A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 17 || No. 40 || 30 SEP - 6 OCT 2014
Dalit Atrocities Expose the Hollowness of the 'Social Justice' Claims of Successive Governments in Bihar
The Chief Minister of Bihar, Jeetan Ram Majhi, recently expressed his shock that a temple he had visited in Madhubani had been washed after the visit, presumably to 'purify' it after the polluting presence of the CM who is from the most oppressed Musahar caste. If indeed the temple was washed with such a purpose, it is a highly demeaning atrocity against Dalits, and a case must be filed against the temple authorities under the Prevention of Atrocities Act. Some of the CM's own fellow Ministers have suggested that the CM was misinformed, and perhaps this is why no case has yet been filed against the temple authorities.
Whether the Chief Minister himself was in fact a victim of such an atrocity in this particular case or not, the denial of entry into temples and other humiliating atrocities and organized violence against Dalits continues to be an ugly reality in Bihar. And this raises the unavoidable question – isn't the persistence and virulence of such atrocities against the most oppressed castes and labouring people, a telling comment on the character of the 25 years of rule by Governments headed by RJD and JD(U)?
Even as the Bihar CM waxed eloquent in the London School of Economics about the 'Bihar Model of Development' promoted by the JD(U) Government, hundreds of mahadalits of the Pura village in the CM's own home district Gaya, were forced to flee after the murder of mahadalit Arjun Majhi, to intimidate his brother Vakil Majhi and prevent the latter from filing nominations in the elections for the local Primary Agriculture Cooperative Society [PACS]. The police are yet to arrest most of the named accused in Arjun Majhi's murder, and have also made no move to arrest those who are openly threatening to massacre the mahadalits. What does it say about the JD(U) Government with a mahadalit Chief Minister, when a dalit man's kin can be killed to punish him for wanting to file nominations for an election, and the dalits in the CM's own home district continue to face the very real fear of a massacre?
The Bihar Chief Minister, following in the footsteps of his predecessors, has yet to visit Pura. He has called upon the villagers to avenge Arjun Majhi's murder by voting to elect Majhi's brother in the PACS poll – oblivious to the fact that Majhi's brother has not been able to file nominations in time due to the intimidation, and the evicted mahadalit villagers live in terror of a massacre if they dare to vote! Why has the Chief Minister taken no steps to ensure the arrest of the perpetrators of feudal violence and intimidation, and the safe return of all the evicted mahadalits? Why have the PACS elections not been postponed to ensure that they take place only when the mahadalits can participate without fear? Why no action against the police and district administration who are failing to protect the mahadalits from violence and intimidation?
The conduct of the Bihar Government over the Pura episode today underlines how Bihar Governments, police and administration, from the Laloo era to the present JD(U) rule, have colluded with the perpetrators of organized violence against the Dalits and oppressed castes. The Laloo-Rabri regimes, and the regimes headed by Nitish Kumar and now Jeetan Ram Majhi, have paid lip service to 'mahadalit uplift', while in reality they have made a series of unholy compromises with the feudal forces on a material as well as a political plane.
In the 1990s, the police and administration under the Laloo and Rabri Governments, failed to prevent the Bathani Tola, Laxmanpur Bathe and other massacres, and then proceeded to scuttle evidence in order to protect the Ranveer Sena perpetrators. Laloo Yadav openly declared his willingness to collude with the Ranveer Sena in order to counter the assertion of the poor and oppressed who rallied around the CPI(ML).
When the JD(U) allied with the BJP came to power, Nitish Kumar's first act was to disband the Amir Das Commission that was on the point of submitting the findings of its probe into the political mentors of the Ranveer Sena. The motivation was obvious – those political mentors included a large number of top JD(U) and BJP leaders, as well as some prominent RJD and Congress leaders. Nitish Kumar came to power on the promise of land reforms, including homestead land for the landless oppressed castes, and safeguarding the rights of sharecroppers. But, in another blatant act of appeasement of the feudal forces, the Nitish Government refused to implement the recommendations of the Land Reforms Commission it had itself appointed!
The serial acquittals of the Ranveer Sena members convicted for the Bathani Tola, Bathe and other massacres, also exposed how the Laloo-Rabri and Nitish regimes alike had acted to protect the perpetrators and perpetuate the injustice against the dalits and oppressed castes. The Nitish Government further exposed its true character when it allowed the Ranveer Sena supporters to run amok and unleash violence on Dalits and on public property after the killing of the Ranveer Sena chief Brahmeshwar Singh. On Independence Day last year, Dalits in Baddi village in Rohtas were attacked by feudal forces. The Nitish Government refused to order a CBI enquiry into the murders of mukhiya Chhotu Kushwaha and CPI(ML) leader Bhaiyyaram Yadav by feudal forces.
Prior to the 1990s, the feudal forces openly enjoyed political hegemony in Bihar. For the past 25 years, the RJD and JD(U) regimes have promised 'social justice' and 'uplift' of the oppressed castes and a change in the feudal order. The fact is that, behind the mask of 'social justice', these Governments have openly made common cause and compromises with the feudal forces. The landless, oppressed poor of Bihar however, continue to wage a courageous battle for dignity and justice. The martyrdom of Arjun Majhi will provide a renewed impetus for the downtrodden of Bihar to write their own script of social emancipation.
Protests in Bihar Against Murder of Arjun Manjhi and Eviction of Mahadalits
On the eve of the elections to the Primary Agriculture Cooperative Society [PACS] in Bihar, Arjun Manjhi, the brother of Vakil Manjhi who wanted to contest for the post of President of the PACS was murdered in Tekari block by dominant feudal forces. Moreover, the land-owners-criminal gang nexus which orchestrated this murder has also been intimidating and threatening members of the musahar caste in the region for this 'crime' of Vakil Manjhi aspiring to contest elections. Following this latest assault on the democratic aspirations of the poor in Bihar, CPI(ML) has spearheaded a state-wide movement against this barbarism, intimidation and feudal violence.
Immediately after the murder, a CPI-ML team visited the Pura village and the Tekari block, where Arjun Manjhi was murdered. The team noted that after the murder and subsequent intimidation, several mahadalit families of the Pura village had fled from the village fearing their lives. The team visited these families who are currently sheltering along with their children in Tekari. Gaya district secretary and state committee member Com. Niranjan Kumar, Tikari block secretary Pulendra Kumar, Akhilesh Paswan, Sadavriksh Manjhi, Ramji Ram, and Rohan Yadav met the victims' families.
The enquiry team has stated that this attack on the mahadalit musahar caste by feudal forces in Pura village is a desperate attempt to restrain them from participating in the electoral process. Vakil Manjhi of the musahar caste was standing as a Presidential candidate in the PACS elections. The powerful people of the village could not tolerate the fact that a person of the musahar caste was standing for PACS elections. These feudal forces threatened Vakil Manjhi not to stand for the elections but Vakil refused to budge. Subsequently, on the night of 19 September, they attacked the musahar toli. They could not find Vakil Manjhi but they abducted his brother Arjun Manjhi (s/o late Raghunath Manjhi). At 7 am Arjun's dead body was found. 9 persons have been named as accused in this incident. These people started pressurising the mahadalits to take back the case, but when they refused, the mahadalits were threatened with mass carnage, due to which the entire village has come and camped in the Tekari block. The enquiry team has stated that all the perpetrators are still absconding, and has demanded their immediate arrest.
Meanwhile the CPI-ML gheraoed the Tikari SDO and demanded immediate rehabilitation of the displaced people of the village, a compensation of 10 lakhs plus government employment for the victim's family, as well as postponement of the PACS elections till the mahadalits are able to feel free of intimidation and participate fully with fear in the entire election process. CPI(ML) organized a state-wide protest throughout Bihar on these issues on 28 September. A 'Tikari bandh' was also observed on this date. CPI-ML leaders met and talked with the victim's family members.
Protest demonstrations were organized in Gaya city and its different blocks. In Masauri (Patna rural) thousands of poor burnt the chief minister's effigy in protest against this atrocity on mahadalits. Protest demonstrations were also held at Paliganj, Bihata, Maner, Fatuha, and other places. Protest marches were organized at Arwal, Jehanabad, Samastipur, Nawada, Bhojpur, Siwan, and many other places.
2-day Bihar State-level Party workshop in Muzaffarpur
To take forward the 'Gaon ke Sach, Logon ka Haq' survey
The Bihar State level Party workshop was held at Ram Manohar Lohiya College in Muzaffarpur on 20-21 September. In this important 2-day workshop, the Bihar State committee of the Party decided to launch a people's rights movement under the central slogans of "Badlo gaon, badlo Bihar, haasil karo apne adhikar" and "Loot Jhoot ki chhoot nahi, haq chahiye, bhik nahi" (Change the villages, change Bihar — Achieve your rights", and "No room for lies and loot—We demand rights, not alms" based on the issues that came to the fore through the 2-month long "Gaon ka sach, logon ka haq" (Truth about the villages, people's rights) survey conducted by the Party. Party General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya, Politbureau member Com. Swadesh Bhattacharya, Bihar State Secretary Kunal, PB member and UP State secretary Com. Ramji Rai, central and state committee members and about 200 Party activists from Bihar attended the workshop and had in-depth discussions on the experiences during the survey, the people's issues the survey brought to the fore, and the future strategy for agitation.
The proceedings were conducted by a 5-member Presidium consisting of PB member Com. Dhirendra Jha, AIPWA General Secretary Com. Meena Tiwari, Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha General Secretary Com. Rajaram Singh, CCW member Com. KD Yadav, and State committee member Com. Niranjan Kumar. In the first session tributes were paid to late and martyred comrades, after which the 28 July Party invocation and the central committee review of the election results were read out. Introducing the main topic for the session, Bihar state secretary Kunal reported that though the survey had aimed to reach out to 5 lakh families across Bihar, till now only 2 lakh families had been surveyed. He pointed out that the survey revealed the real face of governmental schemes in Bihar. Concrete facts, figures and statistics collected through the survey show that whether in the matter of education, health or sharecroppers, the government's boast of 'development' is completely shallow. In the first session, general secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya also detailed the political need of the survey and the intension to establish a strong dialogue and connection of the Party with the people of Bihar through the survey.
Reports from the districts were presented in the second session. Bhojpur district secretary Com. Jawahar Singh as well as RYA State President Raju Yadav and Manoj Manzil presented the results of the survey from Bhojpur. They informed the convention about the peoples' concerns emerging – such as lack of land and homes, access to electricity and toilets and specific concerns of the youth regarding educational facilities in Bhojpur. They also stated that the Party had started working on the demands and issues emerging from the survey, particularly in booths where the Party had performed poorly in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Gheraos and youth sabhas were conducted by the Party, where issues of employment, expectations from the govt, development of Bihar and expectations from the CPI-ML were brought up. In the context of Siwan Com. Indrajit Chourasiya brought up the issue of missing names in the voter lists and migration. Following up on these demands, jansunwai programmes were held at 94 places. RYA national president Amarjeet Kushwaha and Sohila Gupta also narrated their experiences. Presenting the Patna rural survey, Com. Amar said that the survey clearly shows a structural change in the villages as workers in rural areas do not want to work in MNREGA as they get very low wages. Where on the one hand agricultural labour is turning into construction labour, many are also turning to sharecropping. Rambali Yadav presented the report of Maner (urban). He said that shortage of housing land was a big problem in urban areas also, but there is no law for the poor. Gopal Ravidas also shared his experiences of the survey during the workshop.
The Jehanabad survey report pointed out that whereas traditional employment was on the wane, new means of employment are also not being generated. Here too, junsunwais had been conducted in several centres. It was reported that at Arwal, after the survey, jansunwai and people's agitation on various issues had already stared there. Nalanda district secretary Mitranand said that the survey programme has broken the disunity among the people, who are now enthusiastically taking part in this programme. Junsunwais had been organized, and at Kariyana in Silaw block Yadav farmers participated in good numbers under the Party banner protesting against corruption in electricity connections. On the same day that the janpanchayat was held at Berthu in Karai block, the BDO had organized a vikas shivir (development camp). Women in thousands got up from the jansunwai and went and surrounded the vikas shivir. They told the BDO that the government should stop propagating lies and he should come to the janpanchayat and answer the people's questions. Finally the BDO had to come to the janpanchayat to answer the people's questions. The Aurangabad survey showed that the domination of feudal forces over Bihar's development schemes is still very powerful. Reports also came in from Rohtas, Darbhanga and west Champaran. Giving the closing speech for the second session PB member Com. Swadesh Bhattacharya said that clearly the old methods will not work for the new kinds of peoples' issues which are coming up. He added that our inspections have placed new kinds of responsibilities in front of us and we need to work for this systematically and continuously.
The third session was devoted to discussion on the main issues that emerged from the survey. Speaking about the possibilities of agitation on the question of sharecroppers, Com. Sudama Prasad said that a part of agricultural labour is getting converted into sharecroppers, but as there is nothing in writing the fear always plagues the sharecroppers that they can be evicted at any time by the landlord. The time has come to remove this fear from their minds and to strengthen their struggle and their organization. Com. Arun Singh pointed out the need for the kisan sabha agitations to pay special attention to this group. State secretary Kunal spoke about the sharecroppers' agitations in several parts of Bhojpur and Patna rural. He said that in Bahrawa panchayat of Punpun our mukhiya distributed grants of diesel among sharecropper farmers, after which the government was forced to make changes in its earlier rule, according to which the government was giving the grant to the landlords instead of the sharecroppers. In Bhojpur, land owners in Mansar were forced to bow down on the issue of sharecropping. Raising issues like usury, migration, moneylenders' debts etc, Com. Virendra Gupta put forward suggestions regarding migration allowance, connecting MNREGA with farming and animal husbandry, making laws for non-resident workers, etc. Com. Ranvijay, Abhyuday, Naveen Kumar, Markandey Pathak, and Com. Vishveshwar Yadav placed their thoughts on construction workers' problems, building AISA, building youth sabhas, teachers' agitation, and pax elections respectively.
Speaking about women's questions, AIPWA general secretary Meena Tiwari raised the issue of health centres. She said that no health centre in Bihar has availability of lady doctors or proper medicines, due to which the death rate of women during childbirth is very high. There is also a great shortage of workers at sub-centres. On this issue AIPWA state committee organized protests in front of district headquarters. They raised the issue of proper honorarium and dignity of midday meal workers, rights of ASHA workers, freedom, equality, and right to education for girls, opening graduate colleges for women at the block level, immediate closure of liquor shops, and other issues. Saroj Choube, Renu Yadav, Madhuri Gupta, and other women leaders also expressed their views on this topic.
The fourth session was devoted to discussions on increasing Party membership up to 1 lakh, organizing booth level branches, doubling the number of branches, increasing the membersip of Lokyudh, Adhi Zameen, Shramik Solidarity, and Janmat. The valedictory address of the workshop was given by the General Secretary, after which the workshop concluded with the singing of Internationale.
Centenary of Komagata Maru observed
The Komagata Maru centenary falls on 29 September. This year, CPI(ML) held a commemorative programme for the martyrs of Komagata Maru in the Budge Budge Public Library on 24 September, preceded by a march to the Komagata Maru martyrs' memorial near the abandoned old Budge Budge railway station. The current Budge Budge station was renamed Komagata Maru Budge Budge last year. There is however little attempt on the part of the government to popularise the history of Komagata Maru. CPI(ML) had formed a Ghadar-Komagata Maru centenary celebration committee last year in West Bengal with the late Nabarun Bhattacharya as its convenor. The Budge Budge meeting on 24 Sep demanded the inclusion of Komagata Maru in the history syllabus, foundation of a history museum in memory of Komagata Maru martyrs, and introduction of Azaadi Express linking Komagata Maru and Jalianwallahbagh (Budge Budge to Amritsar).
Mangala Apparels Workers' Conference in Delhi
The General Kamgaar Union affiliated to AICCTU organized a convention of the workers employed with the Mangala Apparels India Private Ltd. on 21 September in Azadpur. The convention was inaugurated by AICCTU's Delhi state secretary Santosh Rai. Addressing the convention, he said that the contractual labour regime should come to an end, and all workers' should be paid a minimum of Rs 15,000 per month. He also stressed the need for a militant, strong and collective workers' movement against the new anti-labour regressive legislations being mooted by the Modi regime.
CPI(ML) CC member Comrade Ravi Rai warned against the Modi regime's machinations to break the unity of worker's across the country through strategic campaigns of communal violence and hate mongering. Addressing the convention, AISA national President talked about the need for the workers' movement to bring the concerns of women workers' to the forefront, and to forge strong united battles involving workers of all factories in the SMA industrial estate where the Mangala Apparels company is located. The convention was also addressed by Ajay Kumar Singh, labour leader and worker in the Mangala factory.
Around 350 workers from the Mangala factory participated in the convention. It was decided that among the demands for implementing labour rights, the demands for bonus and tea break would be given priority in the workers' struggles. A 29-member committee was elected to lead the struggles. Comrade Santosh Jha was elected as President, comrade Ajay Kumar Singh was elected as secretary and Comrade Shambhu was elected treasurer. The convention, which was conducted by comrade Mathura Paswan, was also addressed by CPI(ML) Delhi state committee's north west district secretary comrade Surendra Panchal, JNUSU President Ashutosh, AICCTU Wazirpur unit's President comrade Munna Yadav, and comrade Saurabh Naruka. The concluding speech was given by CPI(ML) Delhi state secretary comrade Sanjay Sharma.
JNUSU and JNU Workers protest for workers' rights
The struggle of the contract workers of JNU reached a new milestone when JNUSU and the All India General Kaamgaar Union (affiliated to AICCTU) protested in front of JNU Administration Block and later at the DCP office, Sarita Vihar. Along with continued loot of workers' PF money, the JNU administration had also been backing moral policing, character assassination, intimidation and retrenchment of a woman worker of JNU by a contractor. The administration was subsequently forced to reinstate the woman worker whose services had been retrenched on spurious grounds.
In addition, a woman contract worker of JNU and her four minor daughters have been facing serial sexual violence by their own relatives. The woman worker has been intimidated and further harassed by the SHO of Sangam Vihar when she went to file complaint. More than 500 contract workers under the banner of AICCTU held a protest demo against this at the DCP office at Sarita Vihar which was joined by JNUSU. Due to the spirited protest, the DCP has committed to ensure that the bail granted to two of the accused who have been threatening the complainant through various channels will be opposed by the police and police security will be provided to the woman worker and her daughters. Moreover, a chargesheet will be filed in one of the cases as soon as possible and proper support will be extended to the rape survivors, including intimation of court procedures.
Anti-Modi protests at the Madison Square Garden
In the midst of the round-the-clock adulatory coverage of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first visit to the United States, the print and electronic media in India have conveniently omitted to even mention that Modi was also greeted by a huge contingent of protestors in the Madison Square garden. Even as the media kept reminding us of how Modi had impressed NRIs in the US, several brave protestors held up banners shouting 'Convict Modi, Arrest Modi' and demanding justice for the 2002 genocide in Gujarat. They also demanded justice for the victims of the 1984 Sikh riots. The fact that thousands of people gathered to 'speak truth to power' and demand genuine democracy and justice during Modi's much-hyped visit to the US, is extremely significant and welcome.