A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 19 | No. 06 | 2 - 8 FEB 2016
Sangh-BJP Attacks and Police Brutality Cannot Stop the Battle for Justice for Rohith
The institutional murder of young dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad has shocked the entire country and students everywhere have erupted in protests. Given the crucial involvement of BJP central ministers Bandaru Dattatreya and Smriti Irani in the entire episode, the resignation of these two ministers has emerged as a key demand of protesting students across the country. Far from listening to the voices of anguish and outrage, the Modi government and the Sangh-BJP establishment have virtually declared a war on the ongoing student agitation. They would like to prove that Rohith was not Dalit, his views and activities were 'anti-national' and of course they would like to crush dissent by all means. We have seen dissenting students being victimised in other university campuses after Hyderabad, and now the brutality inflicted on student activists, including girl students, in front of the RSS HQ in Delhi signals a new level of fascist offensive where police constables and goons in civilian clothes were seen beating up students in tandem.
The supreme sacrifice of Rohith against the deep-rooted and institutionalised injustice that dalits and other oppressed communities routinely have to suffer even in today's twenty-first century India and the intensified assault on the crucial democratic right to dissent in Modi's saffron regime has touched several chords and opened up new possibilities in the growing struggles against the repressive and regressive Modi raj. Students, who have been actively resisting the saffron assault on education and democracy in the campuses and beyond – whether against the dissolution of the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle in IIT Madras or the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the chairman of FTII in Pune, against the suspension of fellowship or sell-out of higher education under WTO, against saffronisation of education or attacks on rationality and dissent – have naturally responded angrily to the saffron witch-hunt of a bright and sensitive young scholar.
Through his sacrifice Rohith has also given voice to the pain and anger felt so deeply by the Dalits and other oppressed communities and identities in India. The Indian state would like us to believe that caste discrimination and atrocities on dalits belonged to some previous era. Decades of reservation and legislation against atrocities on dalits have changed the situation quite sufficiently. Then there are market fundamentalists who tell us that what the state and society could not do is now being done by the market which is the ultimate annihilator of castes and promoter of social mobility. A party like the BJP which is now in power at the Centre and in several of India's states is now desperate to appropriate Ambedkar and woo dalits by celebrating Ravidas jayanti even as it brazenly upholds Manuvad as an integral part of its vision of Hindu Rashtra and relentlessly attacks the values and principles of the Constitution drafted under the chairmanship of Dr. Ambedkar.
What makes the predicament more painful is the opportunist silence of many Dalit leaders who routinely invoke the name of Ambedkar but have none of his spirit of questioning and challenging the existing order of injustice and oppression. From Ramvilas Paswan and Ramdas Athawale to Udit Raj and Jitan Ram Manjhi – the list of Dalit leaders who have no difficulty in allying with or even joining the BJP is quite significant. Then there is Mayawati's BSP which habitually keeps silent over most economic, political and socio-cultural questions of the day. Rohith had rejected this politics of silence and opportunism, instead choosing to speak out on everything that mattered to him. And these are indeed questions that would haunt everybody who would like to see a just, democratic and egalitarian society. It is this spirit of Rohith, the spirit of the young India of Rohith's friends and fellow fighters which the BJP is mortally afraid of. And hence the desperation in the Sangh-BJP camp to prove that Rohith was not a Dalit, the desperation to beat up and silence whoever is insisting on justice for Rohith.
Rohith and his friends felt for the Muslim youth being persecuted as terrorists. They felt for the riot victims of Muzaffarnagar. RSS ideologues and propagandists accuse him of speaking on everything under the sun except on 'Dalit issues'! So his crime was that he did not conform to the familiar and convenient pattern of Dalit politics, that he transgressed the secluded slot of 'Dalit issues' to build bridges with other oppressed and persecuted communities and identities and stand up for democracy and justice for all. He obviously liked the communist principle 'to each according to his need' ('from each according to his/her ability, to each according to his/her need' is a well-known basic principle of the communist vision) and even questioned Indian communists as to how far they have been alive to the needs and aspirations of Dalits and oppressed identities. Rohith thus represented a very urgent need and possibility of critical dialogue, cooperation and unity among Dalits and religious minorities, among Ambedkarites and communists. While fighting for bringing the guilty of Rohith's institutional murder to book, we must also do all we can to nurture and develop the possibility that Rohith represented and free India from the clutches of the Sangh-BJP establishment.
CPI(ML) condemns the Delhi Police and RSS Assaults on Students in Delhi
On 30 January, students from JNU, Jamia Millia Islamia, DU and AUD who were protesting against the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula were brutally assaulted by the Delhi Police. The students, who marched peacefully from the Ambedkar Bhawan to the RSS office in Jhandewalan, were protesting against the role of the ABVP-RSS-BJP in the entire sequence of events leading to Rohith's tragic death. Not just the Delhi Police, but also some people who were not in uniform attacked the protestors. CPI(ML) strongly condemns this attack.
For quite some time now, each and every protest against the Modi government and the RSS has been dealt with by the Delhi Police with brute force. Detentions, lathi charges, water cannons – all have been deployed to try and arrest the spate of protests by students and youth in Delhi. On 30 January too, what was seen was no less than the blatant use of the Delhi Police and the state machinery to curb all differing and dissenting opinion. It is indeed dangerous that the Delhi Police is effectively being used as an extended arm of the RSS-BJP to crack down on political dissent.
Apart from eyewitness accounts and statement of the students themselves, there are also videos made by students and journalists, clearly showing the horrific role of the Delhi Police. CPI(ML) demands that action be taken immediately against this gross misuse of office and power. The Delhi Police chief and all those responsible for the attacks on the students should be held accountable and punished.
AISA, JNU Students' Union and other students organisations also held protest demonstration in front of the Delhi Police HQ on February 2 against this attack.
CPI (ML) Team Visits Drought Affected Bundelkhand Farmers
A CPI(ML) team comprising of UP state standing committee member Ramesh Singh and comrades Rajiv Kushwaha, Ram Singh, and Sudhir Kumar visited the direly affected areas of Lalitpur district on 24 January to appraise the situation of the drought-affected Bundelkhand farmers. They visited the villages of Talbehat and Bar blocks and met the farmer families.
According to the team, the effects of the drought in Lalitpur have been escalated further due to the government's neglect and administrative corruption at local levels, so much so that most of the farmers ruined by last year's hail storm have not yet received government compensation; large scale corruption is going on in whatever little compensation is being given. People have been forced to migrate from their villages in large numbers because of failure of agriculture due to scarcity rainfall and lack of water in canals. In this situation farmers have become trapped in the clutches of government loans and moneylenders.
The CPI(ML) team said that in spite of all the announcements and claims of the government in regard to the Bundelkhand drought there has been no relief for the farmers as evident in Lalitpur district. The report demanded that Bundelkhand should be declared drought-affected, all loans to the farmers should be waived, strict action should be taken against private moneylenders, free fodder should be provided for cattle, work should be made available under MNREGA throughout the year, the scope of food security should be increased and an increased amount of food grains should be made available for each family, water should be released in canals, cleaning and re-boring of wells should be done, and hand pumps should be installed.
RYA Observes Protest Day
Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) conducted a National Campaign demanding the release of RYA National President Com. Amarjeet Kushwaha, National Executive Member Com. Manoj Manzil and Com. Satyadev Ram, CPI(ML) MLA from Darauli, Bihar. All three of them have been arrested due to false cases foisted upon them while leading struggles against feudal forces and fighting for the rights and dignity of the struggling masses of Bihar. As part of the campaign thousands of postcards addressed to the Chief Minister of Bihar, demanding the immediate release of the three comrades, have been sent from different parts of the country.
As part of this Campaign, RYA observed 25th of January as National Protest Day. Protest demonstrations, marches and dharnas were held across the country. On the eve of Republic Day the youth of the country asked as to why those who defend the rights of the people and fight to ensure the principles enshrined in the constitution are being imprisoned and the perpetrators of massacres at Bathani Tola, Bathe, Gujarat are roaming free and occupying the highest offices of the country. On this day programs were held at Chandigarh, Gwalior, Mughalsarai, Faizabad, Patna, Siwan, Samastipur, Darbhanga, Gopalganj, Bokaro, Ramgarh, Hazaribagh and many other places. Memoranda to the Chief Minister of Bihar were submitted through the local administrations.
Delhi's Striking Workers' Demands Must be Fulfilled Immediately
CPI(ML) Delhi State Committee condemned strongly the current impasse between Govt of Delhi and three Municipal Corporations on the issue of payment of salaries of employees especially of sanitation workers.
It is to be noted that the Commissioners of three corporations as per minutes of meeting held on January 15 with Chief Minister have accepted that they have received this year's non-plan funds from which salary was supposed to be paid.
The employees of three municipal corporations have been at the receiving end of this petty politicking on part of BJP led Corporations while Central government's deliberate silence on the issue only facilitating the present impasse. Their salaries have not been distributed for months and they are on strike demanding salaries. Along with employees, the people of Delhi's daily life have got a hit with garbage piling in city and with regular municipal and even health services coming to standstill with doctors and health employees of MCD joining the agitation.
CPI(ML) Delhi state secretary Ravi Rai has said in an statement that it's not difficult to see that current impasse has more political connotations than merely financial aspects with elections in three corporations due at the end of year. The BJP is trying to hide its failures in Municipal corporations in Delhi in particular and of its central government's in general, behind such petty politicking which is not going to yield anyway. On the other hand, instead of merely relying on politics of posturing against Central Govt, had the AAP govt. implemented its own promise of regularisation of Delhi's contractual employees on priority, the ongoing discourse in Delhi's politics would have been quite different today.
CPI(ML) extends its solidarity with striking workers and demands that their salaries should be cleared immediately. The current impasse must be resolved by all sides, including Central Govt, Delhi Govt. and all three Municipal Corporations, keeping interests of people of Delhi in mind whose daily life has taken a hit.
Sand Workers Oppose Privatisation of River Bank, Rally To Demand Work
Thousands of rural sand workers took out a rally on 8 January 2016 in Dadi block of Hazaribagh district. They were raising slogans: 'Give the sand bank royalty to the land owners'; 'Give work for every worker'; 'End willful royalty from sand banks'; and 'Include sand workers in the BPL list.' The rally reached the BDO's office where a public meeting was held. Men and women attended the rally with traditional weapons, belchas and kodis. Tongi panchayat in Dadi block falls in the Pathari region, not suitable for agriculture, with a majority of adivasi population. Earlier, people used work in limestone quarries, but they are completely closed now. The second alternative for livelihoods for men as well as women was to work as sand lifters from the banks on the Damodar river, which since last year has been given to big contractors from Mumbai by the Jharkhand government. Under the banner of the CPI(ML), the rural workers have been demanding that the work on the sand banks should be given under the control of the local village panchayats. After the sand banks were auctioned off to the contractors, the latter are extracting tax arbitrarily as per their whims instead of following the norms fixed by the government. In comparison to other banks of the Damodar river such as Patratu and Barkakana, the contractor is charging Rs. 500 per truck more, with the result that the number of trucks here is very less. This situation has created a grave crisis of livelihood for the workers, to which the government and the administration are paying no attention.
Addressing the meeting, CPI(ML) district Secretary Com. Bhuneshwar Bediya said that the State BJP government had come into power with the promise of adopting localized policies and creating jobs, but in the last year it has nothing to show except broken promises and a series of anti-people policies. It has totally neglected people's basic needs, conservation of water, forest and land, and the task of employment generation. Instead, the government has formed a land bank to facilitate handing over of water, forests and lands to corporate houses and private companies. The government is giving the common people polluted air and polluted rivers in order to benefit the corporate houses and companies; land and minerals are being looted.
Struggle against Workers' Retrenchment
Samvas Sadan Samiti Karamchari Sangh (Gaya) affiliated to AICCTU is carrying on a struggle for the reinstatement of workers who have been illegally removed from their jobs after having worked for 15-20 years.
Samvas Sadan Samiti has been constituted for the care of the Vishnupad temple in Gaya, and for taking care of travelers' convenience. The President of the Samiti is the district officer and its members are government department officers and representatives of the pandas. From October 1983 onwards the permanent and temporary workers of the Samiti have been getting wages and allowances as per government norms. The Patna High Court had dissolved the Samiti, however, the Supreme Court ruled against the dissolution and reinstated it. Meanwhile, flouting all rules, temporary workers were removed from work from February 2015 and the wages and other payments to permanent workers are not being paid, causing a situation of starvation for the families of the workers. The workers are struggling for reinstatement of jobs and other issues. In support of their 5 point charter of demands, AICCTU organized a convention on 19 December 2016 which resolved to intensify the agitation further.
Demonstration In Solidarity With Pricol Workers Struggle
AICCTU and AISA held a demonstration at Bangalore in solidarity with workers of Pricol in Coimbatore. Hundreds of workers and students gathered at Town Hall demanding release of 8 imprisoned workers. Com. Shankar recollected that this is a first ever conviction in the period of liberalization where verdicts are delivered not on the basis of evidence on record but keeping the vested interests of capital in mind. Com. Clifton D' Rozario, Karnataka state General Secretary, pointed out the struggles and enormous amount of sacrifice by workers of Pricol. Com. Appanna, AICCTU, Com. Maruthi, AISA and Com. Nirmala also addressed the protestors. A similar demonstration held at Gangavati was led by the CPI (ML) state secretary Com. Bharadwaj and another one at HD Kote by AIARLA state secretary Com. Javaraiah.
Protests in Bihar Against Tax Hike By Nitish Government
The CPI(ML) has strongly condemned the increase in taxes by 13.5% on essential goods in the name of revenue increase by the Nitish government. Protests were held across the state on 16 January. Party State Secretary Kunal said that it is quite unfair and unnecessary to raise taxes on the people when they are already burdened with spiraling prices. The Nitish government has got a mandate from the poor in Bihar for development and guarantee of justice, not for increasing the already sky high prices. The Bihar government is following the footsteps of the Central government and both are bent on making the common man to shoulder the burden of price rise in various ways, proving that both are anti-people governments.
Com. Kunal further said that the government is not keeping its promise on its electoral promise of total prohibition, which has now been limited to country liquor alone; in other words, the sale of foreign liquor and black marketing of country liquor will continue. On the other hand, using the loss of revenue through prohibition as an excuse, it is raising taxes on essential goods; the government could have explored other means of compensating the revenue loss such as taxing the rich and ending corruption.
As part of the state-wide protests, demonstrations were held in front of several district headquarters with the demand to revoke the raised taxes without delay. Effigies of Nitish Kumar were burnt in Rohtas and Nasriganj. A protest march was taken out at Nawada. Effigy burning was also done in Jehanabad, Nawada, Siwan, Bhojpur, Bhagalpur, Beguserai, Darbhanga, Gopalganj, Muzaffarpur, Arwal and all other districts.
AIARLA Memorandum To Bihar Food And Supplies Minister
A delegation comprising of AIARLA General Secretary Dhirendra Jha, former MP and AIARLA National President Rameshwar Prasad, CPI(ML) MLA from Balrampur Mahbood Alam, AIARLA State Secretary Virendra Prasad Gupta and Gopal Ravidas, submitted a memorandum to the Food and Supplies Minister of Bihar on 18 January.
The socio-economic census of 2013 has once again established that Bihar is in the grip of dire poverty. A large part of the State's population is affected by starvation, near starvation, and malnutrition. Continuous drought conditions have made the situation even worse. Most of the dalit, mahadalit, and EBC families as well as senior citizens, disabled, and children of destitute families are deprived of the right to food. The Bihar government has passed the Food Security Act, but even today a large section of needy families is deprived of this right. The list of beneficiaries of the Food Security Act is a bundle of irregularities. Moreover, the PDS system is so corrupt and lax that the poor do not get rations for even 6 months in a year. Food security is very important for a backward and poor State like Bihar and the guarantee of social justice is also very important. Therefore, the AIARLA delegation demanded from the Minister for Food and Supplies to act without delay on the following demands:
1. Issue food security coupons to all needy families under the Food Security Act. Remove rich families from the food security list. Make an all-party panchayat level committee to finalise the list of beneficiaries under the food security list. Fix the date for final publication of the list and prior to that put it in the public domain and ask for corrections.
2. The mega-alliance government should put a stop to the process of cash-for-food being inflicted on the people by the BJP.
3. End the dealer system of ration-kerosene distribution and start government co-operative shops on the basis of revenue villages as in Tamil Nadu.
4. Break the dealer-MO-SDO nexus responsible for loot and black marketing of rations. Make the distribution system transparent, computerized, and digital.
5. Display the ration-kerosene distribution report on the 15th of every month on boards at Block offices. Cancel licenses of erring dealers on the basis of complaints and register cases against them.
6. Make the work system of district SFCs and godowns corruption-free and transparent.
7. The right to food should be made more meaningful by distributing eggs, potatoes, onions, milk and dal along with rice, wheat and sugar under the PDS system, as per the recent directive of the Supreme Court in connection with drought-affected areas. Give the benefit of the already existing Antyodaya scheme to dalit-mahadalit and destitute families and further expand this scheme.
Protests Against Institutional Murder of Rohith Vemula Continue
Bangalore: A massive all organisation Protest was held at Bangalore on 19 January demanding justice for Rohith Vemula. The protestors demanded immediate Resignation of HRD Minister Smriti Irani, MoS Labour Bandaru Dattatreya and the Vice Chancellor of HCU, Revoking of expulsion of 4 Dalit Students and Judicial Inquiry into the casteist attack on dalit students by HCU administration and ABVP. The protestors shouted slogans against Brahmanism, against fascist attacks on University students and growing intolerance to the voices of dissent. AISA students from Bangalore University and various other colleges led by state president Com. Maruthi participated in the demonstration. On 26 January, AISA organized a convention on this issue. The convention was addressed by Com. Balan, state president of AICCTU, Raghupati from CPI(ML) and Rangaswamy, who is a lecturer.
Uttar Pradesh: CPI(ML) had called for state wide protests from 20 to 24 January. A protest march was taken out on 23 January in Lucknow from Parivartan Chowk to Hazratganj Chowraha. CPI(ML), CPI(M), CPI and some other organizations participated in the march. The meeting held near the Ambedkar statue was addressed by critic Virendra Yadav, IPTA General Secretary Rakesh, Jan Sanskriti Manch State President Kaushal Kishore, Janvadi Lekhak Sangh Secretary Nalin Ranjan Singh, CPI(ML) district in-charge Ramesh Singh Sengar, CPI's Mohd Khalid, CPI(M) leader Prashant Singh, AIPWA State President Tahira Hasan, and AIDWA leader Rupa Singh. One day earlier on 22 January the protest of the students in the presence of PM Modi during the convocation ceremony at Ambedkar University, Lucknow, was an expression of the countrywide anger and outrage. Condemning the arrest of the students who protested against Modi, the speakers demanded the withdrawal of all cases registered against those students. The programme was conducted by Rajeev Kumar of the CPI(ML).
In Varanasi a march was taken out on 25 January from Ambedkar square culminating at the Collector's office, in which hundreds of protesters participated. On the same day the CPI(ML) held dharnas in Kanpur at Ram Asre Park and in Ballia at the district Collector's office. In Gorakhpur the CPI(ML) along with Jan Sanskriti Manch took out a march on 20 January. In Mau HRD Minister Smriti Irani's effigy was burnt on 20 January. On 24 January protests were held in Suriyawan (Bhadohi), Robertsganj (Sonbhadra), and Lalganj, Madihan, Ahirora and Jamalpur blocks in Mirzapur.
Red Salute to Prof Randhir Singh
Eminent Marxist scholar and popular teacher of political theory Prof Randhir Singh passed away on the night of 31st January in Delhi. He was 95.
Prof Randhir Singh was a founder of the Left student movement in India, during India's freedom struggle. He was a brilliant student even in his school and college days. He is best remembered for his unwavering lifelong commitment to popularising and communicating Marxist theory widely, in the most accessible language of the people. Till very recently, he would still travel to Punjab villages and small towns to give talks on political developments as well as on Marxist thought.
In spite of his formidable academic prowess, he was always had the unassuming air that is the hallmark of the activist. He was a close friend of many Left activists, and many in the CPI(ML), young and old, will have fond memories of their rich interactions with him.
Prof Randhir Singh inspired many generations to study Marxism and to study society using Marxist tools.
CPI(ML) extends its heartfelt condolences to his family members.
Red Salute to Comrade Randhir Singh !