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.