Wednesday, September 24, 2014

ML Update | 39 | 2014

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  17 | No. 39 | 23 - 29 SEP 2014

 By-Poll Reality Check
For Modi Euphoria

Three rounds of by-elections have been held since the stunning May 2014 verdict, and the outcome of each round has been full of political surprise. In July, the Congress swept the Uttarakhand by-polls, winning all the three seats on offer including two seats held previously by the BJP. In August, the BJP tasted defeat in six of Bihar's ten seats that faced by-polls and lost some significant seats in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. And now in September, the BJP has lost big time in UP and Rajasthan, holding on to only three out of eleven seats in UP and one out of four seats in Rajasthan. And, horror of horror, the party has also had to concede three of the nine seats that went for by-polls in Gujarat. The only consolation for the BJP has come from West Bengal where it managed to reopen its account in the state Assembly after a lapse of fifteen years.

BJP propagandists are trying their best to devalue and depoliticise the by-poll results. We are told that Assembly by-polls are no referendum on the performance of the central government, that by-polls always tend to favour parties ruling in concerned states, that by-polls are decided by local factors, that the real test will be the next round of Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana followed by Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir, and so on and so forth. There is also the general cautionary remark that it is too early to judge a new government and hence not much should be read into the by-poll reverses suffered by the BJP.

Admittedly, there are some contextual differences in by-polls and general elections to a state Assembly or to Parliament. But the fact is when by-elections take place on such a significant scale as in Bihar, UP and Gujarat, it is only fair to try and read the by-poll pointers politically, and when the results are reversed and the BJP vote share is found to have dropped by an average of ten percentage points not only in Bihar and UP but also in Rajasthan and Gujarat within weeks of the May 2014 verdict, only an ostrich will refuse to see the fact that the wave has certainly begun to recede. If by-polls as a rule go in favour of the incumbent state government, the BJP must answer why it lost as many as three out of four seats in Rajasthan where its government has not yet completed its first year in office.

Particularly significant are the UP by-poll results. The BJP and its ally Apna Dal held all the eleven seats in the state Assembly and their votes had only risen dramatically in the 2014 LS election when the BJP swept the state to win nine out of every ten seats in the state. But now the BJP has managed to retain only three seats – the predominantly urban seats of Noida and Delhi and the highly polarised seat of Saharanpur. The BSP customarily not contesting the by-polls has certainly helped the SP to an extent, but that certainly does not explain why the BJP's vote share dropped so drastically. And most importantly, the defeats have come in the face of the BJP's virulently communal high-pitch election campaign planned by Amit Shah and spearheaded by the likes of Yogi Adityanath.

We can therefore reasonably infer that while the mesmerising appeal of the much talked about Modi magic has begun to fade, the unfolding communal agenda of the Sangh brigade is also alienating the common people. Viewed in conjunction with the student unions results in Delhi where AISA successfully warded off the ABVP challenge in JNU and emerged as a powerful contender to the ABVP in Delhi University, the by-poll results will surely encourage the whole range of forces and movements that are fighting to save India from the corporate-communal offensive of the Modi regime.


Communal and Anti-Dalit Atrocity by the RSS-BJP in Jharkhand

On 8 September around 11 am Munna Das was travelling by motorcycle through Gumhariyatand, Tisri in the Jamua district of Jharkhand. A mob of people on motorcycles came from behind, surrounded him, kicked his motorcycle, and, pointing towards the sacks loaded on the motor cycle, asked, "What is in these?" The motor cycle and sacks fell on the ground, and Munna Das himself fell from the force of the blow.

Munna Das replied that the sacks contained hides of buffaloes, bulls, and goats. Some in the mob shouted Gau Mata ki Jai (Long live Cow-Mother) and started hitting him with fisticuffs and kicks. They hit him so badly that his nose began to bleed. Munna Das tried to tell them that he was a Dalit who traded in the skins of dead cattle, and this was his hereditary trade. One of his assailants said, strip him naked and see if he is telling the truth (i.e to check if he is circumcised and therefore a Muslim). Munna Das was forced to strip naked to 'prove' he was not a Muslim. A little further ahead, they beat him again, and again stripped him, and threatened him with dire consequences if he went to the police to report the attack.

This incident is a classic case of an atrocity against a Dalit man – stripping naked as an act of humiliation is among the most common atrocities inflicted on Dalits. But in this case there is also a communal twist. The idea that the RSS-BJP cadres can brazenly claim the 'right' to strip a man to 'check' if he is Muslim, without facing any action from the police, is a comment on the state of India's democracy. 

When CPI(ML) came to know of this incident, Party leaders went to the Tisri thana to register an FIR, but the thanedar refused to register an FIR. On the contrary, he started threatening Munna Das, and showed him a representation from the RSS organization, Bajrang Dal demanding his arrest. The constable clearly sided with the RSS, accusing Munna of indulging in illegal work. 

If the goons from the BJP were really concerned about cows and bulls, they could have agitated for an additional allowance for farmers for cattle rearing. Goondaism in the name of gau-raksha (cattle protection) is merely a ploy to tyrannise and attack dalits. Even today in most places, traditional methods are used to get rid of dead cattle, or they are left to rot. Munna Das and thousands like him have to do this work in the most inhuman conditions, and it is the governments that are supported by these same feudal and communal goons, which are responsible for this. The people baying for 'gau raksha' have no aim except to spread communal tensions. They, and their Parties, have no concern for the welfare of dalits, farmers, or cattle.

This is not an isolated incident in the district or the State. Earlier, in Gawan block of Jamua, people from the BJP have beaten up people in the name of 'gau raksha'. In Ramgarh and Nirsa they are stopping vehicles transporting cattle and trying to create trouble and spread communal tension. The people they are attacking come from extremely poor backgrounds, and in every community it is the dalits who are engaged in this occupation. Along with inflaming communal passions, the BJP is using this matter for social polarisation against the poor. Farmers who want to sell cattle which are not of use are specially harassed by this ploy of the BJP. Just before the Lok Sabha elections the BJP candidate Ravindra Rai along with the entire Sangh Parivar tried to gain political mileage by creating communal tensions in Birni block on the issue of the Ramnavami flag route.

The second pillar supporting communal-social polarisation is anti-adivasi polarisation. In entire Jharkhand the BJP is making capital out of strong anti-adivasi polarisation so that it wins all the seats reserved for adivasis. With great cunning they attack the social unity of the adivasis by giving issues a 'Christian adivasi versus Sarna adivasi' colouring. Before the Lok Sabha elections during Christmas, they succeeded in fanning up communal hatred in Ranchi over the the issue of a statue of Mary dressed in 'Sarna adivasi' attire. Similarly on the occasion of Eid in July the Sangh Parivar sowed discord between communities by giving a communal colour to a land dispute. They tried to distract attention from the growing dissatisfaction of women and youth against the Modi government by the vicious propaganda of 'love jehad' over the case of cheating and domestic violence faced by sportswoman Tara Shahdeo.

All the ruling class Parties surrender to the BJP on these casteist-communal issues. The JVM, JMM, and the Congress are maintaining a deafening silence on the brutal attack by RSS-BJP forces on Munna Das. The entire government machinery is refusing to ensure dignity and justice for Munna Das and for the minority community, by refusing to act against the perpetrators. CPI(ML) exposed the communal ploys of the BJP and organized a dharna in Giridih as well as protests in several blocks of the district. This initiative taken by the CPI(ML) has put the BJP on the defensive in the district. 


Protest Demonstration By AICCTU in Coal Belt

Organized and unorganized coal workers and construction workers held a protest demonstration Koylanchal (coal belt) of Dhanbad district on 9 Sep 2014 against the pro-corporate and anti-working class policies of the Modi government. The demonstration took off from Randhir Verma Chowk in Dhanbad and ended in a public meeting in front of the district Labour Commissioner's office. The meeting was addressed by AICCTU general secretary Shubhendu Sen, Upendra Singh, Krishna Singh, Nagendra Kumar, Manoranjan Mullick, Jagdish Sharma, Om Prakash Singh, Kartik Ghadi, Suval Das, Madheshwar Prasad, Saron Devi, Nakul Singh, Arvind Rai, and Radhamohan Singh. A memorandum was submitted to the President of India through the Labour Commissioner demanding repeal of amendments in labour laws, scrapping of FDI in railway, defence, and insurance sectors, and including construction workers' unions in the State Welfare Board in Ranchi. A charter of demands was also submitted to the district Labour Commissioner demanding registration, identity cards, and other facilities for unorganized workers, implementing the minimum wages for unorganized coal workers as determined by the high power CIL committee, implementing second level Jharkhand State minimum wages for unorganized labour, as well as demands relating to education and health.

A victory march for AISA's victory in JNUSU elections was held in Ramgarh by RYA-AISA on 16 Sep 2014. The rally started at the CPI-ML office, marched through the city, and culminated in a meeting at Subhash Chowk. The meeting was addressed by RYA State secretary Amal Ghosh. Slogans were raised and speeches made which highlighted AISA's victory as the victory of students and youth over privatization and saffronization of education on the one hand, and people's victory over the Modi government's pro-corporate economic policies and shameless inflammation of communal passions.


Construction workers protest in Puducherry

Jananayaga Kattumana Thozhilalargal Sangam (Construction Workers' Federation) held a massive demonstration on 17th September 2014 in front of the Labour Commissioner's Office at Puducherry demanding a monthly pension of Rs 3000 to all construction workers who reached 50 years of age. 

On 11th September 2014 the Chief Minister while presenting the half yearly budget announced Rs.1000 as monthly pension to workers enrolled in welfare board who reached 60 years of age. That announcement provoked strong resentment among the construction workers. Construction workers union affiliated to (AICWF) swiftly went on a big protest. They demanded Rs.3000 instead of Rs.1000. The demonstration was led by P Murugan, WC member of AICWF, S Balasubramanian, All India President, Motilal, AICCTU State secretary, CPIML District Secretary Palani, and AICWF Vice Presidents Akbar, Singaraveu and AICCTU Villupuram Secretary Ganesan addressed the general public. The other important demands were

1.Rs 10 lakh compensation to wards of construction workers who met with fatal accidents

2. Rs 30000/-as maternity benefit to women workers

Rs.50000/-as vehicle purchase grant                               

4. Rs. 5 lakh as housing subsidy


Joint Dharna in Assam against Atrocities on Women

On 14th August 2014 several women's groups of Assam, including the Assam Mahila Parishad , All Assam Pragatisil Nari Santha, Nirjaton Birodhi Akya Manch, Assam Mahila Sangha & Nikhil Bharat Ganatantrik Mahila Samiti and some distinguished journalists and writers, artists etc jointly staged a protest dharna against repression on women, in Lakhidhar Borah Khetra, Guwahati. This programme was held immediately after submission of facts of increased rape, violence, dowry death, witch-hunting, trafficking and kidnapping of women. Protesters held a brief meeting in the dharna place also. All leaders and activists opined that the Tarun Gogoi Government of Assam has miserably failed to provide security to the women as well as the people of the state and to maintain law and order in the state.

These women's organizations decided to meet the Governor of Assam and submit a memorandum on these issues. Subsequently the signatories of the memorandum submitted the same to the Governor of Assam in person on 9th Sept, 2014. 

Four women organizations viz. AIPWA, AIDWA, YWCA and NFIW (Assam) on 28th August staged a dharna at Dighalipukhuri in protest against the barbaric killing of a school girl Priya Basumatary, by the NDFB(S) in Chirang district of BTAD. Protesting women organizations demanded immediate arrest and exemplary punishment to the killers and security of the people. They sent a memorandum to the Governor of Assam through the DC, Kamrup(M).

On 30th August, AIPWA Dibrugarh district committee along with Sonowal Kachari Nari Santha and Nari Mukti Sangram Samiti jointly organized a convention in Lakshmi Nath Bezbaruah Bhawan, Dibrugarh town on women issues. Different student and youth organizations including AJYCP, Bangali Yuva Parishad, AATSA, Mushlim Student organization, KMSS, Chatra Mukti Sangram Samiti, Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti, Press Club took part in the convention. The Convention vehemently condemned repression on women in Chabua, Banipur and the murder of Priya Basumatary and warned the Govt. to take stringent measure to stop violence.


Massive Rally in Kolkata Against Brutal Attack on Jadavpur Students Protesting Molestation

On 28th August, a woman student of JU was harassed and molested by a group of hostel boarders. On the concluding night of the college fest, she and her boyfriend were subjected to what was a shameful case of moral policing, followed by a scuffle, her phone being snatched, her friend taken away and beaten. She was dragged to a room in the men's hostel where she alleged that the drunk students touched her inappropriately, pushed her around and twisted her fingers. On complaining to the VC on 29th, she was told to come back later. She filed an FIR with the Jadavpur PS under sections 354 (criminal assault on a woman to outrage her modesty) and 379 (theft) of the IPC. She identified some of the accused, but no arrests have been made so far! She also filed a complaint with the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of JU, under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Act. For days the VC kept dilly-dallying. He said he would require at least 15 days to set up an investigation committee and advised her not to come to college for as long!

On September 3, her fellow students held a general body meeting, and drew up a charter of demands for an immediate, impartial investigation committee in accordance with the Vishakha guidelines. More inaction followed and the students marched to the VC's office and the police station two days later. Meanwhile two members of the ICC turned up at the victim's house and in a classic case of victim-blaming, interrogated her on her dress and state of sobriety when she was attacked! Infuriated students marched to the VC's office again. On September 8, a 11-member delegation from AIPWA along with protesting students met with the pro-VC and the OC of Jadavpur PS with a memorandum listing demands, but neither were able to give answers or assurances.

From September 10, the students sat on an indefinite sit-in protest in front of the VC's office with their demand of fair and thorough investigation into the incidents of 28th. Several comrades from AISA and other students' organizations joined with general students to form one united voice under a common banner. The peaceful sit-in continued uninterruptedly for 150-odd hours, replete with slogans, music concerts, posters, film-screenings and constant attempts at dialogue. The nonchalant VC entered and left the university every day but did not address the sit-in or yield to the students' demands. 'It is beneath my dignity to talk to agitating students', he said.

On the night of 16th, state terror descended on the students' protest. After the Executive Council meeting ended, the students demanded that the VC give a public statement on the university's handling of the case. They put up a peaceful body barricade saying the VC would have to step on their bodies if he were to leave without an answer. A massive police contingent was called in, accompanied by police personnel in civil dress, the Rapid Action Force, bouncers and miscreants associated with the ruling Trinamool Congress. At around 2:30 am in the night, phone calls and SMSes started coming in about a brutal attack on the students. The police and bouncers lashed out at the protesters to create a safe passage out for the VC. They beat up the students severely. Forty students had to be taken to the hospital. One student, Shibam of the engineering faculty, had to be hooked up to a ventilator. Some, like comrade Prosenjit of AISA sustained critical injuries with days of hospitalization. Tens, (including AISA activists Maitreyo, Ipsita, Abhishek) had broken/damaged knees, arms, fingers, legs, ribs. Several (including comrade Saikat) got bruises on the back, shoulder and body.

Lights in the building were turned off from inside (to prevent the press from recording) as fifteen women students (including AISA activists Arumita, Ipsita, Sudhanya) were manhandled, groped, molested, dragged, kicked on their stomach, stomped by boots, punched, walked over by male police even as the female police personnel stood watching. Phones, laptops, glasses were broken and stolen. Rape threats and abuses were hurled at women in the dark. 36 students (including AISA state secretary Ranajoy, Abhishek and one female student - AISA activist Sudhanya) were arrested. Sudhanya was dragged by her hair while her dress was lifted and she was thrown into the police van by four male police/bouncers in civil dress while being abused and threatened. No woman constable was present during her arrest. A media cameraperson was beaten up for recording the atrocities and his camera broken.

The shocking police brutality blasted all floodgates of patience. As the horrific visuals flashed on television all through the morning of 17th, rage grew on the streets and there was condemnation from all quarters. Except two. The VC's office and the education ministry! The VC and the Commissioner of Police added fuel to fire with their remorseless lies of 'peaceful police and violent armed students'. Their lies were rejected by the public and within a few hours, a huge turnout of 5,000 at a protest rally called by students took over the stretch from Jadavpur to Golpark for several hours. The front banner read 'We demand the VC's resignation' till which an indefinite academic boycott was called. In addition to the original demand for gender justice, demand for punishment of the police and goons responsible for the atrocities on students including a fresh round of gender violence on women protesters was made. The upsurge had begun.

The next day saw another spontaneous protest rally from Jadavpur to Anwar Shah Road crossing and back. This time numbers doubled to 10,000. Students poured in solidarity from colleges and schools across the city to form one river of youth flooding the streets. Student protest rallies in solidarity sparked off locally in all corners of Bengal. Girl students in a district high school decided to boycott classes in solidarity, defying TMC terror threats.

Finally on 20th September, the numbers swelled a further five-fold in what was the grandest united show of strength by the youth. Students marched in pouring rain from Nandan to Rajbhavan as an estimated fifty colleges across Kolkata and neighbouring districts took part. A memorandum of demands was submitted to the Governor, who is also the Chancellor of the University. The main demand has been that of removal of the Vice Chancellor and action against perpetrators of molestation. 

The rally was replete with slogans reflecting basic demands of the movement, but there was a unifying chant, rather a call to action, that instantly bonded with and caught the fancy of the first timers that hit the street – Hok, Hok, Hok Kolorob ('let there be clamour').

the beloved Left cries of 'Inquilaab Zindabaad' (Long Live Revolution), and 'Paaye paaye comrade, gorey tolo barricade' (March together comrade, to overturn the barricade) were among the handful of favourite slogans, along with the spirited 'Lathir mukhe ganer sur/dekhiye dilo Jadavpur' (Sing in the face of baton blows/this is what Jadavpur shows). The rally was anti-authoritarian, anti-state terror and for gender justice and campus democracy, and it stood united by consciously putting aside organizational banners. This effectively attracted students in such huge numbers. The collective conscious of student identity as an undivided whole stood out.

An emphatic assertion of student solidarity cutting across organizations came as a direct response to the administration's attempts at dividing up the students into separate campuses. The tag of 'bohiraagoto' (outsider) carries a sense of deja vu and brings back memories of 2006-07 in West Bengal politics when the same phrase was used to discredit peasant movements against corporate land grab. This time, when the Jadavpur University (JU) students were subjected to police brutality under instructions from the Vice-Chancellor – an appointee of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) - many students from other colleges instantly responded to SOS calls and flocked to the JU campus at midnight to stand with their friends. Many of them braved batons and boots together with JU students. The VC and the police tried to tag them as 'outsiders creating trouble' and used it as a lame afterthought-justification of police violence.

Protests have been held in solidarity with the Kolkata students all over the world. In Delhi, the JNUSU participated in the protest held at the Bang Bhawan. 

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, September 18, 2014

ML Update | 38 | 2014

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  17                          No. 38                                                                                                                           16 - 22 SEP 2014

Kashmir Floods Call for Humanity and a Rejection of Jingoism

Jammu and Kashmir as well as the areas of Kashmir across the LoC have been with the worst floods in living memory. The floods, caused by sudden and extreme rainfall, have claimed some 80,000 across the LoC and 2000 lives in J&K. The region is facing a massive humanitarian crisis, with people stranded without food, potable water and shelter, and thousands having lost their homes, property and means of livelihood.

Not long ago, Uttarakhand also suffered a terrible calamity. It seems that Governments refuse to learn the bitter lessons taught by each such calamity. In J&K, as in Uttarakhand, it is apparent that reckless urbanization fueled by a tourism economy, with scant regard for the fragile ecosystem, have contributed in great measure to the scale and magnitude of the disaster. Moreover, in spite of a string of similar disasters, Governments have refused to put in place early warning and evacuation systems that can accurately forewarn populations of an impending calamity and move people to protected areas.       

The Supreme Court, overruling the Centre's plea against the Court's intervention, ordered the Centre to accelerate rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations for the flood victims, setting up a Unified Agency if needed. This has underlined the fact that the ongoing relief and rescue operations are woefully inadequate. Though the Army and Air Force are conducting rescue and relief operations in tough conditions, the fact is that huge numbers of people continue to be stranded with no sign of help in sight. In such circumstances, the efforts of common citizens to organize evacuation, and take food and water to stranded people, are heartening.

Delays and inadequacy in relief, failure to reach the worst affected, breakdown of basic services including medical services and food and water as well as communications, have resulted in a desperate situation. Angry outbursts by affected people in such circumstances are commonly seen in all disaster-affected regions including Uttarakhand, North Bihar and Assam. But in Kashmir, it is disturbing to see callous right-wing politicians and the media portray the devastated victims of the deluge as heartless and anti-national 'stone-pelters' who are attacking the heroic Armed Forces rescuing them.

Democratic forces must not only strive to reach out to the people of Kashmir with much-needed relief material and help; they must also shame and condemn the politically motivated attempts by the BJP and sections of the media to use the tragic floods as an occasion to give a clean chit and a character certificate to the Army. The Army, with its training and resources, no doubt plays a commendable role in disaster management all over the country. But in Kashmir, this humanitarian role is being invoked to justify the inhumane AFSPA and other atrocities that the people of Kashmir have suffered and continue to suffer. This amounts to using the floods to rub salt into the open wounds of Kashmiris – reminding them, that even in the midst of a terrible tragedy, they will be seen, not as victims with a right to rage and sorrow, but as fodder for a jingoistic campaign of triumphalism and humiliation.

The calamity of the Kashmir floods must indeed take centre-stage now. And every effort should be made so that the floods wash out the jingoism and muscle-flexing between countries and governments, to make way for shared efforts at rescue, rehabilitation, as well as conservation and ecological healing to preserve the unique ecosystem that knows no national boundaries.

But the floods – the natural calamity - cannot be allowed to wash away the memory of the calamity manufactured by the Indian State, to which Kashmir has been subjected. The empathy for the victims of the floods, should create room, beyond jingoistic propaganda, for empathy for the mother of the 'disappeared' youth killed in police or Army custody, who lie in mass graves in the Valley, the young boys shot dead during funeral processions, the raped women who await justice in vain.

The Kashmir floods are a terrible tragedy. And the drought of truth, justice and freedom that the Kashmiri people have suffered is no less a tragedy – requiring urgent relief work. We cannot look to an efficient Army or to Governments in the hope that that relief will come from them. That task – of acknowledging the truth of the crimes of endless custodial killings and rapes; struggling for justice for all those crimes; and demanding an end to the daily humiliating siege in which Kashmiris lead their lives – is up to all thinking citizens with a care and concern for democracy and humanity.


Contribute Generously to Support Flood-Affected People of Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir is suffering devastation by the worst floods in sixty years. The death toll is mounting, even as thousands have lost their homes, fields and means of survival. The people of J&K need our solidarity and support.

As in the Uttarakhand calamity, the extent of devastation causes by the floods in Jammu and Kashmir is much worse due to indiscriminate environmental devastation and callous failure to institute any warning mechanisms to protect people from natural calamities.

CPI(ML) is launching a nationwide campaign for flood relief for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. All state units of the party, as well as mass organizations are requested to collect funds and contribute to the relief campaign. We appeal to all concerned people to make your contributions by cheque/draft in favour of "CPIML". Please indicate that the donation is for "Jammu and Kashmir Flood Relief". Please send your donations to: U-90, Shakarpur Delhi 110 092, India  


AISA Sweeps JNUSU Elections Once Again,

Doubles Votes To Emerge As Significant Third Force in DUSU Elections 

The All India Students' Association (AISA) has swept the JNUSU elections once again this year, winning all the four office bearer posts. Ashutosh from the AISA won the post of President by polling 1386 votes and defeating the candidate from the Left and Progressive Front (LPF) by 377 votes. On the post of Vice President, AISA's Anant Prakash Narayan polled 1366 votes and defeated the ABVP candidate by 610 votes. Chintu Kumari from AISA was elected General Secretary after she polled 1605 votes and defeated the ABVP candidate by 814 votes. AISA's Shafqat Hussain Butt is the newly elected Joint Secretary, who won after polling 1209 votes and defeating the LPF candidate by 240 votes.

"At a time when BJP, RSS and the ABVP are trying to convince us that the 'acche din' have arrived, AISA's huge and clear mandate in the JNUSU elections is proof that the students of JNU have decisively rejected their communal fascist and pro-corporate agenda", said Ashutosh, the newly elected JNUSU President. "This is a mandate for a JNUSU that defends the idea of a truly secular, democratic society. It is moreover a mandate for a JNUSU that fights for students' academic and infrastructural needs, for a JNUSU that resists corporate takeover of higher education, that fights for workers' rights on the campus and that joins all progressive voices of dissent against corporate land grab, violence against women, communal hate mongering, AFSPA and state repression", he added.

In the recently held DUSU elections too, AISA's vote share has doubled. In a campus like DU where student politics was dominated by the NSUI and the ABVP, AISA has emerged as a strong contender, posing the strongest opposition to ABVP's communal agenda and NSUI-ABVP's pro-corporate politics. AISA increased its votes on all post in a big way, getting the support of a maximum of 12932 (on the post of Secretary) and lagging behind NSUI by just 2100-2600 votes on the post of Vice President, Secretary and Joint Secretary. It is the first time a Left student organization – or any student organization that does not enjoy the political backing, money- and muscle- of any of Delhi's ruling parties – has achieved so much support and votes in the DUSU polls. The DUSU polls are all the more challenging because around 45 DUSU colleges are spread all over the city of Delhi, and the ABVP and NSUI openly violate the code of conduct and indulge in corrupt practices.

AISA won the support of DU students with its consistent campaign against the FYUP, and its struggles on the issues of transportation and affordable accommodation for the students, as well as its leading role in Delhi's struggles against rape and corruption.

AISA's assertion among the students of Delhi's central universities is an important asset and source of support for democratic movements all over the country.

National Convention of Workers

A National Convention of Workers was held on 15TH September 2014 at New Delhi, under the banner of joint platform of all the Central Trade Unions of the country. The Convention was held in protest against the policies of Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization and the all-out attack on trade union/working class rights by the Modi government and the Rajasthan government. The Convention rallied around the ten-point charter of demands of entire trade union movement calling for concrete action against price-rise and unemployment, ensuring minimum wages for all of not less than Rs. 15000 per month, halting mass scale unlawful contractualization, for strict implementation of labour laws, universal social security benefits and pension for all including the unorganized sector workers etc. and compulsory registration of Trade Unions within 45 days and ratification of ILO Conventions 87 and 98.

The joint platform of all Central Trade Unions includes AICCTU, BMS, INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, UTUC and LPF. The convention was participated in by independent national federations/organizations from all the sectors and service establishments including Bank, Insurance, Defence, Railways, Central/State Govt. Employees etc.

The Convention was addressed on behalf of AICCTU by the General Secretary, Swapan Mukherjee. National Secretary, Santosh Roy was member of Presidium on behalf of AICCTU. The convention was addressed by, among others, Gurudas Das Gupta GS of AITUC, Tapan Sen GS of CITU, Harbhajan Singh Siddhu GS of HMS, Vrijesh Uppadhyay GS of BMS and G. Sanjeeva Reddy President of INTUC.

The declaration adopted by the Convention called upon the working masses to hold State level joint conventions during September-October; wherever possible initiative may be taken to hold district-level and industry-level joint conventions; and National Protest Day on 5 December 2014 through massive joint demonstration in all state capitals and at Delhi Joint demonstration of workers from the neighbouring states. 

The National Convention called upon the trade unions and working people irrespective of affiliations to unite and make the above programmes a massive success paving way for countrywide united struggle to resist the onslaught on the life and livelihood of working people throughout the country.


15TH Sept. 2014, NEW DELHI


This National Convention of Workers being held under the banner of joint platform of all the Central Trade Unions of the country along with independent national federations/organizations from all the sectors and service establishments expresses deep concern at the unilateral move to amend the labour laws by a number of state governments and by the Central Govt. Most of the amendments sought to be done will have serious negative impact on the working conditions including trade union rights of the workers and the employees. It is unfortunate that in spite of the assurance given by the Labour Minister that Central Trade Unions will be consulted, these amendments in labour laws are being pushed through without any consultations with them.

The amendments passed by Rajasthan Assembly on 31st July, 2014 in Industrial Disputes Act, Factories Act, Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act and Apprenticeship Act will make hire and fire much easier for the employers and will result in rampant casualisation of employment. Liberalising the provisions of Factories Act will imperil the safety at work place in small and medium scale enterprises and will push majority of factories out of its coverage.  Similarly raising the threshold employment ceiling of 20 to 50 workers for registration of contractors will enable the principal employer and contractor to become unaccountable for service conditions of the workers in a large number of enterprises. It is unfortunate that the Govt. being model employer deploys the largest number of contract workers and thereby depriving them of the security of job, wage and social security benefits.

The Amendment Bills already introduced in Parliament by the Central Govt on Factories Act, Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers for certain Establishments) Act and Apprentices Act are also designed to bring about such changes which will adversely affect the service conditions of the workers throwing overwhelming majority of them out of the coverage of all basic labour laws. The Factories Act Amendment Bill introduced in Lok Sabha on 7th August 2014 further liberalises the coverage of factories under the Act as amendment proposed in definition of factories (Section 2m) authorizes States to fix number of workers for coverage under the Act. This will legitimize amendment already passed by Rajasthan Assembly on 31st July, 2014. The Central Govt. is also considering amendments in Minimum Wages Act and Industrial Disputes Act. The amendment to Apprenticeship Act will pave the way for replacement of the contract/casual/ temporary workers and even regular workers by comparatively low paid apprentices. Moreover, these amendments will straightway empower and encourage the state governments to bring about pro-employer changes in labour laws as per the Rajasthan model. The process of amendments in labour laws is also aimed to do away with tripartite consultation mechanism.

In essence, all moves of amendments in the labour laws, both by the central government and by the Govt in Rajasthan are aimed at empowering the employers to retrench/lay off workers or declare closure/shut down at will and also resort to mass scale contractorisation. These are also designed to push out more than seventy per cent of the industrial and service establishments in the country and their workers out of the purview of almost all labour laws, thereby allowing the employers a free hand to further squeeze and exploit the workers.

The Convention also expressed dismay over the Govt's total inaction in implementing the consensus recommendations of 43rd, 44th and 45th Indian Labour Conferences on formulation of minimum wages, same wage and benefits as regular workers for the contract workers and granting status of workers with attendant benefits to those employed in various central govt schemes. It is also noted with utter dismay that the present government is also continuing to ignore the ten point demands of entire trade union movement pertaining to concrete action to be taken for containing price-rise and aggravating unemployment situation, for strict implementation of labour laws, halting mass scale unlawful contractorisation, ensuring minimum wages for all of not less than Rs 15000 per month and universal social security benefits and pension for all including the unorganized sector workers etc.  the demands also include compulsory registration of Trade Unions within 45 days and ratification of ILO Conventions 87 and 98.

The National Convention also denounced the retrograde move of the Govt in hiking/allowing FDI in Defence sector, Insurance, Railways and other sectors and also its aggressive move for disinvestment in PSUs including financial sector which will be detrimental to the interests of the national economy, national security as well as mass of the common people. 

The Convention demands upon the Rajasthan Govt. to reverse the enacted amendments to the labour laws and urge upon the Central Govt. to desist from its unilateral move to amend labour laws and consult and honour the views of Central Trade Unions on the issue. The Convention also demands immediate steps to implement the consensus recommendations of successive Indian Labour Conferences and also positive response to long pending ten-point demands of the entire trade union movement of the country. The Convention urges the Central Govt to desist from mindless drive to liberalise FDI in defence, insurance, Railways etc and instead reverse the direction of the ongoing economic policy regime which has landed the entire national economy in distress and decline affecting the working people most.

The Convention calls upon all the trade unions, federations across the sector to widen and consolidate the unity at the grass-root level and prepare for countrywide united movement to halt and resist the brazen anti-worker and anti-people policies of the Govt and in preparation to the same undertakes unanimously the following programmes:

1.       State level joint conventions during September-October; wherever possible initiative may be taken to hold district-level and industry-level joint conventions

2.       National Protest Day 5.12.2014 through massive joint demonstration in all state capitals. At Delhi Joint demonstration of workers from the neighbouring states will be held. 

 The National Convention calls upon the trade unions and working people irrespective of affiliations to unite and make the above programme a massive success paving way for countrywide united struggle to resist the onslaught on the life and livelihood of working people throughout the country.

- BMS, INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, UTUC, LPF and All India Federations of Banks, Insurance, Defence, Railways, Central/State Govt. Employees and other Service Establishments


AISA Initiatives in Allahabad University  

The AISA organized a campus meeting at the students' union building in Allahabad University on 10 September to discuss issues of communal corporate fascism, rise in violence against women, and loot and anarchy in the campus. Speakers included K. K. Pandey of Jan Sanskriti Manch, AISA State President Sudhanshu Bajpai, and Research scholar from the Political Science department Ankit Pathak. The AISA unit of Allahabad University elected its office bearers in the second session of the campus meeting. 

The AISA submitted a memorandum to the Allahabad University Vice Chancellor seeking action against ragging on the campus, following a 3-day signature campaign against the incidents of ragging that took place on September 3rd. The AISA demanded that the university administration should constitute an enquiry committee without delay so that such incidents can be prevented in future.

The AISA also conducted widespread relief-collection on the campus and in the city, for the people affected by the Kashmir floods.


ASHA Workers' Rally in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand ASHA health workers' union, affiliated to AICCTU, took out a state level Jawab do, Hisab do (Settle Accounts, Provide Answers) rally. The rally displaying a sea of red flags and banners, was led by Union President Com. Kamla Kunjwal and General Secretary Com. Kailash Pandey. The rally reverberated with slogans of "Sthayi naukri aur vetanman lekar rahenge", "Vaada khilafi nahi chalegi", "Shram kanoonon ka ullanghan band karo" and other slogans. As the rally was about to take off from Kalumal Dharmashala at 11 am, the C.O. City and City kotwal stopped the rally with the police force and said that it will not be allowed to proceed as prior permission had not been taken. AICCTU leaders and ASHA activists protested and vowed to take out the rally come what may. After SDM Sadar Mohan Singh Barniya and SP City Ajay Singh gave the assurance of talks between ASHA representatives and top officials, they agreed to hold the protest at the Secretariat. The main speaker at the meeting, AICCTU national vice president Raja Bahuguna said that after the formation of Uttarakhand State, the condition of workers, particularly working women, has become very bad. He said that the Congress and BJP both are equally guilty of neglecting the working class and Uttarakhand State has become a synonym for neglect and oppression of workers with mafia forces ruling the roost. ASHA workers, working in the most difficult conditions, are the backbone of the health sector but their just demands are totally neglected. After the historic national strike of January 20-21, the government of India was forced to give ASHA workers the status of working class. Therefore the government must ensure their permanent appointment and wage scales. Com. Bahuguna said that ever since Modi came to power, prices have skyrocketed and oppression of workers has increased manyfold. The working class must unite and fight to give a fitting reply to communal corporate fascist forces.

Union State President Kamla Kunjwal said that every government which ruled the new Uttarakhand state has broken its promises to ASHA. The Khanduri govt had promised an incentive of Rs 5000 to ASHA workers and subsequent govts had twice announced bonuses but all proved to be empty promises. She said that the announcement to give arrears on Sept 13 is a victory for us.

Union general secretary Com. Kailash Pandey said that if Sikkim, W Bengal and Jharkhand can give minimum wages to ASHA workers then why not Uttarakhand, which was formed on the strength of women workers' sacrifices. He demanded insurance of 20 lakhs for the ASHA workers, free treatment in govt hospitals, issue of health cards, ASHA rest houses to be built in every hospital, and said the Union would strongly oppose the PPP model of hospitals.

Hundreds of ASHA workers from Nainital district, Udham Singh Nagar, Champawat, Bageshwar, Almora, Pithoragarh, and Garhwal participated in the rally. A delegation of Uttarakhand ASHA health workers' union met the upper health secretary B.R. Arya who informed them that the govt has issued directives for Rs 5000 per year to ASHA workers. He promised to put the demands of ASHA for arrears from 2011 before the CM and assured them that this demand would also be met. He also agreed to the previously agreed Diwali bonus to be deposited in the ASHA workers' accounts. He also promised positive action soon on the demand for minimum wages. He assured the representatives that after 28 Sep the health secretary, health director, and NRHM director would meet AICCTU and ASHA leaders and discuss all their demands.

The meeting unanimously passed the resolution that until the demands were met, ASHA workers would work wearing black bands, and if the demands were not met within 15 days, the effigy of the Chief Minister would be burnt.

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, September 10, 2014

ML Update | No. 37 | 2014

ML Update

 A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  17 | No. 37 | 9-15 SEP 2014

 Modi Hijacks Teachers' Day

Former President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan wanted his birthday celebrated as Teachers' Day in India – a day set aside for teachers, rather than about his own birthday. 

Till 2014, when Narendra Modi, in the very opposite of Radhakrishnan's spirit, turned a day dedicated to teachers, into a day about himself.

Schools were ordered by the HRD to make arrangements for students all over the country to view Modi addressing an assembly of schoolchildren in the capital, and answering 'questions' that students had been coached to ask. Schools had to change timings in the last minute, to suit Modi's schedule. So teachers spent the day making hectic arrangements for Modi's speech rather than enjoying some well-earned rest, relaxation and respect.

All over the country, thousands of ill-paid, overworked, contractualized 'para-teachers' work in humiliating and exploitative conditions without basic job-security, salary and training. Modi said not a word on Teachers' Day about improving their conditions and regularizing them, in keeping with their long-standing demands.  

The HRD Ministry had said listening to the speech would not be mandatory. But what was the truth? Several schools, including schools in Delhi, warned that students would face tests on Modi's speech, and warned students of 'strict action' for failing to attend the speech. The Delhi Directorate of Education issued a directive warning Delhi schools that "Any laxity in the arrangements shall be viewed seriously."  

Teachers' Day, then, became an exercise in regimentation. Schools and students were roped by force into Modi's image-building exercise, and Modi imposed his views on them.

The speech and 'interaction' was also a political exercise. Kids asked Modi 'questions' that were obviously tutored, to allow him to give a calculated political response, and repeat some of his pet phrases from his speeches.   

In a so-called 'live interaction', a girl student from Bastar asked the PM about education in Bastar, Dantewada, giving Modi a chance to praise BJP CM Raman Singh and commend the girl on asking "a question on education that too from a land where there has been lot of blood due to Maoists." Modi did not speak of the blood of little school-going girls and boys, shed by CRPF in the same areas in firings on harvest festival gatherings of adivasis. In the 2012 Sarkeguda massacre, 15-year-old Kaka Rahul and Madkam Ramvilas, students at a government school in Basaguda who were home on vacation, were shot dead and branded as 'Maoists.' 12-year-old Kaka Saraswati also was killed. Modi also didn't speak of the rapes of little adivasi schoolgirls in Government-run schools in the same region – that the Chhattisgarh Home Minister blamed on 'bad stars'!    

Modi hijacked the day that Dr. Radhakrishnan dedicated to teachers with a mandatory viewing of his speech. Meanwhile Dinanath Batra's textbooks, with a preface by Modi, that are mandatory reading in Gujarat schools, hijack Dr Radhakrishnan himself, turning his name into a vehicle for racist ideas. Those textbooks tell a racist tale of how the country's second president Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan had told the British that white people were like undercooked rotis and Black people were like burnt rotis, while Indians  were "rotis cooked right by God." 

With Modi using Teachers' Day as an image building exercise and Batra's absurd and reactionary textbooks being legitimized by Modi, the 'thought control' in India's schools is entering into a new and intensified phase. However, the struggle against saffronization and privatization of education, and for regularization of contractualized teachers, will also be intensified. 

Delhi Police Files Charge-sheet Against AIPWA, AISA, RYA Activists for Anti-Rape Protests Post Dec 16

The Delhi Police has informed activists of AISA, RYA and AIPWA, including AIPWA Secretary Kavita Krishnan, AISA activists Anmol Rattan of DU and Om Prasad of JNU, and RYA activist Aslam Khan that a charge-sheet has been filed against them for their participation in a protest on December 19th 2012 against the December 16th rape, at Sheila Dixit's house.  

This protest action had been one of the key protests that galvanized more protests all over Delhi and the country. At this protest, the Delhi Police had used water cannons for the first time against the anti-rape protesters. Also, a speech made by AIPWA Secretary Kavita Krishnan at that protest, went viral with thousands of people across the country feeling that it reflected their own sentiments. 57,615 people till date viewed the YouTube video of the speech, that asserted women's right to be "adventurous", rejected curbs on women's freedom in the name of "protection", and demanded that Governments protect women's right to "fearless freedom." The speech had been spontaneously translated into many Indian languages as well as English, and shared. In many ways, that protest, and the speech made at that protest, came to symbolize, for people in India and all over the world, the spirit of the anti-rape protests in Delhi.   

Police brutality, high-handedness and harassment against protesters were notorious at the time – even the Justice Verma Committee commented on it. 

It is highly unlikely that leading December 2012 anti-rape protesters would have been charge-sheeted by the Delhi Police more than a year later, without a political green-signal from above. The Delhi Police falls under the Union Home Ministry. Why are the charge-sheets being filed against key AISA organisers in DU and JNU, days before DUSU and JNUSU polls where AISA is a major contender?

The BJP, at that time, had attacked the Congress Govt and the Delhi Police for its brutality to anti-rape protesters. Why, now, is the Delhi Police under the BJP Govt filing charge-sheets against the same protesters now?

Clearly, the Modi regime, like the Manmohan regime before it, holds protesters, especially those who speak of women's freedom, to be criminals.

Just as the anti-rape protesters anticipated way back in December 2012, 'protection' for women from 'love jehad' and 'rape' has quickly come to mean moral policing and restrictions on freedom. Even as this charge-sheet is filed against people agitating for women's freedom, Sangeet Som, the BJP MLA who incited mobs in Muzaffarnagar, has again called for a 'mahapanchayat' - this time against 'love jehad'. Leaders of such mahapanchayats are the same khaps that kill daughters and their lovers - in the name of 'honour.' Now, in the name of the 'love jehad' bogey, they will legitimize harassment of inter-community couples, and justify family/community/khap surveillance on adult women. Recently, the Gujarat police issued posters asking parents to maintain surveillance on their daughters' mobile phones. For such reactionary and patriarchal politics, the very idea of 'women's freedom' and the freedom of young women and men to love each other without fear is dangerous.

The AISA, AIPWA and RYA demand that the case against all protesters in the anti-rape agitation of 2012-13, including its own activists, be withdrawn immediately.

The charge-sheeted activists declared, "We and thousands of others will continue to protest and demand the right of women, as well as of every one, including men and women from Dalit, Muslim and other marginalized identities, to be free and adventurous, as we did on December 19th. If this Government and the Delhi Police holds that this a crime deserving our arrest, so be it."  

Contract Workers' Protesting Illegal Retrenchment

22 contract sanitation workers of Raja Harishchandra Hospital, run by Delhi Govt. retrenched illegally by the contractor. They were working there for 5-7 years or more. They and their families are protesting since 8 Aug 2014, sitting in front of the Hospital on an indefinite protest.

They, organised under the banner All India General Kamgar Union, affiliated to AICCTU, had protested on same reasons last year too, but after few weeks of struggle they were all reinstated by the contractor. That was time when elections were near. This year the contractor is adament on not taking them back, he also sometimes reminds workers their last year's 'mistake' of fighting for their job security. Now we have a 'stable' BJP govt. in centre to boost contractor's confidence to the extent that he is even ignoring advice, though a feeble one, of the hospital administrator for taking them back.

The Delhi State Commission for Sanitation (Safai) Workers had given a letter to the workers' Union that no sanitation workers will be retrenched from any hospital in Delhi even if there is a change in contractor. But this direction of a statutory body like the Commission is proving futile in face of the prevailing nexus of the contract workers mafia with hospital administration and Delhi Govt.'s Health Deptt. ! They are adament on teaching lessons to the workers who dare to raise their voice for rights and secure livelihood.

Local AICCTU organiser and CPIML leader Surender Panchal has met the LG of Delhi along with state leadership of AICCTU to submit a memorandum on behalf of the these workers. Though received positive assurances, though not in writing, they later proved to be false promises.

This is not the story of a single govt. hospital in National Capital. Workers in many hospitals had to protest repeated attacks on their livelihood, thanks to draconian and anti-worker CLARA and governmental policy of implementing so called 'reforms'. Recently contract sanitation workers in Ambedkar Hospital held out a protest after sudden retrenchments, though it proved to be one of the unsuccessful attempts at saving their livelihoods. Workers in central govt. hospitals like Sufdarjang Hospital too feel very insecure and terrified in front of contractors highhandedness and repressive tactics. The labour laws are never implemented in favour of the workers by the government and administration. In LRS TB Hospital near Mehrauli almost all contract workers who were employed there for years were retrenched by the hospital administration and contract as soon as they heard of rumours that the contract workers are unionising themselves. Many of those were working in that hospital for decades, first as casual workers and then they were forcibly moved to the hands of the some contractor. Workers and their families are continuing their protests in Narela.

Demonstration in Odisha

On 28th August 150 CPI (ML) activist protested in front of Saharapara block of Keonjhar district led by state committee member Mahendra Parida  along with  local committee secretary Sucharu Nayak. A 10 point charter of demands was submitted to the local BDO and Tahsildar, demanding a stop to corruption in MNREGA , forest land rights and permanent land patta to all tribals and dalits living in forest areas, demanding conducting of pallisabhas, an end to police atrocities and witch hunt of adivasis branded "Maoists", also proper education and health care for children. The activists warn that if the demands were not met within three months, the BDO office would be closed by protesters. The Tahsildar assured the activists that the demands would be met. 

Sanitation Workers' Strike in Bangaluru

Sanitation workers of BBMP organised under the banner of Guttige Powarakarmikara Sangha (BBMP Contract Workers Union affiliated to AICCTU) went on strike on 27-29 Aug. 2014 demanding VDA Rs. 2204 and Government declared minimum wages and other benefits, including timely disbursal of wages.

In a subsequent meeting with Labour Minister and Labour Commissioner, the Labour Minister assured he will immediately talk to the BBMP Commissioner to release the pending wages to all contract workers and will arrange a meeting with Labour Secretary, BBMP Commissioner and other concerned officials with AICCTU leaders for releasing VDA as demanded by the union.

The striking workers held out a march to the residence of Labour Minister on 27th.

Hundreds of Sanitation workers of Sunkadkatte and Anjananagara wards of Bangalore city led by AICCTU took part in this strike action.

AICCTU leaders Com. Clifton, Maitreyi, Nirmala, Shankar and AICCTU Vice President and Karnataka State President, Comrade Balan addressed the workers.

Against Victimisation of Trade Union Office Bearers

AICCTU led Hospital Assistants of central government run hospital, NIMHANS, were on a dharna in front of the office of the Director demanding withdrawal of illegal transfers of 21 contract workers and cancellation of the contract of Swachata Corporation. The administration and the contractor have violated Sec. 33 (a) of ID Act, 1947 that prohibits any change or alteration of service conditions prejudicial to the interests of workers during the pendency of an industrial dispute before the conciliation officer or any other competent legal authority. The transfer of 21 workers, including the union General Secretary Basavaraj, Organising Secretary Guru Datt, Vice President Pillamma, Joint Secretary Pramila and ECM Narayan were resorted to by the NIMHANS in spite of clear advise by the conciliation officer on the contrary. The government run hospital authorities refused to follow the advise of another competent dept authorised by the same central govt.

NIMHANS hospital does not have a proper qualified HR officials in spite of employing more than 4000 employees of various categories. The responsible officials do not even know the legal position that ultimately, Principal Employer, in this case, NIMHANS is responsible for the wrongs of the contractor.

It was unfortunate that the Director and other responsible officials of one of the reputed hospitals in the country were completely careless about the welfare of its own employees. They even refused to meet union leaders who rushed to resolve the issues amicably.

Finally, forced by the workers struggle and instructions from the conciliation officer, the administration and the contractor temporarily withdrew the transfers on the same day. Still, transferred workers were not allowed to work for a day in their previous place of work. Second day, all but one was allowed to work in the previous department. It needed written letter from the labour department to reinstate all workers in their previous place. The central government owned hospital which is supposed to be a model employer is violating laws and resorting to unfair labour practices prohibited by the ID Act. The government run institution, NIMHANS, in addition to illegal, victimised transfers of contract workers for being active in the trade union, does not have a transfer policy even. Workers were transferred because they questioned the illegal nature of contractor who has not renewed the license and who has employed hundreds of workers more than the sanctioned strength. AICCTU leaders Comrades Balan, Shankar and Appanna led the demonstrators.

Tribute to Shubhradeep Chakravarty

A voice of dissent falls silent

- By Anand Patwardhan

"En Dino Muzaffarnagar by Shubradeep Chakravorty and Meera Chaudhary is going to be recorded in history as the first documentary film banned under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Gagging order came on 30th June. Today we applied in Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) for redressal of our grievances. We will not go down without a fight."

These are the last words posted on Facebook by Shubhradeep Chakravorty, one of India's bravest documentary filmmakers. Shubhradeep passed away from a brain hemorrhage on August 25, while battling a numbing censorship bureaucracy and the pain of cynical rejection.

I first met Shubhradeep in 2002 after he had made his debut film, Godhra Tak. He had been a journalist but the horror of Gujarat turned him into a filmmaker. He focused on the train-burning incident that killed 59 Hindu passengers. The Gujarat government had allowed a public display of the charred bodies and when pogroms against Muslims began, allegedly looked the other way. Word spread that Muslims had poured petrol into the train. Godhra Tak looked at forensic evidence that questioned this theory as well as the systematic demonization of Muslims. With BJP led governments in Gujarat and the Centre proclaiming that "Islamic terror"was breeding in Gujarat, several strange incidents followed.

That year "Muslims terrorists" attacked the Akshardham Temple with firearms, killing 33. Two attackers were killed. 6 more were arrested, of which 3 were sentenced to death. In May 2014 the Supreme Court acquitted all six and pulled up the Gujarat police for shoddy investigations.

A series of encounter killings followed in Gujarat. Shubhradeep's next film Encountered on a Saffron Agenda looked at four separate "encounters", the most infamous being those of Ishrat Jahan and others in 2004, and Sohrabuddin and others in 2005. In every case the authorities claimed that the dead Muslim "terrorists" were on a mission to kill Narendra Modi. Shubhradeep's brilliant investigation exposed in meticulous detail how each encounter was probably a cold-blooded murder. The courts finally took cognizance and several encounter perpetrators were jailed for varying periods of time including top police officers like D G Vanzara, and Modi's right-hand man, Amit Shah. Some of them are free today, but few doubt that fake encounters took place.

Following screenings in Jaipur and Bhopal, Shubhradeep was physically attacked, narrowly escaping serious injury. But his courage and determination never waned. In 2012 he made two important films, Out of Court Settlement about the ordeal of human rights defenders like the martyred lawyer Shahid Azmi and After the Storm about youths who had been acquitted of terror charges but still faced trauma and stigma.

In April 2014 we invited Shubhradeep to Vikalp@Prithvi in Mumbai to screen his work-in-progress, En Dino Muzaffarnagar. Newly married, he was accompanied by his partner and co-director, Meera Chaudhary. They were like teenagers in love and it was infectious. In the Q and A after the film Shubhradeep attributed all the moments when the camera was in the right place at the right time, to Meera. "Whenever she is there something happens. She is my lucky charm," he beamed.

The film itself was a departure from his earlier work. Always compelling in content, his films tended to be utilitarian in form. Now camera and sound were excellent and the film was complex, showing not just the perpetrators of atrocities but also ordinary individuals from warring communities who had resisted the communal urge. Jat and Muslim farmers had historically worked together in unions and the region enjoyed communal harmony even in times of national strife.Shubhradeep's partner Meera is a Jat from Muzzaffarnagar, which gave her access and insight. Above all, the film dissected the story of how a riot can be created from scratch and how peaceful neighbours can become mortal enemies once a Machiavellian force begins its handiwork.

As we watched the film at the end of April with elections underway, the writing was already on the wall. The very word 'secularism' was under attack, both in the electronic and print media.

Whoever rules India, censorship is always hard. At times it gets harder. In 2002, under the NDA, our anti-nuclear War and Peace was denied a CBFC certificate. Of the 21 cuts demanded, the first was: "Delete the visuals of Gandhiji being shot by Nathuram Godse". History books at the time were being rewritten to say merely that a madman killed Gandhi. The Censor Guideline 2(xii) used to justify the cut was "visuals or words contemptuous of racial, religious or other groups are not presented". A year later the high court ordered our film passed without cuts.

The CBFC has used the same clause to ban En Dino Muzzaffarnagar. The Appellate Tribunal confirmed the rejection. Their order states: "It (the film) is highly critical of one political party (BJP) and its top leadership by name and tends to give an impression of the said party's involvement in communal disturbances."

They may as well issue an outright ban on investigative journalism.

These are dark days Shubhradeep, but times will change. Some day this nation will remember its real heroes — those who fought not for their own narrow caste or creed but for the truth and humanity that will never die.