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. (http://www.rediff.com/news/report/disappointed-at-the-hanging-of-afzal-guru-says-pdp/20130209.htm), as well as after the alliance in 2015 (http://indianexpress.com/article/india/politics/after-sayeeds-pak-remark-pdp-now-demands-return-of-afzal-gurus-mortal-remains/). 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.