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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