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!      

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