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.