Wednesday, February 24, 2016

ML Update | No. 09 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  19 | No. 09 | 23-29 FEB 2016


Modi Government's War on Students and on Democracy

The Modi Government has waged war on campuses and on the right to dissent. If one young life – that of Rohith Vemula – was snuffed out in this war, several other young students charged with 'sedition' are facing vilification, arrest, and custodial violence. 

But two historic mobilizations on the streets of Delhi – mainly by students and youth – offered a remarkable resistance to Modi's war on campuses.

On 18 February, defying the TV channels whipping up a frenzy against 'anti-national JNU', thousands of Delhi's students and young people, supported by working class men and women, intellectuals and citizens from all walks of life, marched on the streets of Delhi to show solidarity with JNU. They demanded the release of the JNUSU President and withdrawal of all sedition charges from students, and demanded that JNU revoke the arbitrary suspension of eight student activists. They asserted that shouting slogans was not sedition, and demanded repeal of the anti-sedition law. Above all, they asserted that true patriotism lay in the determination to dissent, to care for the rights of people, and to speak truth to power.          

On 23 February, students from all over the country gathered in Delhi in response to the 'Chalo Delhi' call by the Joint Action Committee for Justice for Rohith Vemula. Thousands who marched in Delhi asserted that they would not allow the Modi Government to shrug off its responsibility for the suicide of the Dalit scholar and activist.

The march culminated in a public meeting – in which the dais was shared by two anguished parents whose sons are targets of a witch-hunt by the Modi Government: Radhika Vemula, mother of Rohith Vemula, and SQR Ilyasi, father of Umar Khalid, one of the JNU students who has since been arrested.

In his suicide note, Rohith had written about how the "value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity" – his caste. Umar, before his arrest, had also spoken of how he too had been 'reduced to his immediate identity' as a Muslim man, branded as a member of a Islamic terrorist outfit based purely on his name. 

Rohith was expelled from his University based on faked 'injuries' by an ABVP leader. He was branded 'anti-national' based on slogans raised by his and his comrades in a protest against the hanging of Yakub Memon. Eight students including JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar, JNUSU General Secretary Rama Naga, former JNUSU President Ashutosh Kumar and former Vice President Anant Prakash Narayan, as well as Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, have been thrown out of their University and accused of sedition based on fake videos, fake tweets and fake 'intelligence reports'. As in Rohith's case, their slogans condemning the hanging of Afzal Guru have been branded as 'anti-national.' The vilification and expulsion of Rohith and the JNU students was incited by ABVP and led by BJP MPs. Far from learning its lesson from the tragic consequences of the witch-hunt of Rohith Vemula, the Modi Government has repeated the witch-hunt of student activists on an even more vicious scale in JNU.

The courageous student and youth movement in support of Rohith Vemula and JNU has effectively ripped off the cloak of 'nationalism' and exposed the Government's authoritarian agenda of cracking down on constitutional liberties, crushing voices of dissent against the Hindutva and pro-corporate agenda, using assaults and murderous attacks by Sanghi thugs as well as the might of the police machinery.  

This student movement has also thoroughly exposed the role of certain media channels in inciting hatred and violence against JNU students, using fabricated videos and other fabricated materials. This shameful conduct is in contrast to the courage shown by some journalists, including one young journalist who resigned from one such channel and exposed its role in manipulating videos to incite anti-JNU and anti-Left frenzy.   

The Sanghi hate-campaign against JNU raises the slogan of 'Jo Afzal ki baat karega, voh Afzal ki maut marega' (Anyone who speaks of Afzal Guru will meet Afzal Guru's fate), even as the BJP is poised to form Government in Jammu and Kashmir once again with the PDP, which calls Afzal's hanging a 'travesty of justice' and seeks to bring Afzal's remains back to Kashmir.

But it is no longer hidden that the hatred against 'Afzal ki baat' is only a pretext: even 'Ambedkar ki baat' (ideas of Dr Ambedkar) are met with hatred and violence. The Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha, youth wing of the BJP, fired at Prof Vivek Kumar of JNU in Gwalior recently, when he was about to speak at a public meeting on 'India of Ambedkar's Dreams'. The BJYM vandalised copies of the Indian Constitution, as well as other writings of Dr Ambedkar.

The BJP, RSS and ABVP are unable to hide their hatred and disgust for Ambedkar and the Indian Constitution. By allowing 'lawyers' and a BJP MLA to beat up students, teachers and journalists unchecked inside Court premises, the Modi Government is sending a message of contempt for the Constitution.

One of the most prominent pro-BJP figures, actor Anupam Kher, has called the crackdown on campuses from HCU to JNU as 'pest control,' while leaders of BJP and ABVP have called for campuses to be 'purged' and 'sanitised' of Leftists and progressive activists. Was Rohith Vemula one of the 'pests' that the BJP purged from HCU to sanitise the campus? Such dehumanizing language is reminiscent of Hitler's Germany, and also of more recent remarks by BJP leaders comparing Dalit and Muslim victims to dogs, puppies and so on.      

In the meeting of Vice Chancellors convened by the HRD Minister Smriti Irani, there was conspicuous silence on the burning issues of Dalit suicides on campuses and on the recommendations of the Thorat Committee report including the demand for enactment of a 'Rohith Act' to curb caste discrimination on campuses. There was also silence on the move to slash scholarships and impose WTO rules on India's higher education. Instead, the Minister shamefully sought to hide these burning issues under the diktat to fly the tricolour on all campuses – ignoring the fact that the tricolor already flies in most campuses.

The Sangh Parivar and Modi Government, admirers of Savarkar and Godse, have always feared and hated the legacies of Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh. Now, they are engaged in a desperate attempt to brand the followers of Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh as 'anti-national.' They will certainly fail in this bid – and the brave young followers of Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh will give them a fitting rebuff, and save democracy from the Sanghi onslaught.   


#StandwithJNU – 
Voices Of Solidarity Resonate In India And Across The Globe

As the sordid tale of morphed pictures, doctored videos, witch-hunting based on fake twitter handles and brutal violence against JNU students and faculty inside the court premises and outside begin to emerge, voices from various parts of the country and the world have affirmed their solidarity with JNU. In fact, even before the lies underlying accusations against JNU students were exposed, students, youth, cultural activists and scholars across the world questioned the crackdown on the space that encouraged debates and discussions on diverse views and where certain problematic slogans had been unanimously condemned by JNU students' union and teachers' association.

On 12 February a massive march took inside the campus demanding release of JNUSU president Com. Kanhaiya and withdrawal of sedition charges against other students. The march was led by the JNUTA and over 4000 students and teachers participated in the march. Besides leaders of the left, several other scholars and political leaders addressed the meeting held after the march. Disturbed by the immense support on campus with the student leaders arrested and charged, the ABVP in keeping with its destructive politics attacked Congress leader Anand Sharma inside the campus. The next day, students, faculty members, alumni and several others joined hands to form a nearly 3 km long human chain in JNU. The students and faculty of JNU have continued to stay in the ad-block, and holding a lecture series on 'nationalism' and the 'idea of the nation' in which lectures have been given by Prof. Ayesha Kidwai, Prof. Prabhat Patnaik, Prof. Nivedita Menon, Prof. G. Arunima, Prof. Vivek Kumar, noted journalist P. Sainath, among others.

Nearly 40 teachers' associations from across campuses of this country have come out and expressed their solidarity with JNU. Teachers from some of the top universities in the world including Harvard, Oxford, Yale and Columbia have expressed their support to the JNU students. Nearly 455 faculty members from these and other universities worldwide have issued a joint statement condemning the state action on students and expressed solidarity with the JNU students. In the letter of support to JNU, they write, "JNU stands for a vital imagination of the space of the university — an imagination that embraces critical thinking, democratic dissent, student activism, and the plurality of political beliefs. It is this critical imagination that the current establishment seeks to destroy. And we know that this is not a problem for India alone". The teachers expressed a grave concern over the unfolding situation in JNU and termed the detention of students "illegal" and "autocratic". Noted scholars and writers like Noam Chomsky and Orhan Pamukh, besides other eminent scientists and writers across the world have also issued a strongly worded statement that says it is "evidence of the present government's deeply authoritarian nature, intolerant of any dissent".  The letters of support have come from not just from the faculty, but even students from various universities who have sent their pictures holding the banners of 'Stand with JNU'. Protests have been organised in cities like London in support of JNU.

Within the country, CPI(ML) and AISA organized a rally in Patna demanding release of JNUSU president and withdrawal of sedition charges against other students, of whom five are ex JNUSU office bearers. The next day a joint rally comprising of several student organizations was also taken out in Patna against the BJP-RSS-ABVP designs to malign and defame JNU. Protests were also organized in many towns including Darbhanga, Fatuha and Arwal and effigy of Prime Minister Modi was burnt.

In Kolkata, several demonstrations were organized by AISA and various cultural activists to protest against the attack on JNU. In some of these demonstrations ABVP resorted to its routine hooliganism but the protestors remained undeterred.

Similar protests by left parties, students' organizations and progressive sections have also been organized in Chandigarh, Bhubaneswar, Mumbai, Varanasi, Udaipur, and several other places. Support has also poured in from students across universities in India such as AMU, TISS, FTII, DU, AU and several others.

More recently, three hundred and seventy-nine Indian scientists and academics have written a letter to the Vice Chancellor of JNU expressing their dismay at the recent events there. They write, "One may agree or disagree with this viewpoint — and, indeed, signatories to this letter hold different positions — but we are unanimous that students should have the right to freely discuss this issue... India is a vast country, and no one group can define what it means to be "nationalist" or "anti-national", in specific terms of positions to hold and causes to support. The country's fabric is strong enough to accommodate a plurality of views. It is the attempt to suppress differing viewpoints that is genuinely damaging for the country's 'democratic ethos". They also castigated the university administration for allowing the witch-hunt of students. "Senior members of the government have aggressively targeted your students. The JNU administration should have protected its students against these attacks and charges that have also vitiated the police investigation. We are deeply disappointed that you have failed to carry out this responsibility".

On 18 February, a massive solidarity march took place in Delhi in which tens of thousands of students (across campuses), faculty members, youth, progressive sections, cultural activists and common people participated. In a peaceful protest in which students carried roses, colourful banners and placards, they urged the media to stop deliberately airing fabricated news based on unverified facts, fake tweets and doctored videos which was inciting violence against JNU students and faculty. Exposing the agenda of the BJP government, the students raised the slogans of "JNU to bahaana hai, Rohith ka mudda dabaana hai" (JNU is only a pretext to bury the issue of Rohith Vemula's institutional murder). The students affirmed that they will not let the government divert the attention from Rohith's institutional murder and continue to demand justice for him. The students also demanded that JNUSU president be released, charges against JNU students be withdrawn and BJP MLA O.P. Sharma be arrested for violence against JNU community and sympathisers. They urged that the vicious attempts by RSS-BJP-ABVP to malign and criminalise the JNU community must be strongly resisted.


AIPWA Convention In Bhubaneswar

AIPWA organized a State level convention at Nagbhushan Bhawan in Bhubaneshwar on 13 February. About 250 women from Raigarha, Bhadrak, Puri, Khurda, Cuttack and Bhubaneshwar (6 districts) participated in the Convention, whose proceedings were conducted by Com. Savita Baraj and presided over by a 12 member board.

The women who had come from Raigarha spoke about the loot of their jal-jangal-zameen. Currently 100 houses built by the housing colony are being razed and a stadium built there. The convention opposed and condemned this move without first making alternative arrangements for re-housing. It was decided that AIPWA would protest against this on 19 February at Gunpur.

The Convention demanded that the women's reservation Bill be passed. The issue was also raised that if prohibition could be implemented in Bihar, then why not in Odisha? Speakers at the Convention also pointed out growing police atrocities in the name of the anti-Naxal drive, persecution of women, violence against women, and other issues. Mandakini Sethi, Kalpana, Meena, Premlata, Atyosi Malik, AS Kaliya, Sumati Das, Sanyukta Panigrahi, Manju Lata and others spoke at the Convention.

The Convention was inaugurated by CPI(ML) CC member Com. Yudhishthir Mahapatra and AIPWA National President Saroj Choube was the chief speaker. Com. Saroj spoke about the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula, Sanghi dirty tricks and inflammatory actions in JNU, and the growing communal frenzy all over the country; she outlined the historical journey of AIPWA and discussed the current challenges facing the women's movement. She highlighted the need to build a struggle against oppression against women, organize and unite honorarium women workers, struggle for students' issues and women's rights, and stand against police crimes and State repression.

At the conclusion a 23 member AIPWA State Co-ordination Committee was constituted with comrades Mandakini Sethi and Savita Baraj as conveners. The committee targeted a membership of 10,000 before the AIPWA National convention to be held in Patna in November this year; it was also decided to strengthen AIPWA's base in at least 6 districts, and hold a rally in Bhubaneshwar on 8 March.


AIPWA Foundation Day Observed In Bihar

AIPWA Bihar State committee had decided to observe its 22nd Foundation Day with dharnas, protests, and symposiums to demand curbing of violence against women, passing women's reservation bill, total prohibition in Bihar, opening sub-health centres in every panchayat and appointing women doctors, declaring honorarium workers as government employees and making their honorarium Rs 15,000, payment of honorarium arrears, and other issues.

A symposium was organized in Patna on 11 February at the IMA Hall on the subject 'Growing Fanaticism in the Name of Culture vs. Women's Freedom' where AIPWA General Secretary Com. Meena Tiwari was the main speaker. The symposium was addressed by Prof. Bharti S. Kumar, Dr Gogi Kumar, Alka Verma, Madhu, Anuradha, Nivedita and others. Anita Sinha conducted the proceedings. In her talk Com. Meena Tiwari said that today in the name of culture, it is being decided what women shall eat, what they shall wear, and when and where they shall go. This is the same anti-women culture being that is being foisted on dalits by patriarchal and brahminwadi ideas. This is what led to the death of Rohith Vemula. We must step up our fight against this culture.

On the same day in Fatuha block AIPWA and Bihar State Vidyalaya Rasoiya Sangh jointly organized a dharna in the block office complex. The dharna was addressed by AIPWA leader and State President of Rasoiya Sangh, Saroj Choube. Block officials and mid-day meal officials accepted the memorandum and announced that there will be total prohibition in Fatuha from April. They said that there is a shortage of not only woman doctors but also of male doctors in the sub-health centre and that they have been writing about this to the civil surgeon continuously for the past one year. Questions of ration-kerosene were also raised on this occasion. ADM in-charge gave his clarifications. Over 150 women took part in the dharna.

In Bihata a protest was held at the block office on 10 February. The BDO was conspicuous by his absence. A delegation submitted a memorandum to the SDO. A convention was organized on 10 February in Dulhin Bazaar.

Tributes were paid to martyrs and flag hoisting was done in Siwan on 12 February. In Darbhanga AIPWA, Rasoiya and ASHA workers met on 10-12 February and decided that ASHA would take out a march in front of the CM on 14 February and Rasoiya Sangh and AIPWA would hold a protest on 18 February. 

Protests were held in Bhojpur at Piro, Jagdishpur, and Sandesh on 15, 16, and 17 February. The delegation comprising comrades Indu Singh, Shobha Mandal, Sita Devi and Sangeeta Devi was met by the Zonal Officer in Piro. 

Earlier, on 3 February an AIPWA delegation met Social Welfare Minister Manju Verma and submitted a charter of demands. The delegation included comrades Saroj Choube, Shashi Yadav, Anita Sinha, Madhuri Gupta and Anuradha Singh. The delegation was astounded by the Minister's statement that liquor was necessary for stress relief! The attitude of the Minister on the other issues was indifferent. The Minister expressed support to the demand of including rasoiyas in the standing committee report on regularizing samvida workers.


AICCTU Demonstration In Bangalore

Workers demonstrated in front of the Karnataka Labour Commissioner's office at Bangalore on 17 February 2016 demanding a minimum wage of Rs. 21000 and halting of proposed anti-worker, pro-corporate amendments to Factories Act and Rules by the Karnataka State government.

Workers from Bangalore Corporation (BBMP), Bangalore Water Supply (BWSSB), Readymix concrete workers (RMC, RDC, Lafarge), public sector workers (BHEL, HAL, BEML, NAL), Race Course Workers, MICO BOSCH workers, etc., participated in the demonstration.

AICCTU Karnataka state president Balan, General Secretary Clifton D' Rozario, CPI(ML) Central Committee Member Shankar, State Secretary Appanna, and comrades Nirmala, Mohan and other activists addressed the demonstrators. Demonstrators resolved that this demonstration is only a beginning of a broader campaign and bigger struggles on the issue.


Peasants Protest On The Issue Of Paddy Purchase

CPI(ML) and the All India Kisan Mahasabha held protests at several block offices in Bhojpur on the issue of paddy purchase from all farmers including sharecroppers. The first protest was at the Jagdishpur block office led by Tarari MLA and Kisan Mahasabha State Secretary Sudama Prasad. Farmers arrived at the block office with about 50 tractors laden with paddy and jammed the block entirely. The farmers put pressure on the SDO and BDO for purchase of the paddy. The SDO called the Primary Agriculture Credit Society (PACS) President and assured him about paddy purchase. He also agreed to purchase paddy from the sharecroppers and had a Performa prepared for this.

Similarly, protests were held at Piro, Charpokhri, Agiaon, Sahar and Tarari blocks on 2, 3, 4, 5, and 9 February respectively. Legislator com. Sudama Prasad said that the government is dilly-dallying on the issue of paddy purchase from farmers. Now that the farmers are bringing their paddy here in tractors, the administration is agreeing to keep their paddy, but not making payment for the paddy. He further demanded that the government should give a guarantee of paddy purchase from all farmers including sharecroppers without paper work, as has been done in Punjab. He also demanded that the government should declare a support price of Rs 2000 per quintal and a bonus of Rs 500.


CPI (ML) Statement On Attack Against Tribal Rights Activist Soni Sori And Prof. Vivek Kumar

CPI(ML) strongly condemns the attacks on tribal rights activist Soni Sori in Bastar and on Prof. Vivek Kumar that took place in Gwalior. The two horrific attacks are just latest additions to the ongoing war against democracy that continues unabated under the present regime.

On the evening of 20 February, Soni Sori was attacked by some unknown assailants near Kodenar in Bastar. They forcibly stopped her vehicle on the road and threw some black substance on her face, causing intense burning and pain. The attack on Soni Sori is not sudden. In fact, for past several months and others who are working to safeguard the rights of the tribals in Bastar and in other districts of Chhattisgarh including Dantewada, Kanker, Sukma, and Bijapur, have been receiving regular threats. Just a few days back, lawyers belonging to Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group, known as 'JagLAG' (which was formed to provide legal aid to people of the aforementioned districts as they were subjected to frequent imprisonment on false cases) were forced to leave Jagdalpur. Soni Sori has been a courageous voice against state repression and has remained undeterred even after state's considerable efforts to silence her, be it by imprisoning her for long periods in false cases or the brute custodial torture inflicted on her. Once again, she remains unfazed by these attacks and assets that her fight will continue. CPI(ML) salutes the indomitable courage of Soni Sori, stands with solidarity in her and the tribals in Chhattisgarh fighting for their democratic rights against brutal state oppression and demands immediate action against her assailants.

In another attack on voices that have spoken against oppression, members of Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of the BJP, attacked activists of Ambedkar Vichar Manch who had organised a seminar and invited Prof. Vivek Kumar of JNU to speak in the same. While he was speaking, a grouo of BJYM activists led by their district president Vivek Sharma entered the seminar venue demanding that seminar be stopped. They started beating up the organisers and also attacked Prof. Kumar. BJYM activists also shot gun fires. This is not the first time that student and youth wings of the BJP have disrupted discussions on oppression based on caste, religion and gender. With BJP coming to power at the centre, vandalism by their hoodlums in venues of seminars, conferences, movie screenings and debates has become a routine affair. In most instances, their vandalism enjoys overt state and administrative support as has been witnessed recently in Lucknow University, Hyderabad Central University, JNU, DU and elsewhere.

The two incidents above and the spate of incidents involving assaults on democratic voices, especially on those speaking up for the rights of the oppressed, particularly- Dalits, tribals, religious minorities, women and sexual minorities, shows the intolerance of the sangh brigade towards anyone who espouses the cause of democracy, equality and social justice. Even as routine rabble rousing, incitement of violence and divisive speeches by Sangh members like Adityanath, Giriraj Kishore and others fail to invite any state action, it is those speaking for the oppressed who are either criminalised (as seen in the case of Rohith Vemula and student leaders in JNU) or intimated, as seen in the assaults mentioned above.

CPI(ML) stands in solidarity with all who are braving state repression in their efforts to defend democracy and speak for the oppressed. All assaults on democracy must be strongly resisted.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

ML Update | No. 08 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 19 | No. 08 | 16-  22 FEB 2016


No Crushing of Dissent in Hyderabad and JNU - Sanghi Disinformation and Despotism Shall Not Pass

The stunning sequence of events in Delhi in the last few days has appalled all who care about democracy in India. The unprecedented alacrity with which the Union Home Ministry, Delhi Police and sections of the media swooped down upon allegations of some controversial slogans having been raised inside JNU campus on the third anniversary of the hanging of Afzal Guru, the police crackdown, the arrest of the President of the elected Student Union and the witch-hunt of other activists of the Students' Union and Left student groups on absolutely ridiculous charges of sedition, the harassment and arrest of Delhi University teachers on similar grounds, acts of vandalism by rightwing goons targeting the CPI(M) Central Committee office in Delhi, the shocking and absurd attempt by the Union Home Minister to link the JNU events to Hafiz Saeed followed by a warning by the Delhi Police to the student community of the entire country, the detention of cultural activists for the 'crime' of 'looking like JNU students', the open assault on students, faculty members, journalists and activists right in the premises of Delhi's Patiala House Court by a group led by Delhi BJP MLA OP Sharma with the Delhi police watching cheerfully - it looks like the Modi regime has declared a veritable war on students, teachers, journalists and activists in Delhi.

Soon after Modi took over as the PM in May 2014, it became clear that while the government was desperate to turn India into a lucrative laboratory for aggressive corporate acquisition, it was equally anxious to hijack and control, and even destroy, the institutions of higher education and research, the laboratories of creative freedom where ideas developed through debate and dissent, and where voices could thus emerge even from the otherwise most deprived and oppressed sections of India to challenge the age-old structures of exclusion and domination, including those of the universities themselves. The new regime wants its handpicked persons to decide the academic content and environment of these institutions so dissenting and inconvenient ideas can be nipped in the bud and intellectuals can be subdued and string-pulled by the puppeteers of the Sangh brigade. The conspiracy revealed itself first in IIT-Madras and then in FTII Pune, and now almost simultaneously and in quite similar fashion we see the script playing itself out in Hyderabad and Delhi.

In both Hyderabad and JNU, the allegation is of students indulging in 'anti-national' activities. If raising questions about the hanging of Yakub Menon and the screening of a documentary film on the 2013 Muzaffarnagar carnage were dubbed anti-national in Hyderabad, remembering Afzal Guru on the third anniversary of his hanging and the raising of certain slogans by some people - the identity of several of them is not clear from the footage while some are now apparently exposed to have been from the ABVP itself - have been branded as sedition. The modus operandi is also quite similar - local ABVP unit complains to local BJP MP who then writes to ministers and the entire state gets into the act of a concerted and systematic persecution. The ABVP is thus playing the role of saffron stormtroopers on the ground while the government, police and a heavily pressurized and increasingly saffronised university administration are working in tandem to push the Sangh agenda.

In the case of JNU, it should be remembered that the RSS has long been campaigning to defame the institution and vitiate the democratic environment of the campus. Long before Modi came to power, the likes of Subramanian Swamy have been openly abusing women activists with a JNU background on television channels and print and social media, especially in the wake of the December 16 anti-rape movement of 2012 and the powerful resonance it had across the country. More recently, JNU students' role in the Justice for Rohith Vemula movement and in #OccupyUGC and fighting privatization in education made the saffron brigade even more determined to target them. Of late, the RSS has been carrying a strident tirade against JNU with a continuous campaign of defamation and disinformation in its journals which has now reached this climax with physical attacks on JNU students and faculty, police crackdown in the campus and the loud Sanghi clamour for shutting down the University.

Some of the slogans raised in the said JNU event were opposed on the spot itself by the students' union leadership that was there to avert violent clashes sought by the ABVP. Many well-wishers of JNU and the Left student movement have also found some slogans ill-advised and liable to be misunderstood. We should however consider the context of the provocative slogans that the ABVP in JNU have been known to raise and that were raised by them from the sidelines even in the widely televised and hugely attended meeting in the campus following the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar. For example, ABVP slogans included 'jo Afzal ki baat karega, wo Afzal ki maut marega' (whoever talks about Afzal Guru should be hanged just as he was).This slogan incites violence against the many in India, and not just in Kashmir, who have quite persuasively articulated the position that Afzal's hanging was judicially untenable and wrong.

ABVP also raised several other slogans with violent imagery such as 'Desh Hai Pukarta, Pukarti Maa Bharati, Khoon se Tilak Karo, Goliyon Se Aarti' (The Country is Calling, Mother India is Calling, Anoint Yourselves with Blood, And Worship with Bullets). As for slogans calling for destruction of India, it is patently unthinkable that any activist of the Left student movement in India would raise such slogans. On the contrary, disintegration and destruction of India has been the Sanghi agenda which it pursues relentlessly through its policies of corporate plunder and communal polarisation.

The BJP thought it had found in the JNU incident the perfect weapon to crush the radical student politics of JNU and tarnish and isolate the Left movement as being 'anti-national'. But in the process it has only managed to trigger a massive solidarity movement within JNU and powerful protests across the country. If the BJP thought it could escape the heat of Hyderabad by targeting JNU, it has only succeeded in further strengthening the bonds of solidarity between the struggling students, and now 40 universities including Hyderabad have come out in support of JNU. Even a party like the Congress which had initially begun to toe the BJP line has had to change its stance and stand up in support of JNU and against the Sangh-BJP assault on democracy. A leader like Mayawati who usually keeps quiet on such issues has also come out in opposition to the BJP's tactic of using the colonial era sedition law against the students.

Indeed, in every corner of the country, it is the BJP which has now been thoroughly exposed and isolated, not only on the question of democracy but also on the plane of patriotism. The progressive vision of patriotism which combines consistent anti-imperialism with the struggle for justice, dignity and democracy for the oppressed millions, and views the nation, first and foremost, in terms of the people and their needs, aspirations and rights is being articulated boldly and eloquently all around us. The legacy of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar cherished by generations over the last eight decades and more, and now brought ever closer in articulation and action by the resistance emanating from Hyderabad and JNU, will give a crushing defeat to the fascist project of the Nazi-inspired pseudo-nationalists of Nagpur.


AISA Statement on the 9th February Incident in JNU

Condemn Manufacturing of Lies to Malign JNU and Progressive Forces by ABVP and Some Media Houses!

Condemn Politically Motivated Divisive and Reactionary Sloganeering in the Name of Left!

The ABVP and some media houses are in an all out attempt to malign JNU and left-progressive organisations by spreading mis-information about a program on 9th February in JNU.  At a time when the anti-national, anti-student and anti-people character of the BJP and ABVP have been exposed to the people of this country, this is an age old tactics by these forces to hide their real character.

Condemn the Reactionary Divisive Sloganeering: On 9th of February some students  held a program named 'A Country Without Post Office'. It is important to mention here that AISA was not an organiser of the program, unlike what is being spread by ABVP and some media. While the poster of the program mentioned that it is being held on death anniversary of Afzal Guru, some slogans raised in the program were extremely divisive and reactionary and have nothing to do with concerns raised by a large section of civil society on capital punishment, or on the unanswered questions about the Parliament Attack case. Slogans like 'Bharat ke Tukde Honge Hazar' were raised in the program. AISA outrightly condemns such reactionary slogans. We believe such slogans and ideas have no place in the left and democratic movement. On the other hand, left and democratic forces are the most consistent ones to defend the country and unity of its people against fundamentalist, majoritarian, casteist and anti-people forces. It is this unity of people of India, as has been seen in recent times that has challenged various autocratic and anti-people policies of the BJP government and the ABVP. That is why such slogans are not only condemnable but the political intentions of such sloganeering are highly questionable, since they only provide fodder for a discredited force like ABVP. During the program along with AISA activists several common students of JNU also opposed and stopped such sloganeering.

Some of the facts related to the program must be stated clearly. Some students organised the program. The administration at the end moment cancelled the already given permission under ABVP's pressure. But the organisers decided to go ahead with the program as declared. The ABVP not only played a role in cancelling the permission using administrative power, it was also present at the spot in full force to physically stop the program and create violence. It was in this backdrop that AISA along with several left and democratic organisations as well as common students were present at the spot to stop any kind of violence or vandalism. In this chaos, the provocative and reactionary slogans were given by some who are not associated with organisations like AISA. In fact such provocative sloganeering were opposed and stopped by AISA as well as various other progressive students.

However, ABVP's continuous vandalism, using administrative and state machinery, as seen that day is nothing new. The ABVP's role that day once again brings out their habitual tactics to create vandalism and spread flared up tension through the media. It is the ABVP which had physically stopped screening of Muzaffarnagar Baqi Hai from HCU to DU. Even in JNU, the ABVP got into physical violence when the film Caste On The Menu Card was being screened. They have also targeted minority students in JNU without any provocation during India-Pakistan cricket match. From HCU to Delhi the ABVP has used state and administrative power to clamp down on any voice which is different from them, rather than engaging into debate. It is the same ABVP that used the office of the MHRD and HCU administration to punish students like Rohith Vemula and his friends. That time too, they had tried hard to use the anti-national card against Rohith and his friends.

As far as the question of hanging of Afzal Guru is concerned, a large section of civil society, writers, well known lawyers and democratic forces have raised concern over capital punishment and its selective execution. Even PDP, the BJP's ally in J&K have raised questions over execution of Afzal Guru- before their alliance with BJP in 2013. (, as well as after the alliance in 2015 ( Yet, the BJP has no problem in running a government in J&K itself with the PDP. ABVP's opportunism is clear, they have no problem in BJP's running a government with PDP, however they would silence every differing voice using administrative and state power in campuses.

The ABVP's habit of suppressing all differing opinions by branding them as 'anti-national' must be resisted and the space for democratic debate and discussion must be safeguarded.

Sucheta De, National President

Sandeep Saurav, National General Secretary, AISA


Pricol 8—Workers' Solidarity Day Observed

Release Pricol 8 Campaign Continues

The Delhi unit of AICCTU organized a protest dharna at Jantar Mantar on 18 January 2016 in response to AICCTU's call for countrywide support to and solidarity with the 8 Pricol comrades sentenced to double life imprisonment. 8 workers, leaders belonging to the Pricol union 'Kovai Maavatta Pricol Thozhilargal Orumai Sangham'—Gunabalan, Manivannan, Rajendran, Ramamurthy, Sampat Kumar, Shrawan Kumar, Sivakumar and Velmurugan—were sentenced by the Coimbatore trial court on 3 December 2015 to double life imprisonment in connection with the unfortunate death of a Pricol HR executive.

The dharna was attended by hundreds of workers. The speakers pointed out that workers were being unfairly persecuted in factories and companies across the country including Maruti, Graziano, and Pricol. The corporate-ruling class nexus attacking workers' rights and unfortunately the judiciary is also dancing to their tune; Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya has time only for attacks on Rohith Vemula and dalits but not for the interests of workers; the perpetrators of Bathani and Bathe massacres roam scot free while the Pricol 8 are given the unjust sentence of double imprisonment without evidence. It was resolved at the meeting that the struggle of the brave Pricol 8 would be carried forward and the fight for justice would be taken to the workers of Delhi.

AICCTU Ranchi city committee took out a rally on 21 January to protest against the unjust sentencing of the Pricol 8 and the institutional abetment to suicide of dalit scholar Rohith. The rally, during which Labour Minister Dattatreya's effigy was burnt, echoed with slogans for workers' rights and culminated in a meeting at Albert Ekka chowk. Speakers addressing the meeting said that the unjust sentence exposed the two-faced hypocrisy of the Modi government and 'start-up' is nothing but an assault on workers' rights.

Pricol 8 Solidarity day was observed by the Tamil Nadu unit of AICCTU by holding protests in different parts of the State, in which several unions including CITU, AITUC, HMS, LPF, INTUC, BMS, LPF, NTUI participated, demanding the release of the Pricol 8 as well as the Maruti workers who have been in jail for a long time without a hearing.

The Bangalore unit of AICCTU organized a protest against the unjust double life sentence for the Pricol 8 in the town hall where hundreds of workers and students gathered and demanded the release of the 8 workers. AIARLA also held a protest in HD Kota led by Com. Javaraiyya.

In Bhagalpur, Bihar, central trade unions jointly held a convention to protest in against the double life sentencing of the 8 Pricol workers who were fighting for workers' rights. The convention unanimously passed a resolution to stand in solidarity with the Pricol 8 and carry forward their struggle for workers' rights.

On 9 February 2016, a day long demonstration and dharna was organized by Gujarat unit of AICCTU in front of Regional Labour Commissioner Office at Ahmedabad. A five-member delegation handed over a memorandum to PMO through DLC demanding immediate justice for the 8 pricol workers convicted.

State Level convention in Patna- A State level convention as part of 'Release pricol 8 campaign' was held in Patna on 8 Feb 2016 in the IMA hall, attended by workers from several districts of Bihar. Leaders from CITU, UTUC, and AIUTUC were present at the convention to show their solidarity. AICCTU National General Secretary Rajiv Dimri was the chief speaker at the convention. He said the present government is oppressing workers and acting in the interest of corporate companies. Bihar State General Secretary Com. RN Thakur presented readings from the folder related to this campaign. AIPWA leader and Rasoiya Sangh President Com. Saroj Chaube informed that this campaign was also being run among the midday meal workers of Bihar who are collecting a fund for the brave Pricol 8. CITU State Secretary Com. Nathun Jamadar, UTUC State Secretary Com. Virendra Thakur, and AIUTUC leader Com. Suryakar Jitendra also addressed the convention and demanded the immediate release of the 8 workers, who, they said, have become the champion of workers' rights in the entire country. They said that the government is snatching away the hard won rights of the workers through the amendments to the Labour Act. An 8 point resolution was passed unanimously by the convention. Earlier, the Hirawal group presented "Hum Mehnatkash Jangwalon Se" and other songs.


Hold Panchayat Elections on Party Basis

The Bihar government has to take back its condition of mandatory toilet for fighting panchayat elections. It should be noted that the CPI(ML) and AIARLA had taken up a campaign demanding revocation of the 'toilet' condition, conducting panchayat elections on party basis, and against giving cash instead of food grains. On 25 January different gram panchayats had taken out mashal juloos and on 29 Jan dharnas were held at block offices.

Bihar State Secretary, Com. Kunal said that the taking back of the condition of toilets was a people's victory, as this condition was imposed with the aim to keep out marginalized sections from the election process. Victory marches were taken out in various panchayats from 3 to 9 February. However, the fight for party-based panchayat elections and against cash-for-food would continue. In this regard, CPI-ML and AIARLA jointly held district level dharnas on 9 Feb across the State.

In Patna a dharna was held at Gardanibagh. Speakers at the meeting said that 3-phase panchayat elections have been announced in Bihar, but these elections are not party-based, thus giving the ruling class parties the opportunity to run pocket panchayats with dominant-bureaucrat-middlemen nexus and remain free of accountability to the people. Thus the panchayats have become mere agencies for implementing government decisions. Such a non-party based panchayat model holds no future for the people; they must be party-based in order to have strong panchayats which strengthen the political claim of the poor. However, the government is deaf to this demand and is encouraging the use of money, power, and wheeling-dealing in the elections. They further said that the cash-for-food scheme is nothing but a route for corruption and a plan to avoid paddy purchase from the farmer. This is part of the government's anti-poor pro-corporate policies. They also pointed out the anti-people policies of the State and Central governments, such as cut in MNREGA and Indira Aawas funds, and plans to close the red and yellow card schemes. They warned that the people would strengthen their agitation if the government does not take back its anti-people policies.

Protest dharnas and meetings were also held in Bhojpur, Buxar, Rohtas, Kaimur, Jehanabad, Aurangabad, Darbhanga, Arwal, Muzaffarpur, Beguserai, Bhagalpur, Jamui, Motihari, Purnea, Nawada, Nalanda, Gopalganj, Samastipur, Gaya, Sitamarhi, and other places.


Second Phase Of Midday Meal Workers' Agitation Begins

After the successful agitation last year, the Bihar Rajya Vidyalaya Rasoiya Sangh has begun its second phase of struggles in 2016. Last year their honorarium was increased by Rs 250 and a payment of 4 lakhs on compassionate ground for a dependent was announced in case of a midday meal workers' death while on duty. The increased honorarium came into effect since August 2015, however, no funds have been allotted for the compassionate payment amount.

On 23 January, the Rasoiya Sangh held a state level meeting in Muzaffarpur and chalked out the agitation plan for the current year. It was decided to demand that workers should be declared government employees, honorarium should be raised to 15,000, payment of arrears should be made without delay, honorarium should be paid into their accounts, appointment letters should be given, 4 cotton saris should be given, and health insurance and maternity leave should also be provided. Protests would be held outside district headquarters across the State to press for these demands. Two new demands have been included: 1. Midday meal workers should be included in the committee for regularizing 'samvida' workers (a category of contract workers). 2. Funds should be allotted for payment of compassion grant after death.

It is being reported that midday meal workers will not be permitted to stand for panchayat elections. Considering that the government has still not recognized them as government employees, the rule pertaining to government employees not contesting elections cannot be applied to them. The committee for regularizing samvida workers, under Ashok Kumar Choudhury, was to have submitted its report but it has been extended for 6 months for the third time.

About 2000 midday meal workers took part in the protest in front of the DM office in Muzaffarpur on 6 Feb. They marched from the Zonal office and held a meeting in front of the Collectorate. A 5 member delegation submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister through the Collector. They also apprised the collector of the ground realities. Protests were also held in Jamui and Fatuha.

In light of the movement ahead, zonal level rallies and meetings were held in all 27 zones of Eastern Champaran district. Meetings have already been organized in Chiraiya, Patahi, Tetariya, Madhuban, Kesariya, Banjariya, Harisiddhi and Motihari zones. Protests are also scheduled in the remaining zones. A protest will be organized at the district headquarters on 26 Feb. A rally and protest meeting will be held at the Nalanda district headquarters on 29 February, prior to which there will be zonal level protests.


Remembering the Bakhaura Martyrs

There is a shaheed sthambh (martyr's memorial) on the outskirts of Gosawan in Mallawan village of Hardoi district in Uttar Pradesh reminding us of the struggle and sacrifice of the martyrs during the anti-feudal peasant movement. This memorial is a special tribute to Com. Shivnath Trivedi and Com. Devi Ghulam who were martyred in the Bakhaura incident. Com. Hivnath was martyred on 23 Jan 1978. On this day farmers gather here, rain or sun, and pay tribute to the martyrs. This year was the 38th anniversary of Martyrdom of Com. Shivnath. Many senior as well as young comrades from nearby villages, farmers, and Com. Shivnath's old comrades came from afar to gather at the memorial site and festooned it with red banners and flags.

The meeting started with floral tribute to Com. Shivnath. The chief guest was Com. Avdhesh Kumar Singh. He paid tribute to the revolutionary communist martyrs of Bakhaura who had fought against the feudals for establishing the rule of workers and farmers. They gave everything, even life itself, for a social cause; the irony is that today killers are being glorified in this country and being called patriots and martyrs. During these hard times, it is our responsibility to preserve our revolutionary heritage and carry forward the dreams of the revolutionaries of old.

The meeting was presided over by senior peasant leader Ram Vilas while Dr. Satyapal conducted the proceedings. Lalaram Singh, Rajaram, Raj Bahadur and others addressed the meeting. The speakers said that the ruling and oppressor classes are becoming more powerful in the present time, and we must unite and fight with all our might to bring change; that would be the true tribute to Com. Shivnath and Devi Ghulam.

Inspired by the 1967 naxalbari peasant uprising 'Vasant ka Vajranaad', many revolutionary groups were formed in several districts of Uttar Pradesh during the period between 1971 and 1975, and they grew and developed rapidly. Struggles took place in Azamgarh, Baliya, Ghazipur, Barabanki, Hardoi, Lakhimpur Kheeri and other districts. Mallawan in Hardoi district emerged as a centre of struggle. Farmers took up arms against feudal oppression. The ruling powers, feudal powers, and police formed a nexus and wreaked destruction on the farmers, persecuting and arresting them. This incident is known in this entire region as the Bakhaura incident. Com. Devi Ghulam was martyred on 17 September 1970 in this armed struggle and Com. Shivnath died under severe torture in the Fatehgarh Central jail in 1978. It is in their memory that the Shaheed Sthambh was built where every year people come to honour and respect the martyrs.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

ML Update | No. 07 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 19 | No. 07 | 9-  15 FEB 2016


Salary-starved Municipal Employees Expose the Myth of Urban Governance in Delhi

For the last two weeks, municipal employees of Delhi have been on strike demanding the most basic right of a worker – to get his or her due salary on time. This is not the first time that municipal employees have had to go on strike for this demand. In fact, this is the third such strike in the span of just one year.  The previous two strikes in June and October had ended with the Delhi government releasing some additional funds. But this time round, salaries have not been paid for three months and the 'loan' of Rs 551 crore offered by Arvind Kejriwal in early February after a week's strike has failed to end the deadlock. The Rs. 300 crore promised by the Lt. Governor from the DDA's account has also helped little. 

While supporting the demands of the MCD workers, Arvind Kejriwal has also described the whole development as a political conspiracy by the BJP to precipitate a crisis in Delhi and destabilise the AAP government. Given the continuing confrontation between the Delhi government and the Centre over issues of powers of the former, especially on the question of control over the Delhi Police, there is obviously an element of political contention between the BJP and AAP. Moreover, the three corporations of Delhi are currently held by the BJP and the MCD elections are due next year. The affairs of the Delhi government or the MCD are therefore bound to have the unmistakable context of political rivalry between the BJP, AAP and the Congress. But when thousands of municipal staff – from sanitation workers to teachers and medical personnel – do not get their salary for months on end in the national capital, it is clearly primarily a crisis of urban governance and its policy framework.

In 2007 the municipal corporation of Delhi was trifurcated with the ostensible aim of greater decentralisation of power and better delivery of services. While this has obviously increased the establishment expenditure, there has been no commensurate increase in revenues landing the corporations into increasingly unmanageable deficits. Meanwhile, the share of taxes due to be devolved to the municipal corporations has been reduced from 5.5% to 4%, leaving the rest to a performance-linked Municipal Reform Fund (MRF). The deficit-ridden North and East Delhi corporations reportedly verge around bankruptcy even as the MRF has swelled to more than Rs 1300 crore. The municipal finances are also adversely affected by non-payment of dues like big institutions like the Delhi Development Authority which owes more than Rs 1300 crore by way of unpaid duties and taxes. Municipal revenues are also crippled by corruption and non-enforcement of rules and norms – the East Delhi Corporation for example earned only Rs 12 crore as advertising revenue even as corporate and political propaganda billboards scream from every rooftop and street corner.

Much of Modi's propaganda blitzkrieg with slogans like Make In India, Digital India, Swachh Bharat, Smart Cities and so on and so forth promises a rapidly changing urban landscape. Yet when sanitation employees and other municipal workers right in the national capital have to go on strike to secure their salaries we can easily see the mess that rules in the name of urban governance. It can be seen in the everyday denial of basic civic amenities to a great majority of India's urban population, in the absence of basic rights of the workers who run the basic services and increasingly also in major environmental disasters or health hazards as witnessed recently during the Chennai floods and the Mumbai garbage dump fire. The urban renewal and livelihood missions have not addressed either the infrastructural issues of mass housing and public transport, or guaranteeing basic amenities, not to talk of universal healthcare and education. The smart cities being announced can only make this model of skewed urbanisation even more unequal and unsustainable, centralising a disproportionate amount of resources and facilities for the urban elite and those belonging to the gated communities and effectively subordinating the democratic structure of municipal governance to the processes of privatisation and commercialisation.

AAP is widely appreciated as an innovative urban party with visions of improved urban governance. In its brief tenure so far it has indeed touched some basic urban concerns like electricity and water, school admission and traffic congestion. Yet on a policy level we can hardly see any alternative approach. The 'odd-even' model best illustrates this AAP approach of ad-hocism and superficiality where the whole focus is on easing traffic congestion without addressing the basic question of availability of affordable public transport for the bulk of Delhi's growing population. The promise of regularisation of contract employees in key sectors like municipal and transport services has remained only on paper. While blaming the BJP for financial mismanagement, the AAP does not propose an alternative framework for strengthening the municipal finances of Delhi. If the present policy regime continues, the municipal structure, even if reunified under a single corporation, will get increasingly subverted by the forces of privatisation and the 'aam aadmi' in whose name Arvind Kejriwal runs his party and government will get further marginalised. While insisting on a reliable solution to the demands of Delhi's striking municipal employees, pressure must also be mounted for a reorientation of policies of urban governance in favour of the marginalised 'aam aadmi'.


Yet Another 'Institutional Murder' of Three Girls in Tamil Nadu

Following closely on the heels of the suicide of Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad, a suicide which has correctly been identified as an institutional murder, three young girls in the Villipuram district of Tamil Nadu drowned themselves. 19-year old Sharanya, Priyanga and Monisha were students of the SVS Yoga Medical College, and were driven to desperately take their lives by the exorbitantly high fees charged by the college. 

SVS college has a long history of dubious practices. It was set up in 2008 without fulfilling any of the norms and conditions prescribed. The very first step of procuring land allegedly involved a violation of rights: farmers' lands were encroached upon, and 3 medical colleges were constructed on 12 acres of land. Though the AYUSH Council had granted permission for setting up the college in 2008, the Chennai High Court had subsequently raised objections. Since then, students have been fighting against the management and its multiple irregularities and violations. Instead of addressing and rectifying the gross violations pointed out by the students, the college administration resorted to all-out intimidation of the protesting students. The students however refused to buckle down to this intimidation. They sent petitions and appeals to as many as 14 departments and bodies of the State and Central government. The students also sent urgent messages with their concerns to the Dr. MGR Medical University and to the CM's Office in Chennai. Yet, none of the 14 bodies responded to their concerns. In October 2015, 6 students even tried to self-immolate themselves in protest in front of the Villupuram Collector's office. The Collector, instead of looking into the demands of the students and holding the erring management responsible, abused and scolded the students. She allegedly told them to commit suicide in their homes, rather than protest at the Collector's office!

The entire sequence of events leading to the death of three young students at Villipuram thus clearly shows that it was an institutional murder. All the 3 students came from extremely poor and deprived backgrounds. What is all the more shameful is that despite extracting huge amounts as fees from the students, the SVS college does not provide even the basic facilities required in a Medical college. The owner and chairperson on the SVS college, Vasuki Subramanium, is not a qualified doctor. She, along with her husband (who is a homeopathic doctor), her son and one local henchman effective rule the roost, and run the entire place. There is neither a hospital, nor the required number of doctors, professors and laboratories in the college. The 3 students who committed suicide paid Rs six lakhs each to join the college, apart from the huge fees they had to pay each year. The students who protested and who were unable to pay the money demanded by the college administration were subjected to massive intimidation and repression. Some students were even forced to do construction work in the campus and clean the college toilets.

Both the DMK as well as the AIADMK are implicated in the proliferation of such dubious private education shops masquerading as colleges all over Tamil Nadu. A previous Health Minister from the DMK had given permission to set up the SVS college, and the current Health Minister from the AIADMK had sided with the college administration despite all the complaints and petitions filed by the students. Another minister intervened to help the SVS college ensure that the Medical University acts in their favour. The powers-that-be in Tamil Nadu used every foul means possible to support the SVS administration at each and every step.

CPI(ML) has been at the forefront of the protests against the tragic suicides in Villipuram. Immediately after hearing the horrific news, CPI(ML), AISA and RYA organised protests across Tamil Nadu. On 26 January, AISA and RYA held a protest in Kallakurichi near where the SVS college is situated. Comprehensive and effective protests and campaigns were launched, even on social media. On 4 February, a protest demonstration was held in Chinnasalem town near the SVS college. The protests highlighted that this was an institutional murder, in which several authorities were deeply implicated, including the SVS Chairperson Vasuki, the Villupuram district collector, authorities of the Dr. MGR Medical University and the Tamil Nadu Health Minister. CPI(ML), AISA and RYA demanded that action be taken against all those who have misused their positions of power, leading to three tragic deaths. The situation at the SVS college is no aberration. In several private institutions in Tamil Nadu, similar problems have been highlighted, such as most recently in the Sairam college of Engineering, where students are being subjected to horrific moral policing, harassment and intimidation. CPI(ML), AISA and RYA thus also demanded that such private profiteering educational shops should be closed down, and the government must step in to open state-funded colleges and Universities, since provision of education is the government's responsibility.


Sharecroppers Demand Week Observed by Kisan Mahasabha

Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha observed 'Sharecroppers' Demand Week' all over Bihar from 18 to 24 January 2016 with a 6 point charter of demands, during which they held block level dharnas in various districts, and held chakka jam, rallies, and other programmes. The demands are as follows: (1) Register the sharecroppers and give them the status of farmers as well as all facilities farmers are entitled to; (2) Give a bonus of Rs 500 per quintal in addition to the fixed purchase price on farmers' products, and give a guarantee of paddy purchase from small and medium famers as well as sharecroppers; (3) Give crop-loss compensation to all drought-affected farmers, make all irrigation resources in proper condition, electrify farmers' personal hand pumps and give them free electricity for irrigation purpose; (4) If seeds sold to farmers by the government or other branded companies fail to sprout, give the farmers full compensation, conduct a full enquiry and take action against these seed companies; (5) Give land entitlement rights to Shikmi sharecroppers and farmers who are beneficiaries of bhoodaan; distribute benami and extra lands from gair-majrua bhoodan and ceiling among the poor and landless; (6) Ensure speedy start of Durgawati Reservoir Project and Hamid Nagar Irrigation Project; Take up speedy construction of Indrapuri Reservoir Project.

The decision to observe this Demand Week was taken in the State unit meeting of December 2015. After the Demand Week, a 'Purchase Paddy Fortnight' will next be observed from 1 to 15 February and on 10 March a mahadharna by farmers will be organized in front of the Bihar Assembly.

The Sharecroppers' Demand Week has sent out a strong message of agitation and struggle to sharecroppers and farmers, and has exposed the anti-farmer and anti-sharecropper face of all the ruling class Parties. During the various protests held while observing demand week, a 17 point charter of demands was submitted to the Chief Minister through the BDOs at various block offices, in which important district level demands were included apart from the State level demands. Hundreds of sharecroppers and pattadar farmers participated in these protests.


Protest March against False Cases against Mahadalits

A rally was taken out on 17 January 2016 from the CPI(ML) office in Ballia zone (Beguserai district) which proceeded through Ballia bazaar and culminated in a meeting at station chowk. This rally was in protest against the false cases lodged against the parchadhari mahadalits of Masudanpur. The rally resounded with slogans such as "Take back false cases against mahadalits"; "Arrest the powerful goons under the SC/ST Act"; "End oppression of mahadalits"; "Give administrative protection for tilling on parcha lands"; "Stop goons from going into parcha lands"; and other such slogans.

Addressing the meeting at station chowk, CPI(ML) district Secretary Com. Divakar Kumar said that even though mahadalit women have registered cases against people from powerful dominant sections but no arrests have been made in those cases. On the other hand, mahadalits are being arrested on the basis of false cases registered against them by people from dominant sections and the administration. It is clear that this is a part of the a conspiracy to illegally dispossess them from their parcha lands. The people will not allow this conspiracy to succeed. He demanded that the district administration should without delay take back these false cases against mahadalits, and should arrest the goons who have conspired to dispossess the mahadalits from their parcha lands.

The meeting was presided over by CPI(ML) block Secretary, Com. Noor Alam. Com. Noor Alam said that the grand alliance government which came to power on the strength of the votes of the poor, mahadalits, and minorities, has become a government of dominant sections and criminals. Law and order have collapsed and criminals are flourishing unchecked; the need of the hour is to organize the common people and launch an extensive movement against this.


Contract Sanitation Workers' Struggle for Regularization in Bangalore

AICCTU led contract sanitation workers of BBMP (Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike) rallied more than a thousand and formed a human barricade demanding regularization of all contract sanitation workers on 2nd Dec. 2015. The struggle was led by Comrades Balan, state president, Clifton D' Rozario, state General Secretary and Nirmala, the General Secretary of the contract sanitation workers union (Guttige Powrakarmikara Sangha).

The protest was in response to the state government's move to recruit few thousands of people quite alien to any sanitation work at all. It is a well known fact that it is only Madigas, even among dalits, who are engaged in sanitation work. Still, the government revealed its intention to recruit new people who are totally unrelated to any sanitation activities while more than 18000 existing contract workers under BBMP are left in the lurch. Workers protested vociferously. They demanded regularisation of the existing workforce and then to look for any new recruitment.

The government has not considered the demand for regularization of existing work force in spite of a definite recommendation for its abolition by the sub-committee on contract labour under BBMP constituted under the chairmanship of Com. Balan, all India Vice President of AICCTU. The newly elected Mayor of Bangalore Corporation came to the spot to listen to the grievances of the contract workers and assured that he will bring it to the attention of the state government. The meeting subsequently organized with Mayor and the Commissioner of the Corporation assured to rectify certain immediate issues of minimum wage arrears of few recent years, due to workers and also the issue of holidays, drinking water and rest room facilities, etc. The contract workers struggle for regularization is still on.


Kisan Sabha Dharna in Arwal

A one-day dharna was held at the Arwal block office on 20 January to demand bonus for and paddy purchase from farmers, especially sharecroppers. Addressing the dharna, Kisan Mahasabha State Secretary and Party MLA from Tarari, Com. Sudama Prasad said that the Nitish government has failed on all fronts. This government has betrayed the farmers. Expenses for paddy and other kharif crop production have gone up considerably due to 44% less than average rainfall in the State; production in any district has been limited to between 25% and 50%, yet the State government refuses to pay the Rs 500 per quintal bonus apart from the support price. The Central and State governments which made policies that 33% or more crop loss would entitle compensation is now refusing compensation for 50% to 75% crop loss. Almost all the government hand pumps in the State are closed; the Durgawati reservoir and Hamidnagar irrigation project have not been started; construction has not even begun in the Indrapuri reservoir (Kadvan dam). The government is showing no interest in electrification of farmers' private hand pumps and providing them free electricity for irrigation. Even the government's announcement of diesel subsidy remains confined to the newspapers only.

No policy has been made for the development of sharecroppers and pattadars who are farming on the lands from where the distressed farmers have left. It is only after the series of agitations by CPI (ML) and Kisan Mahasabha that the Central and State Farmers' Commissions have given sharecroppers and pattadars the status of farmer, and yet these sharecroppers who farm more than 70% of agricultural lands are given no facilities by the government. As in the previous years, this year also the Bihar government has placed stringent conditions for purchase of paddy from small and medium farmers and sharecroppers in December-January which is their peak time of need; the farmers will become forced to sell their paddy to traders and middlemen and as before, the conditions for purchase will then be relaxed and the paddy will be purchased from these traders and middlemen.

The commission constituted by the Centre to assess outlay expenses had fixed the average outlay for paddy production as Rs 1,600 per quintal. The government had promised to pay 1 ½ times the outlay expense as support price, but it has fixed the support price as Rs 1,410 per quintal, which is much less even than the outlay expense fixed by the government commission; the government has also decided to cut State investment and grants in agriculture and to open the doors national and foreign capital investment which will only increase agrarian woes. If sharecroppers and farmers are thus neglected, the development of Bihar remains questionable.


People's Protest in Karnal

The CPI (ML) Karnal district unit organized a protest demo in Karnal on 20 January on various burning people's issues and resolved to carry on an agitation on these issues.

Speaking on the occasion, CPI(ML) State in-charge and Kisan Mahasabha National Vice president Prem Singh Gehlawat said that the Khattar government is foisting the condition of 'education' as panchayat election eligibility criteria. Under this law, 72% SC men and 83% General category women can only cast their vote in the panchayat election; they cannot stand for election, whereas the Constitution guarantees that anyone who has the right to vote has the right to stand for election as well. CPI (ML) strongly opposes this undemocratic decision of the Khattar government.

CPI (ML) Karnal district Secretary Com. Mahindra Chopra said that the Khattar government is using issues of blind superstition like cow, Ganga, and Geeta to divert attention from real issues and implement its pro-corporate agenda. Com. Renu Nayak said that incidents of violence against women are becoming rampant in Haryana but the government remains a mute spectator. Liquor contracts have been opened in Haryana villages and illegal liquor is being sold at every nook and corner. It has become difficult for women to venture out and homes are being destroyed, the brunt of which is being borne by the women. She said that efforts would be made to mobilize the women of Haryana to start a big agitation against the government.

AIARLA district convenor Com. Krishna Saini Karnal said that the government machinery is fully involved in the huge corruption going on in MNREGA. RYA in-charge Com. Lalit Saxena said that lakhs of youth in Haryana are unemployed and there are no employment opportunities for them. AISA leader Com. Dinesh said that education is being privatized and commercialized in the State; huge fee hikes are making it veritably impossible for common people to get an education. A resolution was passed unanimously on the occasion that an all-out agitation on these burning issues would be launched.


Workers' March in Ranchi

AICCTU Ranchi city committee took out a protest march on 21 January and burnt the effigy of Union MoS for Labour Bandaru Dattatreya to protest against the 'start-ups' for the benefit of companies, double life imprisonment for 8 Pricol workers, and driving Hyderabad student Rohith Vemula to suicide. Shouting slogans like "the company raj stands exposed", "Remove Union Labour Minister and HRD Minister", "Release the Pricol 8", and "Take back the Start-up scheme", the march proceeded to Albert Ekka chowk where it culminated in a meeting.

The speakers at the protest meeting said that the double standards of the Central government policies have been thoroughly exposed. They are meant to benefit companies and corporate houses rather than workers or common people. 'Start-up' is an attack on workers' rights. Political protection to the mafia and the sentence of double life imprisonment for the 8 Pricol workers is an assault on the working class. AICCTU will continue the struggle against the Modi government which is intent on enriching companies and impoverishing workers.


Students Gherao Delhi Police HQ

Hundreds of students protested on 2 February at the Delhi Police headquarters at AISA's call against Delhi Police and RSS' crackdown on protesting students while they were marching from Ambedkar Bhawan to RSS Head Office on 30th January. The agitated students blocked the ITO road for some time demanding that the police commissioner B S Bassi should take responsibility of the crackdown on students.

Sucheta De, National President of AISA said that the Delhi police is hell bent to crush the ongoing protests demanding justice to Rohit Vemula is a clear case of political victimization. The police is not only siding with the real culprits of Rohit's suicide but leaving no stone unturned to crush the students movement.

"While the BJP government and its ministers are engaged in shamelessly maligning Rohith's background and the protesters and its political machinery like the ABVP and RSS are busy defending culprits of Rohith's institutional murder like the union ministers, the Delhi police which takes order from the central government is time and again coming down violently on us. This is an issue of social justice and discrimination against marginalised communities be it inside campuses or outside of it. Most shamelessly, the Delhi police rather than taking moral responsibility of the violence on protesters is now working as a propaganda machinery for the RSS. The police commissioner is trying to defend police violence and spreading lies about the police violence on 30th" Said, Sandeep Saurav, National Secretary of AISA.


Dharna in Solidarity with Pricol Eight

Gujarat unit of AICCTU organised a day long dharna in solidarity with Pricol Eight on 9 Feb before Regional Labour Commissioner Office at Ahmedabad. This protest was led by comrades Ranjan Ganguly, Dashrath Sinhali, .Ramdash Katara, Jivaji Damor, Bhavan Singh. A memorandum addressed to PMO was handed over to the DLC which demanded to immediately give Justice to 8 convicted PRICOL workers on false charges.

A convention was also organised by AICCTU in association with RYA on 8 Feb. in Ahmedabad to express solidarity with struggling PRICOL Workers. The programe was presided over by veteran TU leader Com. Laxman Bhai Patanvadia. Along with AICCTU leaders RYA activists Amit and Ashmit spoke in the convention. The speakers hailed the spirit of struggling PRICOL workers and pledged to unitedly work for wider propaganda and to gather all kind of support for them.