Wednesday, August 3, 2016

ML Update | No. 32 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.19 | No. 32 | 2-8 August 2016


Anandiben Resignation Is Not Enough: The BJP Government in Gujarat Must Go

     Countrywide condemnation of the recent incident of RSS-led state-sponsored cow-vigilantism against dalit youths in Una and the dalit upsurge that erupted in its wake as much within Gujarat as across the country has pushed the BJP on the back-foot and Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel has had to resign. With the crucial UP elections round the corner, the BJP's desperation is quite palpable. In a similar damage-control exercise, the party has already shunted Smriti Irani out of the education ministry, cries for whose resignation had been rending the air since the institutional murder of young dalit scholar Rohith Vemula in mid-January this year.

It is significant that even though dalits do not have much numerical strength in Gujarat except in Surendranagar district, it is the assertion of dalit power which has brought the powerful BJP government in Gujarat down to its knees. Since Advani's rathyatra, the Sangh brigade has treated Gujarat as the safest laboratory for its Hindutva fascist project. Within Gujarat, they have got away with the 2002 post-Godhra genocide and the subsequent string of fake encounters and all kinds of state-sponsored social atrocities even as the Modi government has been discredited and indicted on an international scale. Modi's May 2014 victory has been propagated as a validation of the 'Gujarat model' whether in terms of the Adani-Ambani paradigm of corporate plunder or the macabre display of Hindutva offensive. In a remarkable turnaround, we now have a powerful resistance challenging the Hindutva project right within its strongest citadel.

The Gujarat protests have found a powerful resonance across the country, most particularly in neighbouring Maharashtra, where dalits have been protesting the demolition of a building intimately associated with the life and legacy of Ambedkar. The BJP talks of building Ambedkar memorials and museums, while its government in Maharashtra unleashes the bulldozers of state-power to demolish an Ambedkar heritage building. Together the incidents of Mumbai and Una have ignited a powerful dalit resistance. On July 31, dalit organisations and other progressive forces of Gujarat organised a huge rally in Ahmedabad and came out with a charter of struggle that strikes at the root of the Brahminical order and an action call of a people's march from Ahmedbad that would reach Una on the eve of the forthcoming Independence Day.

Unlike the LJP-BSP model of dalit politics which has reduced the dalit agenda to one of power-sharing with champions of the Brahminical order, utterly neglecting, nay rejecting, the radical socio-economic vision of Ambedkar and his revolutionary call for annihilation of castes, the ongoing dalit resistance has the potential to reignite the radical vision of Ambedkar and resurrect the agenda of emancipation from the social regimentation of the Brahiminical order championed by the RSS and the BJP. In Gujarat, it has also made it clear that the Una incident does not just mark an administrative failure on the part of Anandiben Patel as CM, but it epitomises the crisis of legitimacy of the Gujarat government itself. The movement for justice for the Una victims of the Sangh brigade's politics of social persecution and terror politics has therefore demanded the resignation of the entire government and the holding of fresh elections as early as possible. Anandiben's symbolic resignation is not enough, the whole government must go.

Before Una, the Muslim community had been at the receiving end of the BJP's aggressive politics in the name of cow-protection. Before Bihar elections we had seen the brutal midnight lynching of Mohammad Ikhlaq in Dadri near Delhi, and after the BJP's politics of cow-vigilantism met with a roaring rebuff by the Bihar electorate, we saw Latehar happen in Jharkhand where two young Muslim men were killed and their bodies left hanging from a tree. Taking advantage of the SP government's ambivalence and inaction, the BJP has also continued to justify and invoke the Dadri lynching as an 'exemplary lesson'. Muslim organisations have therefore wholeheartedly welcomed the post-Una dalit resistance and contrary to the Sanghi conspiracy of co-opting dalits and using them as cogs in the Hindutva wheel and pitting them against Muslims, we now see welcome signs of a developing bond of unity and cooperation linking the two segments of the Indian society who are being simultaneously attacked by the Sangh brigade.

As we approach the historic month of August that saw India rise and ask the British colonialists to 'Quit India' in 1942 and witnessed the eventual departure of the colonial rulers five years later, Una holds a mirror to the real state of our freedom after nearly seven decades. The shared dreams of a truly free and democratic India with equal rights and opportunities for all that had inspired millions of Indians to give their all in the freedom movement are today being haunted by a renewed spectre  of bondage and regimentation. After a quarter century of uninterrupted pursuit of the neoliberal agenda of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation we find every notion of sovereignty and self-reliance being subjected to a FDI-driven 'Make in India' regime where the resources and rights of the Indian people are being trampled underfoot by a predatory 'company raj' with the fullest backing of the Indian state. And with the installation of the Modi government at the Centre, an emboldened RSS now seeks to dictate the terms of our social existence with intrusive policing in every sphere of life, from dress and food to education and culture.

Against this backdrop, the spirit and strength of resistance displayed by Gujarat dalits in their historic July 31 Ahmedabad rally reflects the shared urge and resolve of all sections of the people of India who are fighting for democracy and dignity, for real freedom from all kinds of oppression and injustice. Let the resignation of Anandiben Patel mark the beginning of the end of the Modi regime and the entire RSS project of subjecting India to a retrograde and repressive Brahiminical order in the name of Hindutva.

CPI(ML) Reaffirm Pledge to Strengthen Revolutionary Democratic Movement Across the Country

On 28th July, CPI (ML) activists all over the country organized sankalp (pledge) sabhas, dharnas and other programmes on the 45th anniversary of the martyrdom of party's founder Com. Charu Mazumdar. Tributes were paid to Comrade Charu Mazumdar in party offices by comrades. They also renewed their pledge to strengthen revolutionary democratic movement in all spheres against communal-corporate fascism in the 50th year of the Naxalbari.

CPI (ML) activists organized a one-day dharna in Karnal against the atrocities on Dalits, poor and women, on the occasion.  

Pledge meetings were held in Puducherry and Karaikal. The CPI (ML) Ranchi city committee paid held a condolence meeting to pay tribute to writer Mahasweta Devi, the inspiration for the Jangal Mahal movement, who passed away on 28 July, and to Charu Mazumdar, the founder of the Naxalbari movement. The meeting began with 2 minutes' silence to honour their memory. A meeting was also organised at Bagodar in Giridih, Palamu, Garhwa and other places in Jharkhand.

Party activists also gathered Siliguri to reaffirm the party pledge and pay tributes to the heroic revolutionary legacy of Com. Charu Mazumdar.

In East Godavari, the occasion was observed at many places. There was a meeting at the East Godavari party office. At Prathipadu, RYA activists marched up to the statue of Alluri Seetharamaraju. At Tuni, agricultural workers and Dalits held a rally. A meeting was also held at Rothulapdi Mandal, the Kakinda district capital. RYA also held a march on 29 July at Balaji centre.  

In the Delhi party office, activists renewed their commitment to the ongoing struggles and the spirit of the Naxalbari movement. In JNU, JNU unit party activists along with AICCTU comrades from Delhi held a pledge meeting.

In Hazaribagh Central Jail too, political activists who have been imprisoned for their participation in people's movements paid tributes to Com. Charu Mazumdar at a meeting.

Demonstration Against Beheading of CPI(ML) Activist at Tirunelveli

Com. Mariappan, CPI(ML) activist and son of Com. Shankar, Branch secretary of 44th ward in Tirunelveli municipal corporation, was beheaded by communal, casteist lumpen forces on 20 July for defying their dictates. Com. Mariappan aged 24 years, belonged to the most backward washerman community.

An AIPFfact-finding team visited Tirunelveli on 26.07.2016. The team included AIPF Tamilnadu campaign committee member and Vice President of  state PUCL Prof. Murali, Dr. Laxmi Narayanan, state President of Karnataka PUCL and AIPF National Campaign Committee member, Mr. G. Ramesh, National council member of AIPF, Mr.Vidya Sagar , state campaign committee member of AIPF, Prof.Fathima Babu, state Joint Secretary of PUCL, P Kanmani, Treasurer of state PUCL, Mr Prasad, state secretary of AISA, Karnataka, and Com.Balasundaram, Central Committee member of CPI(ML). The team met the family of Mariappan and his comrades, and demanded that the State recognize the matter to be a caste atrocity and take appropriate measures for the safety and dignity of the oppressed castes. It emerged that the wife of Mariappan has also been threatened with the killing of her unborn baby. The team demanded protection for her.     

CPI(ML) called for a massive protest on 29 July 2016 and it was attended by people of that area including his pregnant wife. Com. Sundarrajan, City secretary of CPI(ML) presided the protest demonstration. The demonstration was addressed by state secretary Com. Kumarasamy, Central committee member Com. Shankar, AIPF National council member Com. Ramesh and several other district leaders from other left organizations.  CPI(ML) activists from all over Tamil Nadu also took part. After the demonstration, hundreds of people went to the collector's office and submitted a memorandum to the District Collector demanding Rs.25 lakh as compensation to the family, Government job to the wife of deceased Com. Mariappan, protection to the people from casteist lumpen elements backed by Hindu Munnani and a stringent punishment to the perpetrators of the heinous murder, and stern action against the casteist-communal outfits. Demonstrations were also held in several other places across Tamil Nadu to condemn the murder.

Massive Protest against Demolition of Ambedkar Bhavan in Mumbai

The assembling together of 35,000 people in pouring rain in front of Mumbai's CST on 19 July was no ordinary occurrence. They were there to protest against the illegal demolition of Ambedkar Bhavan in Dadar on the night of 24 June. Ambedkar Bhavan was not only the venue for many meetings and programmes of progressive organizations; it also housed a bookshop and an archive of books which included some rare handwritten manuscripts of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. The illegal demolition enraged the dalits who idolize Dr. Ambedkar and brought them out on the streets in protest. Protests were also held in Maharashtra on 25 July in support of the dalit agitation going on in Una.

The recent incidents in the country underline the need for all oppressed communities to come together and unite in the fight against oppression. All the organizations which participated in the march on 19 July realized that this is the need of the hour. The Republican Party of India led by Prakash Ambedkar, Lal Nishan Party, several student organizations, and the CPI (ML) also participated in this protest.

Protest against Gang Rape of a Minor in Nagpur

On 21 July a 12 year old minor girl was abducted and gang raped in Nagpur. On 23 July, AISA, AIPWA, CPI (ML), AIDWA and several other progressive women's organizations protested outside the Imamwada Police station. The protestors demanded that cases be immediately booked against the assaulters and the case be tried in fast track court so that the assaulters can be punished without delay.

CPI(ML) Team's Report on Dalit Oppression in Muzaffarpur

A CPI (ML) enquiry team visited the site of the incident on 21 July where feudal forces from the Bhumihar caste, protected by the BJP, urinated into the mouths of 2 dalit youths. The team reported that 2 dalit youths Rajiv Paswan and Munna Paswan (who are related to each other through marriage) went on a motorbike to witness a yagya in Babutola. When they returned from the yagya, they found their bike missing from the place where they had parked it. While they were searching for their bike, Suman Thakur and Sushil Thakur appeared and asked them what they were looking for. When the youths said they were looking for their bike, Suman Thakur and Sushil Thakur showed them the bike and demanded to see the papers for the vehicle. They then alleged that the bike was stolen and started beating the 2 dalit youths with rods and then locked them up in a room.

After that, the village head Mukesh alias Mukul Thakur came there and ordered that urination should be done into the mouths of the 2 dalit youths. When the father of the youths came to save them, his neck was tied with a cloth and he was also beaten. After that, the police personnel posted for the security of the yagya came there and advised the dalit youths to run away from there.

When the youths arrived at the thana, the thana in-charge, under pressure from local BJP MLA, Ashok Singh, refused to register the case; he even tore up the application submitted by the youths. A case was registered later only after strong protest demonstrations.

The enquiry team stated that the real cause behind the incident was that these people had not voted for candidates from the Bhumihar dominant caste in the Panchayat elections, and this bestial attack was a revenge for that. This is truly an insult to democracy.

The enquiry team has called for immediate suspension of the thana in-charge and arrest of all the accused. It has also demanded that the Bihar government should take stern measures to stop such bestial occurrences. The team comprised of CPI (ML) district committee members Shatrughan Sahni and Parshuram Pathak, Paroo Party in-charge Jaleshwar Patel, Khet Mazdoor Sangh district Secretary Sitaram Paswan, and Saraiyya Party in-charge Pankaj Kumar.

PM Modi's Effigy Burnt Across Bihar

The CPI (ML) Bihar State unit led protests across Bihar and burnt effigies of Prime Minister Modi in protest on 23 July 2016 against the several atrocities committed on dalits, including the incident in Paroo, Muzaffarpur district. Protest marches and effigy burnings were held in the capital Patna, Muzaffarpur, Ara, Sahar, Siwan, Raghunathpur, Mairwa, Darauli, Guthni, Andar Nautan, Hasanpura, Hussainganj, Daraunda, Siswan, Betiya, Biharsharif, Gaya, Kaimur, Daudnagar in Aurangabad, Saran, Jamui, Vaishali, Saharsa, Purnea, Bhagalpur, Samastipur, Madhubani, Jhanjharpur, Arariya, Beguserai, , Masaurhi, Naubatpur, Gopalganj, Western Champaran, Nalanda, Supaul, Gopalganj, Buxar, Rohtas, Eastern Champaran and Katihar. Protests in Jehanabad, Arwal, Darbhanga and Nawada were held on 20 July in support of the Gujarat bandh. People including activists from the CPI (ML), RYA, AISA, AIPWA and other people's organizations participated in large numbers in the protest marches, raised slogans against dalit atrocities and questioned the Prime Minister's silence and free rein provided to the "gau-rakshak goons". They also pointed out Jitan Ram and Ram Vilas' treachery in supporting the BJP.

The speakers also pointed out anti-dalit and anti-minority character of Lalu and Nitish. On the one hand they talk about social justice, but on the other the actions of the Paroo thana in-charge show that the administration sides with the dominant castes. What kind of social justice is this where FIRs by dalits are not registered and feudal-criminals roam free?

People's Protest against Police Raj in Jharkhand

Since July this year a series of police atrocities has taken place in quick succession in Jharkhand State: brutal beating and death of Rupesh Swansi, a minor, in the Bundu thana police lock-up; beating up and killing of another minor youth on charges of mobile theft in the Hazaribagh police lock-up; brutal beating and forcible driving away of three villagers from a  village because they were agitating against forcible land grab by NTPC in Badkagaon (Hazaribagh); beating of a journalist in Bokaro; the bestial beating and torture of a minor girl in Manika thana (Latehar district) after which a judge of the High Court called the police "an organized goonda gang" and others. The Jharkhand government has even refused to comply with a Ranchi High Court order in connection with the cruel and inhumane incident at Manika thana. All these incidents are confirmation of the indication that the State is heading towards Police Raj.

On 14 July a CPI(ML) team comprising Com. Janardan Prasad, MLA Com. Rajkumar Yadav, Com. Bhuneshwar Kewat and Com. Xavier Kujur visited Bundu, met the bereaved family, and held a mass meeting. As per the findings of the team, Rupesh Swansi of Adarsh Nagar, Bundu (Ranchi district) used to work as a newspaper boy and a cloth shop salesman to earn money for his and his sisters' studies. He was 16 years of age. The police had made a group of informers who, instigated by SDPO Pawan Kumar, used to implicate innocent people for the benefit of both police as well as informers. On 7 July two bodyguards of Pawan Kumar picked up Rupesh at 5 pm from the cloth shop, repeatedly beat him brutally at Pawan Kumar's residence and in two different thanas and charged him with possession of a kata (type of knife) and Rs 12,000. They took him to Bogda forest on the pretext of finding the weapon, where he fell unconscious and died. The police wanted to throw away his body in the forest, but the alertness of his family forced them to take him to RIMS where a post mortem was done which said that he died of several injuries to the body.

The family members along with thousands of people blocked the Ranchi-Tata Nagar road for 7 hours on 9 July demanding the arrest of Pawan Kumar, the 2 bodyguards and the 2 thana-incharges of Rahe and Dasham Falls. Under pressure from the people's outrage, an FIR under Section 302 was finally registered against the accused.

The CPI (ML) was at the forefront of the 9 July road block. The Party took out a protest march in Ranchi on 10 July demanding the arrest and trial of the 4 police personnel. MLA Rajkumar Yadav demanded a CBI enquiry headed by a retired HC judge with special representatives from the Vidhan Sabha. A people's protest meeting was also called on 21 July at Bundu against the making of Jharkhand into a Police Raj. The meeting was addressed by Rajkumar Yadav.

Kashmir Solidarity Protest at Siliguri

CPI(ML) activists burnt the effigy of Rajnath Singh at Hashmi Chowk, Siliguri on 25 July 2016 against the Indian State's killing of Kashmiri civilians. 

Com. Rameshwar Ravidas' Martyrdom Day Observed

The 12th martyrdom day of popular CPI (ML) leader Com. Rameshwar Ravidas was observed on 18 June 2016 at his native village Surunga in Dhanbad district. CCW member Com. Shubhendu and hundreds of comrades and villagers garlanded the life-size statue of the martyr and paid tributes to his memory while resolving to carry forward his work and vision. Earlier, a rally was taken out through several neighbouring villages which, raising spirited slogans against the BJP government, mafia, and feudal forces, reached the venue of the event in the Surunga school grounds.

Com. Rameshwar Ravidas was a dedicated member of the Dhanbad district committee who used to lead people's struggles from the days of the IPF. While working as an organized worker in BCCL he became a CPI(ML) activist. He was killed on 18 June 2004, by those forces who felt threatened by his activism. 


Tributes to Mahasweta Devi, the unflinching voice of resistance

Mahasweta Devi, whose pen was committed to the cause of India's most oppressed, passed away at the age of 90. In her sixtyyear long career, Mahasweta Devi penned more than one hundred novels, twenty collections of short stories and authored innumerable articles.

She sketched the saga of anguish and rebellion, often offering precious insights into the lives of the most oppressed, in her iconic works like Aranyer Adhikar (Right to Forest) , Rudali , Chotti Munda and His Arrow, Bashai Tudu and  Breast Stories. Her lifetime commitment was to the adivasis of India – not as subjects of anthropological study, but as heroes and heroines of their lives and struggles. She told the stories of the Rudalis and Stanadayinis of the oppressed castes, who were forced to place their tears and breast-milk at the service of the exploiting castes.

Mahasweta Devi remains by far the most faithful and seminal chronicler of the Naxalbari rebellion. Her voice undertook to introduce '1084's Mother' to her Naxalite son, killed in police custody. Her writing sketched the character of Jagdeesh Master – the immortal co-founder of the CPI (ML) movement in Bhojpur. In her chronicling of the "Spring Thunder", unlike most others Bengali literary figures, Devi said it loud and clear – "Naxalbari is not about a few brave lives lost in a futile battle, but a political task which must be fulfilled."

Her powerful writing spoke of the Madkam Hidmes, the Thaangjam Manoramas, the Ishrat Jehans 'encountered' by the state machinery, the police, the armed forces. In her iconic short story Dopdi, the confrontation between 'Senanayak' – the Special Forces officer – and the adivasi Naxalite activist Dopdi Mejhen who is gang raped in an 'encounter' is like an open wound in literature. This confrontation reminds us of Manipur's women who stripped naked in front of the Assam Rifles headquarters crying 'Indian Army Rape Us'. Devi's culling of narratives from the horrific times of state repression of Naxalbari days seems even more prophetic today.

Mahasweta Devi will be remembered as a fearless activist. During the Singur-Nandigram agitation, she had stridently criticized the CPM government's acquisition of fertile agricultural land from farmers to set up industrial plants. Again, during the Mamata Banerjee regime, Devi vehemently protested police atrocities in the state. Just as Senanayak cannot stand face to face with the naked and defiant Dopdi, Modi or Mamata Banerjee and several other politician who hailed the 'great writer' on her death, cannot look her literature in the face – cannot face a literature that speaks such devastating truth to power.

Once in an interview, a journalist asked Mahasweta Devi how she keeps activism away from writing. Devi replied, "My writing is my activism".

Adieu, Mahasweta Devi! We will fight together to keep your dream alive!

Tributes to Writer-Journalist Neelabh Ashk

Neelabh Ashk, born on 16 August 1945 in Mumbai and brought up in Allahabad, passed away on 23 July 2016. His contribution to the revolutionary Left cultural stream as a poet, journalist, playwright, critic, publisher, organizer and fighting cultural activist will always be remembered. He played active leadership roles in the Jan Sanskriti Manch for a decade after its inception in 1885. It was Neelabhji who played the chief role in the collection, editing and publication of poet Gorakh Pandey's first anthology- "Loha Garam Ho Gaya Hai" by JASAM, after his death. In 1991 he took great pains to publish the first collections of poems by Left revolutionary poets Viren Dangwal and Balli Singh Cheema.

In 1988-89 he led the memorable movement for the autonomy of the North-Central Regional Cultural Centre in Allahabad. He had a strong relationship with the Progressive Students' Organization and workers' and human rights movements.

He translated Brecht's "Exception and Rule" under the title "Niyam ka Randa, Apvaad ka Phanda" and directed it himself for the "Dasta" team. His translations of Pablo Neruda's poems and Lermetyov's novel "Hero of our Times" are gems of translation literature. He also translated "King Lear" and Brecht's "Mother Courage". Seven or eight years ago he was nominated for the Sahitya Akademi award for translation but he refused the award as a protest against the suppressive policies of the government. He also translated Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things into Hindi.

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