Wednesday, July 27, 2016

ML Update | No. 31 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.19 | No. 31 | 26 July – 1 August 2016

Beheading of a CPI(ML) Activist in Tami Nadu: Resist Atrocities by Casteist-Communal Outfits 

Even as the whole country protested the stripping and thrashing of Dalit youth in Gujarat by a 'cow protection' gang, the casteist-communal forces perpetrated yet another shocking caste atrocity, this time in Tamil Nadu. A young comrade of the CPI(ML), Mariappan, from the oppressed Vannar (washerman) caste, was beheaded by members of the Hindu Munnani for having challenged casteist norms. 

Comrade Mariappan had filed a complaint against Hindu Munnani members in 2013, for having attacked people of the Vannar community in a bid to prevent them from using the public corporation road for a funeral procession. On July 20, when he had gone to attend a Court hearing in the same case, the Hindu Munnani members threatened to behead him. The same day he disappeared, and his decapitated body and severed head were found the next day.

Local dominant caste leaders had also been incensed by the CPI(ML)'s fielding candidates from the oppressed caste in the ward elections, thereby flouting an unspoken 'ban' on such candidates. All four accused in Mariappan's beheading have now been arrested. 

As has been witnessed elsewhere in the country as well, people from Dalit and oppressed castes are routinely denied the right to vote or contest elections – and their assertion of this right, of what Ambedkar called the principle of 'one man, one vote' and 'one man, one value', is seen as a social and political challenge to dominant caste 'honour' and clout.

The dominant caste and Hindu Munnai wished to 'warn' the oppressed Vannar community of the consequences of asserting their civil and political rights – hence the barbaric beheading of Comrade Mariappan, a young activist from that community. 

The barbaric decapitation reeks of casteism. The incident is reminiscent of the manner in which CPI(ML)'s Comrade Bant Singh's limbs were chopped off in Punjab because his daughter demanded justice against rapists.

Even as the Dalits' protests in Gujarat have brought the barbaric casteist-communal 'cow protection' outfits into focus, the killing of Mariappan reminds us that this nexus between casteism and communal Hindutva is country-wide.

In Tamil Nadu, perpetrators of caste and communal atrocities have been enjoying a free reign with Jayalalithaa as Chief Minister. There have been a series of killings of young Dalit men who married non-Dalit women, as well as attacks on Dalit villages as reprisals for such marriages. In March this year, a Dalit youth and his wife were hacked by swords on a public road, leading to the death of the young man. Various caste outfits as well as the PMK political party have publicly justified such killings and instigated hatred against Dalits and oppressed castes. Yet, the ruling AIADMK as well as the main Opposition DMK remain silent on such atrocities. The Sangh Parivar and outfits like the Hindu Munnani have often made common cause with such casteist outfits – a prominent instance being the violent mob censorship of the writer Perumal Murugan, whose right to write was recently upheld by the Madras High Court. The series of barbaric attacks perpetrated by a nexus of Hindutva groups and casteist groups underline, again and again, the essentially Brahminical character of Hindutva. 

It is time to launch a countrywide offensive against violent casteist, communal and patriarchal outfits – including the 'Cow Protection' groups, Hindu Munnani as well as various casteist formations. Such outfits cannot be allowed to get away with their barbaric attacks on democratic values, and the ruling political formations at Centre and State must stop their tacit patronage of such outfits. Annihilate caste, resist atrocities by casteist-communal outfits! 

Team Visits Victims of Gujarat Anti-Dalit Atrocity

Modi rule has unleashed repression and atrocities on dalits, adivasis, women and Muslims. The latest such episode has been the incident of brutal stripping and thrashing of dalit youths in Gujarat, and the incidents of Chikmagaluru (Karnataka) where cow-vigilantes beat up Dalits and Tirunelveli (Tamilnadu) with casteist and Hindutva elements beheaded a CPI(ML) comrade.

The 11 July incident of Mota Samadhiyala village of Una town in Gir Somnath district of Gujarat was a case of atrocity against dalits on the pretext of 'cow protection'. In this village with a population of 3000, there are just 26-27 dalit households, most of them surviving on agricultural labour which generally earns them Rs. 100-150 per day in the seasons when their labour is required by the land holders. There are a few educated youth from among dalit families too. Only one family now continues with the traditional work of skinning of the dead animals. This family used to earn Rs. 150-200 for the skinning of a dead cow. It was members of this family that were the victims of the atrocity.

The Incident:

7 members of the family of Balubhai Veerabhai Sarvaiya were severely brutalised and publicly beaten up by the members of so-called Gau Rakshak Dal (Cow Protection Gang) on 11 July. These Dalit young men had been called by a farmer to dispose of the remains of two dead cows that had been probably been mauled to death by a lion.

Nearly 35-40 people who were led by Najabhai Danabhai Beria of a nearby village accused them "Tum jinda gaay ko katate ho, tumhe nahin chhorenge" (you slaughter live cows, we won't spare you), stripped them and beat them up with pipes for 3-4 hours. The entire beating was video-taped by the assailants and uploaded online as a 'warning' – standard practice of the Gau Raksha Dals. The incident was reported to the Una police within five minutes of the beginning of the beating, but the police took no action and let the brutality continue.

After beating them for nearly four hours the perpetrators of 'Gau Rakshak Dal' who are associated with the RSS and Shiv Sena according to the villagers, forcibly took all the victims towards Una town. As they passed the village boundary there was a police team who shook hands with the perpetrators in a congratulatory way. Mota Samadhiyala village is 17-18 kilometers from Una, but the police team took 3-4 hours to reach Una only to shake hands with the 'Gau Rakshaks'.

The victims were taken to Una at a place just in front of the police station where they were tied to a Xylo car which dragged them for a fairly long distance along the road. Their beatings continued even in front of the police station. At the police station, the police detained the victims for several hours, and made no attempt to detain the assailants. Eventually when an FIR was lodged, the police named only 6 of the 35-40 perpetrators.

The visit of Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel angered the dalit villagers of Mota Samadhiyala especially, because the CM and her team sat on chairs specially hired for them, while the dalit villagers sat on the floor at a distance! She had announced for Rs. 4 lakh compensation for each victim; by 24 July 7 persons got a payment of Rs. 1 lakh each instead of the whole amount, as if the government was doing a favour to the dalit victims.

Balubhai Veerabhai Sarvaiya has a head injury by the iron pipes used in the attack. Vasrambhai, Rameshbhai, Ashokbhai and Vaijalbhai have now been admitted in a hospital in Rajkot which is 200 km from Mota Samadhiyala.

After the wave of revolt and resistance by the Dalits of Gujarat – who threw cow carcasses in Government offices and said 'Let the Cow Protectors take care of their 'mother'' - only 17 persons out of 35-40 perpetrators have been arrested. A whole police thana witnessed the atrocity – but only three policemen have been suspended. Moreover, out of 17 arrested, charges have been filed against only 6 persons under Sections 307, 395, 324, 323, 504, Gujarat Police Act, 135 IPC and Section 3 (2)(5) of SC/ST Atrocities Act.

Notable among the protests in Gujarat was the Dhikkar Rally (Condemnation Rally) in Prime Minister Modi's home district which condemned Modi for his silence on anti-Dalit atrocities. All over Gujarat, Muslim people and groups have joined the Dalit protests against cow-vigilantism and casteist atrocities.  

All these protests and rallies demanded an immediate ban on cow vigilantism and organisations like Gau Rakshak Dals. People are also demanding the resignation of the  Anandiben government of Gujarat whose rhetoric of 'development' has become synonymous with the repression of dalit, adivasis, women and all oppressed sections.

A team comprised of CPI(ML) Politburo member Prabhat Kumar, All India Rural and Agricultural Labour Association (AIRLA) national President and ex-Member of Parliament Rameshwar Prasad, AIPF's Tushar Parmar, National Secretary of Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) Amit Patanwadia and Abhishek Parmar of Black Panther visited Mota Samadhiyala village on 24 July and met the victims and their families.

The team has demanded that the Gujarat government (1) ban 'Gau Rakshak Dals' and similar organisations throughout the state; (2) All the police personnel and officers of Gir-Somnath District involved in the incident must immediately be suspended and be charged under SC/ST Atrocities Act. (3 identify and arrest all the attackers based on the video footage and ensure a fast track trial (4) proper compensation, best medical treatment, and full security to all the victims and their families.

This team also joined a protest demonstration in Chandkhera in Ahmedabad organised by various dalit organisations where people signed on a 56-yards long cloth (mocking the Modi's tall talk of 56" chest).

Sankalp Sabha On 20th Anniversary of Bathani Tola Carnage

On 11 July 1996 the feudal-communal Ranveer Sena brutally massacred women and children of Bathani Tola. The CPI (ML) organized a Sankalp Sabha in Bathani Tola on the 20th anniversary of the carnage. AIARLA district Secretary Com. Kamta Prasad Singh, Comrades Madan Singh, Ramkishore Rai, Ramesh Singh, Ram Dutt Ram, Ramanand Thakur, Naeemuddin Ansari and others offered floral tribute to the martyrs and reiterated their resolve to continue the struggle for justice.

AISA Protests in Chandigarh

AISA and the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sttudents' Union (SBSU) commenced the dharna protests for their demands on the opening day of the College situated in Sector-11, Chandigarh. In spite of the Sector-11 College being the most expensive college in Chandigarh, it does not provide adequate water in the hostels, and library facilities are highly inadequate. Only 3 computer systems are in working condition; the college does not have wi-fi despite it being shown in the prospectus. The students' have been struggling to ensure that these demands are met. On the day of the dharna, when the College Principal came to the dharna venue and started moving out the protesting students, the student leaders resisted and insisted that first their demands be addressed. However, the Principal tried to snatch the posters from their hands, called the police and gave orders for the students to be arrested. The college unit of ABVP is opposing the students' demands. Anisha Negi, Joint President of AISA and SBSU said that the students' organizations which are opposing struggles for facilities for students fight elections on the strength of money and muscle power but betray the interests of students. The students will surely give a fitting reply to this. AISA National Executive member Vijay Kumar said that the dictatorial behavior of the Principal will not be tolerated and the struggle will continue.

Tribute to Comrade Jeeta Kaur

The CPI (ML) organized a "Jagriti" convention in Mansa, Punjab on 23 June 2016, the 9th death anniversary of Com. Jeeta Kaur. Com. Jeeta, a prominent CPI (ML) and AIPWA leader, lost her life to cancer at the untimely age of 48 on 23 June 2007. The convention was presided over by Comrades Iqbal Kaur Udasi, Chhoti Kaur, Beant Kaur, Amandeep Kaur, Kuldeep Kaur, Paramjeet Kaur and Amarjeet. Speakers at the convention recalled Com. Jeeta's life dedicated to people's struggles and social change and discussed the "role of women in people's struggles". 

The convention was also addressed by comrades Balwinder Kaur, Jasbir Kaur, Bhagwant Singh Samaon, Gurmeet Singh, Nikka Singh, Gurjant Singh, Punjab Kisan Union President Raldu Singh, and Rajvindr Singh Rana. People's singers presented revolutionary songs. The convention passed a resolution condemning the Badal government's atrocities, arrests, and false cases on dalits, workers, farmers and unemployed people who are fighting in various districts on issues of debt waiver, employment generation, and one-third share of panchayati land on residential plots, and stressed the need for a united political struggle on these issues.

Protest Demo at Kanpur Income Tax Office

Protests were staged at the Income Tax Office on 30 June 2016 by Karmachari Mahasangh Uttar Pradesh (W) Circle, Kanpur, in response to the call by the Rashtriya Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti and the Central Gazetted Officers' Association to protest against the implementation of the anti-officer and anti-worker recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission without any amendments. It is to be noted that not only workers but officers in government bodies also come under the scope of wage revision and they are also unhappy with the recommendations of the Pay Commission. 

Block Level Protests in Darbhanga against Forced Evications of Mahadalits

265 families of the mahadalit community have been living in Kataya Musahari of Biraul panchayat (Darbhanga district) for the past 45 years. At present there are 25 Indira Awas houses, 12 hand pumps and 45 toilets in this Tola. This land used to be in the name of the Ram Janaki temple whose sewait Rambahadur Gupta is now no more. The poor-mahadalits have about 30 bighas of the temple land. In the new survey this land has been entered in the name of Sri Sri 108 Ram Janaki Mahadev. The grandson of Rambahadur Gupta's brother Shyam Bahadur Gupta has staked a false claim to this land. These feudal forces used money and muscle power to pressurize the Biraul block officials to displace the poor-mahadalits and give them possession. The matter went up to the High Court but the mahadalits, being unorganized, could not put up their case effectively. The HC ruled in favour of the feudal forces, proving the extent to which our courts are anti-poor.

On 9 July the administration resorted to force and started forcible eviction of the mahadalits, during which Jagmaya Devi was killed and 4 people were injured. However, the insensitive block officials maintained that Jagmaya Devi was not killed by police oppression but died of an illness. The administration did not even conduct a post-mortem on Jagmaya Devi. 

The CPI(ML) Darbhanga district committee has planned to file an appeal in the High Court in this matter. Protests were held at all block HQs on 17 July 2016 demanding proper compensation and government job for Jagmaya Devi's kin, a high level enquiry into the attack by the administration on the Tola, land parchas for all poor-mahadalits, along with other demands. The effigy of the Biraul SDO was burnt at the protest which led by district Secretary Com. Baidnath Yadav.

Initiatives in Jharkhand

The CPI (ML) Giridih district committee held an Akrosh rally at the Sariya block HQ on 5 July 2016, the anniversary of the martyrdom of Com. Arun Pandey who was killed on this day last year in the Koiridih jungles of Bagodar district. Of the 10 accused, only one has been arrested so far. In protest against the negligence of the police, the Sariya block SDPO office was gheraoed on 5 July 2016. Thousands of people participated in the gherao, led by former MLA Vinod Singh and demanded the arrest of all the accused.  Arun Pandey was a senior Party leader who had played a significant role in mobilizing the people of the Sariya-Koiridih area in favour of the CPI (ML). 

A Sankalp Sabha was organized on 4 July at Bundu Chowk, Ranchi district, on the 26th martyrdom anniversary of Com. Parmshwar Singh Munda, that resolved to fight corporate land grab and the anti-adivasi and anti-democratic domicile policy.

Khorimahya block HQ was gheraoed under the leadership of MLA Com. Rajkumar Yadav on 1 July. The gherao lasted till 2 July and reports are that 22,000 ration cards in Rajdhanwar and 16,000 ration cards in Jamua were made as a result of the gherao. Food grain distribution was also speeded up in Rajdhanwar, Ganwa, Tisri and Jamua as a result of the pressure thus built.

Midday meal workers held dharnas in Godda and Dhanbad under the banner of the Jharkhand Pradesh Vidyalaya Rasoiya Sanyojika Adhyaksh Sangh to protest against the privatization of midday meal workers and laying off of Assistant Sanyojikas. AICCTU and Rasoiya Sangh protested strongly on 3 and 5 July forcing a stay on the reconstitution of the Vidyalaya management committee (the first step in privatization). If the reconstitution plan is not revoked before 10 July, a dharna will be staged in front of the Collectorate.

Large scale protests were held in Markaccho block of Koderma district on 2 July against the police firing on a CPI(ML) protest there on 22 January 2003, that killed 3 comrades under the false charge that they were 'militants.' After strong protests led by the late Com. Mahendra Singh, the Babulal Marandi government had been forced to release all the falsely arrested comrades, and take back all the false cases. However, now after 13 years Koderma district Party workers are being threatened with arrest in connection with the same case. The 2 July protest was also to protest against this conspiracy and demanded that the findings of the enquiry report on the Markacho police firing incident be published and witch hunt of innocent activists be stopped immediately.

Citizen's Protest Vigil in Delhi against atrocities on Dalits and Muslims in the name of 'Cow Protection'

A citizens protest vigil was called in Delhi at Jantar Mantar on 23 July against the atrocities on Dalits and Muslims in by cow protection vigilante groups in the name of cow protection. The vigilante groups that have sprung up all over the country enjoy the patronage of the ruling establishment. The protest was joined by CPI(ML), AISA, AICCTU, AIPWA and RYA along with prominent activists like Bezwada Wilson, Nandita Narain, N D Pancholi and others. Protesters demanded a ban on all 'cow protection' vigilante groups. They also demanded immediate action against the vigilante groups who attacked Dalits in Una, Gujarat and also against their political patrons. Several speakers spoke about the urgent need to strike at the root of casteism and Brahminism. Holding placards and banners expressing solidarity with the ongoing Dalit movement in Gujarat, the protestors demanded prohibition of all forms of manual scavenging and hazardous and demeaning work along with immediate rehabilitation of all the Dalits engaged in such work. The vigil was addressed by like Bezwada Wilson, Nandita Narain, N D Pancholi, Bhasha Singh, Com. Ramayana Ram, RYA National Secretary Com. Om Prasad and JNUSU VP Shehla Rashid. The cultural group Sangwari also presented songs expressing solidarity with the ongoing movement against oppression of the Dalits and the minorities. 

ASHA Workers' Protest In Haldwani

Uttarakhand ASHA Health Workers' Union affiliated to AICCTU held a vociferous protest in Haldwani as part of a state-wide programme and burnt the effigy of the Central government. The ASHA workers are paid a monthly honorarium in 9 States in the country, but in Uttarakhand they do not get any monthly wages or honorarium. The Central government must implement an equal policy for ASHA workers across the country. Uttarakhand ASHA workers under the leadership of the ASHA Health Workers' Union have been boycotting work since 11 July 2016 but the government has so far been deaf to their demands. Additionally, the ASHA workers in Uttarakhand have been burdened with a large number of tasks and duties such as reduction in mother-infant mortality rate, pulse polio campaign, family welfare, malaria survey, ORS distribution, keeping vigilance on violence against women, Mukhyamantri Health Insurance Scheme, disaster training etc. The following demands were made during the protest:

1.       ASHA workers should be given the status of "worker" and all ASHA workers across the country should be paid an equal minimum wage of Rs 18000 per month as per the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission. Till such time as this is done, they should be paid minimum wages as per the recommendations of the 45th Labour Conference.

2.       ASHA workers should be regularized and given the status of State government employees.

3.       The fund cuts made by the Central government in the budget for the National Health Mission should be revoked.

During the protest, the police tried to forcibly stop the ASHA workers from burning the effigy and tried to remove them from the road in front of the Women's Hospital, causing a sharp confrontation between the City Magistrate and police and the workers. After the effigy burning and rally in front of the Women's Hospital, the police registered a case against Com. Kailash Pandey and 11 ASHA workers for blocking the Highway. On the same day, the BJP had also staged a rally and effigy burning, during which there was a blockage for about 25 minutes in front of the Deputy Collector's office; whereas, the effigy burning by the ASHA workers took place in front of the Women's Hospital, and the blockage lasted for a much shorter period. However, in the eyes of the police and the administration the ASHA workers' protest and blockage was sufficient grounds for registering a case; no case was registered in connection with the BJP's rally, effigy burning and road block.  Apart from Haldwani, the ASHA workers also held strong protests and burnt the effigy of the Central government at Nainital, Garampani, Ramnagar, Bajpur, Ranikhet, Didihat, Pithoragarh, Gangolihat, Champawat, Bageshwar, Lohaghat, Pati, Tanakpur, and other places.

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