Wednesday, October 26, 2016

ML Update | No. 44 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol.19 | No. 44 | 25 – 31 October 2016

Sarkar at the Service of Raj

Fadnavis Government Turns Broker for MNS Mafia

The 2005 Hindi film Sarkar inspired in equal parts by Bal Thackeray's life and Godfather, portrayed the parallel power wielded in Mumbai by the Shiv Sena. The film's title played on the pun 'Sarkar' - which in Hindi and Marathi is a feudal title for a man wielding power and authority, and also means 'Government.' In BJP-ruled Maharashtra today, this pun seems especially apt. The Sarkar - Government - is at the service of 'Raj' Thackeray, Bal Thackeray's nephew. Raj Thackeray, today's mafia 'Sarkar' imposes his mob rule, with the tame cooperation of the Chief Minister himself.   

MNS leader Raj Thackeray threatened violence against the soon-to-be-released film Ai Dil Hai Mushkil, on the grounds that it starred a Pakistani film actor. Johar issued a public declaration that he would no longer hire Pakistani talent in his films – and Raj Thackeray then made a deal with Johar in the Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis' presence, in which he agreed to allow the film to be released on condition that Johar paid a Rs 5 crore 'fine' which would go to the Indian Army.

It is indeed a new low for democracy when an elected Chief Minister brokers a deal allowing leader of goons to use the threat of violence to extort 'tax' from film producers. The BJP brands any questions about surgical strikes as an 'insult' to armed forces. Is it not an insult to armed forces to be offered funds extorted by the mafia-style Sarkar Raj?

What is equally shameful is that this extortion is able to pose as 'patriotism.' Here, a considerable share of the blame rests with the media channels and anchors that threw journalistic responsibility and restraint to the winds and helped create a frenzied 'demand' for a ban on or boycott of Pakistani artists. While the Modi Government's Home Minister Rajnath Singh stated that films featuring Pakistani actors would be allowed to be released, the Information Minister Venkaiah Naidu justified boycott threats as public sentiment that must be respected.

The MNS, like the Shiv Sena under Bal Thackeray, is notorious for its mob violence against migrant workers from Bihar and UP, as well for holding cultural and sports events to ransom. Is mob violence against migrant workers from other States 'patriotic'? Is it not a shame when a party that refuses to respect the rights and dignity of students or migrants from Bihar or UP as citizens of India, be allowed to lay down 'patriotism laws' and impose 'patriotism taxes'?

Mobocracy has been emboldened and encouraged by the BJP Governments, most so in the climate of jingoism fostered in the past few months. A 'protest letter' from a little known saffron outfit was enough to make organisers of a film festival in Goa drop a 1959 classic film Jago Hua Savera from its itinerary, on the grounds that it was a 'Pakistani' film. Faiz Ahmad Faiz, arguably one of the greatest poets of the subcontinent, wrote the screenplay for Jago Hua Savera, based on a story by Bengali writer Manik Bandopadhyay, and the film featured a largely Bangladeshi cast with the music composer and a leading actor being Indians (Timir Baran and Tripti Mitra respectively). Such mobocracy impoverishes Indians, Pakistanis, and Bangladeshis alike by robbing us of our rich and shared cultural legacy.

Also a cause for concern is the craven submission of most Indian celebrity figures from the influential worlds of film and sport, before the mobocracy posing as patriotism. Barring a few honourable exceptions, most film figures have kept silence on the calls for boycott of Pakistani actors and artists.

It is neither courageous nor patriotic to be part of mobs that violently force people to chant 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai', stand up for the national anthem, or pay 'fines' for employing Pakistani actors. True courage and conviction lie in standing up and being counted against such bullying and violence. Here, we can admire the example of the 19-year-old Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur, daughter of Captain Mandeep Singh who was killed at Kargil, who has issued a moving statement against the anti-Pakistan war-mongering and communal hate-mongering. Declaring that war, not Pakistan, killed her father, she has called herself 'a soldier like my father – a soldier for peace,' and called upon political leaders of India and Pakistan to 'talk to each other' and work to achieve peace.

Indians need to stand with the soldiers for peace not the 'Senas' of hate and mob violence that terrorise Dalits, migrants, and women and wage war on freedom of expression and the subcontinent's shared composite culture.

Successful Jharkhand Bandh Amidst Heavy Repression

Jharkhand bandh on 25 October called by CPI(ML) and other left parties in the state was a success not only in terms of peoples participation and support it received but also for making a point that continued repression on adivasis and common masses and current spree of firings, killings and brutal oppression by the BJP government must be stopped. The bandh was called to oppose the recent incidents of firing on tribal protesters in Khunti, firing on displaced people in Barkagaon and killing of two workers of Inland Power Plant in police firing in Gola.

Tribals and peasants were subjected to brutal repression for protecting their lands and livelihoods from the government sponsored corporate loot. Ongoing unabated communal attacks by Sangh outfits on minorities were also protested through this bandh. Demands of para-teachers and other contract workers in government sectors were also raised during this bandh.

While the Raghubar government's state machinery was determined to foil the bandh call by heavy deployment of forces and open threats to the people, the common masses in all parts of the state came on the streets against state government's policies. CPI(ML) senior leaders including State Secretary Janardan Prasad, ex-MLA Vinod Singh, Subhendu Sen and Bhuvaneshwar Kevat were arrested after a heavy crackdown on marching bandh supporters in state capital Ranchi,. Many leaders and activists were injured during the scuffle when police arrested hundreds of them and sent for a day to the Mohrabadi grounds which was turned into a makeshift jail. Arrests were also made in other places in the state including Giridih and Bokaro.

The protesters all over in the state demanded arrests under charges of murder of all officials others who perpetrated incidents of police firing in Khunti, Barkagaon and Gola, and to immediately stop the ongoing land grab and loot of natural resources in Jharkhand.

Marchers came to streets with the slogan 'Raghubar Hatao, Jharkhand Bachao' (Oust Raghubar govt, Save Jharkhand) in Bagodar, Birni, Rajdhanwar, Jamua, Devri, Gama, Tisri, Bengabad, Gandey, Giridih and Dumri blocks of Giridih district. Similar slogans reverberated also in Jharia, Bokaro, Hazaribad, Ramgarh, Ranchi, Bundu, Lohardagga, Gumla, Garhwa, Palamu, Latehar, Koderma, Deoghar, Dumka, Jamtara, Sahebganj and many other districts where masses joined bandh activists in hundreds spontaneously.

Markets remained closed in many places and roads were blockaded as was seen in Saria town. Workers organised processions in cities like Dhanbad in support of the bandh. Many also towns witnessed large processions on the eve of the bandh day.

Left parties including CPI(ML), CPM, CPI, MCC and SUCI held out processions jointly in almost all places. Jharkhand's non-left opposition including Congress, JDU, RJD, JVM etc. barring JMM, also came for the bandh same day with a separate call. 

CPI(ML) State Secretary Janardan Prasad has congratulated the people of the state to make the bandh call a success and termed it a reflection of peoples' anger against fascist, pro-corporate Raghubar government in the state. He said that people cannot be deceived by rhetorical communal jingoistic manoeuvres of the BJP.

CPI(ML) Bihar MLA Faces Threats in All-Party Meeting For Opposing Communal Propaganda Against Minorities 

It is an old trick of the BJP and RSS to spread communal frenzy through rumour-mongering under the cover of festivals. During Durga Puja and Moharram this year, communal tension was visible in several districts of Bihar, in which attacks were made on the minority community and their shops and property were either burnt or looted. Communal riots were consciously incited in many places including Piro and Gopalganj (Bhojpur district), Bihariganj (Madhepura), Kanhauli (Sitamarhi), Buniyadganj and Purnea (Gaya), Parsagaon (Supoul), Barun (Aurangabad), Warsaleeganj (Nawada), and Turkauliya Boring Chowk (Eastern Champaran). The attitude of the Bihar government – that won elections in the name of an alternative to the communal BJP – in these cases has been indifferent, at best. And in Saran and Piro, some elements having connections with the RJD were directly involved in incidents of incitement and loot.

The Tarari region of Bhojpur district has been the heart of the revolutionary peasants' struggle. Some years ago the Ranveer Sena perpetrated the Bathani Tola carnage which was both casteist and communal in character, and in 2014 the communal forces tried to divide the CPI(ML) base by inciting dalit youth against Muslims. On 25 October 2014, during the immersion after Laxmi Puja in Sahar the BJP spread false rumours which resulted in communal tension for days. The CPI(ML) had then taken many initiatives against BJP's poisonous campaign by organizing meetings in many villages.

This time Piro town in Bhojpur was the target of the rioters. Durga idols had been installed at 9 places in Piro bazaar. The route for the idol immersion went past Badi Masjid in the Muslim-populated Piro village and the Yadav-populated basti along the banks of the canal, up to the Gatariya bridge. As they had done in previous years, this year also the minority community cooperated in every way with the procession as the idols were being brought for immersion. The immersion took place peacefully. But on the evening of 12 October when the Moharram procession started, everything started going wrong. The procession started from Milki village and reached Yadav-dominated Dusadhi bazaar when bricks and stones began to be hurled from the roof of the Yamaha showroom, inflicting head injuries on about a dozen people. Bullets were also fired from the terrace of teacher Meena Devi injuring Nanhe Miyan in the thigh. A stampede-like situation ensued. Rumours were spread all around that the Muslims had shouted slogans of "Pakistan Zindabad". Rioting crowds started collecting near Muslim mohallas. At Milki village the wife of Jalaluddin Ansari wept and called for help but the administration remained a mute spectator.

On 13 October a CPI(ML) team visited the fear-ridden Muslim mohallas and spoke to the injured. The team comprised of MLA Sudama Prasad, former MLA Chandradeep Singh, State committee member Sanjay Kumar, Ajit Kushwaha, Mahesh Singh, Qayamuddin Ansari, and Khairati Khan. The victims told the CPI(ML) team that the slogan "Pakistan Zindabad" (Long Live Pakistan) was not raised anywhere; this was purely a false rumour. Yes, the slogan "Islam Zindabad" (Long Live Islam) was being raised.

As the team members were meeting the victims, news came of a Tata 407 vehicle belonging to a Muslim and a tempo being set afire at Piro bus stand and Khairi Tiwaridih respectively. Rioters had blockaded the roads coming to Piro town from Nonadih and Charpokhri and were hunting down and beating up persons from the minority community. Apart from attacking vehicles belonging to the minority community, the rioters also attacked trains and bust the administration's internet services.

On 14 October the administration held a hasty meeting in Piro thana. MLA Sudama Prasad represented the Party at the meeting, but the minority community boycotted the meeting saying that it would serve no purpose until the perpetrators and rioters are arrested. Even after efforts by the administration no one from the Muslim community (except RJD leader Adib Rizvi) participated in the meeting which was conducted in the presence of the IG, DIG, DM, and SP. The BJP, RJD and Congress representatives, strangely, seemed to be speaking in one voice at the meeting, proving the extent to which the BJP-RSS campaign of communal poison has spread. They both said that these incidents had occurred because the Muslims had raised slogans of "Pakistan Zindabad."

CPI(ML) MLA Sudama Prasad said in the meeting that it was very shameful that the the administration was taking no action against the rioters. Every year peace committees are formed during the Puja and yet attacks on Muslims do not cease. He said that the participants in the procession say that the slogan "Islam Zindabad" was raised not "Pakistan Zindabad"; what is wrong in that? The BJP people are deliberately spreading the false rumour that "Pakistan Zindabad" slogans were raised, to paint the minority community as pro-Pakistan and anti-India. As soon as Sudama Prasad said this, the meeting exploded. The leaders and workers of BJP, RJD, Congress and LJP all got up and started shouting that Sudama Prasad is unfit to be an MLA; he is a liar and is biased. Some of them even took up a chair to beat Sudama Prasad. The guard allotted to Comrade Sudama had to intervene to protect him from being beaten up. The members continued their misbehavior even in front of the top administrative officials present – none of whom took any action. It is a symptom of our intolerant times that an elected representative should be attacked in this manner inside a police station by representatives of 'secular' and 'communal' parties alike, for setting facts straight against communal propaganda.

Now the other Parties are busy spreading the canard that the CPI(ML) is 'anti-Hindu': opposition to communal propaganda and defence of minorities in a situation of communal violence is being equated with being 'anti-Hindu.'

CPI(ML) has decided to hold a massive Jan Ekta (People's Unity) Rally in Piro on 26 October, the death anniversary of Comrade Ram Naresh Ram who was a beacon for social change. 

Against Rising Instances of Violence against Dalits in Punjab

On the evening of 5 October, a large casteist nouveau riche group associated with the ruling Akali Dal (Badal) faction in a village in Sangrur district attacked a Dalit Khet Mazdoor mohalla in pre- planned manner. In this attack on workers- men, women, and old people were brutally beaten, subjected to casteist abuse and their homes were vandalized. More than 24 Dalit men and women were injured. The main target of the attack was the home of Punjab Kisan Union (AIKMS) State Secretary Com. Balbir Singh Jalur and his brother Aagu Balvinder Singh. During the entire attack, the police in spite of being fully informed, remained mute spectators. The next day, at the behest of Akali Dal (Badal) MLA and Finance Miister Parminder Singh Dhidhsa, the police registered cases against 68 workers who were actually victims and only 18 people from among the attackers. The police arrested Balbir Singh Jalur and his aged father and put them in jail; they even took the less seriously injured people from the hospital and arrested them. Till 22 October only two of the attackers were arrested, and the rest are not only roaming free but once again beat up women workers in the village and have called for a social boycott of the Dalit community in the village.

The bone of contention in this long-drawn out fight is the dispute over the Dalits' one-third share of panchayati land. According to the Punjab Common Land Act of 1964 one-third of panchayati land in every village is allocated for Dalits. However, in reality what often happens is that the rich farmers of the village acquire these lands for themselves by making their servants or Dalits who are close to them make high bids for the land. With farming in Punjab being fully mechanized, the khet mazdoors can neither find enough work on the fields to sustain their livelihood, nor find food for their families or fodder for their cattle. This crisis led to the demand raised by many landless khet mazdoors in Sangrur district under the leadership of Zameen Prapti Sangharsh Committee (ZPSC) that the Dalits' share of land should not be auctioned to the highest bidder; instead, it should be given to them at an affordable rate for collective farming. In March this year the land in this village was taken by a rich farmer through a high bid by a Dalit under his control. Since then there was constant conflict between the Dalit workers and the Jat farmers. The police and administration were fully aware of the situation but they did nothing to solve the issue, which resulted in the big casteist attack on Dalit workers on 5 October.

The CPI-ML (Liberation) has from the beginning supported this struggle by the Dalit workers. Even on the day of the attack, party workers and Mazdoor Mukti Morcha workers participated in a dharna in front of the SDM Laharagaga office in support of the Dalit workers' demands. Party State Committee member and Sangrur district Secretary Com. Govind Singh Chhajli addressed the dharna. Effigies of the Badal government were burnt at several places by Party and MMM workers to protest against the 5 October attack. It was decided to organize a "Hankar Todo March" on 12 October from Lahra to Jalur but the march could not be held as the government deployed a large police force to stop it. However, a protest meeting was held at Lahra after which a rally was taken out through the town and a memorandum submitted to the administration with the Dalits' demands.

On 21 October several workers' and farmers' organizations united to take out a huge joint rally against the 5 October attack in which leaders from the Party's workers' and farmers' organizations participated. This struggle is still ongoing. District Secretary Com. Govind Chhajli is among the 68 workers who have been named as accused by the police. The Party at the State level has also condemned the Badal government's open support and encouragement for casteism and the administration's biased action and has demanded that all the attackers should be arrested; cases should be registered against them under the SC-ST Act; action should be taken against the police and civil service officials guilty of biased action; all the jailed workers should be released immediately and the false cases against all the workers should be withdrawn.

In another incident of atrocities on Dalits, a 21 year old dalit youth Sukhchain Singh was brutally murdered in Gharangana in Mansa. The murderers also cut off one of his legs and took it with them. Sukhchain had become a victim of the sellers of illegal alcohol and drugs and joined one such gang. He belonged to a normal agricultural labourer's family.  CPI (ML) has started an agitation against this brutal murder and demanded action against the culprits. The party insisted that post-mortem and cremation will not be held till the culprits are caught, the lost leg of the victim recovered and a compensation of 10 lakh paid to his family. A dharna was called immediately. Due to the pressure of the agitation, the administration and police were forced to act. The culprits were caught, the sections pertaining to SC-ST act were added to the FIR, the cut-off leg of the murdered youth recovered from his attackers along with their ammunitions and a compensation of 8 lakh was paid to the family of the victim. When Sukhchain was finally cremated, the people of the region refused to allow any Akali dal leader to be present.

Dalit Student Subjected to Prolonged Bullying and Brutality in Muzaffarpur

A horrifying video went viral on social media, showing two schoolboys beating up a third boy brutally. The 16-year-old victim Uttam also wrote about the attack: "I am a Dalit and so doing well in the examinations or academics, which brings me praise at home, earns me humiliation and abuse in my classroom."

A team of AISA-CPI (ML) and Insaaf Manch visited Uttam's family in Muzaffarpur. Comrade Shivprakash Ranjan, Bihar AISA Secretary who was a part of the team reported that Uttam, a dalit student in class 12th was beaten up brutally by classmates from the dominant community. Uttam's crime was scoring well in exams - something that a dalit student is not supposed to do, something that violated the code of Manu normalised in our caste ridden society and schools. Those who 'punished' Uttam for being better in studies come from socially influential families. And the school administration was allowing the prolonged bullying because they didn't want to offend their parents. Uttam has been going through trauma and depression since the assault. His grandfather with whom Uttam lives says their security is at stake since the video of the assault has gone viral. He fears backlash from the dominant community after assault on Uttam has become public. No one from the local administration or the government had visited Uttam's family days after the attack, and even the necessary medical care has not been given. So much for claims of social justice by Nitish-Lalu duo.

 AISA held state wide protests on 23rd and 24th October demanding Justice for Uttam, against the continuation and normalisation of caste based abuse in our educational institutions, against the Mahagathbandhan Government's complicity with such casteist abuse and violence, and against the silence of the central government on Rohith Act.

Handloom Weavers Rally In Puducherry

Hundreds of handloom weaver's took out a big rally on 18th October 2016 under the banner of AICCTU. They demanded complete employment round the year and in increase of 40% wages to make both ends meet.  The rally was led by K. Subramanian State Secretary of Puduvai Kaithari Nesavalar Sangam.  The rally passed through main thoroughfares of Puducherry and culminated into a militant demonstration in front of Registrar of Co-operative Societies office.  The other main demands of the weavers were: 40% Bonus (incentive) to all handloom weavers without restrictions; compensation Rs. 3 lakhs to the family of weavers for his natural death and that of Rs. 5 Lakhs to death by accidents and total infirmity; Complete implementation of health insurance schemes to weavers; Free housing schemes to handloom weavers; Rs. 5000/- to weavers as lean period assistance; and Complete waiver of loans to handloom weavers.

S. Balasubramanian, State President, S. Mothilal, Vice President AICCTU and Puducherry CPI(ML) District Secretary S. Purushothaman addressed the demonstrators. A 21 points charter was submitted to the Chief Minister. The Puducherry Government assured to convene a meeting of handloom weavers leaders on 9th November to resolve their demands.

Women Workshop in Uttarakhand

AIPWA and AICCTU jointly organised a workshop of women activists in Haldwani on 16 October where women from all parts of Uttarakhand representing various sections including ASHA, Anganwadi, Mid-day Meal and industrial workers, students and peasantry participated.

The workshop was addressed by AIPWA national secretary Shashi Yadav where she criticised increasing attacks on women under Modi regime and reminded the anti-working women attitude of this government. She condemned the statement of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat that women must be confined inside their homes and said that BJP is trying to impose a fascist repressive code against women.

She further added that the women are coming forward in all walks of life through their struggles which are also manifested in their demands of equity and equal wages for equal work. The related laws have proved a lollipop as their proper implementation has never been achieved by the government.  The open exploitation of ASHA, Anganwadi, mid-day meal and industrial workers which needs to be resisted through a very powerful women's movement to ensure equal wages as well as dignified and equitable work conditions. She told that forthcoming AIPWA National Conference which will be held in Patna on 13-14 November will focus on struggles against fascist-patriarchal attacks on women in the country.

Uttarakhand ASHA Health Workers' Union president Kamla Kunjawal welcomed the participants and said that it is only the struggle that makes women freer in day to day endeavors of their lives, be it in home or outside.

The workshop was presided over by Uttarakhand Anganwadi Union's state president Dipa Pandey. Vimala Rauthan, Basanti Bisht, Mina Arya, Rita Kashyap, Indira Deopa, Nirmla Pal, Hira Bhatt, Saroj Pant, Usha, Munni Bisht, Rina Bala, Rama, Roopa, Jyoti Upadhyay, Mamta Arya, Leela Mehar, Bhagwati Sanwal, Ruby Bhardwaj, and many others actively took part in the workshop. Two resolutions expressing solidarity with the ongoing struggles of Anganwadi Workers in state and Minda Factory workers in Sidcul were also passed by the participants.

Farmers and Women March in Sitapur

Hundreds of farmers and women from self-help groups holding aloft red flags and raising slogans of "Waive farmers' loans if you waive corporate loans" and "Shame on Narendra Modi" marched to the Sitapur district headquarters in Uttar Pradesh on 22 September 2016. The march started from the Party office and culminated at the district headquarters. A charter of demands addressed to the Prime Minister and also to the DM was submitted. The charter also contained a list of 1000 debt-ridden farmers and applications for loan waiver. CPI-ML District Secretary Com. Arjun Lal led the march in which nearly 700 farmers participated. After the march a meeting was held at the Party office. The meeting was addressed by Kisan Sabha convener Com. Santram Rawat, town in-charge Com. Gaya Prasad, District in-charge Com. Madan Singh, and AISA leader Com. Archana.

AIPF team visits Naihati-Bijpur

A 15 member AIPF team visited riot ridden Naihati-Bijpur area on 22 October following the communal clashes that took place at Hazinagar and Halisahar in North 24 Parganas district which have left several people injured. In Hazinagar, the clashes had taken place near the Naihati Jute Mill area. On visiting, it was found that police inaction and provocation was one of the main reason for a large-scale loss of property of minorities. AIPF demanded that urgent steps be taken for rehabilitation and building confidence between the two communities. A demand for judicial enquiry was also made.  The team was led by Dr.Vinayak Sen, Bolan Gongnpadhaya, Prof.T. Chakraborty, AB Chowdhury & others. 

Protests for Missing JNU Student Najeeb

A first-year student of M.Sc. Biotechnology, JNU, Najeeb Ahmed has been missing from JNU campus since 15th of October, 2016. He was found missing after being brutally beaten and threatened by some members of the ABVP. As the JNUSU raised the issue of the disappearance with university authorities and the Delhi Police, the JNU administration in complete abdication of its responsibility not only refused to file a complaint with the police regarding Najeeb's disappearance, the university also did not think it necessary to issue a sensitive appeal to Najeeb assuring him of safety and an unbiased hearing. The JNU student community led by JNUSU marched to the police station on 18 October to file a complaint. On 21 October, a protest was called outside the home ministry to build pressure on the home ministry to intensify search operations for finding Najeeb. On 21 October as the students tried to reach the site of protest, several of them were detained by the police at the Parliament Street police station. Several others were dragged and pulled down from the bus and brutally beaten. After much pressure from the students, the home ministry officials conveyed to the students that an SIT had been formed to search for Najeeb. On 23 October, the JNUSU organised a human chain march in which several hundreds of students, teachers and concerned citizens participated. The human chain march culminated in a meeting outside the JNU VC's house which was also addressed by Najeeb's sister. Continuing to build the pressure, the JNUSU also called for JNU students, students from other institutions and social activists to join a march from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar on 24 October. A public meeting was also organised at Jantar Mantar where many student activists of various organisations and other leaders spoke demanding Justice for Najeeb. The JNUSU in its appeal to the citizens said that it is indeed shocking that a –"student is subjected to violence and threats in a university space, is found missing and the institutional authorities respond by doing NOTHING to bring the perpetrators of violence against him to book and feel NO need whatsoever to reach out to the missing student with sensitivity and assurance. Such shocking abdication of institutional responsibilities cannot be allowed to become a norm! Today, as a society, we must come together to demand institutional accountability!! We must come together and say it loud and clear that- persecution, disappearance, humiliation or any kind of discrimination against any student in any campus will not be tolerated!"

In solidarity with the struggle for finding and demanding justice for Najeeb, AISA observed a Nation-Wide Protest on 24 October in Delhi, Allahabad, Kanpur, Patna, Hyderabad, and Kolkata. Solidarity protests were also called by unions at MANUU and UoH.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

ML Update | No. 43 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol.19 | No. 43 | 18- 24 October 2016

Fight for Gender Justice and Equality Reject Communally-Defined 'Uniformity'

The manner in which the Law Commission and the NDA Government frame the issue of Uniform Civil Code and reforms in personal laws suggests that they are concerned more with imposing a communally-defined uniformity on minorities in the country, rather than address concerns of gender justice. The communal framing of the debate does serious damage to the urgent questions of gender justice.    

BJP and RSS propaganda of 'One Nation One Law' is a direct assault on the Constitutional norms of respect for India's religious and cultural diversity. This propaganda implies that it is only the personal laws of the minorities – especially the Muslim minority – that need reform – and that 'Uniform Civil Code' is a matter of bringing Muslim or Christian personal law in line with Hindu Personal Law.

In fact, most religious and secular personal laws governing marriage, divorce, inheritance and succession are in need of reform to bring them in line with Constitutional norms of gender justice and equality. For instance, the amendment of Hindu inheritance laws to allow the daughter to inherit ancestral property continues to face great hostility and be widely violated, with no safeguards against disinheritance of a daughter.

Under the Hindu Marriage Act, a divorced man can discontinue payment of maintenance if the ex-wife is 'unchaste' or converts to another religion. This provision ties maintenance to patriarchal moral codes and religious identity, rather than the rights of women. The definition of 'cruelty' as grounds for divorce under the Hindu marriage law is loose – leaving room for arbitrary and patriarchal definitions of cruelty. A recent Supreme Court judgement is a shocking instance of this when it declared that a wife demanding that her husband live separately from his parents amounts to 'cruelty' and can be grounds for divorce.

The one-month notice period of the secular Special Marriage Act also requires reform since the prolonged waiting period allows room for parents and communal-casteist outfits to mobilize violence against inter-caste or inter-faith couples. Polygamy enjoys recognition in Muslim Personal Law, while the 'Maitri Karar' (Friendship Pact) practice in Gujarat legitimizes bigamy. It is a communal myth that only the Muslim community enjoys 'special' relaxations when it comes to personal law. In fact, the Hindu Undivided Family enjoys special tax exemptions, exemptions which are extended even to Hindu couples who marry under the Special Marriage Act.  

From within the Muslim community itself, there have for long been demands for scrapping of the practices of triple talaq and halala that are inscribed in Muslim personal law.

Unfortunately, the Indian State and ruling parties have been cynical and opportunist rather than principled in their obligations both towards women's rights and the rights of minority communities. The Supreme Court verdict in the Shah Bano case was overturned by a Congress Government in a bid to pander to conservative leaders of the Muslim community, even as the same Government pandered to Hindutva by opening the locks of the Babri Masjid. The BJP gave the demand for a Uniform Civil Code a distinctly communal tone and colour – leading most women's movement groups to emphasise that they demanded gender-just reform in diverse personal laws – preferably reform from within religious communities themselves – rather than imposition of Hindutva-tinted uniformity.   

In 2015, in the course of a Supreme Court hearing on Hindu women's succession rights, the matter of discrimination faced by Muslim women also came up. In response the SC ordered the filing of a PIL on 'Muslim Women's Quest for Equality.' Subsequently there have been several instances of Muslim women who approached the Supreme Court seeking that the provisions of triple talaq and halala be struck down as unconstitutional. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, responding to these petitions in Court, have argued that the Court cannot encroach on the domain of personal laws. Meanwhile the Law Commission has issued a questionnaire to reopen the debate on the need for a Uniform Civil Code – and the AIMPLB has refused to participate in this process, deeming it to be part of the BJP Government's communal agenda to undermine diverse personal laws and impose uniformity.

The Law Commission questionnaire's format is undoubtedly flawed and biased, and misgivings about its agenda have a strong foundation. By reopening the issue of a Uniform Civil Code and polarising the discussion for or against the UCC, the Law Commission is only furthering the communal agenda of the ruling party. The BJP that sheds crocodile tears for discrimination faced by Muslim women is the same party that colludes in the rape and murder of Muslim women during communal violence in Gujarat and more recently Muzaffarnagar.      

The vociferous demands by a variety of Muslim women's groups and individual Muslim women for reforms in personal laws are an extremely welcome development. These groups (such as the Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, Bebaak Collective and others) and individual women have put both the communal BJP as well as the patriarchal AIMPLB on notice. They have made it clear that they will no longer brook any delay in addressing their demands for equality and justice. If the self-proclaimed custodians of Muslim personal law prove unwilling to heed the demands for change, they have asserted their rights to approach the Courts and the State for justice.    

The Left and progressive forces in the country, while firmly opposing any agenda of forced imposition of a communally scripted Uniform Civil Code, must support the ongoing women's movements demanding personal laws that uphold women's equality and dignity.

On Communal Violence in Bengal

The CPI(ML) condemns the organized communal attacks on Muharram tazia processions that took place in several districts of Bengal, including North 24 Parganas, Kharagpur, and Malda, and the resulting communal violence. The Hindutva outfits – often in collusion with the police and administration under the TMC regime – have instigated these acts of violence, resulting in ransacking of homes and shops.

A recent Calcutta High Court order striking down the Government's restrictions on timing of Durga idol immersion processions to prevent clashes with tazia processions is highly unfortunate. The vocabulary adopted by the order had a distinct communal bias, suggesting that Muslims should avoid the tazia procession and observe Muharram mourning at home, and deeming any attempts to regulate Durga idol immersion processions as 'minority appeasement.'

The CPI(ML) demands arrest of the perpetrators of communal violence and speedy relief and rehabilitation for the victims of such violence, as well as disciplinary action against those police and administrative personnel who colluded with the violence instead of acting to prevent and end it.

CPI(ML) Marches against Communal Violence in Naihati

Since 12 October 2016, Communal clashes took place at Hazinagar and Halisahar in North 24 Parganas district which have left several people injured. An estimated 30 homes and several shops, apart from four vehicles, were ransacked or set on fire. The initial violence began in Hazinagar's Naihati Jute Mill area where the Jama Masjid is situated. In wake of these communal clashes, the CPI(ML) took out  a march against communal violence and appealing for peace in Naihati.

On Anti-Dalit Violence in Nashik

The CPI(ML) expresses deep concern over reports of widespread anti-Dalit violence by mobs of the dominant Maratha caste as well as by the police in Nashik district of Maharashtra. The police in the BJP-Shiv Sena ruled state have failed to register cases against the perpetrators and have instead unleashed violence on Dalits inside their own homes in the name of combing operations. 

In recent times, huge silent processions of Marathas had been witnessed in Maharashtra. While the agrarian crisis, farmers' suicides and joblessness were factors in the Maratha unrest, the agitations had a disturbing anti-Dalit edge right from the start. The agitations began following the gang rape and murder of a Maratha minor girl allegedly by Dalit youth, and the demand for dilution of SC/ST Atrocities Act was raised. In Nashik, again, the alleged molestation of a minor Maratha girl by a Dalit teenager was the pretext for the latest round of anti-Dalit violence accompanied by demands to dilute or scrap the SC/ST Atrocities Act.

For allegations of rape and molestation to be used as pretexts to raise the bogey of 'misuse' of the SC/ST Atrocities Act is highly condemnable. The issue of justice for women and girls should not be pitted against that of justice and dignity for Dalits and tribals. Incidences of rape in which Dalits happen to be accused must not be used to profile Dalits as sexually predatory. Atrocities against Dalits and tribals – including instances of organized sexual violence and gang rapes – continue to be rampant, and justice is hard to come by in these cases thanks to police collusion with the perpetrators.    

The CPI(ML) demands stern and prompt action against all the perpetrators of anti-Dalit violence in Nashik. The BJP-Shiv Sena Government must be held accountable for the safety of the Dalits in the state, and all police and administrative personnel involved in anti-Dalit violence must be punished. Political leaders attempting to instigate the Maratha community against the Dalits must also face action.

CPI(ML) Decries State Inaction against Communal Tension in Bhojpur

In a statement issued on 14 October 2016 on communal tension in Peero and other areas in Bhojpur, CPI(ML) state secretary Kunal said that the continuation of the communal terror tactics of the miscreants on the second consecutive day in Peero in Bhojpur is extremely worrisome. The so called 'social justice' government and the district administration has completely bowed down in front of the communal elements. He further said that besides the BJP, even some of the people associated with RJD were behind the communal tensions prevailing in Peero. On the second day too, RJD backed trouble makers tried to attack the Muslim tola. The communal tension could have been curtailed in Peero and Jagdishpur in Bhojpur and in other regions in the state, however the state administration was never found to be alert. Com. Kunal also said that Lalu Prasad never stops raising the cry of secularism and yet in recent days, his party has been found to be involved in several communal incidents. Recently in the communal riots in Saran district people belonging to RJD were found to be involved to the extent that they looted the houses and property of the Muslims. What kind of behaviour is RJD demonstrating towards the minorities? He said in Bihar, Lalu and Nitish had received votes against the communal forces led by BJP but today these parties are openly walking the path of the BJP. He also expressed concern regarding the communal frenzy witnessed in Sugauli. 

A fact finding team from CPI(ML) comprising of MLA Sudama Prasad, party state committee members Com. Qyamuddin Ansari and Com. Ajit Kushwaha along with Com. Chandradeep Singh visited Peero and Jagdishpur as soon as they heard of the incidents of communal violence and tension.

17th World Trade Union Congress of WFTU

6-Member Delegation of AICCTU Participates

The 17th Congress of the WFTU (World Federation of Trade Unions) was held on 5-8 October 2016 at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Durban city of Republic of South Africa, the land of the heroic liberation and anti-apartheid struggle. The Congress culminated in a spirited rally and a mass meeting at historic Curries Fountain Stadium on 8 October. As part of the closing ceremony, a workers' memorial plaque was unveiled at the entrance of the stadium. The theme of the Congress was "Struggle, Internationalism and Unity, For attainment of the workers' contemporary needs, Against poverty and wars generated by capitalist barbarism".

In the country where the people fought hard and victoriously against the apartheid, 1500 workers' and employees' delegates from 111 countries and more than 210 central trade unions and sector based Trade Union Internationals representing  92 million workers from five continents participated in the Congress. The gathering comprised of 340 women trade-unionists and 31% of the delegates were from the Public Sector and 69% were private employees. From India 62 delegates participated from AITUC, CITU, AICCTU, AIUTUC and TUCC. From AICCTU 6-Member Delegation participated namely, Rajiv Dimri (General Secretary), SK Sharma and S. Balan (both vice-presidents), Bhuvaneswari and Uday Bhat (both Secretaries) and AS Kumar (Tamil Nadu state President and national councilor).

The Congress was greeted by leaders from South Africa, namely, COSATU President Sdumo Dlamini, General Secretary of South African Communist Party Blade Nzimande and ANC leader and President of South Africa Jacob Zuma. Several solidarity messages were also sent to the Congress.

In total, 112 speakers took the floor and spoke about the international situation and situation of the working people in their countries. On behalf of AICCTU, Rajiv Dimri addressed the Congress. AICCTU moved the resolution for observance of centenary of Russian Revolution. The speeches of delegates comprehensively reflected the growing crisis of global capitalism and its neo-liberal policies and shifting of the burden of this crisis on to the shoulders of working people, in the developed countries, growing attacks on the working people, notably the imperialist machinations to topple the democratically elected socialist-orientated governments in Latin America and in response the growing resistance of the masses. The Congress discussed the ways and means to respond effectively from WFTU to the challenges facing the working class all around the world and also to consolidate and strengthen the principles of working class internationalism.

The Congress was jointly hosted by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) affiliated unions, namely the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU), the Police Prisons and Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) and the Chemical Energy Print Paper and Allied Workers Union (CEPPWAWU).

The Congress elected 47-member Presidential Council. Michael Mzwandile Makwayiba, South African trade union leader was elected as President and George Mavrikos was re-elected as General Secretary of WFTU for next five years.

The Congress wore festive look with dances and spirited peoples' songs performed by South African worker delegates from time to time and reverberated with the slogans "Amandla"- "Awethu" (power to the people) with all delegates joining them.

The Congress adopted many Resolutions including observance of centenary of Russian Revolution throughout the world.

19th Memorial Day of Com. Nagbhushan Patnaik

The CPI(ML) Odisha unit observed the 19th Memorial Day of Com. Nagbhushan Patnaik on 9 October 2016. CPI(ML) state committee members Com. Khitish Biswal, Com. Radhakant Sethi, Com. Yudhishtir Mahapatra and Com. Bansidhar Parida shared the life narrative of Com. Nagbhushan Patnaik and their memories of him. They called upon the activists to follow path of Com. Patnaik to strengthen the party in Odisha. Com. Mahendra Pardia, who was presiding of the memorial meeting, condemned the anti-labour policies of both the BJP and the BJD governments in the centre and the state respectively. He recalled the legacy of Com. Patnaik who consistently fought for the working class and called for a fight against these policies of Modi and Naveen Patnaik. 

CPI(ML)'s Protest in Darbhanga

Protests were held in front of the Superintendent of Police, Darbhanga, on 5 October, following a brutal assault of a 12 year old boy by a feudal lumpen in the Mekna village in Bahadurpur block. A 12 year old student Dileep Sahni was kept tied for 12 hours and brutally beaten up by a feudal lumpen Parikshan Yadav. The protestors demanded immediate arrest of Parikshan Yadav and other accused, along with withdrawal of false complaints against those who protested against this. Hundreds of protestors took out a march from the Polo ground that culminated in front of the SP's office. The protestors blocked the road to conduct a meeting and raised slogans. Thereafter they held a public meeting which was addressed by CPI(ML)'s Darbhanga district secretary Baidnath Yadav and state committee member Abhishek Kumar. The speakers warned that if the police administration does arrest the accused within a fortnight then this struggle will be further intensified. They also called for a Jan Panchayat to be organised on 19 October in Mekna village.

Against Corruption in Ration Distribution in Hajipur

Hundreds of consumers from Rasulpur Mubarak Panchayat in Mahua block, took out a demonstration on 1 October 2016 in the streets of Hajipur town to protest against the irregularities in the public distribution centres. They held a demonstration in front of the district officials and handed a memorandum to the Hajipur SDO. The demo was led by CPI(ML) district secretary Yogen Rai, Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Mahasabha state president Vishweshwar and others. Later a mass meeting was organised. The speakers pointed out that irregularity in the public distribution happened due to the collusion between the block supply officer and the dealers. They said that the protests will continue till the irregularities are addressed.

Rasoiya Sangh's District Conference in East Champaran

The East Champaran unit of the Bihar State Rasoiya Sangh (Mid-day Meal Workers) held its inaugural district conference on 25 September 2016. Despite the rains nearly one thousand midday meal workers participated in the conference. The conference was inaugurated by state president of AIPWA and the Bihar State Rasoiya Sangh Saroj Chaubey. Addressing the participants, she said that in the last one and a half years the Rasoiya Sangh had established a distinct identity for itself in the east Champaran district on the strength of its struggles. It is due to the movement of the Rasoiya Sangh that a slight increase of Rs. 250 in the honorarium was achieved and an announcement of an amount of Rs. 4 lakh compensation post death, was made. However, the same had not yet been implemented in the state. Though several protests including hunger strike, demonstrations in front of the Chief Minister and dharnas had been organised to press for this, the Chief Minister had still not bothered to meet the representatives of the delegations. Instead, in March this year, a decision was taken to hand over the mid day meal scheme to NGOs. AIPWA and the Rasoiya Sangh have been protesting against this decision and their movement continues. She sharply criticised the anti-people policies of the state and the central governments. Bhairo Dayal Singh called the midday meal workers to intensify their protests. In the delegate session, discussions took place on the report of the Rasoiya Sangh Convenor Dinesh Prasad Kushwaha, after which it was unanimously passed. A ten point demand charter was also passed. In the concluding session, a 33 member committee was elected. Baby Devi was elected as the unit president and Dinesh Prasad Kushwaha as the unit secretary. The new committee comprises of 18 women members. The conference ended with songs and slogans.

Cultural Activists Protest Firing on Farmers in Jharkhand

In order to loot the land, forests and natural and mineral resources of Jharkhand, the corporate forces consider it the 'world's one of the easiest places to do business in' and since then the Modi-Raghuvar governments have trying to ensure the same by imposing a police-raj in the state. Two brutal incidents of police firing on farmers protesting against forcible land grab by NTPC have taken place in the last one month in Badkagaon and Gola. On 5 October, a people's protest was held in Ranchi under the banner of Jan Sanskriti Manch. Various cultural activists and intellectuals gathered to raise the questions- "Yeh kiska lahoo hai, kaun maraa?" (Whose blood is this, who died) and "Acche din ki aas mein, log badal rahe hain laash mein?" (In the anticipation of better days, people are turning into corpses). Several social and cultural activists including -veteran filmmaker Shriprakash, Shekhar from Samvaad, Prof. Mithilesh (Pragatisheel Lekhak Sangh), M.Z. Khan (Janwadi Lekhak Sangh), Xavier Kujur (JSM, Jharkhand), Gautam Singh Munda, Sonia Tiriya (Prerna, cultural team associated with the Jharkhand unit of Jan Sanskriti Manch), Josephina Panna (a youth social activist), Jagmohan Mahto (RYA), and Saba Parween and Navreen (AISA), participated in the programme. The venue of the programme had various posters with lines from poetry of Brecht, Paash and other revolutionary poets. The activists demanded that the culprits of this planned massacre be punished and also that state oppression being unleashed on the farmers of the region be immediately stopped.

Convening the programme, Anil Anushman of Jan Sanskriti Manch said that this people's protest is cultural activists' warning to the Modi- Raghuvar governments that they should recall how a state government of Bengal tried to forcibly snatch land from the farmers of Nandigram and Singur and began their oppression, cultural and social activists and intellectuals gathered in streets in huge numbers to confront the government. In Jharkhand too, the activists will intensify people's movement in favour of the farmers and the tribals by way of 'Meri Zameen, Meri Kavita' (My land, my poem) campaign. Massacres in the name of development will not be tolerated.

Protests Against the Death of a Woman in Domestic Violence

A 22 year old woman, Mita Das, hailing from Sukantapally, was found hanging from the ceiling of her house in Uluberia (in Howrah District of West Bengal) on 11 October. She had been married for six months. The post mortem report revealed marks on her body indicative of physical fight. Her family have accused her in laws and husband of subjecting her to consistent domestic violence. In a report released in 2015, West Bengal was found to top the list in cases of domestic violence. Voicing resistance against the increasing spate of such incidents, AISA and students of Jadavpur University, of which Mita was an alumni gave a call for observing protest day on 17 October.  A large number of students-youth participated in these protests demanding justice for Mita and strong laws against all forms of domestic violence. Students holding placards and shouting slogans took out a massive rally from the Jadavpur to Dhakuria flyover. The students gathered there also raised slogans demanding justice for other victims like Payel of Kirshnanagar who was burnt to death after dowry demands, Nazia, a victim of dowry related torture and Nabamita Biswas who was found hanging from the window of her bathroom. She left a note behind holding responsible her husband for the suicide. The placards carried the slogans- 'Justice for Payel', 'Justice for Nazia', 'Justice for Mita, 'Fight Patriarchy from womb to the world', 'zero tolerance to domestic violence' and with demands to criminalise marital rape. They said that protests against these incidents will continue till justice is ensured for the victims.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

ML Update | No. 42 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 19, No. 42, 11 ­– 17 OCTOBER 2016

Resist the Climate of War-Mongering and Hate


he escalating climate of war-mongering and hate in the wake of the Uri attack and the retaliatory strike announced by the Indian Government is a matter of great concern that is fuelling campaigns of communal hate and censorship in India.

The media is bending over backwards when asked to kneel by the Government. There are shameful instances of self-censorship by the media, where criticism of the Government's lack of transparency when it comes to the surgical strike as well as its blatant attempts to draw political mileage from the strike is being censored by media houses in the name of 'national interest.'

Amplifying the muscle-flexing by the Modi Government, influential sections of the corporate media is playing dangerous war games, calling upon Indians to boycott of Pakistani cultural artists who fail to publicly condemn their Government. The irony is that Indian cultural figures who have in the past couple of years spoken out against the Indian Government's intolerance – and those who have spoken up courageously against war-mongering - have been attacked as 'anti-national' by the ruling party and Sangh Parivar! Celebrated director MS Sathyu (whose classic Garam Hawa is one of the most powerful films on the Partition) was attacked in Indore recently by an RSS outfit for opposing the call to boycott Pakistani artists and calling for peace between Pakistan and India. It is the height of hypocrisy when Pakistani artists are told they will be boycotted unless they distance themselves from their Government but dissent by Indian artists is branded as 'anti national'! Bullying Pakistani and Indian artists is not 'patriotism' - it is jingoism. In every country in the world, the most courageous citizens have been those who have taken stands for peace in a climate of war-mongering.

The NDA Government is refusing to take any responsibility for its failure to secure its own military bases at Pathankot and Uri. Meanwhile the BJP's Rajasthan Chief Minister herself organized and attended a 'Rashtra Raksha Yagna' – a Brahminical Hindu religious 'Ritual for National Security' at the Indo-Pakistan border, conducted by '21 Brahmins!' Such a ceremony, while making a mockery of India's claims to modernity and development, is calculated to propagate the notion of India as a 'Hindu Nation' with Brahminical values.

The Government-sponsored jingoism is primarily for domestic political consumption – and the dangerous effects of the prevailing climate of jingoism are already showing. It is Indian Muslims who are the target of anti-Pakistan hate campaigns. Even as calls to boycott Pakistani artists gain ground, one of India's finest actors, Nawazuddin Siddiqui was prevented by Hindu right wing groups from playing a role in the 'Ramlila' (enactment of the Ramayana) performance at Muzaffarnagar. It is significant that the Prime Minister himself has hinted that 'Vijayadashami' celebrations this year are 'special' – thus using the image of the Hindu festival celebrating the mythical victory of Rama over Ravana, to symbolise the 'victory' of India over Pakistan.

An even more chilling instance of the increasing bid of the Sangh Parivar to project India as a 'Hindu nation' with Muslims projected as the enemy, took place in Dadri recently. One of the men accused of lynching a Muslim man Akhlaque to death, died in judicial custody while awaiting trial. At his funeral, his body was draped in India's national flag, as is the custom for the bodies of Indian soldiers, and political leaders gave speeches abusing and threatening Muslims. Clearly, the communal fascist forces are trying to project lynching Muslims as an act of 'patriotism.' Even as India's ruling party draws political mileage from the death of soldiers, it has raised no objection to the use of the national flag to drape the body of a man accused of lynching to death the father of an Indian soldier.

It is unfortunate that the Opposition too is indulging in competitive war-mongering. The Congress is responding to the Modi Government's claims of surgical strike by pointing out that similar strikes took place during the UPA regime too. A newspaper revealed documents proving that Indian troops carried out a cross-border 'retaliatory' strike in 2011 following a raid by Pakistani military. It emerges that in those raids and retaliations, the Geneva Convention and international norms of military engagement were thrown to the winds. Heads of Pakistani and Indian soldiers were chopped off and carried away as 'trophies' and later destroyed on orders of top military officials to conceal evidence of these war crimes. It is time for Indian and Pakistani citizens to declare that such atrocities and war crimes cannot be a source of 'national pride' for the people of either country. Lasting peace and an end to terror, war-mongering and hatred in the South Asian neighbourhood would be a worthy source of pride.

There is anger in Punjab's border villages against the irresponsible war-mongering by Indian politicians and media. 15 lakh people of border villages were evacuated in the name of a war-threat. But it emerged later that the Border Security Force had not ordered the evacuation – rather the evacuation ordered by the Akali-BJP Government or India's Home Ministry appeared motivated by political rather than security considerations. Faced with anger by farmers whose crops were endangered by the evacuation, the Government was forced to reverse the decision to evacuate.

The BJP is already displaying advertisements in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh boasting of the 'surgical strike.' The BJP must not be allowed to hide the failures of the Modi Government behind a smokescreen of war-mongering. The Modi Government has failed spectacularly to deliver on its promises to curb price rise, generate employment, make farmers prosperous and secure, or secure military bases. Instead it stands implicated of condoning crimes against minorities and Dalits in the name of protecting cows. Moreover, the Modi Government that is playing politics over soldiers' deaths, has shamelessly failed to meet the soldiers' demands for just disability pensions – including equity between jawans and officers and increased coverage when it comes to disability pensions. Instead there are reports that the Government actually slashed disability pensions for soldiers, days after the surgical strike.

Indian people who value democracy must counter state- and media-fuelled jingoism, promote peace and diplomatic dialogue to resolve issues between Pakistan and India and resolutely resist attempts to cloak communal hate-mongering in 'patriotic' robes.

Reject Roopanwal Commission Report on Rohith Vemula Institutional Murder

The one-man Roopanwal Commission set up by the former HRD Minister Smriti Irani to enquire into Rohith Vemula's death has covered up the role of the Hyderabad Central University authorities and Central Government Ministers in victimising Rohith for his political activism. Instead it has chosen to echo the RSS and BJP propaganda, accusing Rohith and his mother Radhika of faking their Dalit status.

The HRD Ministry and Central Government must reject the Roopanwal Report that adds insult to Radhika Vemula's pain while mocking her quest for justice. The struggle for Justice for Rohith will continue with greater determination, undeterred by smear campaigns for which the Roopanwal Report provides fodder.

National Conference of All India Construction Workers' Federation

The 3rd national conference of AICWF concluded in Ranchi on 29-30 September with a call of struggle for 'Higher Wages and Regular Work.' The conference venue was named after recently departed leader Comrade Swapan Mukherjee who played a prominent role in the formation of AICWF. The conference began with a massive Workers' Rights Rally and March through prominent parts of the city. Many local construction workers standing on labour chowks spontaneously joined this march.

The rally was addressed by CPI(ML) MLA in Jharkhand Rajkumar Yadav who called upon this contingent of urban workers to strengthen their organisation and to forge a broader unity of urban and rural workers to oust the pro-corporate governments which have launched an all out attack on basic rights of working class. He said that the Modi and Raghuvar Das governments in centre and state are looting the natural resources and human labour for big companies and basic minimum rights of common people are now very much endangered. A bigger, stronger and broader movement against corporate communal fascist regime is the need of the moment. He called upon the AICWF delegates to continue and intensify the fighting spirit which was manifested during the all India General Strike of 2 September recently and force the government to withdraw anti-labour reforms and legislations which are in the offing.

Subhendu Sen, Jharkhand state General Secretary of AICCTU, expressed concern for expanding and strengthening the Construction workers' Federation in view of major onslaught on basic livelihood rights of this highly vulnerable but one of the biggest sections of workers and called for not remaining limited to, and dependent on, construction workers' welfare boards for every solution. He said that even the present scenario of employment, which is generally 15 days a month only without any labour law benefit, is further going to deteriorate with the coming of big corporate capital in the form of placement agencies. Only a bigger and widespread organisation can sustain any further attacks on labour rights, otherwise there is an imminent danger that even statutory welfare boards in states may go under the control of big companies of this sector.

Comrade SK Sharma presented a work report before the conference. Major issues which were discussed among more than 200 delegates, men and women- mainly masons and navvies, and mining and brick-kiln workers, were non-implementation of Construction Workers' Act 1996 in almost every state in its full spirit, more than 60% construction workers all over the country still are completely out of the ambit of this Act, misuse of Welfare Board Cess and deprivation of deserving construction workers from the benefits of this fund (which now amounts to more than Rs. 40,000 crores in all the states), dangerous work conditions without any safety measures, non-registration of construction workers in these welfare boards, and prevailing castiest and communal atmosphere which is adding manifold deprivations to the workers who are already devoid of any kind of social security.

The Open Session of the conference was also addressed by the General Secretary of All India Municipal Workers Federation Shyamlal Prasad, leader of All India Contract and non-Regular Workers Federation Rambali Prasad, Executive President of Coal Mines Workers Union Baijnath Mistry, Centre of Steel Workers' leader JN Singh, Jharkhand State Employees' Federation's Sushila Tigga, Jharkhand Mid-day meal workers' leader Ajit Prajapati and CITU's Jharkhand General Secretary Prakash Viplab.

The conference, attended by representatives from 16 states, concluded with the election of a 47-member National Executive with a 15-members office bearers team. Comrade Balasubramanian from Pondicherry was elected as National President and Comrade SK Sharma from Bihar as General Secretary. The conference gave a call of struggle for equal benefit in all states, guarantee of registration of every construction worker in the welfare boards in states, and common rules and regulations in all states. The conference also resolved for strengthening organisational structures at local, district and state levels.

Besides a demand charter for construction workers, the conference also passed resolutions condemning repression of Aanganwadi workers in Lucknow terming it a direct attack on workers' democracy and demanding action against guilty police officers, another resolution was passed condemning military repression of Kashmiri people in the name of terrorism and jingoist maneuverings and fake nationalism of Modi government.

The conference chalked out a programme and a detailed plan of action and propaganda for local, district and state levels to be culminated in a national level mobilization which will be held during budget session of Parliament in February 2017 in the national capital.


Comrade Janardan Harijan

Comrade Janardan Harijan, State Committee member of CPI(ML)'s Jharkhand Committee, passed away on 8 October. He was 54. He had recently begun working in the Panch Pargana area, determined to expand the party's presence there.

Comrade JD was born in a coal workers' family, and when offered a job in BCCL, he passed it on to his brother instead.

Comrade JD had a special bond with forests, mountains, rivers and nature. He played the mouth organ and the flute, and singing songs he himself had composed. At the recently concluded All India Construction Workers' Federation conference, he had performed a song. One of his favourite songs was about the hills and nature of Jharkhand's Rajmahal.

Comrade JD had been a CPI(ML) activist since the 1970s. He organized students in and around Sindri. As a party wholetimer since 1980, he worked in the Dhanbad, Bokaro and Ranchi districts, and also for a while in Giridih and Gandey. He contested as an IPF candidate in Bihar's Aurangabad district, and had also contested elections from Sindri and Chandankyari. He was a leader of anti-feudal struggles in Parasbaniya and also a leader of Sindri's Dalit workers. He organized against the Congress-sponsored anti-Sikh communal violence in 1984.

Comrade Janardan Harijan is deeply missed and remembered with great affection by his comrades.

Red Salute to Comrade Janardan Harijan!

Raghubar Must Resign For Badkagaon and Gola Massacres!

CPI(ML) teams visited Badkagaon several times since the massacre and have exposed the facts. Agitations are ongoing, demanding justice and accountability from the State Government that is grabbing land from the poor at gunpoint.

On October 1, the 16th day of the 'Kafan Satyagraha' (Shroud Satyagraha) by farmers, the police attacked sleeping protesters including women and children at the dharna site at 3 am. The protesters fled in panic, with the police firing in the air and brutally lathi charging the protesters, who fled towards nearby villages of Chirudih, Dandikala, Churchu, Sanbarsha, and Kanki Dandikala. The police entered the villages, continuing to spread terror, breaking down doors and entering homes to beat up people and uttering abusive threats. In the face of this terror, some of the villagers and protesters defended themselves with sticks and stones. At dawn, the police sought to preempt the likelihood of a massive protest, by firing randomly on the people at the CO's order. Three teenage schoolboys and a tailor were killed in the firing. There are rumours of more deaths but only four bodies could be found. 72 are injured, many severely.

There has been a movement since 2004 in Badkagaon and Hazaribagh district against land grab for the NTPC project. The project involves forcible acquisition of 767 acres of raiyyati land and 30.12 acres of government gair mazarua land. The land has been given to NTPC for a 30 year lease for Rs 70000 per month. The 767 acres of raiyyati land is multi-crop land, which is extremely fertile and supports at least three crops every year. This land is being forcibly acquired, without any consideration for taking consent from farmers, nor for due compensation, or for provision of alternate land or livelihood. Farmers are demanding that forced land grab be stopped – no acquisition without consent; and even where land acquisition takes place, it must be according to the 2012 law.

The Badkagaon and Gola firings are not random excesses by the police. They are part of a concerted plan by the Raghubar and Modi Governments to unleash intensified repression on people's movements and dilute laws to appease corporations. The movement against land grab in Godda for an Adani power house is growing, and the Badkagaon and Gola firings are intended to have a chilling effect on the movement in Godda and elsewhere in Jharkhand.

In the past months the Raghubar Government has sought to evict thousands of adivasis, dalits and poor people of Jharkhand from Government gair mazurua lands. The Government attempted to impose a new domicile policy, that would dilute the rights of Jharkhandis to land and livelihood. The Raghubar Government has also attempted to pass ordinances to subvert Jharkhand's tenancy Acts – the Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act, 1908 and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act, 1949. The ordinances proposed to allow diversion of urban and rural lands of ST/SCs and OBCs for commercial use by corporates, real estate brokers and so on. Shamefully, the CM Raghubar Das tried to use communalism to tarnish the protests against this brazen dilution of Jharkhandi people's rights – he recently declared that protests against the ordinances amending CNT and SPT Acts were sponsored by Christians!

The PMO has also given orders that the civil administration must follow para military orders in Pakri Barwadih (Badkagaon) – a violation of civil liberties and imposition of undeclared Emergency to suppress protests.

In protest against the Badkagaon firing, the CPI(ML) held a protest march and burnt the CM's effigy on 2 October in Ranchi. On October 3, protests were held in all districts in the State. On the same day, CCM Shubhendu Sen, CPI(ML) MLA Rajkumar Yadav, Dayamani Barla, Xavier Kujur, Pacchu Rana, Baijnath Mistri and others took a fact finding team to Badkagaon and met the victims' families and injured persons. The CPI(ML) team was joined by CPI and CPI(M) teams that held a press conference jointly after the visit. At the Press Conference, a call was given for Justice Marches to be held all over the State on 5 October against the massacre, with the slogan 'Give Us Justice Or Give Us Jail,' and 'Raghubar Das Must Resign.'

Meanwhile the police and para military continued to unleash terror on villages and violently evict villagers, preventing journalists from covering the violence. Defying the imposition of a 'ban' on visits, a CPI(ML) team comprising Shubhendu Sen, Javed Islam and Xavier Kujur once more visited the area along with teams of other Left and Opposition parties. They were prevented from visiting the affected area but sat on a dharna at the spot where they were stopped.

On 5 October, spirited protests were held at district headquarters all over the state demanding resignation of Raghubar Das and warning 'Appeasement of Corporates and Betrayal of Jharkhandis Won't Be Allowed!' On 17 October, Left parties and Opposition parties have planned a Badkagaon March and Sankalp Sabha (Pledge Taking Public Meeting.)

Jharkhand Jan Sanskriti Manch (JSM) held a protest programme on 5 October at Albert Ekka Chowk asking 'Whose blood was shed?' and 'Why are we getting corpses instead of the promised 'good days'?' Filmmaker Shriprakash, Shekhar from Samvad, Prof Mithilesh of Pragatisheel Lekhak Sangh, MZ Khan of Janvadi Lekhak Sangh, Xavier Kujur of Jharkhand JSM, Gautam Singh Munda, Soni Tiriya of women's cultural team Prerna, young social activist Josephina Panna, RYA's Jagmohan Mahto, Saba Parveen and Navreen of AISA and many others participated in the event, which was conducted by Anil Anshuman of JSM. Posters with lines of poetry were displayed at the event.


Protest Against Anti-Dalit Atrocity in Kakinada

On October 3, the CPI(ML) Liberation and other Left parties encircled the collectorate at Kakinada in protest against the tonsure of a Dalit youth by a TDP MLA Thota Trimurthulu.