Thursday, June 30, 2016

ML Update | No. 27 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 19, No. 27, 28 JUNE ­– 04 JULY 2016

Implications of the Brexit Referendum in the UK


fter a viciously xenophobic and violent campaign that even saw the unprecedented killing of a popular Labour MP, Jo Cox, the Brexit (Britain plus exit) camp has secured a surprise victory in the UK referendum on leaving the European Union. 52 per cent (of the 72 per cent who voted in the referendum) have chosen to end the UK's 43-year-old association with the European Union (erstwhile European Economic Community). In the wake of this Brexit verdict, Prime Minister David Cameron, who campaigned to remain in the EU, has announced his decision to resign, the British Pound has plummeted quite sharply and the share market has experienced a rude downward pull.

The result has exposed a sharply divided Britain, geographically as well as generationally. Scotland, Northern Ireland and London had voted overwhelmingly in favour of remain. Scotland, which had narrowly agreed to remain with the UK in another recent referendum, obviously feels quite unhappy with the verdict, and another referendum leading to an independent Scotland as a member of EU is now a distinct possibility. The question of independence of Northern Ireland and unification with the Irish Republic (an EU member) is also likely to assume renewed political relevance. In generational terms, the young clearly preferred to remain in the EU with 72 percent voters in the 18-24 age group voting 'Remain' as opposed to the 60 percent 'Leave' vote among pensioners. There is also a divide between cosmopolitan multi-cultural cities of Britain opting for European affiliation and the less ethnically diverse smaller towns, many of which are in regions of industrial decline, where the Leave' message found fertile ground.

Politically, the result was achieved then through the right's opportunistic mobilization of widespread anger and frustration over austerity, and its appeal to deep-seated racism and jingoistic nationalism. The rabidly rightwing, racist and xenophobic UK Independence Party (UKIP) led by the rabble-rouser Nigel Farage, alongside  the Conservative pro-Leave faction led by former London Mayor Boris Johnson,  had built up the Brexit campaign with its virulent anti-immigrant anti-refugee rhetoric, effectively turning the vote into a referendum on immigration. It made more explicit what the mainstream parties had been doing for years - blaming migrants and refugees for the effects of austerity policies, unemployment, low pay, and the housing crisis with a toxic campaign which spread the falsehood that EU membership forces Britain to take in large numbers of refugees and migrants (in fact numbers of non-European refugees and migrants entering the UK - the real focus of UKIP's hate campaign - have remained far lower than for other EU countries).

It is perhaps no coincidence that on the morning of the day that a supporter of the far-right Britain First group murdered the MP Jo Cox, who was an advocate for refugee rights, Nigel Farage had unveiled his new poster campaign which showed a long line of Syrian refugees with the slogan 'Breaking Point'. Tapping into the popular anger over years of austerity which have eroded the welfare state, most notably the National Health Service (NHS), another of the Leave campaign's most successful slogans was the lie that freedom from the EU would enable Britain to increase National Health Service (NHS) funding by £350m, a claim which was immediately retracted by Farage, Johnson et al on the day after the referendum, when its purpose had been served. By and large, Labour supporters voted for 'Remain'. A section of voters who voted Leave are however already publicly regretting their decision, and millions of voters have raised the demand for a second referendum since the result was so close.

David Cameron called the referendum in a self-serving and, as it turned out, spectacularly ill-judged attempt to pacify the Eurosceptic sections of his own Conservative Party and prevent them from defecting to UKIP. These pro-Brexit Tories, like Boris Johnson and the much derided former Education Secretary Michael Gove, having used the referendum to further their own political careers, have little plan for what to do next, and there is already speculation that invoking Article 50 which triggers exit from the EU within a two-year time frame, may be indefinitely delayed.

Arguably however there are powerful reasons for a section of the ruling class embracing Brexit.  One is the growing economic crisis and insecurity and the consequent quest for reclaiming economic sovereignty from the EU stranglehold. Unlike Greece and Spain which with strong left forces, aspired for freedom from the European debt burden and to pursue economic policies to suit their own interests and priorities, Britain however hopes to regain its lost economic might along the very trajectory of neo-liberalism which has already weakened the economy and eroded its once comprehensive welfare framework. Already, Boris Johnson has suggested that EU trade agreements like the free market fundamentalist Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), one of the main reasons why certain sections of the British Left supported Brexit, will be retained even after leaving the EU.

The other factor is the Euroscepticism inherent in Britain's foreign policy and self-perception. When the end of World War II heralded the downfall of the British colonial empire, British foreign policy had to reinvent itself in the post-colonial world. But instead of forging ties with the rest of Europe, Britain preferred to rely primarily on her special relationship with the US and unequal and paternalistic ties with former British colonies as institutionalized in the Commonwealth. It was only in 1973 that Britain finally entered the European community. Even after joining the European Union, Britain retained its own pound sterling as the preferred British currency and did not fall for the charm of the Euro.

Within Britain, Brexit has emboldened the rabid rightwing spectrum ranging from various racist, chauvinistic fringe outfits to an ascendant UKIP and the aggressively neo-liberal Conservatives. Within the Labour Party too, the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, the best thing to have happened within the Labour camp, marking a clear rupture with and reversal of the pro-market war-mongering Blairite New Labour trend, is now faced with renewed rightwing challenges, as Blairite MPs use the result as a pretext for an attempt to oust Corbyn, despite his unprecedented mandate from members and supporters, ahead of the release of the Chilcot Report which is likely to indict Tony Blair for his role in the Iraq War.

While immigrants from various EU countries, especially from the erstwhile East European bloc, face an uncertain future, British Asian and Black communities are having to deal with heightened racism and Islamophobia, with a huge rise in racist attacks even in the few days since the referendum. And across the Atlantic, it is the vicious anti-immigrant anti-Islam politics of Donald Trump which feels pumped up by the Brexit victory. Whether in the US or the UK, it is clear that only building a strong grassroots movement which offers a real alternative to austerity and neoliberalism, with anti-racism and solidarity with migrants and refugees at its heart, can counter these rising forces.

Joint Left Initiatives

Left parties CPI, CPI-M, CPI (ML), and SUCI (C) organized a joint "Save Democracy" convention in Gwalior on 15 June against the footsteps of fascism. The convention was held in the backdrop of Section 144 and Section 133 being clamped all over Madhya Pradesh for the past several months, to muzzle people's protests against the Government's callousness to price rise and drought, against the "Vyapam"  scam and large scale privatization of transport and power. Subsequently on 20 June, the Left parties organized a joint rally in Bhopal.

These six Left parties held a 'Save Democracy' Convention in Lucknow at the Ganga Prasad Memorial Hall on 20 June. Presenting the motion for discussion, CPI State Secretary, Com. Girish Sharma said that the objective behind attacking the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution, especially the right to freedom of speech and expression, is to crush the voices of dissent. Supporting the motion, CPI-M State Secretarial Board Member Com. SP Kashyap called to  resist the anti-people economic policies as well as the communal forces. Addressing the convention, CPI (ML) State Secretary and PB member Com. Ramji Rai said that a state moving towards fascism exhibits two symptoms: first, an "enemy within" is discovered; and second, the ruling powers and corporate capital become bosom friends. He warned against the BJP's attempt at communal polarisation in Kairana towards UP elections.   

AIPWA Vice President Tahira Hasan, Comrades Vijaypal Singh of the Forward Bloc, Bechan Ali of the SUCI (C), Arvind Raj Swarup of the CPI, Dinanath Singh of the CPI-M and others also expressed their views. The convention resolved to hold regional level conventions in Varanasi, Mathura, Faizabad, Muradabad and Muzaffarnagar.

CPI(ML) (Liberation), CPI, CPI(M) and SUCI (C), jointly organized a jatha on people's issues against the Congress government in the state. A month long campaign culminated in a massive rally in Bangalore on 6 June. The idea was to propagate a Left alterative in Karnataka which was otherwise dominated by BJP, Congress and JD(S). 

Strict implementation of MNREGA, sincere and immediate action to stall increasing suicides by farmers, increase in minimum wages for workers, land titles to the tillers of 'bagairhukum' (unregulated government lands), strengthening Lokayukta instead of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), were the major issues of the campaign.

 The culmination rally at Bangalore was addressed by Comrades Swapan Mukherjee, PBM of CPI(ML) (Liberation), Sitaram Yechury, General Secretary of CPI(M), Sudhakar Reddy, General Secretary of CPI and Krishna Chakrabarthy of SUCI (C). Com. Swapan Mukherjee saluted the courage and militancy of young women garment workers of Bangalore who were successful in forcing the Modi government to withdraw the controversial notification on PF withdrawal only after retirement. He called upon people to build struggles against the appeasement to communal forces by the so-called 'secular' Congress government in Karnataka. 

Prior to the rally in Bangalore, conventions and rallies were jointly organized in several places in the state including Davanagere, Mysore, and Koppal, by district committees of Left parties. Similar programmes were also held at other district headquarters in the state

Save Democracy Rally in Sitapur

Addressing a huge 'Save Democracy' rally on 17 June at Hargaon in Sitapur district, UP, CPI (ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya hailed people's resistance to the Modi Government's offensive on all sections of society. Comrade Dipankar asked how Modi can claim faith in Ambedkar when the Sangh is inspired and run by Manuwadi ideology, whereas Babasaheb was for the annihilation of caste? Ambedkar said, "Educate, organize, agitate". The Sangh and BJP are not allowing the people to be educated and if people get organized, but today, education, struggle and agitation are being termed anti-national and students and youth are being thrown in jail. Now the students, youth, and intellectuals of this country must come to a resolution and give a fitting reply to BJP's attempts to spread communal hatred, strengthen casteism, and crush struggles; this can be opposed only by walking the path of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar.

The meeting was conducted by RYA State President Com. Rakesh Singh. Through his address on the occasion of the Party's 2-day meeting in Hargaon, Com. Dipankar launched the CPI (ML)'s campaign for the 2017 Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.

CPI (ML) Protests against 100% FDI in 15 key sectors

From the claims of being 'opposed to FDI till last breath' while UPA was in power, the Modi government made a complete U-turn as it announced Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) reforms by relaxing norms across 15 sectors including defence, banking, pharmaceuticals, construction, broadcasting and civil aviation. Condemning this unabashed sell out of the country's interests, CPI (ML) organised protests at many places.

In Delhi, AISA, AICCTU, RYA and CPI (ML) protested at Jantar Mantar on 22 June. The protestors held placards that read- "India is not for sale" and "Take back FDI (Final Death to India)". In Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, hundreds of people joined the anti-FDI protest in Tenali. On 25 June, protests were held in Siliguri. In Bindukhatta, a protest was held at Car Road Chowk on 24 June. The protestors also burnt the effigy of the Modi government.

Contract and Honorarium Workers' State Convention in Patna

A State level convention was organized on 20 June 2016 in Patna by the Bihar Rajya Anubandh-Maandeya-Niyojit Sewakarmi Sanyukt Morcha (joint platform of incentive-honorarium-based workers in Bihar) in which school mid-day meal cooks participated in large numbers. The Convention was addressed by AICCTU State General Secretary, Com. RN Thakur. Sanyukt Morcha General Secretary, Com. Shivshankar Prasad read out a manifesto of struggle. AICCTU National Secretary Com. Anil Verma called to make the 2 September All India Strike a success. Bihar State Vidyalaya Rasoiya Sangh President Com. Saroj Chaube condemned the proposed privatization of the midday meal scheme, the attack on educational institutions, and the corruption in the Bihar education system. The convention passed a resolution demanding a rollback of the decision to hand over the midday meal scheme to NGOs and absorbing the workers of Mahila Samakhya societies (which have been closed down) into other departments, and appealing for the total success of the 2 September countrywide strike.

CPI (ML)'s Initiatives in Drought-Affected

7 districts- Jalaun, Jhansi, Lalitpur, Banda, Mahoba and Hamirpur of Jhansi and Chitrakootdham divisions in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh are severely drought-affected and farmers' suicides are on the increase with the grave agrarian crisis.

A team of representatives from left parties including CPI (ML) visited the affected areas in the region on 9-10 May to take stock of the situation. A report was prepared and appointment was sought from the Chief Minister of UP, Akhilesh Yadav so that the report could be shared with him, but a meeting with CM was denied. CPI (ML) thereafter decided to go ahead and take the following initiatives:

A 2-day hunger strike led by CPI (ML) Bundelkhand in-charge, Com. Ramesh Sengar was organized at the Chitrakootdham Block HQ (Banda) on 8 and 9 June against the continuing farmers' suicides and the government's apathy and non-accountability in the matter. Several other Party leaders and activists also sat on hunger strike during the protest. It was resolved that on 12 July large numbers of farmers would submit a loan-waiver application to the Prime Minister through the Collector.

The Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha held a fortnight-long campaign among farmers of Jalaun district in Jhansi Mandal to focus on the following issues: loan waiver; crop loss compensation; crop insurance payment; registration of sharecroppers; incentive amounts for sowing the coming kharif and rabi crops; stopping illegal mining; need to spend 50% of revenue from minerals on Bundelkhand; construction of a dam on River Panchnada; Antyodaya and BPL cards and free food grains to be provided to all poor; and provision for MNREGA work as per needs and immediate payment of wages. A farmers' 'Hunkar conference' was held on 4 June in Muswariya village in Mahewa block. It was declared at the conference that farmers in thousands would submit a loan waiver petition to the Prime Minister through the District Collector.

A determined struggle by midday meal workers in Jharkhand

Jharkhand Pradesh Vidyalaya Rasoiya Sanyojika Sangh have been holding an indefinite dharna protest since 8 June 2016 in front of the Raj Bhavan with a 36 point charter of demands. Some of the main demands are: revoking of the Jharkhand government's decision to hand over midday meal arrangements to private companies; monthly salary for all midday meal workers at the rate of Rs 235 per day; and immediate payment of one year's arrears due to them. The current honorarium Rs 1500 but they are being paid only Rs 1000. The protestors are demanding that these arrears be paid without delay after proper enquiry and that the honorarium amount be increased in view of spiraling prices. Midday meal workers should also get free medical treatment and maternity leave.

The dharna was started on 8 June by over 1000 midday meal workers from 7 blocks in Hazaribagh district, 4 blocks in Ramgarh district, and 5 blocks in Ranchi district, after which large groups continued to join the dharnas daily from several blocks in various districts. Till 16 June, around 20,000 workers had joined the dharna from 13 districts.

In 2014 and 2015 CPI (ML) MLA Rajkumar Yadav addressed their protests twice and raised the issue of their demands in the Assembly with some positive results; they got reassurances every time, and in 2015 there was an announcement of increase in honorarium, though it has not yet been implemented.

On 17 June talks were held between the Director (midday meal scheme) and a 5-member delegation representing the union. Though the talks remained unproductive, the delegation was told that there are no plans to privatize the midday meal arrangements. They said that apart from plans to hand over the arrangements to private companies in a few selected schools in Ranchi and Bokaro, the present system would continue in all other districts and rural zones. However, the talks failed to yield any results on the union's demands. Thereafter it was decided to stage road jams in about 10 places in Ranchi city on 22 June to build pressure on the administration and the government. By the night of 21 June, thousands of workers had reached Ranchi. CPI (ML) Ranchi unit made joint preparations with the agitators for the road jam. At about 11 pm on 21 June, a proposal for talks with the State Education Secretary at 9 am on 22 June was sent through the SDO. Administration sensed that the scene was set for a spirited and challenging agitation, and hence, positive talks could be held. The gist of the assurances given by the Education Secretary are as follows: as of now, the Cabinet decision to privatize the midday meals would not be implemented, and status quo would be maintained in the jobs of Rasoiyas, Sanyojikas and Adhyakshs; Rs 1500 honorarium for Rasoiyas would be implemented without delay; all possible efforts would be made to meet the other demands and the question of increasing wages and making them equal to those in Karnataka would be considered.

Anti-Emergency Day
Observed in Gwalior

To mark the 41st anniversary of imposition of emergency by the Congress government headed by Indira Gandhi in 1975, a one day anti-emergency dharna was organized in Gwalior on 26 June. The dharna called through the initiative taken by CPI (ML) saw the participation of several leaders from various left parties. The leaders also pointed out the attacks on democracy which were being unleashed regularly by the BJP led government at the centre and the state. The attacks on people's freedom, right to dissent and their struggles today are also indicative of an undeclared emergency. Among others, CPI (ML) leaders Com. Vinod Rawat and Com. Gurudutt Sharma also addressed the joint left dharna.

CPI (ML)'s initiatives demanding compensation after five people get crushed under dump truck in Bagodar

Seven persons, of whom five were from the same family, were crushed to death by a dump truck on the night of 19 June at Chiknibad in Birni block of the Bagodar Assembly constituency. On hearing the news, former MLA from CPI (ML), Com. Vinod Kumar Singh (who is currently out of Jharkhand) spoke to officials including the Deputy Commissioner of Giridih and the Chief Minister demanding that this incident should not be classed as an ordinary accident but should be recognized as a disaster and the families of the victims compensated accordingly. Subsequently, the advisor to the Chief Minister called the former MLA and told him that the government would give Rs 1 lakh as compensation to the dependents of each victim. After the incident, CPI (ML) leader and other local leaders remained at the spot and were joined in a road jam the next morning by Rajdhanwar CPI (ML) Com. MLA Rajkumar Yadav and other party leaders. They put pressure on the administration and made them agree to an additional Rs 20,000 as compensation above the 1 lakh announced and also allotment of houses under the Indira Awas Yojana for the victims' families. It is unfortunate that even after such a big accident, the Bagodar MLA Nagendra Mahto did not visit the spot. The CPI (ML) will also agitate to secure compensation for the victims' families from the owner of the dump truck and demand that the administration takes adequate steps to ensure safety in this rural area.


Com. Jamuna Prasad Aatreya

Com. Jamuna Prasad Aatreya from Chhapra (Bihar) passed away on 4 June 2016 at the age of 95. He was a Class IV government employee and a dedicated activist and leader of workers' struggles. He was first with the CPI-M. He joined the CPI (ML) in 1988 and remained lifelong a dedicated and spirited Party activist. After retirement from government service he worked as the CPI (ML) Chhapra district Party in-charge from 1995 to 2000. Activists from the CPI (ML) and the Karmchari Mahasangh attended his last rites in large numbers. Red Salute to Com. Jamuna Prasad!

Red Salute to Comrade Madhavi Sarkar

Communist leader Comrade Madhavi Sarkar passed away on 14th June after a tough illness. 

Madhavi was born on 10 October 1957. Her father Comrade Harendra Bose was a freedom fighter and one of the founders of the Communist Party in Purnea. Brought up from childhood in a family of Communists, her dedication to the red flag was boundless. She also played an important role in bringing Comrade Ajit Sarkar (who had been in the Youth Congress) into the communist movement. Comrade Ajit Sarkar, a CPIM MLA, was martyred on 14 June 1998 by the local landlord-criminal-political nexus led by Pappu Yadav.

Com. Madhavi was a teacher. The CPI-M fielded her as their candidate when by-elections were held in Purnea after the martyrdom of Comrade Ajit Sarkar; she won the by-election and became the MLA from Purnea Sadar. She lost the general election.

Her seriousness in pursuing the cause of justice for Comrade Ajit Sarkar drew her towards the CPI (ML). She joined the Party in 2004, was fielded as a CPI (ML) candidate from the Purnea Lok Sabha seat. She fought the 2005 Assembly elections and the 2009 Lok Sabha elections as a CPI (ML) candidate. 

In the 2010 Assembly election Com. Madhavi's son Amit Sarkar stood from Purnea as the CPI-M candidate, and the CPI(ML) gave him unconditional support.

She breathed her last on the 18th anniversary of Com. Ajit Sarkar's death, 14 June 2016. She is survived by her two daughters and her son. 

Com. Madhavi was a spirited and fearless Communist leader dedicated to the poor. Red salute to Comrade Madhavi!

Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail:, website:

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

ML Update | No. 26 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.19 | No. 26 | 21-27 June 2016

Gulberg Society Massacre Verdict:Blaming Victims of Communal Violence

The recent verdict of a special SIT Court in the Gulberg society massacre case of Gujarat 2002 is a massive travesty of justice. It has not only acquitted several key masterminds of the massacre, it has shamefully blamed the massacre on provocation by the victims while absolving the perpetrators of conspiratorial intention.

The Gulberg society massacre was one of the worst massacres that took place during the Gujarat 2002 pogrom. Gulberg society was set on fire in broad daylight, killing 69 people. Ehsan Jafri, a former MP, was singled out, stripped, and paraded with his limbs chopped off before being burnt alive. Hundreds of Jafri's neighbours took shelter with him, and for hours from 9.30 am to 1 pm, Jafri made desperate calls to the police, to political leaders, to the Chief Minister of Gujarat and the Home Minister of the country. These calls went unheeded and the senior police officers who visited Gulberg Society, did nothing to disperse the murderous mob that was baying for blood.

The verdict ignores eye witness testimonies regarding the armed mob that had gathered outside the society for several hours. It ignores the undisputed fact that senior police officers visited the site, saw the mob, and yet failed to call for reinforcements to disperse the mob. Instead the verdict condemns the eyewitnesses for 'selective amnesia' regarding 'private firing' by Ehsan Jafri. It claims that the mob only intended to burn vehicles and had no intention to kill people, and was provoked into murderous rage only by Jafri's alleged act of firing on the mob. This is a verdict with shocking implications.

On the same day as the Gulberg massacre, not far from Gulberg Society, a communal mob massacred Muslims in Naroda Patiya. Muslims were massacred at several places all over Gujarat. Clearly, the communal mobs intended to kill Muslims, even in places where neither Jafri nor anyone else fired on them. How can the mob violence at Gulberg Society be called spontaneous, when the mob had gathered for several hours before the alleged firing by Jafri? The police had ample time to disperse the mob – why did it not do so? These are questions the verdict chose to ignore.

The verdict amounts to blatant victim-blaming. It denies the victims of mob violence, any right to self-defence. It puts the onus for safety on the conduct of the victims rather than on the perpetrators and on the police and Government that have a duty to prevent such violence. Just as Asaram Bapu had once suggested that the December 16th 2012 rape victim could have averted rape by calling the rapists 'brother' instead of fighting back, the verdict suggests that the Gulberg victims – rather than the police - could have averted the mob violence!

In passing such a verdict, the Special Court has echoed Modi, who in 2002 had blamed the Gulberg massacre on firing by Jafri, and had infamously invoked Newton's Law and a 'chain' of 'action-reaction.'   

In the Bathani Tola verdict also, the Patna High Court dismissed eye witness evidence, acquitted all those accused of butchering Dalits, and implied that the massacre was preceded by firing by the Dalit villagers.

In the Dadri lynching also, the same pattern of victim blaming is emerging. The attempt to prove that Akhlaq, the victim, was 'guilty' of eating beef is loosely linked to the efforts to deny the communal conspiracy behind the lynching and justify the lynching as 'spontaneous' anger against beef consumption.    

Meanwhile, the masterminds of the Gujarat pogrom who now rule India, continue with their politics of mobilising votes by stoking communal hate and violence. With an eye on the upcoming UP elections, the BJP (including the local BJP MP Hukam Singh, the Home Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP President Amit Shah) tried to raise the bogey of a Hindu exodus from Kairana and Kandhla in Western UP, due to Muslim intimidation. It is encouraging that the people of Kairana and Kandhla themselves called the bluff of the BJP, and exposed the 'exodus' to be a lie.      

Indians are being asked to accept that political masterminds of mass massacres will enjoy impunity while at best, a few pawns may be punished. If the BJP and RSS leaders and police officers accused in the Gujarat massacre are yet to be brought to justice, the same is true of Congress leaders accused of massacring Sikhs in 1984. The recent Congress decision (withdrawn later following protests) to make 1984 massacre-accused Kamal Nath the party's in-charge for Punjab rubbed fresh salt into the wounds of the Sikhs.     

The quest of Zakia Jafri and other survivors of the Gulberg massacre for justice faces huge odds. The Supreme Court's own SIT ended up being complicit in a cover-up. Modi and Shah, in power at the Centre now, are unleashing a campaign of harassment and intimidation against Teesta Setalvad and other activists who are supporting the survivors' fight for justice. If higher courts fail to correct the massive travesty of justice in the Gulberg case, it will be a matter of shame for the Indian judiciary.

The Gulberg verdict is one that, by blaming victims for 'provoking' perpetrators of communal violence, is an affront to the very spirit of the Constitution and of democracy. 25 June 2016 marks the anniversary of the infamous Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi's Government. The anniversary of the Emergency cannot be an occasion simply to condemn the tyranny of a Congress Government or a particular Prime Minister. Instead, it must be an occasion to resist the rampant, continuing violations of Constitutional liberties and betrayals of the Constitutional freedoms and dignity of Dalits, adivasis, minorities and women.

Punish the Rumours Mongers of BJP in Kairana

CPI(ML) Uttar Pradesh unit has demanded stringent punitive action on BJP leaders involved in deliberate rumour mongering and false claims of exodus of Hindu community from Kairana in Shamli district. The party has also asked from the UP government to give an official explanation regarding the whole incident instead of playing a friendly match of communal polarisation with BJP.

CPI(ML) UP state secretary comrade Ramji Rai has said in a statement that the BJP is trying to manufacture a communal polarisation in the state, a repeat of Mujaffarnagar, in view of forthcoming Assembly election in the state. An intense venomous propaganda is on with concocted rumours in the name of Kairana, Dadri and JNU. The statements issued by the top brass of BJP during its national executive meeting held recently in Allahabad left no doubt about its intentions of spreading venom to reap an electoral harvest in the state. Similar intentions were also revealed in the Awadh regional meeting of RSS officials which was held in Ayodhya, where the issue of Babri Masjid was raised again to give UP politics a communal tenor.

Comrade Ramji Rai said that the BJP has faced a setback in Rajya Sabha elections in UP and there is growing disenchantment against the Modi government, so now it is desperately trying to play a communal card before the elections. Spreading rumours of exodus from Kairana and submitting a false list of families is only a small piece of a much bigger script in the RSS-BJP game plan.

The UP government's silence and inaction instead of punishing the perpetrators after the Kairana lie has been exposed, can only make sense as an indication of a pre-fixed friendly match between BJP and SP. He appealed to the people of the state to remain alert against such forces.

'Ahankar Todo' Rally in Punjab

CPI(ML) Liberation organized an Ahankar Todo rally in Budhladha in Mansa district on 10 June 2016 to protest against the brutal attack on revolutionary labour leader Com. Bhagwant Singh Samao by the local landlord-sarpanch and the mobilization of the panchayat in the attacker's favour by the Budhladha MLA's son. Thousands of people including farmers, workers, women, and people's organizations participated in the rally and expressed outrage against the goondaism and cheating that are rampant in the State under the Badal government. People chanting slogans against the government came on trucks, tractors and other vehicles from various parts of the region to Dana Mandi where the rally took place. BKU (Dakoda) leaders and activists also participated in large numbers.

The rally was addressed by CPI (ML) State Secretary Com. Gurmeet Singh Bakhat, Com. Bhagwant Singh Samao, other senior leaders of the Party, as well as leaders from CPM-Punjab, Punjab Kisan Union, Mazdoor Mukti Morcha Punjab, CPI, CPI (M), CPI (ML) New Democracy, BKU (Dakoda), Physically Handicapped Union, Inqalabi Kendra Punjab, Akali Dal (Mann), Nihang Sikh (Tarna Dal), Punjab Palledar Union, Pragatisheel Mahila Sabha, BKU (Krantikari), Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, AISA, RYA, and Democratic Karmachari Federation.

Addressing the rally, Com.Gurmeet Singh said that the CPI (ML) has a 50year long history of fighting for the interests of workers, farmers, dalits and the oppressed. Com. Mangat Ram Pasla said that the people of this country would give a fitting reply to communal-fascist forces and root them out of power. Com. Bhagwant Singh said that the Budhladha Akali MLA is oppressing and exploiting dalits and workers and is pandering to the interests of the rural rich from dominant castes. He said there are reports that MNREGA workers are being pressurized into attending the Akali rally but warned that if this happens the administration would have to face a strict enquiry.

After the rally a people's march was taken out in Budhladha bazaar shouting slogans against the goondaism of the Badal supporters. The rally passed a resolution demanding immediate transfer of the Budhladha thana chief who was hand-in-glove with the attackers of Com. Bhagwant Singh, and that a case to be registered against the attackers under section 302.

AIPF Team Visits Drought-Affected Bargarh in Odisha

Even after one year that saw several farmer suicides, the BJP government at the centre and the BJD government in the State are busy shedding crocodile tears instead of taking appropriate concrete measures to end the farmers' distress.

An 8-member team from AIPF, Odisha visited 5 blocks in Bargarh district on 11 and 12 June—Sohella, Barapali , Bhatli, and Attabira—with regard to the farmer suicides in these places, and met the families of the farmers who had committed suicide. In the recent year, many farmer suicides have come to light especially in Bargarh district. Some time ago the State BJD government had organized a kisan sabha in this region with great pomp and show at the cost of crores of rupees. Rahul Gandhi also held a padayatra in this district on these issues. A few days later PM Narendra Modi also addressed a meeting in this region and made many promises to the people. However, none of them took even one step forward to improve the farmers' situation; nothing was done even on the administrative level.

Clearly, such sabhas and meetings are held only to gather votes and for self-publicity. The State government has consistently refused to recognize the farmers' suicides as suicides. The AIPF team found that crop loss due to scanty rainfall, inadequate sale of produce, and back-breaking loans were some of the reasons that drive farmers, especially marginal farmers and sharecroppers, to suicide.

The State government collected crores of rupees from the farmers through OLIC (Odisha Lift Irrigation Corporation) for the purpose of irrigating non-irrigated lands, but with zero results to show for it. This matter can be seen as similar to chit fund scams. The farmers are unable to sell their paddy crop in the market as the farmer identity cards (Kisan Parichay Patra) have not been issued; the middlemen take advantage of this and purchase the paddy at low prices, thus adding to the long list of farmers' woes and oppression.

People in this area are not even getting the benefit of senior citizen pensions which elderly men and women should get in what is supposed to be a welfare state. Prices of fertilizers, pesticides, and seeds have increased tenfold whereas the cost of paddy has not increased. Cost waivers to farmers in these drought-affected regions are as good as non-existent. Addressing the BJP's kisan sabha in Bargarh, PM Modi made no concrete announcement for farmers or agriculture. Naveen Patnaik's announcement of Rs 100 bonus per quintal of paddy has proved to be an empty promise. The MNREGA scheme is non-functional and the government and administration have no proper plans to re-start it. During the talks with the farmers, they said clearly that "talk of Jai Jawan Jai Kisan is mere rhetoric; neither the Central government nor the State government has any respect for or empathy with farmers".

AIPF demands that – (i) the government recognize farmers' suicides as suicides without delay, give the dependents adequate compensation, and waive their loans which they have taken from banks and co-operatives; irrigation facilities should be provided without delay; (ii) all farmers should be issued KisanParichay Patra, (iii) proper facilities should be given for them to sell their paddy in the markets, and middlemen should be removed; (iv) 200 days' work should be ensured under the 'Mahatma Gandhi Jatiya Gramin Yojana'; and (v) these families should be guaranteed benefits of all social welfare schemes.

The AIPF team included AICCTU State Secretary, Com. Mahendra Parida, 'Campaign for Survival and Dignity' State Convener Narendra Mohanty, researcher Dr Sricharan Behra, social activist Biranchi Bariha, AICCTU Bargarh district Convener, Com. Ashwini Pradhan, and Manoranjan Nayak. The team met the District Collector and apprised him of the seriousness of the situation. The Collector assured them that necessary steps would be taken. This was followed by a Press conference in Bargarh.

AIPF Fact-Finding Team To Bastar

An 8-member fact-finding team of All India People's Forum visited four districts of Chhattisgarh (Bastar, Dantewada, Sukma and Bijapur) between 8-11 June 2016. The fact-finding team spoke to several victims of systematic communal violence against Christians. At several villages, resolutions adopted under the Chhattisgarh Gram Panchayat Act have been wrongly invoked in violation of the spirit of the law to restrict non-Hindus from residing or building places of worship, even though the High Court has quashed such gram sabha resolutions in two instances. Christians are being prevented from using burial grounds in several villages. Meanwhile, while the gram panchayat laws enacted to protect the rights of adivasis are being misused to harass Christians, the same laws are openly violated by the security forces that are grabbing forest land for mining companies in Raoghat, Kanker district. Villagers fighting for implementation of forest rights laws there are being threatened with imprisonment as 'Maoists'. 

The team also uncovered several instances of fake encounters; rapes; fake cases and arbitrary arrests; and fake surrenders. At Palamadgu village in Sukma district, the team found that the police claim of having killed two women Maoists in an encounter was false – the victims were two village girls aged 13 and 12. At Kadenar in Bijapur district, the team found that a couple whom the police and CRPF claimed to have killed during an 'encounter' with a large number of armed Maoists, was actually picked up from their home and killed in cold blood while in custody. This couple had left the Maoists after a year-long association with them, more than five years ago.

The team intervened to help get an FIR registered in a case where a Chhattisgarh Armed Forces jawan had raped a 12-year-old adivasi girl.

The team found villagers to be terrorized by the CRPF camps and state police force. 

The AIPF team comprised former Madhya Pradesh MLA Dr Sunilam of Samajwadi Samagam, former Jharkhand MLA and CPIML Central Committee member Vinod Singh, Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of All India Progressive Women's Association, Brijendra Tiwari of AICCTU, Amlan Bhatacharya, State Secretary of PUCL West Bengal, Advocate Aradhana Bhargava of Chhindwara, Advocate Ajoy Dutta of Kolkata and Amlendu Choudhury. Researcher Bela Bhatia and activist Soni Sori also accompanied the team. 

Janpanchayat on Drought and Water Scarcity In Daltonganj

A Janpanchayat on drought and water problems was held in Daltonganj on 9 June 2016. The panchayat was jointly organized by seven organizations including Jharkhand Jan Sangharsh Morcha, IFTA, NREGA Watch, Gram Swaraj Mazdoor Sangh, Dihadi Mazdoor Union, CPI (ML), and AIPF. These organizations had prepared for the panchayat by holding gram sabhas in 40 villages over a period of 2 months. The main issue for the Janpanchayat was finding a permanent solution to the drought problem and water problem. About 2,500 people from across the district participated in the Janpanchayat. Apart from the representatives of the organizations, many other people also expressed their views at the Janpanchayat.

In the course of discussions, the view emerged that a series of sustained campaigns should be undertaken in the villages in preparation for a big political agitation on these issues in Palamu block so that the political claims can be put forward for the solution to these issues and the pro-corporate communal administration-politicians can be challenged. It also emerged during the discussions that thousands of ponds which earlier used to be the means for water storage are defunct today and the need of the hour is to renovate them. Many irrigation projects and canals are also in urgent need of renovation and some are incomplete and in immediate need of completion. In this way attempts can be made to solve the water problem permanently and also tackle the drought situation. The political campaign ahead of the agitation must focus on these concrete issues.

Indefinite Hunger Strike in Hazaribagh Central Jail

On 1 June 2016, Com. BN Singh, incarcerated for a long time in the JP Narayan Hazaribagh Central jail, had written a letter to the State Home Secretary through the Jail Superintendent regarding jail reforms and curb on loot apprising him of the indefinite strike to be held in the jail from 9 June and setting out his demands in detail.

In all districts in Jharkhand, including Hazaribagh, cuts are being made in meat and curds served to the prisoners in the name of festivals. So far about 10 weeks' worth of meat has been cut in the name of Holi, Sankranti, Ramnavami etc. and scams to the tune of 6.5 lakhs have been perpetrated. For more than 4 years now, prisoners' representative election has not been conducted, but jail authorities are appointing their paid workers as representatives and perpetrating this loot without obstacles.

On 25 April an 8-point charter of demands was submitted to the Secretary to the Chief Minister of Jharkhand and to former IG, Jails, Sunil Kumar Barnwal and a symbolic hunger strike was also held from 30 April to 1 May in support of those demands.

When these demands were ignored, CPI (ML) declared an indefinite hunger strike from 9 June for punishing the officials responsible for thus flouting the basic rights of prisoners and a 11-point charter of demands. 

The demands also include the following: prisoners who have served more than half their term should be kept in open jails; prisoners who have completed their term should be released without delay; STD booth and TV set should be provided; the practice of weekly Jail Superintendent-prisoner durbar should be started to facilitate people's dialogue; prisoners from farmers' struggles should be given the status of political prisoners.

The hunger strike began on 9 June and on the third day of the strike, i.e., 11 June, the Jail warden gave assurances of acting on the above demands, and the hunger strike was ended. Red salute to our comrades in the jail for their struggle!

AIPWA Protests Rising Violence Against Women

Activists of All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) met the Giridih SP on 15 June 2016 and demanded that the rising incidences of violence against women and girl students should be curbed and the perpetrators should be arrested. Citing the various incidences of violence against women in the district, they submitted a memorandum to the SP. The delegation which met the SP included district AIPWA leader Com. Kaushalya Das, district council members comrades Jayanti Choudhury, Poonam Mahto, Sarita Mahto, Meena Das, Munni Devi and others. After a point-to-point discussion with the delegation the SP assured them that appropriate action would be taken.

Tripura State CPI(ML) Conference

The CPI (ML) held its State Conference in Tripura on 11-12 June 2016 in KCI school,  Udaipur which was renamed Rohith Vemula Nagar for the occasion. The Conference was inaugurated by CPI (ML) PB member, Com. Swadesh Bhattacharya. PB member and West Bengal State committee Secretary Com. Partho Ghosh was the central observer. Outgoing Secretary Com. Partho Karmakar presented the report on which a lively discussion took place. After the report was passed, a 17-member State committee was elected and Com. Partho Karmakar was re-elected as the State Secretary.

AISA Burns Effigy of UP-SSC Chairman to Protest Against Paper Leak

On 5 June, a question paper was leaked during the BDO examination conducted by the UP-SSC. Aspirants staged a protest against this under the AISA banner on 12 June 2016 at GPO Park, Lucknow. The effigy of UP-SSC Chairman Raj Kishore Yadav was burnt and the protestors demanded from the Chief Minister that the earlier exam should be cancelled and fresh examinations held.

AISA State Joint Secretary, Com. Nitish Kannaujiya said that the SP government came to power riding on the promise of employment for youth, but no appointment process has been completed during this regime; they are all pending in the courts 

Also in this series of protests, AISA led a protest march on 15 June in Lucknow and submitted a memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister in which, apart from the above demands, they also demanded strict action against the officials and leaders who are involved in leaking the paper. Speakers said that the government and administration were fully aware that the paper had been leaked, but the fact that they still did not cancel the exam and instead hastily brought out an "answer key" within 3 days proves that people close to the Samajwadi Party are involved in this matter. 

Gujarat Adivasis Struggle against Land Grab

Adivasi peasants in Valsad district of Gujarat held a massive protest on 16 June against forcible land grab by the land mafia as well as Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation. Adivasis in the district are living on their lands since generations but the governments had never bothered to provide them with the proper land titles and records. Now this fact is being utilised by the mafia to oust them from their ancestral lands which is now being considered valuable in view of development of industrial and adjoining coastal belt.

The lands of nearly half a dozen tribals were forcibly captured on May 27 last by mafia goons patronised by local MLA and and ex-MLA belonging to Congress and BJP respectively. The grabbers beat them up brutally in order to spread terror and lodged false criminal cases. The CPI(ML) leaders' effective intervention stopped the police to take action against innocent tribals, though actual criminals still remain free. Such incidents are common in this district.

The tribals in this region had been involved in traditional farming since generations and lack of land titles is now being exploited for grabbing their lands by the nexus of mafia-local leaders and GIDC officials. They are being displaced by the land grabbers now, earlier they faced similar fate in 80s when Madhuban dam in Kaprada block was built. They are still struggling for their demand of rehabilitation of thousands of displaced people.

While adivasis constitute a sizable majority in many parts of the district, the administration always try to ignore their genuine demands and concerns to the extent that they are usually denied permission to hold peaceful gatherings and protests.

A port is being constructed at Nargol of Umargam taluk which also involves construction of a six-lane link road and huge ware house spaces. The state government acquisitioned lands through GIDC for the purpose, while a strong mafia also got active in snatching away lands in nexus with local politicians and officials. A very large number of trees and forest are also being flattened for the port construction.

The CPI(ML) is resisting this land grab for last couple of years. It is also raising the sensitive issue of land and water poisoning in Vapi and Umargam taluks by the nearby chemical industries' hub. The state pollution control board has been made aware a number of times but it keeps on allowing the polluting industries to go on. As a result the land productivity is decreasing very fast and there is no potable healthy water left for drinking.

Many adivasis are left with the only option of working in nearby industries where labour law violations is the norm. They have also been deprived of MNREGA benefits as the job cards have never been given to them. PDS and other welfare schemes are mired in corruption like anywhere else. These issues were also raised with the District Magistrate by the CPI(ML) delegation which was led by party's Politburo member Prabhat Kumar, Gujarat Incharge Ranjan Ganguly, District Secretary Laxmanbhai Vadia, Amit Patanwaria, Kamlesh and Jayantiben.


Com. Lalku Karmali

Com. Lalku Karmali passed away on 17 March 2016 at the age of 46. He was a resident of Kanjagi Harijan Tola. He played a major role in the mobilization of loading-unloading workers' movement and actively participated in the fight for crematorium, temple, and cashew orchard lands in Kanjagi. He joined the Party as an active worker in 2009. He came from an extremely poor workers' family. Comrades Bhuneshwar Bediya, Jainandan Gope, Kuldeep Bediya and others were present at his last rites and tributes were paid to him at the Party office.  Red Salute to Com. Lalku Karmali!

Com. Virendra Kumar

Com. Virendra Kumar, an active young cultural worker with the drama and music unit 'Jagaran' (Hazaribagh) of the Jharkhand Jan Sanskriti Manch died on 14 May 2016 in a tragic road accident while travelling to Nawada (Bihar) .He joined 'Jagaran' in 1995 and became a Party member in 1997. He played a lead role in dozens of street plays. With his easy smile and cheerful attitude, he was beloved of all. Com. Virendra took part in JASAM national conventions and also represented Jharkhandi culture in the cultural festival at Karbi Anglong. He was an active participant in several campaigns run by the Party.

The Party and JASAM organized a condolence meeting at Haisalong on 18 May which was attended by hundreds of people. Party State committee member Com. Baijnath Mistry, district convener Com. Pachhu Rana, JASAM National councilor Com. Kaleshwar Gope, Jaiveer Hansda and many other comrades remembered him fondly and paid tributes to him at the condolence meeting. Red salute to Com. Virendra Kumar!

Com. Bhuar Paswan

Com. Bhuar Paswan, also known as Subas Paswan, a resident of Dhana Tola in Dhana Panchayat, Dulhin Bazaar block, Patna district, passed away suddenly on 23 May 2016 at PMCH due to heart failure. He was 47. After his Matriculation, impressed by the Party's struggles, he started participating actively in Party activities and became a member in 1988. Till the very end he remained Secretary of the local Party branch and participated in every Party activity. He had unbroken faith in the Party and stood with it as a dedicated activist even after an MLA left the Party and the block went through a phase of upheaval. Born to a poor family, no blandishments could ever lure Com. Bhuar. He was very popular and beloved of the people at the local level.

The Party district committee expressed deep sorrow at the passing of Com. Bhuar and conveys heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family. Red salute to Com. Bhuar Paswan!

Com. Saraswati

Com. Saraswati, who had served as AIPWA Kanpur district President, passed away in early June this year. The Kanpur district committee held a condolence meeting in her memory on 6 June 2016. Com. Saraswati joined the Party in 1996 and took part in CPI(ML) political activity till life's last struggle. She had also worked as district Secretary in the Kanpur district committee. She was always ready to work for the development of the Party and gave her utmost to strengthen the Party. Presently all members of her family are active Party workers. Red salute to Com. Saraswati!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

ML Update | No. 25 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 19, No. 25, 14 ­– 20 JUNE 2016

Nitish versus Nitish and Toppersgate: Time for Students to Rise and Reassert in Bihar

    The suicide attempt by Nitish Kumar, a young bright student of the reputed Patna College of Arts and Crafts, has rekindled memories of the Rohith Vemula episode. There is much that is similar between what happened in Hyderabad and what is happening in Patna. Like Rohith, Nitish too is a dalit student victimized by the college and university administration and like Rohith, Nitish too is a committed fighter for justice for all his fellow students. Students of the Arts College have not only been suspended but also arrested under false charges, and Nitish is fighting against this ongoing repression on the students. The ironical difference is that in Hyderabad, Rohith and his fellow students were being persecuted by a nexus that began with local ABVP activists and the University administration on the ground and went right up to key BJP ministers at the Centre, and in Patna, the nexus revolves around the Nitish Kumar government which claims to champion social justice and good governance and received a massive mandate precisely against the BJP and on the very plank of social justice, secularism and democracy.

Nitish and his friends in the Patna College of Arts and Crafts have been fighting against the college Principal Chandrabhooshan Shrivastava who has earned tremendous notoriety among students during his 'stopgap' tenure since October 2012 for his rank casteist and sexist conduct and thuggish way of running a college which promises 'a participative and creative environment'. A petition signed by more than 130 students demanding removal of and action against the Principal lies before the VC as well as the Chief Minister and Chairpersons of the Women's Commission, SC/ST Commission, and Human Rights Commission. Since late April, students have also been agitating for the revocation of wrongful suspension of students who have been victimized for raising their voice against the sordid state of affairs in the college. Students allege that despite all their complaints, the Principal continues to stay in office because of his close proximity to the Principal Secretary of the Chief Minister.

The appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the chairman of FTII, Pune and Pahlaj Nihalani as the head of the Central Board of Film Certification in India came as rude shocks to the creative community across the country. The protests against these appointments have been triggered not just by the democratic concern to save institutions from the design of saffron subversion but more by the shock caused by the arrogant disdain for these institutions writ large in these appointments. If loyalty or proximity to the ruling dispensation becomes the biggest criterion of choice in key posts in institutions meant to promote creativity then it sounds the death knell for creative freedom and excellence. The Patna Arts College case is no less shocking. A Principal governing a creative institution in an atmosphere of fear and dictatorship with shocking overtones of casteism and sexism is an affront to the creative community and an assault on the present and future of the students, and when such a person continues to enjoy political patronage and backing of the higher authorities despite repeated complaints by students it is a clear case of arrogance and abuse of power that must be opposed by everyone who cherishes democracy.

The Arts College episode is no isolated case, it only symbolizes the deeper and growing rot in Bihar's education system. The sensational 'Toppers scam' is another shocking case in point. Modi's alleged degree in 'entire political science' may have caused ripples of laughter, but when the topper in the Arts stream in this year's plus-two board examinations said she learned 'cooking skills' in political science, it raised millions of eyebrows in Bihar. The chief of the Bihar School Examination Board, Mr. Lalkeshwar Prasad Singh, reportedly a Nitish Kumar acolyte, (whose wife, a former JDU MLA from Hilsa in Nalanda district, has now also been exposed to have made dubious degree claims in her election affidavit), has resigned and gone underground to evade investigation. Bachcha Rai, the reported kingpin of the toppersgate scam, who runs the Bishun Rai College in Vaishali named after his father and produces dubious Toppers, has finally been arrested and his close ties with leaders of JDU, RJD as well as BJP are now hogging the headlines in Bihar. If properly investigated, the Toppers Scam may well turn out to be Bihar's equivalent to the Vyapam scam in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh. Soon after becoming the Chief Minister of Bihar in 2005, Nitish Kumar had set up the Muchkund Dube commission with the stated aim of overhauling the education system in the state, but now the emerging facts tell us that while the common school system recommended by the committee was consigned to oblivion, a systematic subversion of education went on with high level political blessings and administrative backing. A high level judicial enquiry must be set up immediately to get to the bottom of this rot and punish all the guilty.

Bihar has historically been a cradle of powerful student movements. Leaders like Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad owe their political rise to the famous 1974 students' movement. Radical student activists from the 1970s and subsequent generations are an important pillar of the revolutionary communist movement in the state. Beginning with Chandrashekhar to the current generation of Kanhaiya Kumar, Ashutosh and Chintu, student activists from Bihar have played a leading role in shaping the progressive student discourse in JNU and other campuses in the country. Today, when student activists in Patna University are being dubbed terrorists and subjected to all sorts of victimization and persecution, it is time for the progressive student movement to reassert in Bihar, stand by Nitish and other fighting students of Patna Arts College and Patna University and rise with all might against the ongoing mockery and betrayal with the youth in Bihar on the twin fronts of education and employment.

Anganwadi Workers Protest in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand Anganwadi Workers Union affiliated to AICCTU held a state-wide protest on 10 June during which effigies of Women and Child Minister Maneka Gandhi were burnt in Champawat, Barakot, Pati, Tanakpur, Pithoragarh, Didihaat, Gangolihaat, Almora, Bhikyasain and other places. Speakers addressing the protestors at these places criticised the governments for grossly neglecting the rights of women workers. Apart from the work fixed for them, Anganwadi workers are made to perform several duties such as survey and census work, but in spite of doing so many extra tasks and even after so many years of working, they are deprived of even the minimum wages fixed by the government and the regularization of their job is still a far cry. The tasks of the Anganwadi workers are constantly being increased; skilled work is extracted from them but in return they do not even receive the minimum wages due to unskilled workers.

The Anganwadi workers said that drastic cuts have been made by the Modi government in the Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS). The Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi also has shamelessly and explicitly denied any increase in the honorarium for Anganwadi workers.

Through the protests on 10 June the Union raised the following demands:

1.     Rs 15,000 monthly salary for Anganwadi workers should be ensured.

2.     The proposal for domicile for Anganwadi workers should be speedily passed by the State cabinet and sent to the Central government.

3.     Newspapers recently carried news of the government announcing summer and winter vacations, but GO (government orders) in this matter have not yet arrived, which should be issued without delay.

4.     It should be ensured that all children below 6 years of age should be sent to Anganwadi centres and Anganwadi certificates should be made mandatory for admission to Class 1 in government as well as private schools.

5.     Mini Anganwadi workers are being forced to run the centres without assistants. Posts of assistant workers should be created in all Mini Anganwadi centres in the State. Mini Anganwadi centres should be given the status of full Anganwadi centres and the Mini Anganwadi workers should get honorarium equal to that of the Anganwadi workers, in keeping with the 'equal pay for equal work' principle.

6.     The criminals who attacked AICCTU State General Secretary and labour leader KK Bora in Rudrapur on 20 May should be arrested without delay.

Protest Dharna In Nainital Against Failure To Arrest Com. K. K. Bora's Attackers

A one-day dharna was held at the Kumaon Commissioner's office in response to AICCTU's call to protest against the fact that even though 20 days have passed since the attack on AICCTU State General Secretary KK Bora, the attackers have not yet been arrested. Various unions, organizations, and parties participated in the dharna and unanimously demanded from the Chief Minister that the named accused and other attackers should be arrested without delay.

Addressing the dharna, AICCTU national Vice President Raja Bahuguna said that the union leader was brutally and openly attacked in broad daylight and the attackers attempted to abduct him but even after 20 days the attackers are roaming free. He added that under the Harish Rawat government it is not the rule of law but 'jungle raj'. He further said that the fact that one day before the attack the police tried to forcibly arrest him shows that the police-administration of Rudrapur is in connivance with the MINDA management for oppression of workers. He said that the struggle of AICCTU and workers in SIDCUL is against that government policy which does not give minimum wages, does not allow formation of unions, and does not give any rights to workers. Workers are fighting against this policy of the government and the capitalists and the fight shall continue.

CPI(ML) State Secretary Rajendra Pratholi said that by attacking the workers' leader the capitalists have tried to break the spirit of the workers but the workers have shown through their unity that their spirit and will-power are high and far from broken. He pointed out that the calculated negligence of Harish Rawat in this matter shows that he is no less than Modi in the matter of workers' oppression. Eminent theatre personality Zahoor Alam said that the manner in which workers' democratic rights are being murdered in the State is a matter of great concern and all democratic forces must oppose this.

President of the Uttarakhand Bank Employees' Union Praveen Shah said that the Bank Union condemns the attack on the labour leader, expresses solidarity with the workers, and demands that the attackers should be immediately arrested and enforcement of labour laws should be ensured in SIDCUL.

Comrade KK Bora addressed the protester and said that oppression by the rulers cannot break us and the workers' struggle will continue till the last breath.

Former MLA Narayan Singh Jantwal strongly condemned the attack on the democratic rights of workers and demanded the immediate arrest of the attackers. He said that al democratic forces must come together to fight against such attacks.

Uttarakhand Parivartan Party President PC Tiwari said that the attacks which are taking place from Nainisar to SIDCUL are well-planned and calculated; they must be opposed strongly. Several other representatives from various organisations and individuals from progressive sections also shared their solidarity.

Protests in Jharkhand Against the Increasing Attacks on Working Class

A protest march and meeting were held on 23 May 2016 at Randhir Verma chowk in Dhanbad by the CPI(ML) and AICCTU district committees to protest against the attack on Uttarakhand State General Secretary KK Bora and the painful death of an electricity worker in Govindpur, Dhanbad district, due to administrative negligence. The protest was joined by people associated with the Dalit Vikas Manch and Haadi Jati Vikas Manch with slogans of "Jai Bheem".

On 17 May, Santosh Mahto, a daily wage worker was sent to work on a transformer after an electricity wire broke due to the falling of a  tree during a storm in Kurchi village of Govindpur block. While he was working on the line, someone turned on the power and Santosh suffered a painful death, after which people spontaneously gheraoed the electricity office. The management tried to put pressure on acceptance of Rs 2.5 lakhs as compensation. Meanwhile CPI(ML) leader Com. Kartik Kumar arrived on the spot and pointed out that as this was a case of accidental death during duty, it is mandatory to pay Rs 5 lakh as compensation, employment for one family member, and a case under 302 against the guilty officer. The talks failed, with the police resorting to lathi charge and taking away the body of the victim. The next day a case of damaging state property, stoning a police jeep, and blocking the road was registered against CPI(ML) leaders and other people.

The protest march and meeting echoed with protests against these attacks on the working class—the attack on workers' leader KK Bora and the 'managerial' murder of worker Santosh Mahto. A memorandum was submitted to the DC demanding immediate arrest of KK Bora's attackers, strict action against the police personnel who tried to forcibly arrest him, and fulfillment of workers' demand. The demands also included action under 302 against the officers responsible for Santosh Mahto's death, 5 lakhs compensation and employment for one family member, and immediate revoking of all false cases against ML leaders and other people. The DC of Dhanbad gave an assurance that the false cases would be revoked.

On 30 May a dharna was held at the Govindpur block HQ with the above demands and also protesting the scams and irregularities in ration cards. A protest meeting was held in Ranchi demanding action in the corruption in compensation for the displaced people affected by the construction of the Ranchi-Tata national highway into a 4 lane road, corruption in MNREGA, and arrest and punishment of the guilty in the KK Bora attack.

Protests were also held in Argadda, Ramgarh, and Bokaro for rights of steel workers and punishment for the attackers of KK Bora.

Protest Against Loot in Food Security Ration in Giridih

Loot and black marketing has been rampant in food security rations since the beginning of 2016. Rations for the last 3 months have been "lapsed". Many people have not been issued ration cards and even those issued have several mistakes and anomalies. A majority of those who used to earlier have red cards have no ration cards today. Many of the really poor are not listed in the BPL list.

Between the 3rd week of May and 31 May, block level mass mobilizations were done in most blocks in Giridih and Koderma on the above food security related issues. Three months' ration in the entire district of Giridih has disappeared under the euphemism of 'ration lapse', and this was the main issue in the agitation. At a time when drought relief is supposed to be arranged, rations are instead being looted, causing great public anger. The air reverberated with the slogan, 'Teen mahina ration gol, Bhajapa ki khul gayi pol' (For three months ration is missing, BJP stands exposed) and other similar slogans as nearly 1500 people gheraoed the block HQ in Bagodar. Speakers at the gherao strongly condemned the corruption in food grain distribution and warned of a big agitation unless ration and kerosene were made available speedily.

On the same day massive protests that witnessed large scale participation by people were also held in Birni. On 27 May protests were held in Sariya, Khori Mahua (Rajdhanwar), Jamua, Devri, Bengabad, and Giridih Sadar. On 30 May protests were held in Markachho (Koderma district).

'Jugad' Drivers Protest in Bhagalpur

Hundreds of jugad drivers under the banner of the Jugad Gadi Chalak Sangh (affiliated to AICCTU) staged a dharna protest in front of the district officer on 1 June 2016 to protest against the ban imposed on the plying of jugad (locally manufactured) vehicles. The dharna was presided over by AICCTU State President, Com. Mukesh Mukt.

Speakers addressing the dharna said that rural and urban poor and workers have made arrangements for their livelihood using local know-how techniques without any help from the government or the administration. It is condemnable that the Nitish government and its administrative machinery which have failed to curb large-scale migration from the State due to lack of employment are attacking resources of self-employment.

The speakers pointed out that these jugad vehicles play an important role in taking agricultural produce from the villages to the markets and bringing essential goods for the farmers and villagers from the cities to the villages. In Bhagalpur district alone jugad vehicles provide livelihood for about 50,000 people among the families of 10,000 jugad drivers. Banning this not only deprives thousands of workers and their families of livelihood, it also exposes the hollow claims of "development with justice" made by the Nitish government.

The dharna protest was addressed by AICCTU National Vice President Com. SK Sharma, Jugad Gadi Chalak Sangh State convener Subhash Kumar, and several Jugad chalak workers. About 700 jugad workers were present in the dharna. A 5-member delegation led by Com. Mukesh Mukt submitted a memorandum to the district officer with the following demands: plying of jugad vehicles should continue as before; jugad vehicles should be regularized and all jugad drivers should be given licensed permits. The dharna culminated with the declaration by the jugad workers that on no account will the plying of jugad vehicles be stopped, and the workers would fight for guarantee of livelihood and safety till the last breath.

Earlier, in protest against the ban on jugad vehicles in Bhagalpur, AICCTU had started mobilizing jugad workers. Plans for the movement were discussed and finalized at a meeting on 22 May 2016 attended by about 200 jugad workers. A meeting was held on 29 May at the local Jaiprakash garden attended by 500 jugad workers. Leaders from AICCTU, Asangathit Kamgar Sangh, and Jugad Gadi Chalak Sangh, along with AICCTU State General Secretary Com. RN Thakur addressed the meeting.

Protests in North Bengal Against Fascist Attacks and Trinamool's Terror

CPI(ML) took out a peace march on 17 May 2016 at Raiganj in North Dinajpur to protest against the fascist attacks on Jadavpur University by the Sangh parivar, and to demand an end to the post-election terror unleashed by Trinamool goons. The rally went through the town from the local Siliguri crossing to the municipal bus stand. The appeal to all the participants of the rally to maintain peace and harmony received a good response. The march was led by district Secretary Com. Brajen Sarcar and other leaders.

Earlier, on 16 May a protest rally was organized at Siliguri, starting from Kanchanjanga stadium and culminating in a meeting at Hashimichak. The meeting was addressed by State committee member Com. Basudev Bose. The rally was attended by CC member and Darjeeling district Secretary Com. Abhijit Mazumdar, State committee members Comrades Pavitra Singh and Gauri De and other district leaders.

As part of the state-wide protests against the above two issues, a meeting was also held at the Chowringhee crossing in Mynagarh (Jalpaiguri) on 17 May. The demand was made at the meeting that BJP State President Dileep Ghosh be arrested and action taken against him for his derogatory remarks against women. The meeting also called for people from all sections to stand up against the terror being unleashed by the ruling Trinamool Congress in the State. The murder of a student at Diamond Harbour was strongly condemned at the meeting which was addressed by Comrades Basudev Bose, Shyamal Bhowmik and Mukul Chakravorty.


Red Salute to Com. Sohrai Oraon

Com. Sohrai Oraon came from an extremely poor family in Sirkander village (Patratu block). After combating ill-health for 4 - 5 years, he passed away at the age of 45 on 21 March 2016. He had been taking part in Party work from early school days. He was part of the Liberation Front which later merged into the CPI (ML). Com. Sohrai always very ably discharged the responsibilities given to him by the Party and worked for the Party in Patratu and Mandu blocks. The Party is even today extending itself on the basis of the foundation laid by him for the party organization. He worked with great dedication for organizing the rural poor under the Party ideology and familiarizing them with Communist ideology. His family also took part in Party activities. He leaves behind his wife and two children. Hundreds of Party workers and were present for funeral. He was buried in his ancestral village and tributes were also paid to him at the Ramgarh Party office. Red salute to Com. Sohrai Oraon!