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!