A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 18, No. 18, 28 APRIL – 04 MAY 2015
Questions in the Wake of the Quake
A tragedy of such colossal proportions confronts us with massive challenges of rescue, relief and rehabilitation. And reports coming from Nepal indicate that defying enormous obstacles on the ground search and rescue teams from several countries are working round the clock. The kind of humanitarian aid and assistance needed that Nepal needs at this juncture can only be ensured if the international community and especially India and other neighbouring countries respond adequately. The Indian government and the Indian people must play a big role at this juncture not only in terms of immediate rescue and relief efforts but equally in meeting the subsequent challenge of reconstruction and rehabilitation. And then again, no less important than the quantum of aid is the issue of effective manpower and operational logistics to deliver things on the ground.
This brings us to the question of our preparedness to manage disasters, especially ones that have no respect for borders and affect vast swathes of land across countries. Quake and floods in Kashmir and across the Indo-Pak border, cyclones in Bangladesh and eastern India, tsunami in Sri Lanka and south India or earthquakes, landslides and avalanches in the Himalayan region of Nepal, India and China - in recent years we have experienced major disasters in various parts of the South Asian neighbourhood. A shared South Asian disaster management force and mechanism can probably provide the best logistical means to respond to a cross-border disaster of such magnitude as Nepal and India are facing now.
Ironically, a few days before the quake, Kathmandu had hosted an international conference of seismologists and social scientists to discuss the threat of earthquakes in the Himalayan region. Kathmandu valley is widely recognised as one of the most earthquake prone regions in the world. The accumulated tectonic tension in the region is leading to a major build-up towards repeated earthquakes. According to some experts even after the April 25 earthquake, more than 95% of the accumulated tension is still seeking outlets to be released and it could mean a series of potential earthquakes of similar or even greater magnitude. Four major earthquakes have hit the region in the last hundred years and heightened tectonic activity does indeed make the region a seismological hot spot with rather apocalyptical projections for the future.
The challenge is to adapt to the threat. Seismologists keep telling us that we now have reliable quake resistant engineering expertise to withstand earthquakes, and the real killer is not earthquake but buildings built in violation of appropriate construction designs and norms. Weakness and flaws of urban planning, execution and enforcement coupled with paucity or sheer absence of effective disaster management machinery and response make it a lethal combination for common people in quake prone areas. Seismologists point out that while an earthquake of similar magnitude could possibly kill only 10 persons in a million in the US, it has claimed thousands of lives in Nepal and could result in much higher losses in more densely populated areas of India or Pakistan. Clearly, reckless and unplanned construction and disproportionate concentrations of population in unsuitable geological conditions make South Asia all the more vulnerable.
As we extend all our support and cooperation to the quake hit people of Nepal and India in coping with the loss and in the battle for rebuilding their lives, we must insist that governments in South Asia bring their urban development and infrastructure plans strictly in correspondence with the latest quake resistant norms and ideas and create a shared disaster management mechanism for the South Asian region.
Statewide Demonstrations in Bihar for Land, Housing, and Sharecroppers' Rights
Over 50,000 poor across Bihar held vigorous agitations under the banner of the All India Agricultural and Rural Labourers' Association (AIARLA) at about 184 zonal offices on 16 April on the issues of agricultural land, sharecroppers' rights, parchas for residential land under the PP Act, and other demands. Protests were held at Bhojpur, Patna rural, Jehanabad, Siwan, Arwal, Aurangabad, Rohtas, Buxar, Beguserai, Navada, Darbhanga, Nalanda, West Champaran and in several other districts. At some places in Bhojpur, zonal offices were under complete lock-out. The agitations were led by Com. Dhirendra Jha, Com. Rameshwar Prasad, and other senior Party leaders.
CPI(ML) and AIARLA leaders addressing the meetings said that Dalits, Mahadalits, and the poor in Bihar have been agitating for a long time on the issues of housing, and agricultural land, and has been neglected by both the Modi and the Nitish governments. Even though Nitish and Manjhi during their respective stints made several promises, nothing has happened on ground. A baansgeet policy had been promised to ensure benefits even for the urban poor. However, the reality is that far from getting land, even those who for years have been in possession of land that was acquired and legalized, are now being evicted from their land.
The speakers pointed out that though Lalu-Rabri and Nitish pretended to be well-wishers of the poor, they actually stood firmly with the rich landlords and land mafia. They have been silent on issues relating to justice, dignity, and development of the poor, such as reinstatement of the Amir Das Commission and implementation of land reform commission recommendations. The pro-feudal and anti-poor, anti-dalit character of the BJP is also crystal clear, and they are equally culpable in the suppression of the Amir Das Commission and the land reform recommendations. The leaders pointed out that even though on one hand Nitish is hypocritically opposing Modi's Land Ordinance, he himself has acquired land from farmers without their consent in Bhagalpur, Bhojpur, Patna, Beguserai and other districts. The CPI(ML) and AIARLA asserted that the agitation for the land rights of the poor would continue till justice is done.
Repression of Adivasi Anti-Dam Protests in UP and the Refusal by the State Authorities to Let Fact Finding Teams Investigate
The Uttar Pradesh Government has unleashed severe repression on adivasis and people protesting against the proposed Kanhar Dam in Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh. The project lacks the requisite green clearances, yet it is being built by terrorising villagers who have not given their consent for land acquisition. The agitation is being led by the All India Union of Forest Working People, which is also a constituent of the All India People's Forum.
On 14th April, the police brutally lathi-charged peaceful protesters at a dharna at the dam site. A Fact Finding team comprising of Kavita Krishnan (Campaign Committee, All India People's Forum), Abhishek Srivastava (Journalist), Purnima Gupta (Women's Rights Activist) Deboditya Sinha (Researcher and Petitioner in Kanhar National Green Tribunal case), Priya Pillai (Activist, Mahan Sangarsh Samiti and Greenpeace India), and Om Prakash Singh, CPI(ML), visited the region on 19th and 20th April 2015.
The team met 15 of the injured at the Duddhi district hospital, and found that several men and one woman had head injuries; and all the five women and ten men had severe bruises on thighs, buttocks and back. However, the police and district administration behaved in an extremely high-handed and arbitrary manner with the fact-finding team. At 8.30 at night on 19th April, the team was preparing to halt for the night in Baghadu village that is outside the submergence area. Police drew up in five jeeps accompanied by a man in plain clothes who refused to identify himself, and later falsely claimed to be the SDM of Duddhi but refused to give a name. He is suspected to be a local tehsildar. He ordered police to search the belongings of the team, and warned the women members of the team, "You are women, better leave the place or else you will be dishonoured" (a veiled rape threat). When Debaditya, a team member, intervened, the same man ordered the police to 'arrest him and jail him as a Naxalite." The police eventually forced the team to leave the village and spend the night in Duddhi, where they made surreptitious calls to the hotel to pressurise the manager to deny the team rooms to spend the night.
On the morning of the 20th April, the team visited the Duddhi hospital and met the injured. The police tried to prevent them from doing so, claiming that Section 144 was in place – but this was a false claim, since the Duddhi market was bustling with people. In the hospital, it became clear that the injured had not been allowed to meet family members, were deprived of essentials like daatun, change of clothes and were being kept in inhumane conditions. When the team was in the hospital, the policemen mobilised a crowd of around 50-60 people from the bazaar, who raised slogans accusing the team of being 'anti-development NGOs' and threatening the team with violence. This mob made a mockery of the claims of the police that Section 144 was in place. The team met with the DM and SP in Robertsganj, seeking to know why leading activists of the anti-dam agitation were banned from entering the district and were being arrested
Police Firing at MGNREGA Workers in Tripura, CPI(ML) Unakoti Unit Takes Up the Issue
The police fired indiscriminately on MGNREGA workers at Pechartal Block in Unakoti district of Tripura, leaving 15 workers injured. One woman worker was left seriously injured as she was hit by five bullets and is currently fighting for her life at GB Hospital Agartala.
Thousands of MGNREGA workers, mostly tribal, had been demanding immediate payment of the pending wages of last six months as the tribal festivals 'Biju' and the Bengali New Year were just round the corner. Initially the authorities assured them that the payments will be made on13th April. On 13 April, when the workers gathered to receive payments, they were informed that the payments will not be given on that day. The angry workers blocked the National highway and were lathicharged by the police. They moved towards the BDO office but were abused by the local CPM leaders, after which the workers became further angry. They rushed to the BDO and CPM offices and the police started firing indiscriminately towards them, firing at least 100 rounds. About 15 persons sustained injury. All the injured were took shelter in Buddha Mot .
In the evening, the CPI(ML) district secretary met the gravely injured woman in the hospital. On 14th April, a 5 member delegation team headed by CPI(ML) Unakoti district secretary Com Joydip Roy, visited the place of incident and met with the families of the injured. The CPI(ML) Liberation demanded: (1) Judicial enquiry of the incident; (2) Bearing of all the treatment expenses of the injured by the state authorities; (3) Termination of the officer who passed the instructions for firing; and (4) Immediate payment of all pending wages of the MGNREGA workers throughout the State.
Tamil Nadu Democratic Construction Workers' Union's Third State Conference held
Tamil Nadu Democratic Construction Workers' Union's Third State Conference was held on April 26 in Dindigul. A rally and an open session of the conference were held in which 500 workers, including delegates, particpated. The rally was flagged off by AICCTU State President Com. N.K.Natarajan and led by State Secretary Com. Manivel.
The conference venue of Dindigul has more women AICCTU activists and members than men. Branch wise preparations were planned and Com.Vellaiammal mobilized Rs.10,000 in her branch alone. In every stage of the preparations ranging from fund mobilization, mass mobilization to the conduct of the conference, women comrades of the district played an exemplary role.
Com.S. Kumarasami, National President gave the concluding remarks in the open session. Citing recent killings of TN wood cutters in Andhra forests, farmer's suicide in AAP rally and death of workers in leakage of factory effluent in TN, he said that workers and farmers of this country have no dignity in life and in death. They are shot dead cruelly and they die swallowing filth. While criticizing Modi's efforts to sell cheap labour of Indian masses during his foreign tours, he explained the dangers of corporate communal offensive of the Modi government. He called for the workers to rise in struggles against the company raj that is playing havoc on every section of people in the country. AICCTU national secretary Com. Bhuvana, state president Com. N.K. Natarajan, state general secretary Com. Sankarapandian, state vice president Anthonimuthu, state secretaries comrades Eraniappan and Govindaraj also spoke in the opening session. Com. S. Balasubramaniam, AICCTU national vice-president gave concluding remarks in the conference after conducting election for the new body. The conference of delegates from 11 districts, elected a 39 member state council with Com. K. Govindaraj as State President and Com. S. Eraniappan as State General Secretary.
The conference paid condolence to all those who died in the earth quake in the country and Nepal. Rs.3,200 was collected from the delegates who attended the conference for the relief fund.
CPI(ML) Protest against Killing of Tribals in Andhra Pradesh and Demanding Livelihood for Tamil Nadu Tribals
A protest demonstration and dharna was called by CPI(ML) Villuppuram unit in Vellimalai of Kalrayan Hills, Villuppuram District on 23 April to condemn the AP killings and for Demanding Livelihood of TN tribal.
Comrade Gajendran presided over the protest demonstration-dharna. Rani a tribal woman, whose husband is languishing in Tirupati jail for more than 17 months, spoke with anger and explained the plight of the families of the tribal victims who were either dead or languishing in jails.
More than 100 tribal (50 women) attended the protests including the family members of those currently jailed in Andhra Pradesh. CPI(ML) District Secretary Com. Venkatesan exposed the class character of both the AIADMK state government and the Modi led central Government. Comrade Chandra Mohan, CCM- AIPF spoke strongly against the killer regime of Chandrababu Naidu, the AP Police, opportunism of Modi and the criminal negligence of the AIADMK Government. He elaborated on the question of livelihood of tribal and demanded speedy implementation of Forest Right Act Reservation in employment.
Kisan Mahasaba Initiatives in Bareilly
Bareilly district is one of the areas worst affected by the recent hailstorms in Uttar Pradesh. The district saw the worst rains in the State as well as the death of 25 farmers. Several crops have been destroyed. Even as the farmers are dying, the government is yet to undertake a serious survey to determine the extent of destruction to crops. A first token survey said that about 51,000 farmers had been affected. When increasing farmer deaths created an outcry, it was said that 150,000 farmers had been affected, out of which half have suffered more than 50% crop damage, while half have suffered 20% to 49% crop damage. Along with these false figures, complaints of lack of survey are also rampant. Now the government says that in Bareilly alone 3 lakh farmers have been affected. Though these are also not accurate figures, they give an indication of the devastation in Bareilly.
Raising this issue, the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha held a 24 hour fast and protest at the Bahedi block headquarters on April 1. The farmers in Bahedi are struggling with crop loss one hand, and on the other hand, the Bahedi sugar mill has not paid the farmers Rs 150 crores due to them for their sugar cane. Kisan Mahasabha State Joint Secretary Afroz Alam, tehsil President Javed Mohd, and Pramod Maurya sat on the hunger strike. During the protest the farmers demanded immediate crop survey, compensation of Rs 25,000 per acre, and immediate payment of sugar cane arrears. After 24 hours the Deputy Collector assured them of speedy fulfillment of their demands. Memorandums of demand were also submitted to the ADM at tehsil Meerganj on 6 April. On 7 April a dharna and rally were held in Bareilly culminating in a meeting in front of the DM's office after which a memorandum was submitted to the DM. The Kisan Mahasabha demanded that Bareilly district should be declared disaster-affected, agrarian loans up to 1 lakh should be waived, compensation of 25,000 per acre should be paid (the government has announced a mere pittance of 7,000 per acre), disbursement of compensation should start within one week, purchase of wheat at rates below MSP should be stopped immediately, and sugar cane payment arrears should be made immediately. The speakers at the meeting pointed out that farmers' deaths on this large scale would have been avoided if the government had taken care, instead of which it is busy in pandering to the comfort of capitalists.
Dharna at Madhubani Collectorate
Hundreds of women and men staged a dharna in front of the Madhubani collectorate on 1 April 2015 under the banner of the Madhubani area committee of the CPI(ML), led by Comrades Dhruv Narayan Karn, Vishwambhar Kamat, and Shankar Paswan. The 17-point memorandum submitted to the DM included the following demands: vaas-housing rights, education, health and employment rights to be included in the Constitution, housing land for all urban and rural landless poor, vaas-geet parchas for the poor settled in land for many years, possession of dakhal kabja land for parcha holders, settlement of poor on 15 bighas of unpopulated public land in Basuwada, freeing government and public land from the clutches of feudal forces and giving the land to the landless poor, revoking of cases on Dhruv Narayan Karn and other innocent people who have been found innocent by the judicial enquiry in the Madhubani incident, cleaning the streamlets in the city and freeing them from encroachment, electrification and taking back of false electricity bills. The huge dharna also demanded sharecropping, food security, ration card rights, and repeal of the Land Ordinance. The dharna awakened public interest in the Party and created a new wave of enthusiasm among Party workers.
RYA Gheraos Jharkhand Assembly
After the BJP led government in Jharkhand came to power, neither a local policy nor a youth policy has been declared till now. It is noteworthy that the youth of the State were politically used on a large scale in the last Assembly elections and yet months after the incumbent government came to office, lakhs of educated unemployed people are still struggling to find jobs.
On 26 March 2015 hundreds of unemployed youth gheraoed the Vidhan Sabha on these issues under the banner of the Revolutionary Youth Association. The protest started from Hatiya station and proceeded to the Vidha Sabha shouting slogans. They were stopped by police barricades at Birsa chowk where the rally culminated in a meeting. Addressing the meeting CPI(ML) MLA Rajkumar Yadav called upon the youth to accelerate the fight on the streets. The meeting was also addressed by RYA State President Rameshwar Chowdhury, Secretary Amol Ghosh, Nadeem Khan, Shiv Kumar, Amardeep Nirala, Ashok Mistry, and Deepak Lal. A memorandum was submitted to the CM's representative with demands that included announcement of youth policy for youth of Jharkhand, ensuring jobs for the youth and guarantee of unemployment allowance of 3000 till then, immediate filling of vacant government posts, policy to stop migration from Jharkhand, among others.
Comrade Sandip Bagchi
Comrade Sandip Bagchi, leader of the Sramik Sangram committee, passed away on 20th April, 2015 after a prolonged illness.
Com. Sandip was a student of Jadavpur University and he graduated in the year of 1959 from Mechanical Engineering department. He started his life as a political activist with the Revolutionary Socialist Party. In the wake of the Naxalbari ferment he along with some other comrades left the RSP and began organizing independently. They began the publication of a political-theoretical journal, 'Sandikkhan', meaning crossroads of the times. They began organizing trade unions under the banner of Sramik Sangram Committee, leading some significant struggles of workers in Hindustan Lever and the Taratala Hyde Road area of Kolkata. We stand by Comrade Sandip Bagchi's family, friends and comrades in this hour of loss.
Comrade Durga Sanga
Comrade Durga Sanga, an activist of the AIARLA from Karbi Anglong, was tragically killed en route to the AIALA National Conference at Bhubaneshwar. He went missing at Howrah station on 2nd April, and was later hospitalised at Naihati where he breathed his last. He was 48. He was cremated on 12th April, in the presence of his family members including his brother Biracha Sanga as well as CPI(ML) Central Committee member Kalyan Goswami. We join his family in mourning his tragic and untimely demise.
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: email@example.com, website: www.cpiml.org