Wednesday, December 24, 2014

ML Update | No. 52 | 2014

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  17 | No. 52 | 23 - 29 DEC 2014

Jharkhand and J&K Election Results and the Modi Sarkar's Continuing Corporate and Communal Offensive

 With the declaration of the results of the last leg of 2014 elections, the BJP has predictably added Jharkhand to its kitty even as it emerged as the second largest party in a highly polarised and fragmented Jammu & Kashmir. While this has been the best ever showing of the party in the Assemblies of these two states, the outcome has fallen significantly short of what the BJP had expected or most pollsters had generously predicted. In Kashmir, the BJP failed to open its account in the valley and in Jharkhand it could barely cross the majority mark only after it changed tack to seal a last minute pre-poll alliance with the AJSU.

While the BJP's central poll plank that sought a clear and complete majority for the party did not cut much ice with the Jharkhand electorate, what stood out was the electorate's rejection of every leader who has been in power till date.  Jharkhand's former BJP CM Babulal Marandi was decisively defeated in his home constituency Dhanwar by CPI(ML)'s Rajkumar Yadav, (although unfortunately this significant victory was accompanied by the loss of the historic Bagodar seat which the CPI(ML) has been representing uninterruptedly since 1990, defying the assassination of Comrade Mahendra Singh during the 2005 elections). Meanwhile, the other BJP CM, Arjun Munda, had to bite the dust in his traditional seat Kharsawan. Notoriously corrupt former CM Madhu Koda lost at Majhganon; Deputy CM, and AJSU chief, Sudesh Mahato was defeated at Silli; and even the outgoing CM Hemant Soren of JMM finished second at Dumka.

For the BJP-AJSU combine in Jharkhand, the key challenge now will be the choice of the new leader, a question that was put off at the time of the election campaign with the projection of a BJP-led government in Jharkhand as just another branch of 'Modi sarkar'. The J&K elections, on the other hand, have produced a hung assembly, leaving the entire issue of formation of the new government at the mercy of intricate post-poll calculations. Even though the BJP in Kashmir has put a temporary tactical lid on its strategic call for abrogation of Article 370, the ascent of the Modi regime in Delhi with its unmistakable agenda of unmitigated Hindutva has already vitiated the political environment in Kashmir no end. Any intervention of the BJP in the formation of the government in Kashmir can only be a recipe for greater instability.

As the year draws to a close and the Modi juggernaut rolls along, albeit with diminishing electoral steam, the coming year will surely pose major challenges on every front of our collective existence. The indications are already crystal clear. On the economic front, the government is moving towards privatisation of all our key sectors. The high decibel 'make in India' campaign is being used not only to promote indiscriminate entry of FDI but also to ride roughshod over all environmental and labour rights safeguards to sell India as a lucrative destination for FDI. And hand in hand with this economic onslaught is the growing communal and sectarian aggression of the Sangh brigade replete with shrill cries of 'gharwapsi' and 'Hindu Rashtra'. Modi and his ministers are also making no secret of their utter contempt for the principles and institutions of constitutional democracy and norms of parliamentary accountability.

The growing offensive of the RSS has renewed the dilemma of India's professedly liberal rightwingers. They would like us to believe that the Hindutva aggression is the handiwork of a few fringe forces and that Modi is serious about disciplining them and confining them to the 'Laxmanrekha' of constitution and governance. Nothing could be more facile than this illusion. In the post-Emergency Janata Party regime, representatives of the Sangh had to face isolation over the issue of their Sanghi identity and allegiance. During the Vajpayee era, the Sangh had to invoke the analogy of the mask to simultaneously legitimise the appearance and the essence. And now while the Sangh hails Modi as its first authentic and organic product occupying the high office, Modi is taking every opportunity to expand the imprint and intervention of the RSS in the functioning of his government. The Sangh-BJP symbiosis could not possibly get any more brazen.

While liberals are faced with the challenge of demarcating themselves from the growing communal-authoritarian direction of the Modi regime, the task of resisting the offensive lies squarely with the fighting forces of the Left and various streams of people's movements on the ground. Having effectively replaced the Congress, the BJP under Modi is now increasingly targeting non-Congress ruled states and the Left will have to face this challenge head-on. By all indications, 2015 will be a key year in the battle for the future of India and revolutionary communists will have to intensify the resistance on every front, taking any electoral reverses boldly in their stride.

Peshawar Massacre:

Lessons for Pakistan, India and the Subcontinent

The barbaric massacre of 132 school children in Peshawar by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has underlined the senselessness and inhumanity of the toxic cocktail of religion and politics. This unspeakable crime must mark the beginning of the end of the Taliban and intensify our resistance against every variety of religious fundamentalist violence.

The Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as the Boko Haram and ISIS plan and execute the deliberate, cold-blooded, planned massacre of unarmed innocents in the name of religion.

The Peshawar massacre, terrible as it is, could mark a turning point for Pakistan. For decades, the Army has had an overbearing presence over Pakistan's democracy, while Pakistan's rulers have appeased religious fundamentalists and US imperialism at the same time. Various fundamentalist and terrorist outfits have been nurtured by the Pakistani State in collusion with US imperialism.  

It is well documented how the US in collaboration with the ISI and Pakistani military helped create and cosset the Taliban and other extremist groups in Afghanistan, and fuelled the rise of the Taliban in Pakistan too. In May 2009, the then Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari told a US TV channel that the Taliban "was part of your past and our past, and the ISI and CIA created them together." The same month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said about the Taliban, "We came in the 1980s and helped to build up Mujahedeen to take on the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The Pakistanis were our partners in that. Their security service and their military were encouraged and funded by the United States to create the Mujahedeen in order to go after the Soviet invasion and occupation." Not only the Afghan Taliban but also the al Qaeda were products of this phase of CIA and ISI collaboration, also fuelled by Saudi money. 

Even after the cold war ended, the Clinton administration, along with Benazir Bhutto's government in Pakistan, continued to do business with the Afghan Taliban, using it to protect US oil interests in the region. In a later phase of increasing confrontation between the al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, the latter began to use Pakistan's autonomous tribal territories as a hide-out. The US ignored it in return for bases for US troops in Pakistan.

But the moves made by the US supposedly to 'fix' the mess they themselves created in Pakistan, created new dangers. The US began pressurizing Pakistan to send in its Army into the autonomous regions.  The tribal chieftains saw the incursions as a betrayal of their traditional pact with Pakistan's rulers. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan took root in this period, nourished by the anger against the Pakistan Army and US drone attacks that took a huge toll of civilian lives in the region. Pakistan's people – and the children in Peshawar – are paying a terrible toll for the deals made by their own rulers and the US, with terrorists.    

What is striking and welcome, after recent episodes of terrorism, has been the refusal of people to succumb to the climate of Islamophobia. On the day that hostages were held hostage in a Sydney cafĂ©, tens of thousands of ordinary Australians flooded social media and real life with the offer "I'll ride with you", offering to travel on public transport with Muslims scared of reprisals. In India after the Peshawar attack, social media was flooded by the spontaneous expression of solidarity – 'India with Pakistan'. And when one of the key accused in the Mumbai terror attack case was given bail by a Pakistan court, Pakistani people reciprocated by echoing the outrage felt by Indians.

This mutual solidarity threatened political hate-mongers in both India and Pakistan. The Delhi Police detained eminent citizens and students seeking to light candles at India Gate in solidarity with the children and people of Pakistan ravaged by the Peshawar attack. Clearly, India's current regime recognizes that Indian people's rejection of Islamophobia and solidarity with Pakistan can deal a blow to their politics of divisiveness and communal hatred.

In many ways, the Peshawar massacre and Pakistan's current situation is a warning to India, of the consequences of the toxic mix of religion and politics and of being a tool of US imperialism in the region. India under Narendra Modi has, in the last six months, already begun its journey down the slippery slope of majoritarian hatred and violence. Nearly every day, a functionary of the Government or the ruling party declares the country to be a Hindu nation rather than governed by a secular Constitution. The RSS has dropped all pretence of being a 'cultural' outfit and is wielding its political influence in key areas of governance more and more openly. Violent intimidation of minorities, imposition of moral policing in the name of 'Indian culture' and suppression of dissent are on the rise. And India's current and recent rulers have been vying to replace Pakistan as the US' favoured ally and partner.

The Pakistani State needs to urgently introspect, take stock and correct course. Religious fundamentalist politics, terrorism and violence perpetrated by stoking religious emotions, have taken a terrible toll in every country in the sub-continent. The solidarity forged across countries following the Peshawar attack must help the democracy-loving people of the entire sub-continent to defeat the hate-mongers and achieve peace and unity.

Arwal-Paliganj bandh, and statewide protests in Bihar against feudal carnage

After the recent Pura massacre in Gaya district, the Kurmuri rape in Bhojpur, and burning alive of Sai Ram in Rohtas,  feudal criminal forces have perpetrated yet again carnage – this time in Bhaisasur Jalkhar in Kosdihara (Paliganj). Four fishermen were brutally murdered and 2 others injured on 14 December; the victims were CPI(ML )activists and supporters.

On hearing news of the murders, thousands of CPI(ML) activists and supporters blocked the Jehanabad-Arwal road demanding the immediate arrest of all the six accused. A CPI(ML) team consisting of former MP Com. Rameshwar Prasad, Com. Mahanand, Com. Anwar Hussain and Com. Rambali Yadav conducted a detailed enquiry into the incident and met the families of the victims. Com. Kunal, Amar, and Lalan Singh met the injured at the PMCH in Patna. Expressing his views on the brutal carnage, Com. Kunal said that the Bihar government has failed miserably in reining in these feudal criminal forces. Despite talks of empowerment of the poor, oppression is sharply on the rise. The JD (U), along with the BJP, is responsible for boosting the morale of these forces, resulting in a renewed spate of massacres. He pointed out that the dissolution of the Amir Das commission has raised the morale of these forces to its peak. The Kosdihara victims were fishermen belonging to the Bind caste and were killed by a gang led by Chandrakant Sharma, Subhash Sharma, Jumhan Khan and Raju Khan who wanted to stop their fishing work and establish control over the Bhaisasur Jalkhar.

On 16 December, a bandh was called in Arwal-Paliganj and the day was observed as Protest Day across the State. Protest marches were held and Chief Minister Jitanram Majhi's effigies were burnt at several places. The last rites of the victims were performed on the banks of the Son river at Arwal. Addressing the condolence meeting which followed, Party leaders said that the 5 lakh rupees compensation announced by the Bihar government is not justice for the poor but a cruel deception. They asserted that the protests would continue unless the perpetrators were immediately arrested and strict punishment given to them. Thousands of Party activists and supporters poured out into the streets and blocked the Patna-Aurangabad road. A huge public meeting was also organized at the Jehanabad crossing.

The Paliganj and Dulhin bazaar bandhs in Patna district were also effective, with all shops remaining closed and traffic coming to a standstill. Effective protests, bandhs, and road blocks were also organized at Bikram, Masaudhi, Dhanrua, Naubatpur, Bihata, Punpun, Phulwari, Sampatchak and Fatuha. In the capital Patna, a protest march led by Com. Santosh Sahar was taken out from the radio station to station Golambar demanding the immediate arrest of the feudal criminals who perpetrated the Kosdihara carnage. Protest marches were also held in Bhojpur, Sahar, Charpokhri, Jagdishpur and Siwan district. A public meeting was organized at the Jehanabad road-Arwal crossing. Protest marches were taken out and effigies of Chief Minister Jitanram Majhi burnt at Nalanda, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Purnea, Bhagalpur and other places.

According to the report of the CPI(ML) enquiry committee, on 14 December some fishermen from Mungila village in Paliganj block were fishing in Bhaisasur Jalkhar for which Anil Chandravanshi had already obtained rights through an auction. A feudal criminal gang led by Chandrakant Sharma and Subhash Sharma of Rampur Aiyara, and Juman Khan and Raju Khan of Jamharu stopped the fishermen in their work and the controversy escalated as this gang wished to establish its rights over the Jalkhar. The fishermen tried to run from the place, and at around 10 pm the gang fired on them, killing four and critically injuring two. The four persons killed were Manish Bind (20), Janardan Bind (17), Rameshwar Bind and Uday Bind. Rameshwar Bind was a member of the CPI(ML), while Uday Bind's father Lali Bind is a village level Party activist. The injured Rajni Bind and Anil Bind are being treated at PCMH Patna.

Protests in Delhi against sexual violence and for women's freedom

Two years after the brutal gang rape of a young woman in Delhi, which sparked off massive protests not only in Delhi but across the country, protests were held to reiterate demands for women's freedom from sexual violence and moral policing. Onwards to 16 December, the JNU Students' Union commemorated and saluted the spirit of the anti-rape movement which followed the brutal gangrape and murder in December 2012. A public meeting organised by JNUSU in JNU, which was addressed by AIPWA secretary Kavita Krishnan and noted Supreme Court advocate Vrinda Grover. Raising the issue of the recent rape in an Uber cab in Delhi, as well the continuing patriarchal and communal diktats to control women's dress, choices and movement, Com. Kavita talked of the need to place women's freedom and autonomy at the centre of the discourse around sexual violence. She pointed out that coercion and violence against women and couples who defy caste, creed and gender norms to love, is as much against women's consent as is rape. Vrinda Grover, addressing the meeting, talked of the need to challenge the State's response to sexual violence, which invariably centres around awarding the death penalty in a few cases while it refuses to respect and acknowledge freedom of women. After the public meeting, hundreds of students marched to the Munirka Bus Stop, where the victim and her friend were picked up by a private bus two years ago, and then raped.

On 16 December, various women's groups in Delhi – including AIDWA, AIPWA, NFIW, PMS, Jagori and others – held a united protest at Jantar Mantar. Com. Kavita addressed the meeting on behalf of AIPWA.

Workshop for women workers at Haldwani

AICCTU organized a State-level workshop for women workers on 7 December 2014 at Haldwani in Uttarakhand. Inaugurating the workshop, AIPWA National Secretary Kavita Krishnan said that Prime Minister Modi's "Shrameva Jayate" in reality translates into "no respect, no identity for work " and, along with "Make in India", is actually the key for corporate houses to loot labour freely. She pointed out that women's labour has become a synonym in all work sectors for maximum work, minimum payment, and minimum safety. The onus of improving the abysmal state of rural health has been put on ASHA and anganwadi workers, but they are being deprived of their rights and identity. She said that the government is denying these women workers government employee status on the shameful pretext that as they give these services free to their family, similarly they should give these services free to society also. This is a huge insult to the women's work force, she pointed out. Com. Kavita said that crimes against women are on the rise as powerful perpetrators go unpunished and projects for women' s safety such as shelters for working women and crisis centres have been shelved on the pretext of lack of funds. She pointed out that incidents of violence against women are rising in Uttarakhand also but there is no system in place for prevention and effective punishment.

AICCTU leader KK Bora presented a report on the state and organization of women workers and possibilities of movements and struggles in the future. Several women workers related their experiences of work and struggle. AICCTU National Vice President Raja Bahuguna said that governments boasting of women empowerment are openly exploiting and oppressing women workers, who have never got their due in Uttarakhand. He stressed that organization and struggle are the two key tools through which anti-worker governments can be challenged. The workshop was also addressed by Kamla Kunjwal, Saraswati Punetha, Rita Kashyap, Janaki Gururani, and Kulvinder Kaur. Bahadur Singh Jangi, Kailash Joshi, Vipin Shukla, Lalit Matiyali, Ruby, Kamal Joshi and others were present at the workshop.

Workers' Protests in Bangalore  

Thousands of workers participated in a demonstration by AICCTU and BBMP Guttige Poura Karmikara Singha against the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), demanding implementation of minimum wages, arrears since April 2013 and prompt payment of wages on the 10th of every month.

About 2000 contract sanitation workers protested at the BBMP office at Bangalore on 10 December from 11 am to 6 pm, demanding notified minimum wages with dearness allowance at the rate of Rs 8558. Net payable amount after PF and ESI deduction, is Rs. 6553. The union leaders Com. S. Balan, Clifton, Com. Shankar and others held discussions with the labour minister and labour commissioner on 27 August 2014. As there was no substantial result of this meeting except for the Labour Commissioner's letter reaching the BBMP Commissioner's office, union leaders headed by Com. Balan demanded that the BBMP commissioner take immediate action. The BBMP commissioner announced that the said payments would be made, and he instructed his deputies to make arrangements to ensure prompt payments. He assured that erring contracters will be blacklisted and prosecuted.

In order to mobilize workers, the union had organised a series of meetings for three weeks prior to the 10 December protest. The union has also filed 1200 cases with the Labour Comissioner under rule 25(2) (v) (a) of CLARA, citing multiple violations of workers' rights. 

Left activists protest against Taliban in Lahore

In the wake of the horrific killing of school children in Peshawar in Pakistan, Left parties in Pakistan held a massive protest in Lahore on 21 December against the Taliban. The following press statement was released:

Press Release - The Left Stands United Against Religious Fascism and State-Sponsored Terrorism

Hundreds of Left activists demonstrated in Lahore against Peshawar school massacre, and Talibaisation of the state and society. The protest was jointly organized by Awami Workers Party (AWP) and Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP) this afternoon at Charing Cross, Lahore. The rally chanted slogans against the rise of religious fundamentalism, Taliban and terrorism, demanded separation of state from religion.

Farooq Tariq, General Secretary, AWP said that religious fundamentalism has emerged as the biggest challenge and an obstacle to development of our society. It has not only engulfed large section of the middle class but also a significant section of working class. However the Peshawar attack has shaken the consciousness in a very dramatic manner. Today all those who were supporters of Taliban are forced to speak against them, including right-wing political parties who have been actively supporting them including PTI and JI. He demanded arrest of Mullah Aziz and all those defenders of terrorism in Pakistan. He said that most madrasas have become breeding-homes of fanatic ideas and demanded that all the madrasas should be nationalised. He also demanded separation of state from religion.

Taimur Rehman, General Secretary, CMKP presented a charter of demand/communique of the left that included demands: no dialogue with the taliban, nationalization of the all madrasas and converting into regular schools, delinking of links between the state and religious fascists, separation of the state and religion, and continued measures by the state to root out religious fascism.

Zahid Parvez, President Lahore- AWP and Comrade Irfan Ali from CMKP also addressed the rally. They said that hanging won't absolve the state and the government from many hard decisions. The continued Islamization and militarization of the state, which was started by General Zial-ul-Haq, must be stopped. Baba Najmi also attended the rally.

The rally raised slogans against Taliban, terrorism and expressed solidarity with the families of those who were martyred or injured in Peshawar school massacre.

Farooq Tariq, General Secretary, AWP


Protests were also held in Delhi; JNUSU and AISA participated in a joint citizen's protest and candle light vigil which was held at India Gate against religious fundamentalism. Several students, teachers, intellectuals and activists from Delhi participated in the protest. However, as soon as the protestors gathered at India Gate and lit candles in memory of the children killed in Peshawar, the Delhi Police arrived and detained all those assembled. The protestors were taken to the Parliament Street police station and detain for some hours.

In Patna, AISA, AIPWA, RYA and Jan Sanskriti Manch held a candle march against war and terrorism from J.P. Golambar to Buddha Smriti park. The march culminated in a condolence meeting for the children killed in Peshawar.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

ML Update | No. 51 | 2014 |

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  17 | No. 51 | 16 - 22 DEC 2014

Punish the Perpetrators of Communal Violence 

in the Name of 'Gharwapsi'

The BJP MP Adityanath has said that the Babri Masjid demolition was a show of Hindu unity, and a similar show of unity is needed to ensure the 'Gharwapsi' (return home) of all Christians, Muslims and other minorities in India. This statement makes no secret of the fact that the 'Gharwapsi' campaign is an act of communal violence, intended to demolish the dignified existence and rights of religious minorities in India.      

The 'Gharwapsi' campaign is putting into practice, the same principle that a Modi Government Minister Niranjan Jyoti recently declared in an election speech: that Muslims and Christians in India must declare Hindu origins and identity if they are to be counted as Indian citizens. In Agra, poor migrant Muslims were told that they would get Below Poverty Line (BPL) ration cards only if they converted to Hinduism. Surely, in a democracy, shelter and food should be entitlements for all citizens, not dependent on one's willingness to belong to a particular religious group? For outfits like VHP, sister organizations of India's ruling party, to tell desperately poor migrants that they can get BPL cards and housing only on the condition that they become Hindus, is shocking and criminal. 

The RSS outfits have announced their intention to conduct 'Gharwapsi' of Christians on Christmas Day in Aligarh, and elsewhere in India. It may be recalled that a Church was demolished in Delhi recently in an act of arson by communal elements.

The very term 'Gharwapsi', like Niranjan Jyoti's 'Ramzada' remark, is a denial of the identity and constitutionally guaranteed rights of the religious minorities. Niranjan Jyoti said that Muslims and Christians are all 'sons of Ram'; i.e fundamentally Hindus. Gharwapsi implies exactly the same thing: that Muslims and Christians were all Hindus to begin with and are just 'returning home' to Hinduism now. The very idea that one religion is the 'home' and other religions are 'foreign' or alien is a communal denial of the constitutional principle of equal rights and dignity to followers of all faiths. Modi himself has endorsed and promoted this communal idea. During the Lok Sabha campaign, in an interview to a TV channel, said that anti-conversion law in Gujarat applies to those who seek to convert Hindus to Islam or Christianity - 'Gharwapsi' is not conversion, he said, since it is a 'return' to the 'home' faith!   

Moreover, in Agra, a menacing threat was used to get the Muslims to participate in the 'Gharwapsi' programme. The poor Muslims are mostly Bengali-speaking migrants – a community that has been at the receiving end of campaigns by the VHP and even by Modi himself, branding them as 'Bangladeshi infiltrators'. This fear was used to terrorize the Bengali-speaking Muslim migrants in Agra to participate in the 'Gharwapsi' ceremony. The choices before them were clear: either be branded as Bangladeshi infiltrators and hounded out, or accept Hindu identity in order to qualify for the entitlements of food rations and housing! 

What is most significant is that the extent of sheer deprivation of the community – the lack of shelter, lack of food or a BPL ration card – was a major factor in enabling their participation in the 'Gharwapsi' ceremony. The Governments of Uttar Pradesh and the Centre bear responsibility squarely for this state of destitution, deprivation and precarious existence that rendered these migrants vulnerable to the VHP's intimidation in the first place.

The response of the Uttar Pradesh Government and the ruling Samajwadi Party to the intimidation and communal muscle-flexing ongoing in UP has been a sorry and shameful one of vacillation, rather than a robust protection of the rights and dignity of the vulnerable minorities.

This is not the first time 'Gharwapsi' has spelt violence and denial of citizenship rights. In October this year, the PUCL came out with a report of from villages in Bastar in BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh, where elected panchayats had passed orders banning non-Hindu religious activities, and prohibiting non-Hindus (mostly Christian adivasis) from getting BPL food rations. All this was done to pressurize the non-Hindus to agree to the 'Gharwapsi' project being undertaken by the RSS outfits. After one 'Gharwapsi' ceremony where the RSS outfits claimed that 33 Christians had 'reconverted', a procession took place where anti-Christian slogans were raised and violence was unleashed against those who refused to embrace Hinduism.

The Agra episode that has revealed the double standards of the BJP's claims of 'forced conversions' to Islam and Christianity. The only instances of force and intimidation to convert people have been witnessed by the Sangh Parivar – be it in Kandhamal, Bastar, or Agra.

Intimidation, coercion, threats as well as humiliation used to force people to change their religion should be prosecuted and punished under the provisions of laws against communal violence and the Prevention of Atrocities Act, as they may apply. These are the laws that must be invoked against the perpetrators of 'Gharwapsi' in Agra and elsewhere.

The BJP and Modi Government however, are using the outrage over the Agra episode to push their agenda of a 'law against conversions'. This is cynical and shameful. In fact, existing laws against conversions enacted in some states, should be done away with, since they militate against the fundamental right of every person to choose or change religion for any reason of their choice.

Nationwide Joint Left Protests Against Modi Government's Economic Policies and Communal Politics 

Between December 8-14, various Left Parties – including  CPI(ML), CPI, CPI(M), Forward Block, RSP and SUCI(C) – held campaigns and protests across the country  against the anti-people economic policies of the Modi government and the communal politics of the Sangh Parivar. During this week-long campaign, various issues were raised: the Left parties protested against the recent steps by the government to curtail and dilute the MNREGA and against attempts to increase FDI in insurance, they demanded curbing of price rise, control of exorbitant prices of medicines and drugs as well as action to unearth black money. Apart from the Modi's government's economic policies, the campaign also highlighted the growing attempts of the Sangh brigade to communalise and polarize society. The Left parties protested against saffronisation of education, and against the government-sponsored infiltration of the RSS and Hindutva ideology in institutions of the State. The dangerous and divisive agenda of hate campaigns launched by the RSS-VHP-BJP under the pretext of "love jihad" and cow slaughter were highlighted. The campaign also registered a spirited protest against violence against women, against all forms of gender oppression, and against caste oppression and assaults on dalits. 

As part of the week-long campaign, a joint Left protest rally from Mandi House to Parliament Street was organised in Delhi. The rally culminated in a protest meeting at Jantar Mantar, which was addressed by CPI(ML) politburo member comrade Kavita Krishnan, CPI national secretary comrade D Raja, CPI(M) secretariat member comrade Nilotpal Basu, AIFB national secretary comrade G. Devarajan, senior RSP leader comrade Abani Roy, SUCI(C) Delhi state secretary comrade Pratap Samal and others. All the speakers highlighted the dangers posed by the Modi government's pro-corporate economic policies and the aggressive state-sponsored communalization. Addressing the meeting, comrade Kavita pointed out that the Modi government's shrill rhetoric of security did not include any concern for women's security – as the Uber incident shows, the 'Make in India' campaign is essentially a campaign to allow for unregulated profiteering for corporates and multinationals, even as women and workers bear the brunt of the immunity corporates are allowed from laws and regulations. Even as khap panchayats and the Sangh brigade attempt to curtail women's freedom and free choices in the name of culture and protection, women's security is being used to orchestrate communal tensions and for hate and riot mongering. She also pointed out the politics behind the RSS's ongoing 'ghar vapasi' campaigns to forcibly convert Muslims and Christians, and of the concerted efforts of the Modi regime to undermine and dilute labour and environmental laws to facilitate corporate profit.

As a part of joint action by Left parties in Karnataka, a state level Joint Left Convention was held in Bangalore on 12 December 2014. CPI(ML) state secretary Comrade Bharadwaj addressed the gathering along with comrades Radhakrishna of SUCI(C), Prasanna Kumar of CPI(M), Siddangouda Patil of CPI and Shivashankar of Forward Bloc.

On 13 December, a joint protest rally from Parivartan Chowk to GPO was held, which culminated in a protest meeting. Leaders from various left parties – CPI's Mohd. Khaliq, CPI(M)'s district secretary Pradeep Sharma, CPI(ML)'s district in-charge Ramesh Singh Sengar, and leaders from SUCI(C) and  Forward Block – addressed the meeting. A petition outlining all the demands and addressed to the President was handed over to the district magistrate. Joint left protests were also held on 14 December in Jalaun and on 15 December in Allahabad.

Protests against Babri Masjid demolition in Bihar

On the 22nd anniversary of the Babri demolition, a 'Sankalp March' from Gandhi maidan in Patna to the Patna station was organized, which culminated in a public meeting near Patna station. The rally was led by CPI(ML) leaders comrades Ramji Rai and Kunal as well as comrades Saroj Choube, Santosh Sahar, Kamlesh Sharma, Anita Sinha, BB Pandey, Pradeep Jha, Santlal, PS Maharaj, AISA, AIPWA and RYA leaders, CPI(M) State Secretariat member comrade Arun Mishra, CPI State committee member Vijay Narayan Mishra, and renowned socio-political commentators Prof. Anand Teltumble, Prof. Santosh Kumar and Prof. Bharti Kumar.

Addressing the meeting, comrade Saroj Choube stated that all Left, progressive and democratic forces must unite to defeat the unholy conspiracy of the Modi government which talks of development on the one hand but spreads communal hatred through dangerous divisive communal utterances and actions on the other hand. Prof. Teltumble congratulated the CPI(ML) on its efforts to fight power-hungry communal forces. Comrades Vijay Narayan Mishra and Arun Mishra expressed the solidarity of the CPI and the CPI(M) with CPI(ML)'s fight against such fascist-communal forces and said that right-wing forces are trying to destroy the multi-cultural fabric of the nation. They stressed that Left forces must work together with other peace and justice loving forces to fight the danger of corporate and communal fascism which threaten the country today.

Comrade Ramji Rai pointed out that 6 December, the Babri demolition day, was also the Nirvana day of Dr. BR Ambedkar. It is ironic that the same communal-fascist forces whom Ambedkar fought lifelong for the rights of dalits, minorities and women, demolished the Babri masjid in 1992 and have captured power today and are trying to destroy the secular foundations of the country. He said that Modi wants to change the political universe of the country, which is possible only through destruction and demolition. Black money is nowhere in sight but prices of essentials like life-saving drugs have skyrocketed. He also stated that the forces which are speaking of uniting today in the name of stopping the BJP are no less responsible for the rise of the BJP. Nitish Kumar strengthened the BJP for 17 years in Bihar, while Lalu helped to establish the BJP as a strong opposition during his rule. The BJP cannot be stopped by these futile and insincere methods; rather, democratic forces must unite and fight to throw out the saffron forces and establish democratic rule in the true sense.

Anti-communal marches were also organised in Bhojpur, Siwan, Beguserai and other district headquarters in Bihar.

Kisan Mahasabha's protest week:
28 Nov – 4 Dec

The 7th Bihar state conference of the All India Kisan Mahasabha had identified the need for a concerted struggle against the ongoing agrarian crisis and to defend sharecroppers' rights. It had also been decided at the state conference that a sustained week-long campaign for sharecroppers' rights would be launched in districts and blocks all over Bihar from 28 November-4 December. This decision was implemented by observing a 'protest week' from 28 November-4 December, during which protests, conventions and meetings were organized in several blocks in 18 districts of Bihar.  Thousands of sharecroppers participated in these programmes. Several demands were raised: issue of identify cards to sharecroppers and recognition of sharecroppers as farmers, issue of farmer credit cards and diesel subsidies, making pesticides, seeds, insecticides and agricultural implements available at cheap rates, allowing purchase of grains from sharecroppers without land ownership papers, allowing sharecroppers to avail of crop insurance and compensation for crop failure as well as irrigation facilities. Apart from these demands, some issues specific to certain regions were also raised during the campaign, such as rejuvenation of ponds, and construction and maintenance of local water management systems. This campaign was held in Patna, Bhojpur, Buxur, Kaimur, Rohtas, Aurangabad, Arwal, Gaya, Jehanabad, Purnea, Begusarai, Bhagalpur, Darbhanga, Siwan, Nalanda, Muzaffarpur and Samastipur.

Red Salute to Comrade Baleshwar Paswan!

Thousands of people bid a final farewell to comrade Baleshwar Paswan on 2 November, at Bahadurpur block of Darbhanga district.  Co-editor of Samkaleen Lokyuddh Pradeep Jha, CPI(ML) Bihar state standing committee member comrade Rajaram, Madhubani district secretary Jitendra Kumar, Darbhanga district secretary Vaidyanath Yadav, Darbhanga district standing committee member Laxmi Paswan, comrades Nandlal Thakur, Abhishek Kumar, Ashok Paswan and other members of the district committee, Muzaffarpur district committee member Shatrughan Sahni, Kisan Mahasabha leader Jitendra Yadav, AISA state office secretary Dhiraj Kumar, and several comrades from different districts were present at the funeral. On 1 November, Comrade Baleshwar Paswan was abducted by Surendra Yadav (who is often seen with CPI(M) leaders during local CPI(M) programmes), Mahesh Yadav, CPI(M) state council member Shyam Bharti and others. He was then brutally beaten to death. Comrade Paswan came from a landless family, and had been a committed activist with the CPI(ML) since 1984-85. At the time of his death, he was a member of the Pirri Baruara local committee and also a member of AIALA's district committee.

Pirri panchayat, which comes under the Bahadurpur block, has been a stronghold of the party for the past 30 years. For the past 14 years, party members have been winning important seats in the panchayat elections in this area. In the PACS elections this time too, CPI(ML)'s candidate comrade Nagendra Yadav won the post of panchayat PACS President, defeating Mahesh Yadav who is now with the CPI(M). The current head of the Pirri panchayat, comrade Jangi Yadav, who is also AIALA's district President, has been facing threats and intimidation by Surendra Yadav's goons for the past three months.  During Dussehera, there were attempts on his life, and he was saved because comrade Baleshwar Paswan reached the spot and intervened. However, the threats continued. It is this group of goons which murdered Comrade Baleshwar Paswan.

Comrade Baleshwar Paswan was abducted along with two other people – though the others were released later, he was brutally beaten up. When the news of his abduction spread, hundreds of people went out in search of him. Seeing the huge crowd of people, the murderers escaped. Comrade Baleshwar was still alive when he was found by the people and was taken to the DMCH hospital. However he passed away the next morning as a result of the grievous injuries. The role of the police in this entire episode has been very dubious: they refused to take any action against the Surendra Yadav gang even though they had been continuously informed about the threats and intimidation. Even now, though three of the accused in Comrade Baleshwar Paswan's murder have been arrested, the chief accused Surendra Yadav is still absconding.

Comrade Baleshwar's murder appears to be the result of a political conspiracy. Feudal, casteist and criminal elements have felt threatened by CPI(ML)'s growing assertion in the area, and have perpetrated this murder to try and weaken the party. CPI(M)'s involvement in this incident also seems to be apparent. Massive protests against this murder were organized on 3 December in the entire Darbhanga district. A meeting in his memory was also organized in Bahadurpur block on 7 December 2014.

Report detailing torture by CIA released

On 9 December, the US's Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) released parts of a detailed report on the CIA's 'Detention and Interrogation' program on detainees between 2001 and 2006. This report is a chilling proof of the horrific torture tactics used by the CIA under the garb of "enhanced interrogation techniques". Several instances of torture and abuse by the CIA have been documented: detainees were orally and anally forcefed, they were subjected to rectal feeding, some detainees showed symptoms normally associated with a violent rape, prisoners were subjected to mock executions and waterboarding, prisoners were threatened with not only their own murder but also with the rape and murder of their children and family members, at least one prisoner died during interrogation due to hypothermia (where the body's temperature drops below that required for normal functioning) with no action taken against any CIA employee, prisoners were kept awake for over one week causing them to experience hallucinations, the prisoners were kept in the dark with no talking allowed, detainees were constantly shackled to the wall or floor. Several illegal techniques of 'interrogation' were used. There is also documented evidence of people being incarcerated and tortured for months based on false and flimsy accusations. One detainee for instance was subjected to "ice water baths" and 66 hours of standing sleep deprivation, he was later released as the CIA had mistaken his identity. Moreover, the CIA often hid facts and misrepresented its operations to cover up the truth of its "enhanced interrogation" and torture techniques. This report has conclusively nailed the horrific underbelly of the US's so-called 'war against terror'.

Significant Assertion of the Japanese Communist Party in the Japan elections

In the recently conducted elections in Japan, the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) has more than doubled its seats in the Lower House. The party now has 21 lawmakers in the chamber. Previously, the JCP had held eight seats. Even though Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition was elected back to power, the increased mandate given by the people of Japan to the JCP clearly indicates a disillusionment with Abe's economic policies.

The performance of the JCP has been credited to the fact that the JCP openly and robustly confronted the Abe government's policies, unlike the other opposition parties. JCP campaigned on a platform that was the polar opposite of that of the conservative Liberal Democratic Party. Attacking Abe for widening the gap between rich and poor, the JCP pledged to raise taxes on big corporations and the wealthy. It also vowed to abolish the second stage of the consumption tax hike. On security, the JCP pledged to withdraw the Abe Cabinet's July decision to reinterpret the war-renouncing Constitution of Japan. It is also opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the massive free trade agreement being pursued by the United States, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim economies.

During the past year, the JCP has been steadily improving its performance. In the June 2013 Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, the JCP more than doubled its seats to 17, up from eight. The party made similar gains in the Upper House election the following month, boosting its seats in the chamber to 11, up from six.

A tribute to Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer

(Excerpts from Prashant Bhushan's tribute 'A  Judge's Judge', that appeared in the Outlook)

With the passing away of Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, who had just entered his 100th year, the world has lost one of the greatest judges and jurists of all time and also one of the finest human beings. He used his extraordinary juristic and intellectual gifts for helping every human being that he could and for addressing all forms of human suffering.

…He correctly understood that the task of a judge, endowed with the extensive powers vested by the Constitution, is to protect the rights of the people, particularly the weak and the disadvantaged, to ensure that the instrumentalities of the state remain within the limits of their powers and act in public interest, and that the people get justice with equity.

To this end, he gave a purposive interpretation to the Constitution, the law and rights. He thus gave an expansive interpretation to the right to life and liberty guaranteed by Article 21, and held it to include the right to a life of dignity. He forbade the handcuffing and mistreatment of prisoners. It was his judgments that laid down the principle that for undertrials, bail must be the rule and jail an exception. He further laid down that persons could not be deprived of their liberty by just any procedure, and that such a procedure must be fair and reasonable. He also enunciated the principle which many judges often forget, that judicial procedure cannot and must not be allowed to come in the way of justice. In another example of purposive interpretation of the law to protect labour rights, he laid down that the word "Industry" in the Industrial disputes Act, would include all undertakings including schools, hospitals, shops etc.

But apart from his judgments on the bench, it was his advocacy for many causes in public interest through his speeches, books and writings, which have also had a profound influence on society and on the judiciary. He wrote and spoke against the death penalty, for environmental justice and indeed against myriad forms of injustices that pervade our society. He was virtually unique in the judiciary in speaking out against judicial corruption and seeking judicial accountability. His relentless advocacy for the last man, and against multiple forms of injustice continued virtually till his last breath. He would readily agree to participate in any people's Tribunal, workshop, seminar etc. and agree to speak if he felt that the organisers were doing something for the benefit of the poor, the weak and oppressed and in public interest. He thus participated in hundreds of such initiatives, including most notably the Citizen's Tribunal against communal violence in Gujarat (whose report eventually contained a scathing indictment of the Modi government), the Independent Initiative to check electoral malpractices (which was started at his initiative in 1989—well before any such movements had become popular).

…He was a judge's judge and many judges, including giants like Justice J.S. Verma and Justice Chinappa Reddy turned to him for counsel when facing controversial questions… He was virtually blind in the last few years. I cannot ever forget the handwritten note that he sent me a few months ago praising and "saluting" me for taking up the bail case of Abdul Nasser Mahdani, a paraplegic who had been incarcerated for the Bangalore blasts and had been in jail for 4 years with deteriorating health, while his trial went on and on. With tears in my eyes, I thought of the enormous effort that it must have taken him to write that note with his own hand. What a man! I doubt if we will see another like him in our lifetime.

But as has been said, "let us not mourn the dying of the flame, but celebrate how brightly it burnt".

Friday, December 12, 2014

ML Update | No. 50 | 2014

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  17 | No. 50 | 9 - 15 DEC 2014

Hate-Speech Reflects BJP's Ideology and Politics, Not Niranjan Jyoti's Social Background

Campaigning for the BJP towards the Delhi Assembly elections, the Modi Government's Minister of State for Food Processing, asked voters to choose between a Government of 'Ramzade' (sons of Ram) and 'Haramzade' (bastards). This was not just a case of the use of an abusive word. Questioned by a journalist, she elaborated her meaning on camera. She said that "Muslims and Christians are also sons of Ram – and if they don't believe this, they can't believe in the nation either".

As an outcry rose nationally demanding the sacking of this Minister, the Minister issued a vague and general 'apology' in case she had 'hurt anyone's feelings'. Subsequently, the Prime Minister told the Parliament to forgive and forget the Minister's lapse, since she was a novice, a first-time MP, and a village woman. The BJP also hinted that the Minister was being singled out and targeted by the Opposition because she was from an extremely backward caste.

The Prime Minister's explanation is an insult to the women of India's villages. Niranjan Jyoti's foul-mouthed hate-speech was not learnt by her in any village. It is systematically imparted by the RSS through its network of outfits. And this can easily be proved by looking at the track record of utterances of various BJP and Sangh leaders.

On 21 November 2013, a BJP leader from Uttar Pradesh, Ram Pratap Chauhan made remarks identical to Niranjan Jyoti's – at the Vijay Shankhnaad Rally in Agra in the presence of Narendra Modi. Modi had also addressed the same rally, held to felicitate Muzaffarnagar riots accused Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana. Modi, at the time, made no objection to Chauhan's 'Ramzade/Haramzade' remark and his distinction between 'nationalist Muslims' who are devotees of Ram, and the anti-national ones who do not identify with Ram.

Ram Pratap Chauhan also repeated the very same 'action-reaction' hate-speech formula that Modi himself had voiced to justify the Gujarat 2002 communal pogrom.

In 2011, Subramaniam Swamy wrote an article in an English daily, advocating to "declare India a Hindu Rashtra in which non-Hindus can vote only if they proudly acknowledge that their ancestors were Hindus". In 2013, Swamy joined the BJP and is one of their most-seen faces on national television.

In July 2014, Goa's Deputy CM from the BJP, Francis D'Souza, said that "India is already a Hindu nation and all Indians in Hindustan are Hindus".  

What is most offensive and unpardonable about Niranjan Jyoti's words is not just the abusive word 'bastards'. It is her declaration that non-Hindus who fail to identify as descendants of Ram, are not true citizens of India. This declaration goes against the spirit of India's Constitution. And this declaration is one that is routinely made by BJP leaders, including Ram Pratap Chauhan, Subramaniam Swamy or Francis D'Souza.

These are not random rants by individual maverick leaders. They reflect the core ideology of the RSS. The second RSS Sarsanghchalak, M.S. Golwalkar had written, "the foreign races in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment – not even citizen's rights". What Swamy or Niranjan Jyoti or Ram Pratap Chauhan say, is a mere paraphrasing of this openly fascist declaration by their hero, the RSS chief Golwalkar.

Golwalkar's successor, the RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat said in August 2014, "Hindustan is a Hindu nation... the present inhabitants of the country are descendants of this great culture".

The divisive idea of a Hindu Rashtra where religious minorities will be denied equal citizenship, is a core principle and goal of the RSS and the BJP. But Modi as PM has to ask Niranjan Jyoto to avoid such utterances, thanks to the fact that this idea is violently at odds with India's Constitution. Niranjan Jyoti, addressing a rally in Trilokpuri in Delhi, an area recovering from communal violence fomented by the BJP, mocked at people who "took offence" to her remarks, and said that her message remained the same, but "a gesture is enough for the intelligent".   

What emboldens hate-speech in India, is the fact that it has gone unpunished, even in the most blatant of instances.

Addressing an election meeting during Lok Sabha campaigns, the BJP President Amit Shah referred to Muslims as "the community that rapes our mothers and daughters". In the same election campaign, Modi himself referred to the Muslim community as "those who slaughter cows" (failing to mention, of course, that Hindu ritual in Nepal demands the mass annual slaughter of buffaloes).

In September 2002, during the Gujarat Gaurav Yatra post the 2002 pogrom, Modi himself asked, "Do we go and run relief camps? Should we open child producing centres? Hum paanch, humare pachees (We five, our 25) Is family planning not necessary in Gujarat? Where does religion come in its way? Where does community come in its way?" Modi, now India's Prime Minister, made this offensive reference to the relief camps for the riot-affected Muslims!

By allowing Niranjan Jyoti to remain in her post as Minister, Modi and his Government have proved that behind all their talk of 'development', sowing hate to reap votes remains a staple strategy of the BJP and its parent Sangh Parivar. The struggle to resist the politics of hatemongering and assert a robust democratic commitment to the Constitutional equality and rights for people of all faiths, will continue. 

Massive Nationwide Protests on 22nd Anniversary Of Babri Masjid Demolition

6 December 2014 was the 22nd anniversary of the day the Babri Masjid was demolished by frenzied mobs led by leaders of the RSS, VHP, BJP, Bajrang Dal and various affiliates of the Sangh Parivar. 22 years since that horrific assault on the democratic and secular fabric of the country, the perpetrators of the Babri Masjid demolition not just remain unpunished, but are now well-entrenched in the top echelons  of power in the state machinery. Moreover, in the current climate of systematic hate-mongering and low-intensity communal conflict in Delhi towards the Assembly elections, as well as in many other states, the occasion of 6 December was extremely relevant. Across the country, massive protests were thus held this year, demanding justice and unity against communal hate-mongering and violence, against state terror and for rebuilding a just society.  The protests that resonated on 6 December this year demanded punishment for the perpetrators of the Babri demolition, radical political reforms to truly empower people and build a modern and civilized India, and for legislation and mechanisms to prevent state-organised communal violence.

In Delhi, several organizations – left parties and progressive organizations, women's groups, civil rights and human rights groups and secular and democratic individuals and organizations – came together to march from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar. CPI(ML), AIPWA, AISA, JNUSU and AICCTU, as well as Lok Raj Sangathan, Citizens for Democracy, DSF, Left Collective, SUCI (Communist), Communist Ghadar Party of India, Socialist Party of India, Association for Protection of Civil Rights, All India Muslim Majlis e Mushawarat, Welfare Party of India, National Patriotic Peoples Front, Purogami Mahila Sangathan, Hind Naujawan Ekta Sabha, Mazdoor Ekta Committee, Peoples Movement against UAPA and many others participated in this march which culminated in a massive gathering at Jantar Mantar. CPI(ML) politburo member Comrade Kavita Krishnan, addressing the gathering, pointed out that Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti's recent 'ramzada' and 'haramzada' comments were no aberration, and in fact were a clear reflection of the RSS's founding tenets. Lambasting Prime Minister Modi's efforts to characterize the sadhvi's comments as the 'inexperienced' response of a rural woman from a deprived background, Comrade Kavita said that such justifications were in fact an insult to the poor working women of this country. The sadhvi's comments were nothing to do with her rural or caste background, and everything to do with her ideological affiliation to the RSS. AISA leader Comrade Shweta also addressed the meeting, highlighting the Modi's government's efforts to rewrite history and project a communal, distorted and divisive notion of our collective histories.

In Lucknow, various Left parties – including the CPI(ML), CPI, CPI(M), SUCI(C) and Forward Block held a joint culminating in a protest demonstration at the state's Vidhan Sabha, demanding punishment to the perpetrators of the Babri demolition, and also strong actions against communal hate speech and riot mongering. An effigy of communal fascism was burnt, and the protestors also demanded the removal of Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti as a Minister in the central government for her unconstitutional hate speech. The protest was led by CPI's Mohd. Khaliq, CPI(M)'s district secretary Pradeep Sharma, CPI(ML)'s district in-charge Ramesh Singh Sengar, SUCI(C)'s  Jagannath Verma and Forward Block's Radheshyam Verma.

In Kolkata, 17 Left Parties together held a grand rally along Kolkata's Central Avenue all the way from Mahajati Sadan to Rabindra Sadan on 6 December to give a strong rebuff to the Sangh Parivar fascists. This massive rally in which an estimated 50,000 people participated under the joint leadership of CPI(M), CPI, CPI(ML), SUCI(C), Forward Block and RSP, was held barely a week after BJP chief Amit Shah's rally in Kolkata. The rally highlighted the resistance to BJP and Sangh Parivar's attempts to flare up communal tensions and Islamophobia in the state after the Burdwan blasts on the issues of 'illegal immigrants' (an euphemism for Muslims living in areas adjacent to the Bangladesh border), 'terrorism' and 'love jihad'.

Leaders of all the left parties gave brief addresses at the culmination point. In his address CPI(ML) state secretary comrade Partha Ghosh emphasized on three points. First, he reiterated the demand for the punishment of the Sangh-BJP masterminds of Babri Masjid demolition and the ensuing riots. Second, he called the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC's anti-communalism rally (on the same day) a 'farce' since the TMC, which has been assaulting democracy and butchering democratic rights in West Bengal, cannot claim simultaneously to put up any fight against fascism. He also pointed out the TMC's abominable record of participating in the erstwhile NDA government and keeping silent after the 2002 Gujarat riots. Third, he asserted that the struggle against corporate-communal fascism cannot be won by tailing behind the Congress or other bourgeois parties which are themselves responsible for corporate loot and communal assaults on the people of India. Protests were also held in other states, and more reports of the same will be published in the forthcoming issues of the ML Update.

Workers' All India Protest Day Observed on 5 December

On the call of 11 Central Trade Unions, massive protest demonstrations, rallies and dharnas were held by workers across the country on the All India Protest Day on 5 December 2014, against anti-worker amendments in labour laws, further enhancing of disinvestment of PSUs including financial sectors, hiking/allowing FDI in strategic sectors such as Defence, Insurance and Railways and other anti-worker, pro-corporate measures of the Central government. The call was given by central trade unions including AICCTU, BMS, INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, UTUC, LPF and various independent Employees Federations and Associations of Banks, Insurance, Defence, Telecommunications and other sectors. Held at the end of 6 months of the Modi government, this was the first united action of the Indian working class at the national level, in which several thousands of workers participated. Apart from capital city, Delhi, protest programmes were held in various state capitals and other cities including Patna, Raipur, Bhuvaneshwar, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Puducherry, Mumbai, Jaipur, Kanpur and Haldwani. Programmes were also held at district headquarters in various states. AICCTU was actively involved in all initiatives to ensure success of this joint protest.

During the joint protest held in Delhi, near the Parliament, trade union leaders lambasted the move of central and some state governments to amend labour laws like the Factories Act, CLARA, Apprentices Act and the ID Act and to bring in new pro-employer legislations such as the Small Factories (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) bill. Trade union leaders pointed out that all these amendments are aimed at empowering the employers to retrench and close industrial establishments, to have a free hand to hire and fire workers, to ensure mass scale contractualisation and to remove more than 70 per cent of industrial and service establishments out of purview of almost all labour laws. They also raised serious concerns over the move of the President of India to give assent to the recent anti-labour Rajasthan amendments made on the recommendations of the Cabinet. The leaders expressed dismay over the government's total inaction to the various demands of trade unions, including ensuring minimum wages for all of not less than Rs 15000 per month, granting worker status to over 10 millions employed in various schemes of the government, employment generation, compulsory registration of Trade Unions and ratification of ILO Conventions 87 and 98.  AICCTU national secretary Comrade Rajiv Dimri addressed the rally in New Delhi on behalf of AICCTU.

On 5 December a joint trade union protest was also organised in front of the Raj Nivas at Puducherry. The Central Trade Unions including AICCTU, AITUC, CITU, INTUC, BMS, ATP, MLF and the BSNL Unions took part in this protest.  The protest was led by MLF leader Comrade Gabriel.  The state level leaders of  various unions, along with workers and cadres, protested against the anti labour policies of the Central and State Governments. Addressing the protest, National Secretary of AICCTU Comrade S. Balasubramanian attacked the Modi Government's so-called labour 'reforms' and demanded immediate withdrawal of all amendments recently made in various Acts and withdrawal of new Labour Bills. 

In Lucknow, various trade unions called for a march which began from the Charbagh railway station and went through Hussain Ganj to the premises of the state legislative assembly. AICCTU's Comrade Ramesh Singh Sengar as well Surendra Prasad addressed the protest. After the protest, a detailed charter of demands was handed over to the Uttar Pradesh chief secretary.

AICCTU Rally in Kolkata Rejects Modimix of Labour Reforms and Communalism

On 8 December, just two days after the Babri Masjid demolition day, workers from various sectors such as tea gardens, jute, construction, hosiery, power, coliery, defence, railways and transport along with mid-day meal, ASHA, anganwadi and beedi workers, street vendors, domestic workers, government employees and workers who were employed in mills which have now been shut down, assembled on Rani Rashmani Road in the heart of Esplanade in Kolkata. Earlier in the day, several rallies – most notably those starting off from Howrah and Sealdah railway stations – brought busy city roads to a standstill and culminated at the assembly point. Pressing issues of concern in various sectors were discussed and points of struggle charted out in speeches given by leaders of the respective sectors. In the Jute sector it was resolved to defeat the Central government's buckling under pressure from the polythene lobby and its attempt to remove the government's regulatory bindings on the exclusive usage of jute bags in transporting food grains. Comrades Omprakash Rajbhar – jute worker and leader, Basudeb Bose, Atanu Chakrabarty, Kishore Sarkar, Dibakar Bhattacharjee, Meena Pal, Nabendu Dasgupta addressed the assembly, along with CPI(ML) state secretary Comrade Partha Ghosh. Four political resolutions were passed unanimously by workers. They rejected the communal polarization by the Sangh brigade and vowed to intensify working class resistance against corporate-communal fascism. It was resolved to fight back the Labour law reforms proposed by the Central government. The rally rejected undemocratic anti-labour measures of the Mamata Banerjee government like curbing the freedom of press and pledged to rollback the anti-peasant West Bengal Agricultural Marketing Bill that the state government has tabled in the state assembly. The rally also resolved to support the upcoming Taxi strike and join hands with the fighting Taxi workers. A heavy presence of women workers marked the rally.

JNUSU Organises Convention "Re-imagining India, Reclaiming the Republic"

Onwards to 6 December, the Anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition, and also the death anniversary of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, JNUSU organized a convention in JNU on 5 December on "Re-imagining India, reclaiming the Republic". In the first session of the convention, Anand Patwardhan well-acclaimed documentary 'Raam ke Naam' was screened. Prof. T.K. Oomen, Prof. Harbans Mukhia, Prof. Tanika Sarkar, Prof. Achin Vanaik, Prof. Atul Sood, Prof Jayati Ghosh and Sreenivasan Jain of NDTV addressed the second session of the convention where various contemporary concerns such as communalization of society, saffronisation of education, and pro-corporate economic policies were highlighted and discussed. Prof. Tanika Sarkar spoke on teaching pedagogy in RSS schools – elaborating on distortion of Vedic texts, vilification of Muslims and Christians and the venomous content. Prof. Harbans Mukhia pointed out the inverse relationship between geographical spread of Muslim rule in India and concentration of Muslims, and the rise in population of Muslims during the British rule in India, thus dispelling the RSS propaganda of 'Islamic conversion by the sword'. Sreenivasan Jain of NDTV talked of the corporate control over media and the ensuing challenges for democracy. Prof. Jayati Ghosh and Prof. Atul Sood elaborated on the economic priorities of the Modi government and the implications of these policies for the agricultural sector and for workers and the poor and the deprived sections of Indian society. The programme was conducted by JNUSU President Ashutosh. 

Protests against Uber Rape Case in Delhi, demanding government accountability

In the wake of a horrific rape in Delhi by a taxi driver of the Uber multinational cab service provider, AISA, AIPWA and JNUSU held protests on 7 December, demanding strong action and accountability of various Ministries of the government which routinely allow unregulated, unsafe and unlicensed service providers to operate. JNUSU called for a protest at the Delhi Police headquarters at ITO – highlighting the fact that the police had allowed not just Uber, but several other cab services to blissfully violate several established rules, regulations and norms set by the government.  

Addressing the protest, JNUSU Vice President Anant Prakash Narayan pointed out that there are many reasons why this is not just the individual rapist whom we need to hold responsible, but the Government. To begin with, the driver accused in the present case had also been accused of rape previously in 2011. Yet, the Delhi Police, which works under the Home Ministry, gave a 'character certificate' to this driver, with no accountability being fixed. Secondly, cab companies operate in India by openly floating a host of laws. Ola, Uber and Meru Genie, for instance, pose as 'software providers' and not cab operators to circumvent Central Motor Vehicles Act. These cab companies don't have permits under Delhi Radio Taxi Scheme 2006 or Economy Radio Taxi Scheme 2010. Yet, the Ministries whose job it is to regulate these companies – the Transport Ministry and the Home Ministry – remain silent and allow the companies to make profits.

AISA leader Shweta Raj pointed out that the whole issue wasn't just about Uber. It was about why an unregulated regime is provided to companies whose services directly affect the safety of Indian citizens. She asserted the need to keep asking such questions even in the context of factories and environmental regulations, because the present government is busy dismantling the meagre regulations (labour laws and environment laws) that existed, inviting companies to Make Money in India, assuring them of cheap lives, cheap labour, cheap land – in the process jeopardizing Indian citizens at workplaces and polluted habitats. JNUSU general secretary Chintu said that just as in December 2012 the government had refused to accept accountability, we are now hearing the same deafening silence from the Home Minister, Transport Minister and Prime Minister, who are washing their hands off their criminal failure to ensure safe transport in Delhi and India.

Protests in Delhi in solidarity with ongoing anti-racist protests in the US

Over the past couple of weeks, even as massive anti-racist protests have emerged on the streets of various towns and cities in the US, students and youth in Delhi have been organizing protests in solidarity. After the horrific verdict of the grand jury in Ferguson, which ruled that criminal charges would not be brought against police officer Darren Wilson who had fired 12 rounds of bullets into the body of Michael Brown, a vigil and public meeting was called on 29 November at the Ganga Dhaba in JNU by several concerned individuals and anti-racist activists. Several student groups, including AISA and the JNU Students' Union, participated in this well-attended protest meeting. After the recent verdict where yet another grand jury (this time in New York) refused to press charges against a police officer who choked another black man Eric Garner to death, a protest was called at the US embassy in Delhi on 8 December. The Delhi Police repeatedly tried to prevent the protest from happening – the bus carrying the protestors was detained no less than three times. The protestors were threatened with detention, while a truck bearing a water-canon followed the protestors' bus. Yet, the determined protestors refused to relent, and insisted on holding their protest. The protest was finally held at the Carmel Convent School near the US embassy. American as well as Indian students spoke on the rampant militarization and white-supremacy in the US, as well as revitalized casteism and racism in the Indian context.