Wednesday, August 31, 2016

ML Update | No. 36 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.19 | No. 36 | 30 Aug – 5 Sept 2016


Tarun Sagar in Haryana Assembly: 
Arranged Marriage of Religion and Politics

The BJP government of Haryana led by ML Khattar, already widely discredited for its poor record of governance, systematic promotion of the casteist-communal agenda of the RSS and the open display of a regressive patriarchal mindset, recently set yet another dubious example, this time by openly violating the secular principle of separating religion from politics, a principle which is central to the constitutional foundation of the Indian state. On 26 August, it invited the Jain monk Tarun Sagar to address the Haryana Assembly. Technically speaking, Tarun Sagar's address was not part of the Assembly proceedings as the Assembly had already been adjourned, but the implication of a religious leader being invited to address legislators right within the premises of the state legislature should not be lost on anybody.

Much of the public discussion on the subject, especially in the social media, has been focused on the contrast of a nude monk addressing a fully clothed audience, with supporters of Tarun Sagar defending it in the name of the religious principle and tradition of Digambar Jains, accusing the critics of hurting the religious sentiment of the Jain community and even being insensitive to the religious diversity and cultural pluralism that defines India. Many of those who have commented on the 'nude monk' angle have however not criticised the Jain tradition, they have commented on the hypocrisy of the conservative mindset, now being most aggressively championed and inflicted on the society by the Sangh brigade, which endorses male nudity in the name of religion but oppresses women in the name of dress code, with the culture minister of the Modi cabinet even issuing a veritable dress advisory for foreign tourists.

The open violation of the secular principle and the constitutional requirement of the state not having or promoting any religion is of course a key issue in this case. If it is okay to invite Tarun Sagar to address the Assembly, what is wrong in inviting preachers from other religions? Whether the Haryana Assembly now makes it a policy to invite other religious preachers to strike a 'religious balance' or not, the secular principle has already been violated and Indian democracy cannot ignore or condone this violation. It should moreover be noted that before Haryana, Tarun Sagar has already addressed the MP Assembly (another BJP-ruled state) and was slated to address the Delhi Assembly as well. In fact, when music composer and AAP enthusiast Vishal Dadlani questioned the logic of inviting Tarun Sagar, he was not only attacked by the Sangh brigade and voices from within the Jain community, but also disowned and warned by the AAP leadership, making him quit his open political affiliation with AAP.

Much of what Tarun Sagar said was apparently devoted to Modi's pet theme of 'saving the girl child'. Sagar blamed the adverse sex ratio for sexual violence against women, the spurious 'commonsensical' argument that sees sexual harassment and violence as an upshot of sex deprivation or sexual curiosity among young males and not as an abuse, or rather a ubiquitous expression, of social power in a patriarchal order. He then sought to find some ridiculous solutions to the sex ratio problem – making it mandatory for candidates in an election to have girl children or making sure that groom's families have girl children before a marriage is arranged! He also dabbled into more explicitly political topics and indulged in quite a bit of Pakistan-bashing and Islamophobia in the name of condemning terrorism.

The most telling and profound remark of his address of course came when he described the relation between religion and politics. For him the relation between the two is analogous to the husband-wife relationship, where the husband has to provide security to the wife and the wife has to obey the discipline of the husband. Outside this 'disciplinary framework' the wife (equivalently politics) becomes a mad elephant that is difficult to control! With this revealing analogy, Sagar has at once exposed the deep-seated misogyny that informs the patriarchal notion of marriage and family and the theocratic notion of politics which is deeply resentful of the secular principle of separation of religion and politics.

The BJP is more than happy that it has got a Jain monk to say things that are central to the RSS dream of a Hindu Rashtra, preaching the kind of families and politics that the RSS would love to impose on India in complete subversion and negation of the constitutional principles of liberty, equality and fraternity and the notion of a secular democratic India which upholds religious freedom but keeps the state and governance completely away from the citizen's private domain of religion. Indeed, the Jains are seen as the closest ally of the Sangh among all 'minority' religions in India. If mainstream bourgeois politics has always revolved around declared or undeclared social engineering and caste equations, the BJP has introduced its own model of 'socio-religious engineering' while castigating Muslims in the name of vote-bank politics. The wooing of Jains and now the Haryana Sports Minister's declaration of sanctioning 'discretionary state funds' for the Dera Sachha Sauda in the name of promotion of sports in the state are all part of this saffron politicking.

Farmers' Resistance Day on 9 August  

The All India Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM) called for nationwide farmers' resistance day on 9 August, also observed as anti-imperialism day by the party, against the loot of agricultural land and natural resources and the policies responsible for pledging thecountry's agriculture in the hands of national and foreign companies, and demanding land reforms and waiving of loans to the farmers.

Observing resistance day, a massive protest march was organised in Bagodar, in Giridih district of Jharkhand. A seminar and a protest meeting was also organised in Bengabaad, also in Giridih district. Dharna and meetings were also organised in Ramgarh, Koderma and Hazaribagh districts of the state. In Odisha, a united protest was organised in Puri district headquarters. Protests were also organised in Bhubaneswar, Kalahandi and other districts of Odisha. In Madhya Pradesh, a dharna was organised in front of the district officials in Bhind and followed by a meeting in which people participated in huge numbers. The farmers' resistance day was also observed in several places in Chambal and Gwalior.

A seminar was organised in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh in which a huge number of farmers and youth participated. InRajasthan, AIKM organised a dharna at the district headquarters in Jhunjhunu. A meeting and a march were organised by AIKM in Gazipur in Uttar Pradesh. Protests and demonstrations were also organised in Jalaun, Bareilly, Pilibhit, Mathura and Meerganj.

In Kaithal, Haryana, 'Betrayal Day' was observed and a dharna and a meeting organised in front of the local secretariat. A protest march was taken out from Lalkuan station in Nainital district in Uttarakhand and a charter of demand submitted to the Tehsil officer. InWest Bengal, protest march were called in Hooghly and Nadia districts.

In Bihar, protest march took place in Hajipur, where a massive resistance sabha was organised in Baswan Singh Stadium. In Jehanabad too, protest march was held and a meeting held at the railway station. A dharna was organised at district headquarters in Nawada. Protests and other programmes were also organised in Purnea, Arwal, Shukrabad, Agiaon, Buxar, Jamui, Rohtas and Naubatpur. In the Peero block of Bhojpur district, a sabha was organised and PM Modi's effigy burnt.

In Punjab, dharnas were organised in Sangrur, Barnala and Gurdaspur. In Mansa too, a massive dharna was called in which farmers participated in huge numbers. In Maharashtra, a protest march was taken out in Ahmednagar.  

Protest Against Negligent Medical Practices in Darbhanga  

The condition of the prestigious Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) is increasingly becoming pitiable. A state of complete chaos and anarchy prevails in the hospital premises. On several occasions people undergoing eye operation have had to deal with complete loss of vision post operation. People have to undergo as many as three operations for recovery from broken bones. Patients rushing to avail the emergency facilities of the hospital at odd times are subjected to gross negligence by the doctors on duty and if their relations and friends complain about the negligence, there are goons and middlemen to respond by way of physical assault or legal cases. It has become a routine procedure that doctors from the hospital urge the patients to come to their private practice for better treatment after the treatment in hospital is over. On 10 August, the prevailing situation reached its worst level when Janki Devi who had come to the hospital for treatment for broken bones and had to pay with her life. Given the conditions, on 11 August a protest was staged in DMCH with the dead body, under the banner of the CPI (ML). The protest was led by comrades Rohit, Devendra and Nandlal.  For several hours they protested against the superintendent. Thereafter, a written agreement was obtained on 6 point charter of demand as per which a case was filed against the negligent doctor and a three member committee was formed to investigate the incident. The protest was widely supported and discussed. The party has planned a series of agitations as a part of a movement to address the anarchic and pitiable state of the DMCH. 

Students demand filling of lecturer posts in Andhra Pradesh

Students pursuing their higher education in government degree and junior colleges in the Eleswaram town in the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh have been experiencing severe constraints in their academic pursuits owing to shortage of lecturers. The local unit of AISA has consistently tried to raise this issue and bring it to the notice of education department officials, however, no heed has so far been paid to this very genuine and crucial demand of the student population. On 11 August, nearly 300 students under the leadership of AISA leaders, reached Balaji Chowk and blocked the road. When the vehicles of the local MLE and the District Collector too were stopped during the road block, they were forced to talk to the agitating students. The AISA leaders explained to them the problems of the students and the DC spoke to the education department officials leading to appointment of 5 lecturers in two colleges.

AIPF Conventions at Puducherry

The Puducherry unit of AIPF is holding a series of conventions in the name of "Arise my country". On 16 August, the first convention was organised. It was titled- 'Attacks on Dalits and Muslims and hate speech against them.' 

Com. R. Mamgayarselvan, National campaign committee member, AIPF, presided over the convention in the presence of Com. K. Mohanasundaram, NC member, P.Moorthy, Ex-MLA and M. Muthukannu, Social activist. Com. S. Balasubramanian, state secretary gave the keynote address. In his address he stressed on the need to carry forward the ideas of Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Dr. B. R. Ambedkar in order to contain the offensive of communal fascists.

S. Pavanan, Assistant General Secretary, Viduthalai Siruthaikal Katchi (VCK) a prominent Dalit party in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry was the guest speaker. He condemned the attacks against Dalits and Muslims. He thoroughly exposed the hate speech of the Sangh Parivar. He called for the unity of left and democratic forces against communal onslaught.

The next Convention was held on 26th August on "Stop the war on Democracy in Kashmir." 

Com. R. Murugandham National Council member AIPF presided over the convention in the presence of Com. S. Balasubramanian, convener AIPF and state secretary CPI(ML), R. ThanikaiThambi, journalist and V. Murthy of AIPF.

Com. R. Mangayarselvam, National Campaign committee member AIPF gave the keynote address.

Com. S. Kumarasamy, CPI(ML), Polit bureau member was the guest speaker. In his speech he explained the history of the Kashmir conflict and called for early political resolution of the Kashmir dispute as well as an end to the brutal handling of the present people's movement in Kashmir.

The Convention resolved to demand an end to the use of pellet guns, and firing against civilian agitators,

immediate withdrawal of AFSPA and military forces from civilian areas; and unconditional political dialogue with all sections of Kashmiri people for a time-bound political solution of the dispute.

Protest against Attacks on Dalits and Minorities in Andhra Pradesh

On 16 August, in the town of Chatrai of Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh AISA and RYA organized a protest rally to against the attacks on Dalits and minorities in the name of religion. Com Karumanchi Dhanush, Mandal committee secretary of RYA spoke about the inhuman attacks on Dalits and minorities by 'Cow protection' vigilante groups and he expressed solidarity with the victims. Com Durgam Pullarao, party district committee member also addressed the students and youth.  

Tea Workers' Rally in Siliguri

24 Tea Unions of North Bengal under the banner of 'Joint Forum' held a massive rally in Siliguri on 24 August demanding minimum wage, opening of closed tea gardens, proper implementation of NFSA and 20 % bonus. The rally ended in gheraoing the Joint Labour Commissioner office and submitting a memorandum. AICCTU's Darjeeling District unit participated in large numbers in this rally.

Tribals Protest Land Grab in Tamil Nadu   

Tribals under the banner of the Tamil Nadu Scheduled Tribe (Malayali) Peravai held a demonstration on 20th August near the bus stand at Karumandurai in Kalvarayan Hills in Tamil Nadu. More than 200 tribal people participated including 5 persons from the Vellimalai area also joined. They demanded a law to protect their lands and restoration of ancestral lands that have been grabbed by non-tribals, including many politicians, ex- and current ministers, ex-bureaucrats and other prominent people. According to an estimate, 9965 acres of tribal land have been grabbed in Chinna Kalvarayan Hills itself.

Speaking at the demonstration, AIPF TN Convener A Chandramohan pointed out that land alienation paved the way for tribals to be forced into risking their lives and liberty by working as woodcutters for the red sandalwood mafia in the Andhra Pradesh forests. The AIPF had helped release 72 such woodcutters recently from prolonged jail custody. The demonstration was also addressed by V Marimuthu, State President and C Raman, Salem District Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Scheduled Tribe (Malayali) Peravai and ST Rajender, President of the Struggle Committee.

Cow Vigilantes Strike Again in Jharkhand

Five Muslim men Wasim Ansari, Aftab Ansari, Shahbaz, Naseem Ansari, and Aijaz Ansari on the road from Dumraon village to Pelawal in Hazaribagh district, Jharkhand, were beaten up by a cow-vigilante mob that accused them of transporting cattle for slaughter. They were badly beaten up, and two of them were nearly buried alive, escaping with severe injuries to their eyes and limbs.  

A team of AIPF members headed by Anil Anshuman along with the United Muslim Forum members went to RIMS hospital to meet the injured victims. Subsequently another AIPF team led by former CPI(ML) MLA Vinod Singh visited Pelawal on 29th August and met the victims and their families.  

Sahela Khatun of Dumraon told the team that she had set out for her maternal home in Pelawal, taking her Jersey cow, goats and some household items with her in a Tata 407 mini-bus. Her relatives were following her on motorcycles. The relatives were waylaid near Dumraon by cow-vigilantes who not only beat them up but dragged them behind a motorcycle and set the mini-bus on fire. 

The team addressed a press conference demanding justice for the victims, a ban on cow-vigilante groups and also announced a dharna to be held at the Hazaribagh district headquarters on 1 September. 

Police Firing on Villagers Protesting Land Grab in Jharkhand

Villagers have been demanding jobs and adequate cash compensation for the grab of their lands due to the expansion of the Inland Power Plant at Ramgarh District in Jharkhand. Officials of the Inland Power Limited (IPL) had called the villagers to discuss their demands. The IPL thermal power plant has been operating its first phase (63 Mega-Watt) since 2014 and a second 63 MW phase is now proposed. Residents of eight villages adjoining the plant have been demanding jobs within the plant and also adequate cash compensation for land acquisition.  When the villagers gathered at the gates of the plant in protest demanding that their demands be discussed, police fired on them, killing two persons and injuring seven. CPI(ML) will hold a Jharkhand-wide protest against this police firing on 31st August.  

AISA's Hunger Strike in Bihar Ends 

The indefinite hunger strike begun by AISA's Bihar Unit on 24th August ended on 29th August following a meeting with the Bihar Education Minister and a one-month ultimatum issued by AISA to the Government to meet the students' demands.

The students have been agitating against the Bihar Government's move to slash scholarships to SC/ST/OBC/Minority students. The first inkling that such scholarships are being cut came when 60 Dalit students from Champaran (Bihar) who had been receiving a Bihar Government scholarship supporting their education in a medical college in Odisha, were thrown out when the scholarship was withdrawn and they failed to pay their fees. Following protests by AISA, the Government restored the scholarship to those students – but subsequently announced a Rs 15000 cap on the scholarship! This amount is far from enough to cover the costs of education in private engineering and medical colleges. Further, there were indicators that the Bihar Government is also planning to cut back scholarships for SC/ST/OBC/Minority students in Government-run institutions also.

Along with the issue of the scholarships, AISA also raised the long-pending demand to refurbish the existing Ambedkar Hostels in the State which are in a highly dilapidated and dangerous state, and also construct new hostels for Dalit and other deprived students.

The hunger strike had also raised the demand for strict action against the police authorities responsible for the brutal lathicharge by Bihar police on a Dalit students' rally in Patna.  

Shivprakash Ranjan, AISA State Secretary accepted juice from the CPI(ML) State Secretary Comrade Kunal; State VP Kazim Irfani from AIKM National General Secretary Rajaram Singh; Pappu Kumar Ram, State Executive member from AIPWA leader Shashi Yadav; Babu Saheb, VP of AISA from Shri Sharadendu, the Head of Department of Hindi at Patna University; Santosh Arya, State Executive member from former Principal of Patna College and former Professor, Patna University Shri Naval Kishor; and Sanjay Sajan, State Executive Member from CPI(ML) PB member Comrade Amar.        



Com. Rajnanadan Sharma

Com. Rajnandan Sharma (Master Sahab), passed away on the 4 August 2016 at the age of 82 years in Paras Hospital in Patna. He had become familiar with communist ideology in the decade of 1950s and in 1964 he joined CPI (M) and started working as an activist. In 1969, he came in contact with CPI (ML) and since then he continued to be a determined soldier of the party. During the party's underground years, his house used to be a safe shelter for party leaders. During the emergency, in 1976, when his police came to know about him, he himself became an underground activist. After the emergency ended in 1978, he again started working as a teacher in a Railway school in Khagaul and his home once again became a trustworthy shelter for party activists. He himself remained involved in the expansion of the party. After his demise, his body was brought to his ancestral village and several hundreds gathered to pay their tributes. Several CPI(ML) leaders including Bihar state secretary Com . Kunal participated in his funeral procession. On 15 August, a memorial meeting was organised in the Mahatma Gandhi library in his village. He is survived by two daughters, two sons and innumerable activists.

Red Salute to Master Sahab!

Comrade Mulkraj

Veteran CPI(ML) activist Comrade Mulkraj passed away in Delhi on 27 August 2016. Comrade Mulkraj was one of the party's first members in Delhi. His funeral procession from his home in A Block Mongolpuri to the cremation grounds was full of CPI(ML) activists and leaders as well as his family members. CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya saluted him with flowers and with the party's flag. Other party leaders who paid him the final tributes included Comrades Prabhat Kumar, Sanjay Sharma, Delhi State Secretary Ravi Rai, AIKM National Secretary Purushottam Sharma, senior Delhi party leaders Amarnath Tiwary, Rooplal, Surendra Panchal, as well as members of the Mongolpuri party committee. Comrade Mulkraj was born in Multan district (now in Pakistan) in the Sansi community – a nomadic tribe that is among the Denotified Tribes (DNTs). DNTs had been profiled by the colonial rulers as 'criminal tribes' and subjected to racial and casteist surveillance and oppression – a legacy that continues to this day. Under colonial rule, a member of the DNTs could not travel from one district to another without notifying the police. Growing up under such oppression, Mulkraj developed a strong determination to resist colonial rule and fight for the dignity of his peoples. After independence, these tribes were denotified only in 1952 after a struggle of which the young Mulkraj had been a part.

Comrade Mulkraj's family came to India during Partition. Staying in various parts of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, they eventually came to Delhi. While working in the Modi Mills in UP, Mulkraj had been sacked for participating in workers' struggles. In Haryana he had come into contact with CPI and CPI(M) also, but being attracted by news of the Naxalbari movement, he kept seeking contact with the CPI(ML). In Delhi, to support his family, Mulkraj worked as a rickshaw puller. In 1978-79, he came into contact with the CPI(ML) which was then underground.     

After the decision taken by the special party conference in 1979 to form mass organisations and build mass struggles, Comrade Mulkraj took up the responsibility of organising Delhi's working class struggles. In 1980, he had the party's first trade union General Kamgar Union registered – which is now Delhi's one of the oldest functional trade unions known today as All India General Kamgar Union. In the same year, he formed a union led by the party in Britannia Industries and in 1981, workers of Britannia waged a long struggle. He helped organise many joint Trade Union struggles in Delhi. He played an important part in the campaigns to free Comrade Nagbhushan Patnaik and Nelson Mandela, and also in building the Indian People's Front.        

Comrade Mulkraj's whole life was dedicated to the Indian working class struggle and Indian revolution. He had an insatiable hunger for party literature, reading Lokyuddh avidly. Even in his last days, you could find clippings from party publications and party leaders' writings in his pockets. He would love to read about people's movements and the communist movement in the country and in the world. He would never allow demoralisation to cast even a shadow on him.

Comrade Mulkraj lived a full and happy life dedicated to people – so his passing away and his funeral were an occasion not so much for mourning as for joy and inspiration for all the younger comrades.     

Red Salute to Comrade Mulkraj!      

Friday, August 26, 2016

ML Update | No. 34 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 19, No. 35, 23 ­– 29 AUGUST 2016

Modi's Foreign Policy and 
the Kashmir-Balochistan Conundrum

The cat is now out of the bag. Towards the end of his long and tiring Independence Day address, Modi let the Balochistan cat jump out of the bag of diplomatic silence. He said he had been getting many messages of gratitude from Balochistan and POK. And we are now told this is the new aggressive foreign policy discourse of the Modi regime. It is not just Modi and not just Balochistan, Mohan Bhagwat says the Modi government should do all that is necessary to reclaim parts of Jammu and Kashmir currently under the control of Pakistan and China. From Rajnath Singh to Arun Jaitley, every senior BJP minister is daily blaming Pakistan for the unrest in Pakistan. Occasionally Modi also invokes the much-touted 'constitutional framework' even as the security forces acknowledge the killing of Kashmiri citizens in 'unsanctioned raids' (like the killing of Shabir Ahmad Monga, a lecturer, and severe injuries inflicted on several others in Pulwama district during the intervening night of August 17 and 18).

As far as the international community is concerned, the Balochistan-Gilgit-POK remark of Modi can only mean one thing. Modi believes that he can stop Pakistan from raising the Kashmir issue in international fora by hitting it back with the issue of Balochistan. Whether this blackmail will work or not is anybody's guess (many say it is bound to backfire), but what Modi has already done is to establish an equivalence between Kashmir and Balochistan that can only expose and negate the official Indian narrative on Kashmir. Balochistan is fighting for secession and if India blames Pakistan for suppressing the Balochistan struggle, Pakistan accuses India of doing the same in Kashmir. If India attributes the unrest in Kashmir to Pakistani instigation, Pakistan levels exactly similar charges on India with regard to Balochistan. If Modi expects the world to believe his word about Balochistan, why shouldn't the international community also believe what human rights organizations worldwide say about Kashmir?

Modi has made the Balochistan remark not in any international forum though. The occasion was India's own Independence Day and he was speaking in front of his audience in India. Viewed in the context of Kashmir, his remark can only further alienate and infuriate the people in the valley who are daily losing lives and limbs and eyes to bullets and now the more indiscriminate pellets of the Indian state. According to the CRPF's own admission made to the judiciary, the force used 1.3 million pellets between July 8 and August 11. When asked when the CRPF would stop using pellet guns, Director General K Durga Prasad says 'this is like asking when will you stop beating your wife'! And now here is the Prime Minister of India talking about the gratitude expressed by the people of Balochistan for raising the issue of repression they face at the hands of the Pakistani state.

The BJP never tires of claiming that Kashmir is an integral part of India, but it blames Pakistan for the grievances of the Kashmiri people. If the people of Kashmir come out on the streets to protest, the BJP, which now shares power in the state as well, unleashes the brutal might of the state on unarmed protesters even as the PM sheds crocodile tears about the plight of the people in Balochistan and POK. By refusing to talk to the people of Kashmir, the Indian state has all along played ball with Pakistan in treating Kashmir as a bone of bilateral contention ignoring direct communication and dialogue with the Kashmiri people to address their concerns and grievances including the basic question of self-determination of the Kashmiri people. Especially now that the reins of power are in the hands of the ultra-chauvinist BJP, more than ever before Kashmir has become a game of political football between the two permanently sparring and occasionally warring neighbours. By openly tagging Balochistan to Kashmir, Modi has now made sure that the fire of discord between India and Pakistan will keep burning. And this is above all sheer survival strategy for a government which needs weapons of mass distraction to cover up its glaring failure on every front and betrayal on every promise.

While many former diplomats and foreign policy watchers have questioned the wisdom of Modi's Balochistan-POK discourse, leaders of the Congress have rushed to the defence of this new line. Former UPA Defence Minister and senior Congress leader AK Anthony has endorsed Modi's Balochistan remark, and Karnataka's Siddaramaiah government has acted on an ABVP complaint to slap sedition charges on the Amnesty International India for discussing human rights violations in Kashmir in an Independence Day eve programme in Bengaluru. In the face of nationwide outrage against the sedition charges slapped on JNU students, Rahul Gandhi had expressed his solidarity with the students and teachers of JNU, but here is his party's government in Karnataka leveling sedition charges on noted senior journalist Seema Mustafa for moderating the Amnesty discussion on Kashmir!

Indeed, the Congress has historically often been complicit with the Sangh in matters of chauvinism and foreign policy. Beginning with Nehru inviting the RSS to join the Republic Day Parade after the 1962 India-China war, and RSS hailing Indira Gandhi in the aftermath of the 1971 Bangladesh war, to this latest occasion, there have been many instances of reciprocity and convergence between the two. The democratic opinion of India must squarely reject this competitive chauvinism along with the anti-people neo-liberal collaboration between the BJP and the Congress (as witnessed at the time of the passage of the SEZ Act a decade ago and the GST Bill the other day) and not let the Modi regime play the Balochistan-POK card to legitimize the ongoing suppression of Kashmiri protests as well as other voices of dissent and struggles for justice elsewhere in the country. 

RYA Conference in Bihar

The 6th Bihar State RYA Conference was held in Jehanabad on 3 August. The conference was attended by over 500 delegates from over 25 districts from Bihar. As a tribute to the recent student-youth upsurge in the country, especially the clarion call of 'Utho Mere Desh', Jehanabad town was named Bhagat Singh-Ambedkar Nagar. The venue of the Conference (Jehanabad Town Hall) was named Rohith Vemula-Chandrasekhar Hall, the stage was named after the progressive author and activist Premchand and the gate was named after Com. Shah Chand who passed away last year after being imprisoned under the draconian TADA and Com. Mariappan, RYA and CPI (ML) activist who was slain by Hindu fundamentalist forces in Tamil Nadu.

The conference started with an enthusiastic march from the Marwari Dharamshala to the venue of the conference. The march stopped at Ambedkar Chowk to pay tributes and garland the statue of Dr. Ambedkar, before proceeding to the venue where RYA General Secretary Com. Om Prasad hoisted the flag and paid floral tributes to the martyrs.

The conference started by electing a 5-member presidium and Com. Manoj Manzil conducted the proceedings. The inaugural speaker of the open session was CPI (ML) Central Committee Member, former MLA and General Secretary of AIKMS Com. Rajaram Singh. In his inaugural he emphasized that the student-youth upsurge against the Modi government will turn out to be the death knell for the Sangh Parivar and that the infectious nature of this upsurge will come to haunt Nitish Kumar as he continues to betray the student-youth of Bihar. RYA General Secretary Com. Om Prasad said that in Bihar, RYA can become the synonym of the youth movement as during the recent student-youth movement, RYA was the only youth organization in Bihar which had taken the most prompt and regular initiatives. Com. Raju Yadav, RYA Bihar State President, Com. Ramjantan Sharma Chairperson of Central Commission, Com. Mahanand CPI (ML) Arwal District Secretary, Com. Shriniwas CPI (ML) Jehanabad District Secretary and Com. Ajit Kushwaha AISA Bihar Secretary also addressed the open session.

This was followed by the delegate session where the draft put forward by the outgoing State Secretary Com. Navin was discussed. At the end of the discussion, an 85-member state council was elected which in turn elected Com. Manoj Manzil as State President and Com. Navin Kumar as State Secretary. The conference also wished farewell to the outgoing State President Com. Raju Yadav from his responsibilities in RYA and wished him all solidarity for his future responsibilities. The conference ended by passing political resolutions especially to launch all-out efforts to make the National Program of AISA-RYA in Delhi on 28 September an outstanding success. 

Sankalp Sabha at Ranchi

On the fourth death anniversary of Com. Khudi Ram Munda, a Sankalp March was organized on 17 August from Rahe Bank Mor till the Bhagat Singh Chowk in Ranchi. Floral tributes were paid to the photo of Com. Munda, and a two-minute silence observed in his remembrance. The Sankalp March was undertaken to protest against the loot of the land being indulged in by the state government in the name of cancelling settlements and against the killing of the Dalit student Rupesh.

Addressing the march, Jharkhand state CPI (ML) secretary Com. Janardhan Prasad said that in a country of such enormous economic disparity where on one hand there were people like Tata, Adani, Ambani and Jindal and on the other hand there was large population of poor Dalits, tribals and farmers, how could one tax system be imposed on the entire country under the GST. Referring to the Raghubar Das government in Jharkhand, he said that oppression on Dalits and tribals had become synonymous to 'governance' in the BJP regime in the state. To ensure that more Rupeshs are not killed, the struggle demanding punishment for guilty police officials will continue.

Former MLA from CPI (ML), Com. Vinod Singh said that the calling of a special session in the Jharkhand legislative assembly on the issue of GST proves that the Jharkhand state government is standing against the interests of the people. Before thinking of implementing GST, the government should first implement minimum wages throughout the country. The Modi government was implementing a uniform tax system to ensure profits for big companies. In a country where 70 to 80% of the population are daily wage workers or MNREGA workers and are reeling under huge inflation, it is shameful that inflation is a matter of no concern for the government. The government must break its silence on this issue. While no amendments are made in the law to provide relief to the poor, amendments are made to provide land to Tata and Adani. The government will now to have to talk about not its own mind but about the people (not 'mann ki baat' but 'jan ki baat'). Com. Vinod also said that in the name of domicile policy, the state was betraying the youth of Jharkhand. Oppression is being unleashed on the Dalits, tribals and the displaced. The wife of late Com. Khudi Ram Munda was also present in the meeting following the sankalp march. 

Dalits Beaten by 'Cow Vigilantes in AP

On August 9th, three Dalits - Mokati Yelush aged 58, Mokati Venkateswara Rao, aged 53 and Mokati Lakshman, aged 23 – were beaten up by a cow vigilante mob in Sudapalem of Uppalaguptham Mandal of East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh. The Dalits had been disposing of the carcass of a cow that had been electrocution, as requested by owners of a farmhouse. They were severely injured with sticks, rods and knives.

Left party leaders Com Jalli Wilson, MLC, CPI, Com Dadala Subbarao from CPM, Com Bugata Bangaruraju, CC member of CPI ML Liberation, Com U. Venkateswara Rao CPI ML New Democracy and Com Katam Nagaraju, MCPI visited the victims in hospital and protested at the police office. Left parties also held protests on 16 August on this issue. CPI(ML) Liberation held protests in Eleswaram, Tuni, Prathipadu, Jagamepeta in Kakinada also.

'Democracy? Whose Democracy?': public meeting in London on the eve of Independence Day

A public meeting held in London on the eve of Independence Day organized by South Asia Solidarity Group discussed the Indian state's current offensive in Kashmir and its history, the Dalit Asmita Yatra in Gujarat, the background to the rise of Hindutva and other key issues.

Academic, novelist and activist Nitasha Kaul addressed the meeting, titled 'Democracy? Whose Democracy? India on the 69th Anniversary of Independence'. She said that Kashmiris are facing an existential crisis under Indian army occupation: 'It is as though there is a hierarchy of lives – for some, many more have to be lost, before people listen'.

She said India's relationship with Kashmir—the humiliating attitude towards Kashmiris, the killing, injuring and blinding of innocent people including children, intimidating of journalists, and clamping down on the media and shutting down internet and mobile communication – a form of collective punishment — was like Britain's relationship with India under colonial rule.

Dr Kaul said that the uprising of Kashmiri people has nothing to do either with religion or with Pakistan. Kashmir happens to be a Muslim majority territory and India is using it as a pretext to demonise a people's uprising as terrorist. In today's Islamophobic environment it fits well with the broader narrative, she said.

She spoke of India's oft repeated claim that Kashmir is an 'integral part of India' and called it a very 'imperial' attitude. 'Why do you have to keep on repeating it? And why do you have to kill people to keep it integral?' She said that Kashmir is not like any other Indian state. It has its own history. She stressed that until 1953 when Sheikh Abdullah was arrested by Jawaharlal Nehru, Kashmir had its own flag and own Prime Minister, not a Chief Minister.

Also speaking at the meeting was the editor of Urdu Media Monitor M. Ghazali Khan. He said that every controversy being used and exploited by the BJP, for example the Babri Mosque, Muslim Personal Law, Urdu and the minority character of Aligarh Muslim University, was created by the Congress. During its tenure Congress engineered anti-Muslim riots. The BJP developed and systematized communal violence which is integral to its Hindutva ideology, leading to the "Gujarat Experiment" and adopting new elements such as "Love Jihad", "Ghar wapsi" and "Gau Raksha" as the situation requires.

Mr Khan added, 'Soon after the partition a totally false and mischievous premise was created in India that Muslims alone were responsible for that historic blunder and was used and continues to be used as a weapon to victimize them. However, the publication between 1970 and 1983 of secret and official documents (Transfer of Power 1942-47) present a different picture of that period: Gandhi, Nehru and particularly Patel appear to be as much responsible for the partition as was Mohammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan.' Mr Khan stressed the importance of an alliance between Dalits, Muslims and all other secular forces in India.

Dalit activist and Chair of CasteWatch UK Satpal Muman who was also due to speak could not personally attend the seminar but sent a written speech that was read out by at the meeting. In his message Mr Muman sent his solidarity with the hugely inspiring and significant Dalit Asmita march taking place across Gujarat, to culminate in a mass rally on Independence Day at Una, the scene of the recent brutal attack on Dalits by self-styled Gau Rakshaks which sparked the movement. He added that the "stinking caste system" had followed Indians to the UK and the current British government was acting undemocratically by ignoring legislation passed by parliament safeguarding Dalits from discrimination in the UK.

Kalpana Wilson, chairing the meeting on behalf of South Asia Solidarity Group, also expressed her solidarity with the Dalit movement in India. She said this was a hugely significant moment with the Dalit movement putting forward the agenda of land redistribution as one of its key demands. As one of the leaders of the movement Jignesh Mevani has said, this hits at the base of Hindutva economic policy of unscrupulously handing over land to corporates like Ambani and Adani. She also highlighted the initiatives for unity between Dalits and Muslims which are being taken by the movement, which is taking place in Gujarat, till now known as the 'laboratory' for the Hindu right, where the genocidal attacks on the Muslim community had taken place in 2002.

The seminar also heard a powerful narrative on Dalit lives inspired by the Una incident 'Black and Blue' written and read out by actor and story writer, Saunvedan Aparanti.

 Statement in Solidarity with the 'Azaadi Kooch' or Freedom March in India

(On 21st August, a protest demonstration of various Dalit and other democratic organisations at London expressed solidarity with the Dalit movement in Gujarat and India. The protesters performed a skit with cow-vigilantes wearing Modi masks, killing Dalits and Muslims in the name of 'cow protection.' They displayed placards saying 'We Want Justice' and 'Land for Dalits, Not For Ambanis and Adanis!' They issued the following statement in solidarity.)

 As representatives of Dalit and South Asian organisations in the UK we send warmest solidarity greetings to our Dalit brothers and sisters in struggle in India as they march from Ahmedabad to Una in the 'Azaadi Kooch' (Freedom March), reaching on Independence Day to hoist the Indian flag at the place of the Una atrocity.

As India enters its 70th year of independence, the country is in turmoil as never before. The Hindu supremacist BJP government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which has been in power since May 2014, together with the numerous Hindutva killer gangs who stand behind it, has unleashed an increasingly violent reign of terror and repression on Dalits, Muslims and other minorities.

Dominant castes, who in rural India are the landowners, perpetrate the most heinous crimes of rape, arson, and murder of Dalits, specifically targeting women and children. Dalit women are forced to parade naked sometimes for the most minor of disagreements, or else even for 'not showing respect'. There is also a propensity by the ruling elites to dismiss atrocities as 'law and order' issues. Studies show, however, that Dalits are specifically targeted because of the resentment felt by upper-castes, particularly when Dalits try to rise above the down-trodden status ascribed to them, or when they try to assert their human rights.

This appalling state of affairs has got far worse in the last two years, deteriorating first during Modi's election campaign in 2013, and then deteriorating, even more acutely, since he has come to power in 2014. The primary reason for this is the BJP's polarising upper-caste Hindu supremacist ideology

As official figures show there has been a 44 percent increase in violence against Dalits in 2014 as compared to 2010, with 30 percent of the 47,064 crimes in 2014 committed in four BJP-ruled states -- Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.

In the last few months 'Gau Rakshaks' or Cow protection vigilantes have become the latest face of Hindutva's killer gangs. They roam the countryside attacking and killing Muslims and Dalits whom they accuse of cow slaughter, or of consuming or intending to consume beef.

Gujarat has been seen as a 'laboratory' by the Hindu right since the genocidal attacks on Muslims in 2002 and on 11 July this year, in Una, Gujarat, the Cow goons launched a horrific attack on four Dalit men, tying them to a car and beating them brutally with sticks and iron pipes. They accused them of cow slaughter, although in reality, they were skinning a dead cow as part of their work – since this unpleasant task, like that of getting rid of dead animals carcasses, is still regarded as work suitable only and exclusively for Dalits. They filmed the attack (which took place with the collusion of the Gujarat police) and circulated it widely on social media. The aim was clearly to cause intense humiliation and to intimidate the community.

As we now know the video of the attack, which went viral, had a very different effect. It acted as a spark which ignited the already simmering anger and resistance of Dalits in Gujarat and other parts of India giving rise to a massive Dalit uprising. Dalits refused to clear cow carcasses, and they were left rotting all over towns in Gujarat. Already the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Anandiben Patel, has been forced to resign. The movement has continued to grow and is spreading all over India. Muslim organisations have joined Dalits in solidarity and so have Left and progressive organisations.

We will urge the Indian Government to meet the demands of the movement:

• Arrest and charge all those who participated in the attack on the Dalits in Una under the Prevention of Anti-Social Activity Act (PASA).  • Withdraw cases filed against Dalits during recent protests and launch an immediate investigation into the 2012 police firing in Thangadh, Gujarat in which 3 Dalits were killed. • Immediately ban the murderous Gau Raksha Samitis (Cow Protection Vigilante Groups) • pose exemplary punishment to perpetrators of caste violence with national media coverage to act as a deterrent. • Set up Special Courts for offences under the Atrocities Act, as required by the law. • Make the jobs of Safai Kamdars, or sanitation workers, (all exclusively Dalits) secure, by making them permanent posts paid according to the regulations of the 6th Pay Commission. • Allocate Five Acre Plots of land to Dalits forthwith as is required under Section 3(1)(f) of the Atrocities Act. • Immediately enact a Reservation Act in Gujarat (All reservations/affirmative actions in Gujarat are currently at the discretion of the Executive and are initiated or effected only through a government resolution). • Provide housing units to Dalits in urban areas because they continue to be socially boycotted, discriminated against and exploited socially, economically and sexually in villages. • Use budgetary allocations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs/STs) exclusively for these sections and not divert them elsewhere. • The Gujarat Government must apologise publicly to Dalits for withdrawing and pulping the book on Dr Babsaheb Ambedkar which described his radical thoughts on Hindusim and the 22 point oath he took to convert to Buddhism in 1956.

CasteWatch UK; South Asia Solidarity Group; Ambedkar International Mission, London; Dr Ambedkar Buddhist Action Group Birmingham; Dr Ambedkar Buddhist Organisation; Central Valmik Sabha; Shri Guru Ravidass Cultural Association, Birmingham; Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha, Manor Park, London; Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha, Wolverhampton; Dr Ambedkar Memorial Committee Great Britain; Voice of Dalit International UK; International Asian Christian Front; South Asian Alliance

Com. Ghanshyam Mahto

Com. Ghanshyam Mahto, a dedicated and a fighting leader of the 1990s passed away on 4 August in his ancestral village of Baruhaatu in Bundu in Jharkhand. He was 76 years of age. He became associated with CPI (ML) in the year 1990 and thereafter remained in struggles being fought for the poor and tribals. Despite economic hardships, he never looked back. On 4 July, despite ill health, he participated in the sankalp sabha organised on the martyrdom anniversary of Com. Parmeshwar Singh Munda. Red Salute to Com. Ghanshyam Mahto.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

ML Update | No. 34 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  19 | No. 34 | 16 – 22 August 2016

August 15, 2016: Modi's Deceptive Rhetoric versus the Inspiring Una Resolve

When the people of India fought for freedom from British colonial rule, there was one ideological-political stream which not only stayed away from that great struggle but tried its best to disrupt and derail it with its thoroughly communal and casteist agenda of Hindutva. Today that stream holds the reins of 'governance' in the country and is bent upon appropriating the mantle of freedom even as it uses the state machinery to the hilt to subvert the values and aspirations of the freedom movement. Halfway through his term, Modi asked the BJP to celebrate a 'festival of freedom' around the Independence Day this year as he delivered his third August 15 lecture from the ramparts of the Red Fort.

True to his demagogic track record, Modi made a few astoundingly misleading claims in his speech. He said while previous governments were all surrounded by complaints and allegations, his government only has to confront the expectations of the people. Well, to tell the truth, the expectations were based on the promises he had made in the 2014 election campaign, and with his government going back on those promises much of those expectations have today turned into frustration and anger. The much touted promises of 2014 were of course conspicuously missing once again in Modi's Independence Day address.

Modi claimed to have brought down the rate of inflation when the common people are reeling under soaring prices. When the whole world is heaving a sigh of relief over the declining petroleum prices, his government has inflicted steep increases in railway fares. And now in the name of ending 'tax terrorism' on the rich, his government has drawn up a blueprint of hefty regressive taxation on the goods and services consumed by the common people which will add fresh fuel to the fire of price-rise.

Modi talked about the alleged efficiency of governance he has ushered in and called upon the people to match this efficiency by ensuring 'social unity'. A strong economy and a strong society would make India a strong nation. But we have already seen that Modi's 'strong economy' does not care for either the welfare of the common people or the self-reliance and sovereignty of the nation – all it cares for is faster accumulation of corporate wealth and bigger inflow of FDI. Likewise, Modi's 'strong society' is all about maintaining the status quo within a patriarchal-casteist order and that too on lines drawn by an increasingly aggressive and intrusive Sangh brigade which would like to dictate the terms of inter-personal relationships, social interaction, cultural discourse and constitutional liberties in India.

Modi's deceptive phrase of 'strong society' became very clear when he invoked Ambedkar as a champion of 'social unity'. Everybody knows that the Constitution drafted under the leadership of Ambedkar proclaimed the formation of the Indian Republic on the foundations of liberty, equality and fraternity. Without liberty and equality, fraternity becomes an empty word and unity can only mean subjugation. When Modi eulogises the notion of 'strong economy' and 'strong society' – there is of course also the implicit third element of 'strong' or 'hard state' which Modi chooses not to mention in his Independence Day address – he does it by effectively undermining the modern democratic principles of liberty, equality and fraternity.

It is significant that Modi used his ID address to mention the so-called gratitude that some people from Balochistan, Gilgit and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir have apparently expressed to him while keeping absolutely silent about the continuing spate of civilian killings and injuries and the anguished cries of pain and anger of the Kashmiri people who are ruled by the Indian state. He talked about social unity rising above caste divisions but said not a word about the oppression being unleashed on Dalits and Muslims in the name of 'cow protection' by cow vigilantes sponsored by the RSS and governments run by his own party in different states.

But despite elaborate plans to appropriate the mantle of freedom, Modi's Independence Day address and the BJP's so-called 'festival of freedom' only underscored the growing isolation and failure of his government. For the people of India, the real resolve of freedom this year came from Una where Dalits, Muslims and progressive citizens from other sections marched to Una in their thousands, defying physical attacks and threats of more Unas to come, and resolved to intensify their battle for freedom. They resolved to reject the Brahminical code of labour which despises manual labour and reserves all menial jobs for Dalits and demanded five acres of arable land for every landless Dalit family. By linking the question of social dignity and equality for Dalits with the question of land rights, Una has signalled a new direction for the Dalit movement in the country. Following the Una rally, there are reports of renewed attacks on Dalits in Gujarat and progressive democratic forces across the country must unite to overcome this desperate assault by casteist forces.

Fifty years ago the revolutionary peasant uprising of Naxalbari had addressed the agrarian question as the central question of Indian democracy and in the process it had triggered a massive awakening of the landless poor. It inspired a new wave of communist movement in Bihar where the question of freedom from social oppression became the central agenda alongside the issue of land and wages. The Dalit movement too took a radical turn at this juncture with the emergence of the Dalit Panthers and radical Dalit literature in Maharashtra and elsewhere. Today Una has once again galvanized the radical stream of the Dalit movement, squarely placing the agenda of social equality and land reforms at the centre of the radical democratic agenda of Dalit emancipation.

The infamous laboratory of Hindutva fascism is now witnessing a great resistance that has galvanized the entire Dalit community in protests and is also drawing in Muslims and Adivasis to pose a formidable challenge to an increasingly isolated BJP regime. It is also encouraging to note that Una has struck a chord across the country among the oppressed and fighting people who have come out on the streets to express their fullest solidarity and resolve to grasp this new juncture in the battle for real freedom and democracy. The Una exhortation of unity of Dalits and Muslims, women and workers will defeat the RSS-dictated 'social subjugation' camouflaged as 'social unity'.

Anti-Imperialism Day Observed Across the Country on 9 August 2016

On the anniversary of the August revolution, CPI (ML), AICCTU, All India Kissan Mahasabha and other fronts observed anti-imperialism day throughout the country.  In Jharkhand, this day was also celebrated as the world 'Adivasi Day'. Marches were taken out across states in several districts. The purpose of the marches was to expose the anti-people, anti-national, divisive, destructive, pro-corporate, communal and fascist policies of the Modi led central government aimed at forcing India into the stranglehold of imperialism and selling India's natural resources and sovereignty into the hands of the multinational companies.

In Patna, AICCTU leaders and activists offered tributes at the Shaheed memorial outside the Bihar assembly and a protest meeting was organised in which slogans were raised against American imperialism and the pro-imperialist policies of the Modi government. Other trade union leaders and activists also joined the protest meeting and pledged to ensure the success of the 2nd September All India General Strike.

CPI(ML) and AICCTU organized 'Adhikar March' in Ranchi and Bokaro in Jharkhand on the Adivasi Diwas (International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples) which is observed on 9 August. As the politics of both Jharkhand as well as the country remains captured by the corporate houses, the questions of the workers and the masses are at the margins. The assaults on the rights of the Dalits, tribals, minorities and the workers continue unabated. Addressing the march at Albert Ekka Chowk in Ranchi, CPI (ML) central committee member Com. Shubhendu Sen stressed on the need for another August revolution against the Company Raj.  Com. Bhuvaneshwar said that celebration of 'Adivasi Diwas' by the government which had failed to put an end to the loot of water, forests, land, minerals and other natural resources was a farce. In Bokaro, an adhikaar march was jointly organized by trade unions. Besides submitting a charter of demands to the steel plant manager, a call was given to ensure the success of 2nd September All India General Strike.       In Koderma,  a dharna was organized under the leadership of All India Kisaan Mahasabha to protest against the designs of the state government to snatch the land from the poor in the name of wrong settlement. A march was also taken out under the leadership of All India Kisan Mahasabha in Ramgarh, in which several hundred people participated, raising the slogans "Corporate-Company Raj Down Down", "Waive the loan taken by farmers immediately",etc. The speakers addressing the march said that far from supporting and encouraging farmers, the government was determined to discourage them. Modi's favourite Gautam Adani was procuring several million quintal grains from the farmers at the rate of Rs.30/- per kilo and hoarding the same and the Modi government was selling the same grains at Rs. 100/- per kilo. Several farmers were being forced to commit suicide. In Garhwa district, after years of struggle, tribals of Tiwari Marhatiya village were able to procure their legal rights on the Raiyatti land. Since 3 August 2016, they had sat on an indefinite hunger strike outside the DC office. CPI (ML) activists from Garhwa district committee also joined the hunger strike in support of the tribals. They also demanded that immediate compensation be paid to those whose crops were destroyed and the officers guilty of ensuring the destruction of crops be punished. A mahadharna in support of these demands had earlier been organized on 6 August. After the successful completion of the strike, 'a vijay juloos' of the local tribals was also carried out under the leadership of CPI (ML). In Bagodar, a 'chetaavni' (warning) march was taken out by those who have been displaced due to the policies of the state government. They also protested against the inadequate compensation.

CPI (ML) activists also organized protests outside DM offices in several places in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, and other states against the oppression and persecution of Dalits and minorities by the associates of RSS in the name of 'cow protection'. In Gorakhpur, several people and Dalit leaders and activists also joined these protests. The speakers warned the local administration that if the provisions of accommodation, ration and work in MNREGA were not ensured for the Dalits, poor and the workers, a gherao of the district office would be done. 

9th August also marked the end of the second phase of CPI (ML)'s countrywide campaign- 'Utho Mere Desh, Naye Bharat ke vaaste, Bhagat Singh-Ambedkar ke raaste' (Rise my nation- for a new India, in the path of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar). A huge dharna was organized to in Kanpur as a part of this campaign. The speakers talked about the increasing attacks on Dalits and minorities and the anti-people policies of the government. In Lucknow, a dharna was called near the Ambedkar statue in Hazratganj. The meeting was presided by Com. Kaushal Kishore, state president of Jan Sanskriti Manch (JSM). Addressing the meeting he said today once again slavery was being enforced on us by the Modi government. This slavery, besides being economic, is also social and cultural. However, we are also witnessing an unprecedented resistance. The Dalit upsurge in Gujarat, the resistance from Kashmir to Hyderabad, the coming together of youth and students across states shows that struggle for a new India against the sanghi nationalism is gaining strength. The participants raised slogans against cow protection vigilante groups, demanding a ban on them. Marches were also taken out in Gazipur, Varanasi, Chandauli, Lakhimpur, Badohi, Sitapur, Mirzapur, Faizabad, Allahabad, Baliya, Mau, Muradabad and other places.

A pratirodh march was organized in Lalkuan in Nainital, Uttarakhand, against false cases filed against protestors in the struggle against making Bindukhatta a municipality. Several hundreds of people including a large number of women joined this march called by Uttarakhand unit of All India Kisan Mahasabha. CPI (ML) state secretary Com. Rajendra Pratholi urged people to rout out the anti-farmer Rawat government.

Safai Karmchari Sankalp Karvaan in Solidarity with Una upsurge

In solidarity with the massive Una upsurge and standing shoulder to shoulder with fighting sanitation workers in Delhi and in support of 2nd September All India Strike, the Safai Shramik Vikas Morcha (SSVM), affiliated to AICCTU and CPI (ML) Delhi State Committee organised a "Safai Karmchari Sankalp Karvaan", from 10th August to 15th August, 2016. As a part of the campaign, meetings and events were organised with workers in Wazirpur, Kalyanpuri, Jahangirpuri, Narela, Dakshinpuri (Ambedkar Nagar) and Kusumpur Pahari (Vasant Kunj). The main slogan of the campaign was 'Eradicate Dehumanising Occupations and Caste Oppression.

On 15th August, as Azaadi Kooch reached Una, the Safai Karamchaari Sankalp Karvaan also convened its final pledge taking observance at Kusumpur Pahari in South-West Delhi to vouch against dehumanizing occupations and caste based atrocities. Over the course of the last few days, similar gatherings have been mobilized in East Delhi, Narela and Ambedkar Nagar where several sanitation workers joined the campaign to fight against dehumanizing occupations and caste based atrocities.

In its concluding gathering at Kusumpur, many residents, most of whom are employed as contractual sanitation workers, came together to take the pledge - pledge to never enter another septic tank or sewer, to stop cleaning animal carcass. Comrade Anju, Vice President of AICCTU, JNU Unit in her address raised many important questions such as why only a particular people are forced to do work that should be done by machine and not by hand. Why, those who claim dire love for the cow shy away from tending to dead carcasses? She recalled the JNU contractual workers movement and how their union fought tooth and nail against the JNU administration to reject being forced to clean up dead carcasses. DUTA President Nandita Narain, also addressed the meeting extending her full support. The meeting ended with the strong resolve to make the upcoming all India general strike, scheduled for 2nd September, a thumping success.

An Inspiring Victory for the Protracted Struggle of Dalits in an UP Village

Comrade Manju has been elected village Pradhan of Ramgarh under Dadri subdivision of district Gautam Budh Nagar in UP. Comrade Shyamveer has been elected for the post of BDC member. This victory brought tears of joy in the eyes of dozens of families who had fought a very difficult struggle for their dignity, equality and for land in this village. The smile they saw on Tinku's face doubled the joy of rest of dalit villagers.

It is the same Ramgarh where a young B.Ed. student Tinku Ram was forcibly put on railway tracks four years back on 15 July, 2012. He lost both his legs under the wheels of the running train. The reason was that some dalit youth of this village dared to assert for the possession over the lands allocated to dalits but were under the unauthorised possession of the dominant Gujjar landlords who are backed by the Samajwadi Party. Ever since Brahm Jatav, husband of Manju, submitted an application in January of 2012 to the SDM of Dadri demanding distribution of village land allocated to the dalit community, all the families are in a continuous state of battle for life and survival in the face of attacks by the goons led by former village Pradhan Kuldeep Bhati. Members of Dalits families (man and women both) were brutally attacked with swords and axes in broad day light in March 2012 when nearly 30 people were seriously injured. They have been facing, and valiantly resisting regular attacks and false criminal charges forged with the help of the administration by the attackers. Many families have lost their all money in the court cases and to the police, many of them have come under severe debt, the lands belonged to them remained occupied by the goons of the dominant castes. Their complaints never got attention from administration as well by the police and their cases are still pending in the court.

Tinku Ram lost his legs but he and his people continued their struggle. It is because of their struggle and indomitable spirit that won the hearts of many, leading to the victory of comrades Manju and Shyamveer on 31 May, 2016 in the Panchayat Elections. This is certainly a big and inspiring victory for the protracted struggle of dalits of Ramgarh. Tears of joy and happiness on their faces were an inspiration for those who witnessed this long journey. The gram panchayat results were declared between 1-3 AM in the morning amidst loud revolutionary slogans outside the counting center (Mihir Bhoj Inter College, Dadri). A victory rally was held in the village and their joyous slogans of ' Baba Saheb Ambedkar Zindabad, Bhagat Singh Zindabad, CPI(ML) Zindabad, Inquilab Zindabad' resonated throughout the morning.

Joint Trade Unions Demonstration in Puducherry

On 9th August 2016, commemorating the launch of the Quit India Movement, a joint demonstration led by by AICCTU, AITUC, CITU, INTUC, LPF, LLF (an affiliate of Vidulai Siruthaikal Katchi), MLF (an affiliate of MDMK) and PMPTS (an affiliate of PMK) was organised and held at Puducherry. The demonstration focused on highlighting the twelve points charter of Indian working class to the proposed second September all India general strike.  The demonstration was held in front of the famous Swadeshi Mill Cottons which has been there for more than hundred years now.  Com. Balasubramanian, state president of AICCTU recalled that the twenty-five years old liberalization policy followed by Indian ruling class had been crushing the hard won rights of working class. He appealed to hit back hard with a firm resolve.  State leaders of CITU, AITUC, INTUC, LPF, MLF, LLF and PMPTS also addressed the demonstrators.  A joint call was given to observe total hartal on 2nd September and to make the 2nd September All India General strike a success in the UT of Puducherry.    

Protest in Odisha against Construction of Barrages on Mahanadi River

A protest was organised by CPI (ML) on ''Save Mahanadi and Save Odisha''. The BJP led state government in Chhattisgarh has proposed to make barrages on the Mahanadi River in order to ensure storage of water for the use of corporate. Registering a strong protest against this decision, the protestors  raised three main demands: (i)   maintain status quo on the construction of barrage on Mahanadi by the Chhattisgarh Government (ii) publish white paper on Mahanadi River; and (iii) build pressure on the central government to formulate a River Board as per the River Boards Act 1956.

Around 300 activists joined the rally which was led by Com Yudhishthir  Mahapatra, CC member of CPI (ML), Com. Mahendra Parida, state committee member, Com Radhakant Sethy, Com Ashok Pradhan and Com. Mandakini Sethi of AIPWA. The speakers while addressing the protest meeting besides criticising the decision of the Chhattisgarh government, also criticised the addressed the Naveen Patnaik government for its on callousness on the Mahanadi issue.

Demonstration In Darbhanga Against Police Brutalities

On 30 July, a demonstration was organised under the banner of CPI (ML) to protest against the police atrocities in Usmamath, in Pator Village in the Bahadurpur block of Darbhanga district. The demonstration was led by block secretary Com. Abhishek Kumar and other leaders.  The protestors raised the slogans against the Pator station charge, condemning the police brutalities and interference in land issues.  Hundreds of protestors gathered at Usmamath Chowk and marched till the police station raising loud slogans. They entered the police station and met the Sadar inspector, CO Bahadaurpur and others and raised their concerns with them.

Rallies in Punjab by Joint Front on 'Save Farming and Water'

On 29 July, huge rallies and demonstrations were organized in 20 districts in Punjab and memorandums were submitted to the Punjab CM through district magistrates. The districts included Mansa, Bathinda, Sangrur, Faridkot, Ferozepur, Fazilka, Patiala, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, NavanShahar, Taran Taaran, Amritsar, Pathankot, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur, Ropar and others. The rallies saw massive participation from the farmers. All India Kisan Sabha, Jamuhri Kisan Sabha, Punjab Kisan Union, Pagdi Sambhal Jatta and several other struggling forces joined the rallies. The first demand of the farmers was that all the demands that have already been accepted by the government be immediately implemented. The agricultural leaders said that both the central and the state government were trying to discourage agriculture and as a result the farmers were being forced to incur huge debts and resort to suicides. First and foremost, the loans of farmers with only about 10 acres of land must be waived irrespective of whether the loans were taken from government or private organizations or individual money lenders. The families of the farmers who had committed suicide should be paid five lakh compensation, the loan be waived and a government job must ensured for a member of the family. They also demanded that the practice of obtaining signatures on blank stamped pronote papers or white papers must be immediately brought to an end. Pro-farmer policies must be formulated for incentivizing farming, making farming debt-free and ensuring food security in the country. The protestors also demanded that land ceiling limit be reduced from 17.5 acres to 10 acres and the additional land be redistributed among the landless farmers. The government must also guarantee procurement of crop yields and the procurement rate must be fixed at least 1.5 times the cost incurred. They also demanded to curb the corruption and monopoly by mill owners who are exploiting the farmers.

The farmers also raised the issue of depleting ground water for agriculture. They demanded that large scale government mechanisms for recharging water bodies must be put in place. Steps must also be taken for creating more canals and ensuring that they reach all agricultural lands. The infiltration of national and foreign corporate in procuring and selling seeds must be brought to an end. The other demands included- A monthly pension of Rs. 5000/- must be paid to elders above the age of 60, stable jobs and free education must be guaranteed for the youth, 24 hours electricity, free electricity connection for farmers having 5 acres of less land, compensation in case of natural calamities and provisions for safeguarding agriculture from stray and wild animals. Cases filed against farmers during movements must also be withdrawn.

Midday Meal Workers' Protest

On 2 August, a huge dharna was staged outside the Bihar Assembly under the banner of Bihar State School Rasoiya Sangh against the plan to hand over midday meal scheme to the NGOs. The dharna was led by state president of the Rasoiya Sangh, Com. Saroj Chaubey and the meeting was moderated by secretary of the Rasoiya Sangh, Com. Sohila Gupta. Addressing the dharna, National general secretary of AIPWA, Com. Meena Tiwari said that the condition of midday meal workers working in Bihar government schools was extremely pitiable. They used to receive only one thousand as monthly honorariums and it was after much struggle that the amount was increased by Rs. 250. The announcement of ex gratia grant of 4 lakh in the case of death of a midday meal worker was not being implemented anywhere. On the contrary two months honorarium is cut in the year and on several occasions, owing to various reasons, honorarium is not paid for several months. There is no provision of accident insurance, health insurance or pension for these workers. Additionally, the workers are often subjected to humiliation at work place. Com. Shashi Yadav said that even as the workers are forced to struggle to demand their basic rights, the government has planned to hand over midday meal schemes to NGOs in around 28 districts. Given that workers' rights are denied by the state, one can imagine their plight under private NGOs. The governments at the centre and state make tall claims about women empowerment but have not bothered once to talk to agitating women workers. The dharna was also addressed by CPI (ML) MLAs Com. Mehboob Alam and Com. Sudama Prasad. The protestors demanded that the government to revoke the move, else, the future of the workers would continue to remain in dark and the students too will not be assured of a healthy and fresh meal. They also warned that they will intensify the struggle.


Red Salute to Com. Mitranand Singh

Com. Mitranand Singh, district secretary of CPI (ML)'s Nalanda district unit passed away in the morning of 14 August. He was in the ICU for past several days after suffering a brain haemorrhage. His body was brought to the CPI (ML) state office and party cadres paid tributes to him. Bihar state secretary Com. Kunal expressed deep condolence at his unfortunate demise and said that his passing away was a loss for the party that could not be filled. The party stands with his family in this hour of grief. In the 80's while working in the private sector in BiharSharif, Com. Mitranand came into the contact of senior CPI (ML) leader Pawan Sharma. He soon became a part member and in 1986 he started working as a whole timer of the party. He was assigned the responsibility of Bihar Sharif and he then became of the Nalanda district secretary of the AIPF. He was the CPI (ML) candidate from Nalanda in the Lok Sabha elections in 1991 and he received huge support from the poor and Dalits. Besides Bihar Sharif he also played a crucial role in the expansion of the party in Jagdishpur in Bhojpur. His presence will always be missed.

Red Salute to Com. Bhura Singh

Com. Bhura Singh, Mansa block President of All India Kisan Mahasabha, who had been sitting an indefinite dharna led by AIKM president Com. Ruldu Singh for the loan waiver of famers and peasants, passed away on 14 August, 134th day of the dharna owing to heart attack. The comrades sitting with him rushed him to the hospital but doctors declared him dead. AIKM comrades forced the government to realise the gravity of the situation and the government decided to give 5 lakhs to his family, assure job to a family member and promise withdrawal of his loans. Instead of cremation, his whole body was donated to Patiala Hospital.  Com. Bhura Singh, besides being the Mansa Block president of the All India Kisan Mahsabha, was also a member of tehsil Committee member of CPI (ML). Revolutionary tribute to Com. Bhura Singh, the great martyr of the ongoing "karja-mafi movement"!

Red Salute to Com. Manjulaben Patanwadia

Comrade Manjulaben Patanwadia passed away in the night of 16 August 2016 in Ahmedabad after multiple organ failure. She was 57. She had undergone surgery in her both knees recently which somehow resulted in further complications resulting in her sad demise. Revolutionary tribute to Comrade Manjulaben!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

ML Update | No. 33 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  19 | No. 33 | 9 – 15 August 2016


Why Does the Prime Minister Stop Short of Banning Cow-Vigilante Goons?  

A month after Dalit youth were stripped and flogged in Gujarat by 'cow-protection' vigilantes, the Prime Minister finally spoke. At a town-hall in Delhi he distinguished between genuine 'Cow Servants' and fake 'Cow Protectors', saiying that 70-80% of Cow Protectors are anti-social elements and such elements make him angry. He asked state governments to prepare "dossiers" on "cow protectors". At a meeting in Hyderabad, he proclaimed "If you must shoot someone, shoot me, don't shoot Dalits."

These words have been dragged from Modi by the remarkable and contagious upsurge of Dalit anger that is spreading from Gujarat all over the country. The Dalit protests in Gujarat told the Sangh cow protection outfits and BJP Government – 'If the cow is your mother, you take care of her carcasse'. A rattled BJP replaced the Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel but even that move failed to curb the protests. A massive rally of Amit Shah at Agra in UP that had planned to mobilize 40000 Dalits had to be cancelled. Elections in UP and Punjab are upcoming, and the BJP is desperate to control the damage to its Dalit-consolidation strategy caused by the Gujarat protests. 

The BJP had planned to repeat its 2014 election strategy of appealing to Dalits to vote as part of a Hindu votebank: essentially a political extension of the RSS' ghar wapsi (return home) campaign that asks converted Dalits to return to the Hindu fold. The attack of the cow-goons and the powerful form the Dalit protests adopted have exposed the fault line between the Dalits and Brahminical, communal Hindutva once again – just as the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula at the instigation of Modi's Ministers did some months ago.      

The BJP is especially worried at the growing unity and solidarities displayed between oppressed Muslim minorities and Dalits in Gujarat and elsewhere. Modi's speech is a crude attempt to tell the Dalits that while the 'cow-goons' will still have a free hand to attack Muslims, their attacks on Dalits will be belatedly condemned.

The question is – why did Modi not ask State Governments to act against cow-goons after Akhlaque was lynched to death at Dadri? Had he spoken and acted then, the lynch-mob killings of Muslims at Udhampur and Latehar and the flogging of Dalits at Una might have been averted. Why is Modi silent even now on his Ministers like Sanjeev Balyan and Mahesh Sharma and BJP MLA Sangeet Som who approved of the Dadri lynching, as well as BJP Chief Ministers of Haryana and Jharkhand who have condoned killings by the cow-goons? BJP MLA Raja Singh applauded the "punishment" meted out to Dalits at Una and called Dalits "filthy" for slaughtering cows and consuming beef – will Modi tell us if Raja Singh is a genuine Gau Sevak or a fake Gau Rakshak? The late VHP leader Ashok Singhal had in 2002 justified the lynching of Dalits by cow-goons in Jhajjar, saying 'the shastras hold the life of a cow to be priceless'. Will Modi tell us if Singhal was a genuine or a fake cow-protector?

In fact, Modi's remarks expose the fact that even after the atrocities at Dadri, Udhampur, Latehar and Una, he is unable to unequivocally condemn the politics of cow-vigilantism and ban such groups. He is unable to say that the very agenda of attacking human beings to 'protect' cows is wrong: he is only able to say that anti-social and criminal elements are posing as 'cow-protectors'. He asks for a dossier on a section of them while continuing to approve of the 'genuine' ones.

Modi himself forgets that his own speeches in the 2014 Parliamentary campaign in Bihar implied that his opponents were betraying Yadav cow-worshippers by allowing 'cow slaughter' and 'Pink Revolution' in order to appease Muslims. In those speeches, Modi made no mention of the dangers plastic poses to cows – because plastic, unlike 'cow-slaughter', has little communally divisive potential. 

Modi's 'Shoot Me' rhetoric is typically arrogant, self-centred and dishonest. Why could Modi not simply say, 'Don't kill human beings in the name of the cow?' Why, after Gujarat 2002 or after the Dadri and Latehar lynchings, could Modi not say 'Lynch me, hang me, but don't kill Muslims?' Why is Modi silent on the Cobrapost revelations that expose the BJP and RSS as the force behind the Ranveer Sena that massacred Dalits in Bihar? Why could Modi take no action on his Ministers who called Rohith Vemula anti-national and hounded him to his death?    

Modi's belated and dishonest words on Rohith Vemula did not stop the movement inspired by Vemula. His belated and dishonest words on cow-goondaism will not contain the wave of protests that are sweeping Gujarat and the rest of the country – protests that are throwing off the yoke of age-old Brahminism and offering a spirited resistance to the casteist and communal politics of the RSS and BJP.

Release of AIPF Fact Finding Report on Bastar in Delhi            

A convention was held on 2 August in Gandhi Peace Foundation, Delhi where the All India People's Forum (AIPF) fact finding report on Bastar, titled- 'Bastar: Where the constitution stands suspended' was released.  

The convention was moderated by activist Leena Dabiru, and cultural activists of Sangwari began the convention with a song. Com. Kavita Krishnan, one of the members of the team started by condemning a tweet by Kiran Bedi who had referred to certain tribal communities as criminal and added how the views held by an ex IG of prisons seemed to be shared by the entire State that was determined to criminalise and repress tribes. Human rights activist N.D. Pancholi from PUCL elaborated on how the use of police since colonial times had been to enforce the whim of the rulers. He also critically examined the role of courts in failing to defend the Constitution citing an incident where the courts responded to a PIL filed by an activist, not by examining the plea but by questioning the locus standi of appellant himself.

Noted Human Rights activist John Dayal said that Chhattisgarh had become a laboratory of the sangh and white paper was needed to examine who are at the target of this state sponsored violence. He elaborated on the RSS –police nexus adding that this collusion between the 'khaki half pants and khaki full pants' was only strengthening. Journalist and writer Anand Swaroop Verma highlighted the attack on journalists who were trying to report from Bastar and shared how several journalists had been confined in custody for years by terming them as Maoists or Maoist sympathisers. Activist Himanshu Kumar, who has spent nearly two decades in the region, shared heart wrenching details of violence that the Indian state was inflicting on its own people. He also called the audience to join in the Padyatra beginning from 9 August in Bastar. The convention ended with observing one minute silence as a mark of respect to Mahasweta Devi who had been the voice of oppressed, especially tribals, in several of her writings.

AICCTU Programmes Onward to 2nd September All India Strike

AICCTU Convention in Uttarakhand

AICCTU organized a convention at Haldwani on 31 July 2016 to protest against the anti-worker policies of the Central and State governments in which all the unions affiliated to AICCTU participated. The convention also formulated strategies in connection with the coming All India General Strike on 2 September. The Convention was addressed by AICCTU National Vice President Com. Raja Bahuguna, AICCTU State General Secretary Com. KK Bora, Uttarakhand Anganwadi Workers' Union State President Com. Deepa Pandey and Uttarakhand ASHA Health Workers' Union State President Com. Kamla Kunjwal.

AIGKU meeting in JNU

All India Central Council of Trade Unions affiliated unit of JNU contract workers (AIGKU, JNU UNIT) held its meeting today on 4 August announcing their full support to the All India Strike of 2nd September, 2016. Comrade Urmila (President, AIGKU, JNU UNIT) and Comrade Agnitra Ghosh from AICCTU, Delhi addressed the meeting and called for taking the campaign for strike to all nearby colonies. Comrades from Sangwari performed the famous play 'Machine' which was appreciated by all present in the meeting and promised to keep up their support and participation throughout the campaign.

Workers Convention to be held in Noida ahead of 2nd September Strike

Noida workers will also hold a Workers Convention on 14th of August in sector 10 in solidarity with the September strike. Film screening and street plays will be organized.

Convention in Puducherry

All Trade Unions Convention was held at Puducherry on 6th August 2016 in AITUC Conference Hall.  AICCTU, AITUC, CITU, INTUC, LPF, Marumalarchi Labour Front (MLF) an affiliate of MDMK Party, Liberation labour Front (LLF) an affiliate of Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi and other local trade unions were part of the convention.  It was jointly led by the Presidents of these Central Trade Unions.

Com. Balasundaram, National Vice President (AIARLA) spoke on behalf of AICCTU.  He remembered the martyrdom of Agricultural workers- Com. Nagooran and Com Anjaan as they were killed by Tamil Nadu Police during the first strike against liberalization in eighties. Resolutions on the following were passed unanimously in the convention: (i) Call to the workers, rural poor, agricultural labour, farmers, students and youth of Puducherry to ensure a total bandh in Puducherry on the 2nd September All India General Strikes; (ii) Decision to hold a big demonstration on 9th August 2016 (Quit India Day) against Modi-raj; and (iii) decision to hold street meetings to highlight the twelve point charter of workers of 2nd September general strike.

State Level Panchayat Representatives Conference in Patna

The CPI (ML) Bihar State unit organized a Panchayat Representatives Conference to welcome the newly elected panchayat representatives and discuss their work and the direction it should take. Party State and district committee members and activists also attended the conference. Party General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya was the main speaker at the conference.

Addressing the convention, CPI (ML) Politburo member Com. Dhirendra Jha said that panchayats are supposed to be a tool for decentralization, but they have instead become agents for implementing the decisions of the State governments. They have no rights to make policy decisions, and even where they do make decisions, there is no participation or monitoring by the people. Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya said that the Party has started a new tradition in people's representatives—Com. Ram Naresh Ram, Com. Mahendra Singh, and Com. Shah Chand are representatives of this tradition. As people's representatives, they must raise their voice on all people's problems and issues. Bihar State Secretary Com. Kunal said that it is the responsibility of the Party not only to monitor the work of the Mukhiya and other panchayat representatives, but also to play a leading role in resisting the dominance of feudal and dominant forces bureaucrats and officials at the panchayat level.

Speaking at the conference, the victorious panchayat representatives from the party (Pappu Kumar, Jaiprakash Paswan, Susheela Devi, Sohila Gupta, Madan Singh and others) said that they would form "Monitoring Committees" to ensure people's participation in decision making and implementation. They would not limit themselves to conventional issues but would take up issues like gairmajrua land, sharecroppers' identity cards etc. They would also take up health and education issues in the village and work to end corruption and loot in all welfare schemes.

The conference was also addressed by MLA Com. Sudama Prasad, Kisan Mahasabha General Secretary Com. Rajaram Singh and AIPWA General Secretary Com. Meena Tiwari.

CPI (ML) State Cadre Convention in Lucknow

The CPI (ML) Uttar Pradesh unit held a State level cadre convention on 29 July in Lucknow attended by about 450 activists from 27 districts.

Addressing the convention, Party General Secretary Com. Dipankar said that people across the country are protesting against the joint fascist attacks of the Modi government and the RSS. An extraordinary uprising of struggle can be seen among students, youth, women, farmers, workers, and dalits. The CPI (ML) will strive to lead this uprising and take it in the correct direction. After Gujarat, the BJP-RSS have made Uttar Pradesh the new laboratory for their communal-fascist project. Enthused by their success in the Lok Sabha elections they want to fight the Assembly election with a communal-fascist agenda, but we shall make the UP Assembly election an election of resistance against this agenda.

Addressing the convention earlier, PB member and UP State Secretary Com. Ramji Rai called on the Party activists to make new members, reach each and every member, and work for the formation of booth-based branches. He said that the coming Assembly election in UP will be no ordinary election; it will mark the beginning of the preparations for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The convention, addressed by other Party leaders and activists, discussed the "Uthho Mere Desh" campaign, the Party's work with agrarian workers and farmers, and preparations for the 2017 UP Assembly elections.

CPI (ML) Dharna in Front of Bihar Vidhan Sabha

After an effective Bihar Bandh called by CPI (ML) on 12 July against the Toppers' Scam, the party continues to build the pressure for setting up of a judicial enquiry into the political patronage of the toppers' scam. On 1 August, CPI (ML) staged a one-day dharna in front of the Bihar Assembly. Besides judicial enquiry into toppers' scam, the dharna also raised the following demands:

i.              An end to the increasing violence against dalits and women in the country and in Bihar;

ii.             Revocation of the the cash-for-food grains scheme;

iii.            Revocation of handing over of the midday meal scheme to NGOs;

iv.            Starting the Kadvan reservoir project should be started;

v.             Closing down of all liquor factories in Bihar

The dharna was addressed by leaders from AIARLA, Kisan Mahasabha, AIPWA, State party committee and CPI (ML) legislators.   

CPI (ML) activists meets family of Kashmiri youth

charged with sedition for sharing Facebook post

Representatives from the CPI (ML), CPI, Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, AICCTU, AITUC, All India Progressive Women's Association, and All India Youth Federation met the Superintendent of Police, Durg, Chhattisgarh with regard to the arrest on sedition charges of a Kashmiri youth Tauseef Ahmad for liking, sharing, and forwarding Facebook posts on Kashmir. Tauseef had studied in Rungta College of Engineering, Bhilai and then gone on to do his MBA in Srinagar, after which he returned to Bhilai and had been working in the marketing section of Vivo (an electronics and mobile company) for the last few months. Recently he had liked and shared some posts and cartoons critical of India's Kashmir policy on Facebook. On a complaint by Ratan Yadav, Bhilai coordinator of Bajrang Dal, the Chhattisgarh police registered a complaint against him on charges of sedition. On coming to know about the complaint Tauseef boarded a train to return to Kashmir but was apprehended and arrested at Sagar station, Madhya Pradesh. He was then remanded to 15 days judicial custody and is currently lodged in Durg Central Jail.

Com. Brijendra Tiwari of CPI (ML) and Com. Lakshmi Krishnan of AIPWA visited the father and cousin of Tauseef who have come down to Durg after the arrest of their son. His father, who was in a state of dazed bewilderment informed them that Tauseef had of late been in an emotional state and disturbed by the violence in Kashmir, due to which he had shared the post. He said that he had met his son in the jail and found him in a very depressed mood. The family of Tauseef is not well-off and their financial condition is not such that they can afford expensive legal aid. Like Tauseef, a large number of Kashmiri youngsters come to Chhattisgarh to study and work, and many of them told the activists that they had always felt safe in the State but this incident will deter Kashmiri youth from coming to Chhattisgarh. 

On 8 August a delegation with representatives from various Left organizations met the Additional. Superintendent of Police, Durg, Vivek Shukla and conveyed to him that liking or sharing a post or a cartoon on social media does not constitute any legal ground for sedition charges. Citing the Mumbai High Court's verdict in the Aseem Trivedi case, they pointed out that the court had dismissed the grounds for Aseem Trivedi's arrest on sedition charges for a cartoon he himself had made as "arbitrary and frivolous" and said that the grounds against Tauseef are even more arbitrary and frivolous, since he shared a cartoon made by someone else. Cartoons are not seditious since they do not incite violence, they merely express satire. They demanded the sedition charges on Tauseef should be revoked and he should be released from jail without delay. They also expressed serious concern for his safety from violence inside jail and demanded that his safety be ensured. The delegation submitted a memorandum to the SP, Durg through the Addl. Superintendent with the above demands.
The delegation also went to meet the Superintendent of Durg Central Jail but was told that they could meet him only at 10 AM on 9 August. The delegation has planned to meet him on 9 August and will also attempt to meet Tauseef. The memorandums were signed by Brijendra Tiwari (CPI (ML)), Ramesh Kumar Das (CPI), AG Qureshi (CMM), VK Soni (AITUC), Ashok Miri (AICCTU), Shamim Qureshi (AIYF), and Lakshmi Krishnan (AIPWA).

Party Initiatives in Jharkhand

Koderma - The CPI (ML) Koderma district committee organized a people's protest march from Jhumritilaiyya on 5 July led by district Secretary Com. Mohan Datta and other committee members to protest on the following issues:

i.              Grabbing of land from rural poor by the Raghuvar government on pretext of wrong settlement in order to facilitate free loot of Jharkhand's water, forests and land by corporate houses;

Against amendments in Chhotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) and Santhal Paragana Tenancy (SPT) Acts and the anti-people domicile policy;

ii.             loot and irregularities related to food security.

The march culminated in a meeting at Jhanda Chowk. Addressing the meeting, CPI (ML) MLA Com. Rajkumar Yadav said that the BJP government is working in the direction of rapidly handing over Jharkhand's natural and human resources to corporate houses. The very rationale behind the formation and existence of Jharkhand is in jeopardy and we must make the struggle against this sharper and more pervasive. All sections—workers, farmers, adivasis, dalits, minorities and others—must be united in this struggle.  On 23 July a protest meeting was held in Kurah village, Kurah Panchayat, Ichak Block, to demand the arrest of the killers of Banwari Mehta.

Giridih - A minor adivasi girl student was gang-raped on 27 July in Bengabad (Giridih district). A protest march against the rape and demanding arrest of the perpetrators was taken out on 29 July in Bagodar after the AIPWA State committee meeting. The march was led by Comrades Meena Tiwari, Geeta Mandal, Sabita Singh, Poonam Mahto, Jayanti Choudhury and others. AISA took out a protest march against the gang rape on 31 July at Rajdhanwar. The march culminated in a meeting where speakers said that the police were in cahoots with the perpetrators of the rape. They strongly condemned the failure of the police to arrest the culprits even 72 hours after the incident and demanded their arrest without delay.

Palamu- Middle, small and poor farmers from many blocks were mobilized and came together under the leadership of CPI ML) Palamu district committee to protest on issues of land for housing, eviction from agricultural land, loot in construction of Dobhas (farm ponds/irrigation points), loot in ration distribution, irregularities in issue of ration cards, food security and other related issues. The issues raised also included renovation of canals and dams for a long term solution to drought and distribution of pending rations.

A protest march and meeting were held on 14 July at Panki block HQ. The protest demanded the proper construction of 3 canals—Vanarchua, Klonwa and Satura—for irrigation to provide a sustainable solution to drought. On the same day, protests were organized at Mohammadganj and Chainpur Block HQs with all the above demands and also the issue of people settled on gairmajrua land for 20-25 years who have got legal parchas for their land but have not yet been given dakhal-kabja of the land. This issue was added in the memorandum submitted. A protest and meeting was held on 5 July at the Lesliganj Block office (Palamu district). Protests and meetings on the above demands were also held in Sangma and Dhurki Blocks (Garhwa district). These protests generated a lot of enthusiasm in the district.

AISA's Campaign for 'Right to Accommodation' Delhi University

DU unit of AISA has started a campaign to assert students' right to accommodation in which students are being mobilized to pressurise the University administration and the government to ensure accommodation to the students who come to DU from various parts of the country. The campaign- 'A Room of My Own' is also a campaign against the exploitation of students by inflated rents, electricity bills and brokerage. Luggage march at DU North Campus!! Several programmes have been undertaken as a part of this campaign. On 6 August, hundreds of students joined the "Luggage March" as a part this campaign. The students marched from Vijay Nagar to nearby student areas carrying their Luggage, Beddings, utensils as a mark of protest against the skyrocketing rates of PGs and scarcity of hostels in DU. The campaign has received tremendous support from the students. More than 9000 students have already written their experience and expressed support to the demands in a postcard addressed to the DU Vice Chancellor. A right to accommodation march has also been called on 9 August.

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