnaik Government. 

Countrywide Protests Held on 21st 'Shame Day' Marking Babri Masjid Demolition 

6th December, the day of the Babri Masjid Demolition, was observed by the party as anti-communal day all over the country. 

The AISA, RYA, AIPWA, AICCTU and other organisations held a demonstration at Jantar Mantar on 6th December on 'Shame Day' marking 21 years of the Babri Masjid demolition. They raised slogans demanding passing of the communal violence bill without dilution, and demanded punishment of all communal rioters.

The demonstration was addressed by Kavita Krishnan of AIPWA, JNUSU President Akbar Chawdhury, AISA leader Sunny Kumar, CPI(ML) leaders Prabhat Kumar and Girija Pathak, and activists of AICCTU and CPI (ML). Afterwards, they joined 40 other organisations in a joint dharna against communal violence.

The demonstrators said that 6 December 1992 stands out in India's history as a wound, a tear on the fabric of secularism and democracy. Saying that Modi's campaign represented communal corporate fascism, they said that Modi's communal plank isn't a thing of the past – it's very much his recipe for power in the present and near future.

They said Modi's opposition to the communal violence bill is also predictable. A bill that seeks to penalise police officers on the principle of command responsibility, in case they are derelict in their duty to prevent and curb communal violence, is one that he will, of course, oppose tooth and nail. The politics of the Congress too needs to be questioned – why wait till the volatile and communally sensitive pre-election atmosphere to introduce the Bill?

Speakers also lambasted the conduct of the so-called 'secular' parties that capitulate before communalists. In the case of Muzaffarnagar, the Samajwadi Party's Government wasn't merely inefficient in prevention. It is hand in glove with the communal fascists. BJP's felicitation of the BJP MLAs accused of leading the communal violence, coincided with the Akhilesh Government's order forcibly evicting the riot-hit from the relief camps, and pressurising them to accept a Rs 5 lakh payment in exchange for giving up their right to return to the villages from where they were evicted! When it comes to a positive atmosphere of ensuring equality, dignity and security of minorities, the Congress' record is a dismal one (as it that of the other non-BJP ruling class parties). The failure to implement the recommendations of the Sachar Committee, the complete betrayal of the efforts to secure justice against perpetrators of communal violence (ignoring the Sri Krishna Commission or the Liberhans Commission) are just a few of the Congress' opportunist compromises with communal forces.

Another enabling factor for communal fascists – witnessed at Muzaffarnagar – is the state policy that allows every Muslim to be branded as a potential 'jehadi'. Combined with the patriarchal khap logic against women marrying outside the caste/community, this allows the Sangh to brand Muslims as 'love jehadis.'

So, anti-communal sermons aren't enough to counter communal fascism. A robust campaign and action on the ground is called for – to prevent communal violence, protect the rights of minorities not only from communal mobs but communalised police, to ensure justice in all instances of communal violence, and to ensure a level playing field for minorities.

In Jharkhand, 6th December , CPI (ML) organized a march against communalism with the slogan of Loktantra Bachao (Save Democracy). Several senior intellectuals, journalists, and social activists participated in the march.

Slogans such as "Jharkhand shall not become a Gujarat", "Strengthen democracy against feudalism and communalism", "Long live Ganga-Jamuni culture", "Stop targeting the innocent in the name of terrorism", and "Long live the unity of people's secularism" rent the air as the march proceeded on its way from the CPI (ML) head office, via the main road to Albert Ekka Chowk, led by CPI (ML) State secretary Janardan Prasad, human rights activist Fr. Stan Swamy, film maker Meghnath, Jharkhand activist and veteran CPI(ML) leader Bahadur Oraon, Central Committee member Anant Prasad Gupta, District Secretary Bhuvaneshwar Kewat, Jharkhand Jan Sanskriti Manch State Joint Secretary Soni Tiriya, AIPWA State President Guni Oraon, Shanti Sen, Singi Xalxo, social activist Aloka, RYA leader Bhishma Mahto, AISA leaders  Jagmohan Mahto, Sudama Xalxo, Sukhdev Munda, and other senior leaders.

ML leaders addressing the protest meeting at Albert Ekka Chowk said that the corporate world is building an atmosphere of feudalistic communal passions anew in the country and is conspiring to destroy democracy in order to establish its own system of "lootocracy", and this can be stopped only by the concerted efforts of democratic forces. Fr. San Swami stressed that we ourselves have to build and install our democracy. The meeting was conducted by secretary Anil Anshuman.

Senior journalist Shrinivas, Shri Shekhar from 'Samwad', Nadeem Khan from the Jharkhand Anti-terrorism Committee, Santosh Munda of CPI (ML), senior leader Drona Rai, AICCTU leader Sukhdev Prasad Kaamgar Union leaders George Tirkey, Munna Oraon, Bhim Sao, Elizabba Ekka, Indu Devi and others participated in the meeting.

The participants pledged that the ploy of creating a communal divide for the sake of political gains would not be allowed to succeed in Jharkhand, and the conspiracy to convert Jharkhand into a second Gujarat would be foiled. The CPI (ML) people's campaign for "Save Jharkhand, Save Democracy" would be accelerated during the period from 15 November to 16 January. The meeting expressed deep condolences at the demise of world leader Nelson Mandela.

Protest marches and meetings were held in various districts as well as in the State capital. Party MLA from Bagodar Vinod Singh, labour leaders Devdeep Singh Diwakar and J.N. Singh and others led the anti-communal march and meeting of around 300 people at Simandih.  Marches and meetings of 200 people at each Block headquarters in Giridih district were addressed by Politbureau member Manoj Bhakt, Rajkumar Yadav, Parmeshwar Mahto, Puran Mahto and others. A 200-strong protest march at Ramgarh culminating in a public meeting at Subhash Chowk was led by Bhuneshwar Bediya. The dharna at Dhanbad was led by CPI(ML) secretary Nagendra Singh and addressed by senior leaders. Protest marches and meetings were led in Garhwa district by Mohan Dutta, Sushma Mehta, Akhtar and Palamu district secretary RN Singh, in Panki by Kavita Singh, in Patan by Ravindra Ram, and in Harihar Ganj by Ramraj Paswan.

CPI(ML) and AIKM held a dharna in Asandh (Haryana) which was addressed by Party's Haryana in-charge PS Gahlawat. He cautioned against the danger of communalisation by khap panchayats and appealed to unite against communal forces and increased dalit atrocities in Haryana. Om Prakash Arya, Balkar, Krishna Saini, Ishwar Pal, Johny Kashyap, Satyawan, Dinesh, Lalit Saini, Ramkumar, Indra Singh, Karmvir Kashyap and many others from Asandh and adjoining districts took part in dharna.

People's Convention at Bareilly

The Kisan Sangharsh Samiti against forced land acquisition and the CPI(ML) organized a People's Convention on November 28 at Seth Damodar Swarup Park Chowki, Bareilly to discuss the issues of the injustices perpetrated upon the farmers of Bareilly by the SP government for land grab, and the communal politics engendered in the State through Muzaffarnagar.

Addressing the convention, chief speaker CPI (ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya saluted the courage and commitment of the farmers' movement in Bareilly. The old ploy of breaking people's movements through lathis and bullets does not work any longer, as we have seen in the case of the Singur farmers' movement in West Bengal. The general perception is that the intellectual middle class does not support such movements, but in Bareilly people like Dr. Mohd. Israr Khan, Prof. in Economics at Ruhelkhand University are not only supporting the movement but leading it. The manner in which the SP government arrested Prof. Khan from the university campus for supporting the farmers' cause, and sent him to jail slapping false charges against him, and had him beaten in the thana, brings out the ugly truth of this government. Com. Dipankar said that this has only brought other fighting social forces to the support of the farmers' movement and made it stronger and more widespread. He pointed out that former BJP MP Santosh Gangwar was being given a compensation of Rs. 61 lakhs while other farmers were given Rs. 25 lakhs and asked on what basis these rates had been fixed. He stressed that this movement is a fight for the rights of the people. 

Com. Dipankar said that as a BJP-RSS leader Modi was not much talked about but with the backing of the corporate like Tata and Birla, he has become a much touted figure. The trick of the BJP to use Muzaffarnagar as a laboratory for communalism to facilitate Modi's PM bid must be foiled by the united farmers' movement.

Erstwhile colleague of late BKU leader Mahendra Singh Tikait, Ghulam Mohammed Aula said that those who were dissatisfied with the BJP-ization of the Bharatiya Kisan Union have broken off to form the Kisan Mazdoor Sangh. He further said that the communal politics of Muzaffarnagar,which has caused much harm to the farmers' cause must be strongly opposed and overcome. 

Co-ordinator of the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti and Professor in Economics at Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Ruhelkhand University, Prof. Israr Khan said that over 3 lakhs bigha of land in Bareilly is being grabbed in Bareilly under the pretext of various projects.  The State government is acting as the agent of big companies and builders. For many years the people were under an illusion about the government and the system but the past two years have made it obvious that the government and the system are anti-farmer and anti-worker, and are acting only in the interest of the capitalists. He pointed out that for some time after independence people were living in camps around Delhi, but 66 years after independence, lakhs of riot-affected people have been living for months in camps around Muzaffarnagar, for which the BJP, the SP and the Congress in Delhi must be held accountable.

The people's convention was addressed by All India Kisan Mahasabha National Vice President Prem Singh Gehlawat, CPI (ML) CCW member Com. Krishna Adhikari, AIKM State Secretary Ishwari Prasad Kushwaha, United Muslim Morcha State President Iqbal Ansari Advocate, Satish from Inqalabi Mazdoor Kendra, and others. The Convention was presided over by CPI (ML) State in-charge Com. Ali Kumar Rishi and conducted by Party State Standing Committee member Afroz Alam.

A resolution was passed in the Convention to demand a stop to forcible acquisition of farmers' land in Bareilly, taking back of all cases against Prof. Israr and other farmers, and fair compensation for the lands grabbed in the name of the 'Big By-pass' project. The Convention condemned the State government's bowing down to the sugar cane farmers and not making the payment due to the sugar cane farmers.