Wednesday, October 19, 2016
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
Sunday, October 16, 2016
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.