A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol.19 | No.48 | 22-28 NOV 2016
'Not Notes, Change the Regime'
Resisting the Economics and Politics of #NoteBan
Two weeks have elapsed since the dramatic announcement of demonetization of 500 and 1000-rupee notes. In one fell swoop, the government has withdrawn more than 80 percent of the total value of the currency in circulation in the country. While the withdrawal has thus been massive and immediate, the transfusion of new notes has been painfully slow. Only about 10 percent of the value has since been replaced in the first ten days, and that too largely in the form of notes of 2000 rupees. The result has been a traumatic cash crunch, a massive disruption in the economy and incalculable hardship for the common people - in short, an unmitigated man-made disaster. On top of it, we have already experienced the shocking reality of dozens of demonetization deaths - people collapsing in queues, succumbing to stress and dying for sheer lack of timely medical care because of the cash crunch.
The government defends demonetization as a decisive blow to corruption, a so-called surgical strike on black money. Now, it is well known that only a small fraction of unaccounted-for income and wealth, which is popularly known as black money, is temporarily held in cash. How much of this cash hoard will indeed be flushed out is anybody's guess. Certainly it is not the corrupt hoarders of black money who are queuing up outside banks and ATMs. On the contrary we have seen a new form of black economy thrive in the country as common people are forced to exchange their old notes for lower amounts while the rich use their myriad ways to launder their black money ('donations' to ruling parties and temples and trusts being two well-known routes) and convert their old cash into more handy stocks of the newly introduced 2000 rupee notes. The Sanghi rumour mills are abuzz with stories of hoards of cash being destroyed by the corrupt, but frenzied conversion of cash into various forms of assets in the run-up to demonetization has been no secret. And we also have it from the horse's mouth (BJP Rajasthan MLA Bhawani Singh Rajawat) that the Adanis and Ambanis and other big business houses all had enough hint of the impending demonetization. So much for the 'secrecy' shrouding the so-called war on black money!
The other official claim of neutralizing counterfeit currency of course has relatively greater merit. But do we have any idea of the volume of counterfeit currency in circulation? The Sangh-BJP propaganda machinery would have us believe that every second note is a counterfeit pumped in by Pakistan. But according to a study undertaken by the Kolkata-based Indian Statistical Institute for the NIA, the total volume of fake Indian currency notes (FICN) is estimated to be of the order of Rs 400 crore, and this amount has more or less remained the same over the last four years. A large part (not by any means all, because the study estimated as many fake 100 rupee notes as 500, and old 100 rupee notes are still valid) of this FICN has now admittedly been made defunct, but it is only a matter of time till we have new FICN replace the old. The new notes have no enhanced security features and will be as counterfeit-prone, if not more, as the ones that have been scrapped.
Now just compare the monetary cost of the whole exercise of printing and supplying the new notes (some 15000 crore to print new notes plus the logistical expenses of recalibrating the ATMs, reaching the new notes to distribution points and so on and so forth) to the volume of the FICN rendered defunct (say worth Rs 350 crore), and the whole thing looks nothing more than a grand celebration of absurdity. Increasingly we are hearing a third argument – that of India becoming a modern cashless digital economy. Now more than 40% of the adult population in India is still unbanked (which is a fifth of the global unbanked population), and while the figures in India have improved only recently with the increasing practice of direct bank transfers, 43% of Indian bank accounts are still dormant. If the fantasy of a 'cashless economy' is to be achieved on the basis of digital transaction – and not the ancient exchange mechanism of barter – then one must first talk about expanding and improving banking services for the common people of India. All this facile cashless talk is clearly putting the cart miles ahead of the horse while actively excluding and penalising the poor!
Interestingly enough, while upwardly mobile India finds the technological reality and possibility of cashless digital transactions quite an enchanting idea, we must keep in mind that a cashless economy per se provides no guarantee against economic corruption or various other economic crimes. Indeed, in terms of cash-to-GDP ratio India does not compare too unfavourably with the developed world, the Indian ratio of a little above 12 percent is way below that of Japan (above 18%) and Hong Kong (above 14%) and not too high compared to the Euro zone countries (10%) or China (above 9%). And a country like Nigeria which finds itself in the same bracket with Norway and Sweden (all less than 2%) is perceived as one of the world's most corrupt countries! Turning India today into a cashless economy is an elitist fancy quite akin to the bullet train idea. But these whims and fancies are exacting a heavy price – while the bullet train fancy is pushing the railways away from the basic question of infrastructural maintenance and amenity and safety of common passengers, the craze for going cashless has already resulted in the growing demonetization disaster.
At the cost of a huge disruption of the economy and the danger of a major slowdown, the demonetization drive has of course achieved one tangible result: a massive injection of cash into the crisis-ridden banking system. It is well known that the banks had been reeling under a growing burden of Non Performing Assets (thanks primarily to the loans piled up by corporate India, loans that are hardly repaid and now being written off) and they will be the only ones to heave a sigh of relief. But if the easing of the banking crisis only reinforces the existing lending pattern, the whole thing will mean nothing but an adverse redistribution of the burden for the common people.
While the economics of demonetization is clearly dubious, it is the accompanying political process and discourse which are particularly deceptive and dangerous. The government claims that the planning and preparation for demonetization was underway for quite some time. In April 2016 we had the SBI talking of 'rumours' of demonetization, and the previous RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan who held office till 4 September 2016 was known to have been against the idea of demonetization. What then was the institutional mechanism that took this momentous decision and oversaw its planning and preparation? And how did the PM's picture appear overnight in advertisements promoting a particular brand of digital wallet which is aggressively marketing itself using demonetization and the resultant cash crunch as a rare business opportunity?
The Prime Minister made the announcement in a televised address to the nation but refused to face Parliament on this issue. And now he has launched an app to ascertain people's views on demonetization (and that too without offering them an option to disagree on most questions!), making it absolutely clear that it is only the manufactured consent of the digitally empowered that he cares about, the experience of the digitally excluded and dissenting views just do not matter. The subversion of parliamentary democracy and the arrogant flaunting of the digital divide have never been starker. Equally revealing has been the reaction of Narendra Modi and the Sangh-BJP establishment (ranging from outright denial and trivialization to sadistic derision and emotional blackmailing) to the disastrous fallout of demonetization, the traumatic economic disruption and mounting miseries of the people including scores of demonetization deaths.
All the miseries being inflicted on the people, and the violation of so many rights, including the most basic right of being able to access one's own hard-earned money, are being trivialized as a temporary inconvenience and glorified as a sacrifice for a corruption free India. And audaciously enough, the government is packaging the whole thing as a measure to promote economic equality and punish the rich. But it is not difficult to understand that just as the principle of one person one vote has not stopped the concentration of political power in the hands of the super rich, the temporary rationing of notes too is not going to bridge the growing rich-poor divide in the society. It is also instructive to note that when the UPA government went for a partial demonetization exercise by withdrawing currency notes printed before 2005, the BJP had dubbed it an anti-poor diversionary exercise to obfuscate the real issue of black money stashed away in foreign banks! Interestingly, the Modi government has raised the limit of the Liberalised Remittance Scheme to allow Indian citizens to remit annually as much as 2.5 lakh US dollars abroad apart from the right to carry another 2.5 lakh dollars per year for every person going on foreign trips.
Revolutionary communists and all other forces of people's movements must boldly resist the disastrous economics and populist politics of demonetization. The government must be held accountable for the reckless manner in which it inflicted the ill-conceived idea of demonetization and the disastrous fallout that has engulfed the common people in its wake. There can be no scrapping or restricting any widely used currency without adequate availability of replacement notes. The cooperative banks, which are the lifeline of the rural economy and the bank of first resort for the bulk of India's agricultural population, must be allowed to discharge their full functions.
The government must answer for every demonetization death and must compensate the people for the loss of livelihood and economic disruption. For the peasantry, reeling under successive droughts and a chronic agrarian crisis, the demonetization has been a brutal blow in the midst of the busy sowing season, and the least that the government must do is to waive all farm loans and ensure free supply of inputs. Similarly, agricultural labourers, other rural workers, small traders and transporters, unorganized/informal sector workers and daily wagers, street vendors and greengrocers who have all been hit hard by the reckless note ban must be adequately compensated for their loss of livelihood.
The government must also be held accountable on the issue of combating the menace of black money and corruption, the pretext on which it inflicted this disastrous course on the people. The list of willful mega defaulters must be made public and they must be forced to pay up, failing which their property must be confiscated and companies blacklisted. The Panama Papers on foreign account holders and now the explosive Sahara-Birla Diaries with details of political payoffs to facilitate tax evasion are both in the public domain and the government must be made to answer and act on them. And last but not the least, there can be no cleaning up of black money without breaking the business-politics nexus, without making it mandatory for political parties to make public their entire finances, stopping corporate funding and excessive electoral expenditure.
For the Modi government, demonetization is of course part and parcel of its autocratic agenda. The way the government went about the whole thing reminded many of the Indira-Sanjay era of Emergency four decades ago. The attack on the press, the forcible imposition of family planning in rural areas and mass eviction in the name of urban beautification, the suppression of dissent, the crushing of the people's democratic rights and political liberties, the suspension of parliamentary democracy and arrest of all opposition leaders and activists – all these trappings of the Emergency resonate in the air as the Modi government goes about politicizing the Army and militarizing politics, curbing the media and inflicting an unmitigated disaster like the ongoing trauma of demonetization in complete defiance of economic logic and parliamentary procedures.
The people of India have of course begun to sense this danger. And the cry of 'Note Nahi, Sarkar Badlo' (Not Notes, Change the Regime) being heard increasingly across the country reflects this realization of the people. It is the urgent task of every defender of the interests of the people to champion this democratic spirit and wage a determined resistance against the reckless offensive of the Modi government.
Protests against Demonetization
CPI(ML), AISA and AICCTU are conducting a campaign against demonetisation from 16 November onwards in different working class settlements of Delhi, which is due to culminate in a March to the PM's House on 26 November to demand its rollback.
Demonetisation is causing harm in tragic proportions in working class colonies. The first day of campaign was conducted in the Wazirpur industrial area in Delhi, where workers and their families living in slum clusters said that they are struggling to meet expenses of food, medical expenses, school fees, transport and other essentials ever since the demonetization move. One 70-year-old woman said that after she had waited in the queue for hours, a policeman shoved her away and told her to come another day. Another woman who had stood in the queue from 3 am onwards was told that she could not be allowed to withdraw money because they claimed she had already made a withdrawal. One worker lacked enough cash to get medicines for his wife who is a cancer patient. Several people said they are eating once a day so that they can stand in lines and not miss their chance to get their hard earned money. Children are going hungry because parents are standing in the line.
Workers are being forced to convert their factory owners' money and they just can't refuse because otherwise they risk losing their job. And when they are getting paid, they are being paid in old currency that has no purchasing power at all. And now the indelible ink is making it difficult for them to convert their own wage. Their wage in old notes can't get anything from the shops. They have no credit worthiness so no one lends them anything. Landlords have refused to take the old currency and school fees are pending.
Those who get a monthly salary had just been given the salary a day before the announcement and they were stuck with money which they were running from pillar to post to get converted. No leave is available for standing in line.
Banks were busy converting money of people close to them, obviously the more well connected factory owners and managers, as serpentine queues of workers stood there waiting for cash to get over.
Women said they fainted while waiting and were brought back home - of course without any cash. Several people lost their wage and got no money either at the end of the day.
The government claimed it has collected "lakhs of black money" from people – people are saying: in that case, use that money to ensure free rations to the affected workers households; make travel free in buses and metros so that people can get to their workplaces without worrying about cash; ensure free health and education; ensure compensation for wages lost while standing in line.
Such a move is a violation of the right of workers to manage their own wage, in whichever way they like, without being arm twisted into a digital system and plastic money on which they have absolutely no control.
The day 2 of this campaign took a team of students and workers to Industrial Area in Narela. The miseries of the daily wage earners was apparent here. Some live in the fear that tomorrow their electricity might be cut-off, as despite having 500 rupees it wasn't accepted at the electricity office as the bill was for 200 and they can't get the change back. They are eating just one meal a day. 'Sara karkhana bandh hai', they said, "no work in the nearby mills for past one week." A Bengali worker said, 'Bhat daal dik totodin sorkar, maach to chahichhina', (the government should provide us rice and dal till then, we are not demanding fish). A young mother said, "How can a withdrawal of Rs 4500 suffice? More than half of that is paid in rent, how can we survive on the balance?" Another young woman worker said, "It is workers who are in the queues, the moneyed are sitting pretty in their homes." Another woman angrily asked, "We found it hard enough to get Rs 1000 notes changed. Now how can we get change for Rs 2000 notes?" The rage could be heard in the voice of a woman who said, "He (Modi) said 'Accha din' (good days) would come! Are these the good days?! He has shoved us into a pit!"
On the 3rd day of the campaign, teams reached Batla House Area of Jamia Nagar. Scarcity of daily food, medicine, wages, cash crunch, anger, desperation, helplessness - the same story was repeated there.
On 4th day the AISA-AICCTU team reached Kusumpur Pahari in Vasant Kunj area. This is one of the biggest working class slums in South Delhi, hardly 2 km away from JNU, the narrow lanes are surrounded by Priya Shopping Complex on one side and DLF Promenade mall on the other. A highly expensive private hospital is also close by. Residents of Kusumpur Pahari told us, "How do we buy daily ration when we are missing our Dihadi (daily wage)? But is it the same for those who goes to the malls, who can pay with cards?" Children and the elderly are not getting much-needed medical attention because the shops would not accept old currency for medicines.
On the 5th day team reached NOIDA industrial area where many shops remain closed, no job for contractual workers, cash crunch in banks, no money for treatment or essential medicines- the story was the same. But that is how it is for every worker, women, small shop owner and senior citizens. Some workers also said that factory owners are giving advance salary for 3 months with old 500 and 1000 to get rid of their old currency, which is of no use.
The campaign is continuing and on the coming 26th November, workers, women, students will march in Delhi towards Prime Minister House demanding-
1. Roll Back of Demonetisation.
2. Free distribution of food items and medicine for the poor till then.
3. Free transportation in railways, DTC and Cluster buses.
4. Punish the wilful corporate defaulters of bank loans.
5. Investigate the Birla-Sahara scam in which lakhs of rupees were given by corporations to Narendra Modi when he was Gujarat CM
6. Bring the list of names who have deposited money in off-shore tax havens. Bring back this unaccounted money and punish the culprits.
In Bengaluru (Karnataka) on 17 November, several organisations including the CPI(ML), Garment and Textile Workers Union, Bangalore Jilla Beedhi Vyaapaari Sangathenagala Okkuta, National Hawkers Federation, New Socialist Alternative, Karnataka Tamil Makkal Aikyam, NCHRO, Karnataka Janarogya Chaluvali, Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna Yuvakara Vedike, Aam Aadmi Party, Swaraj Abhiyan and others held a protest in front of the RBI, with the slogan 'Occupy RBI'. The protesters raised slogans against the Modi Government's ill-conceived, poorly implemented move to demonetize which is nothing but a political gimmick to hide the failures of the central government while also stealthily move to a corporate controlled digital economy, the implications of which are neither studied not discussed. The Bangalore police, in a blatant effort to deny the right to freedom and expression detained many protestors even before the protest and the arrests continued while the protest was on. Those arrested included CPI(ML) leaders Balan, Clifton, Raghu, Maitreyi and Appanna. This just shows that when it comes to thwarting democracy, Congress and BJP are partners. Even as crores of people are suffering, Congress and BJP politicians shamelessly attended the wedding of Janardhan Reddy's daughter only shows their lack of intentions to fight the evils of black money.
The Bihar unit of CPI(ML) gave a statewide call for protests which were held on 16 November in all the districts and has since been conducting an intensive Week-long Protest Week from 17-22 November, with effigies of the PM being burnt and protests held in every corner of Bihar. Protests were also held in different parts of Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Bengal and other states where marches, propaganda campaigns and effigy burnings took place.
7th AIPWA National Conference in Patna
The 7th AIPWA National Conference was held in Patna on 13-14 November 2016, at the Bharatiya Nritya Kala Mandir. The Conference called for women's resistance to patriarchy and the growing fascist threat and intensified struggles to defend democracy and assert women's freedom.
The Bharatiya Nritya Kala Mandir complex was named after Rama Gairola for the occasion in memory of departed young AIPWA leader Rama Gairola. The hall was named after noted writer and activist, the late Mahashweta Devi and the stage was named after AIPWA Founding President the late Comrade Geeta Das.
On 13th November, the conference started with the hoisting of the AIPWA flag by veteran AIPWA leader Arti Devi, and tributes to martyrs and departed leaders of the revolutionary women's movement. Tributes were paid to the Naxalbari martyrs, those killed in the Bathani Tola and other massacres, Kamleshwari Kunwar, noted activist of the revolutionary Bhojpur struggle and life partner of Comrade Jagdish Master, Rama Gairola, Mahashweta Devi, Geeta Das, Chinta Singh, Jeeta Kaur, Ajanta Lohit, Aparna Tyagi, Siyamani Mukhiya, Manju Devi, Agni, Sheela, Lahri and others.
This was followed by the inaugural session of the Conference, which began with the rendering of songs by women's cultural teams Chorus (of Bihar) and Prerna (Jharkhand).
A reception committee headed by Prof. Bharti S Kumar welcomed all the guests and presented mementoes to noted activists of the women's movement, including senior academic and AIPWA mentor since its founding days Maya Bhattacharya, Neelam Katara who is an activist against honour crimes; Kashmiri writer and activist Natasha Rather, Nirjhari Sinha of Jan Sangharsh Manch, Gujarat, Vidya Dinker, activist from Mangaluru; Advocate Asha from Kerala, Sanjeela Ghising, leader of the Democratic Revolutionary Women's Federation, Darjeeling; and veteran activist of the revolutionary communist movement Comrade Meera.
At the inaugural session, Neelam Katara spoke about her struggle for justice for her son Nitish Katara who was killed on the pretext of 'honour', and the struggle for women's right to choice in matters of relationships. Natasha Rather, co-author of the book Do You Remember Kunan Poshpora spoke about her perspective as a Kashmiri on the struggle for self determination in Kashmir, and about the struggle of the rape survivors of Kunan Poshpora for justice. Nirjhari Sinha, founder of the Jan Sangharsh Manch, Gujarat, spoke about the struggle for justice for victims of the 2002 state sponsored Gujarat riots and for fake encounter victims Ishrat Jahan, Kausar Bi, Sohrabuddin and others. Vidya Dinker, an activist from Mangaluru, spoke about the way in which fertile land is being grabbed and environment destroyed in the name of 'economic corridors.' She spoke about the ways in which RSS outfits morally police women in Mangaluru, and called upon women to wage a jehad of love to uphold inter-caste and inter-faith love, as well as love for farms, environment and natural resources.
The inaugural session was addressed by AIPWA General Secretary Comrade Meena Tiwari. The inaugural session was conducted by AIPWA National Secretary Kavita Krishnan.
The delegate session of the Conference began with the delegates listening to a recording of a song composed and sung by the outgoing AIPWA National President Srilata Swaminathan. Comrade Srilata, who could not attend the conference because of ill health, was sorely missed by all, and her song was a celebration of AIPWA as a source of hope and strength for women.
AIPWA General Secretary Meena Tiwari presented AIPWA's work report and a note on the social and political situation in India and the world. The note observed that BJP and RSS forces are working to push back progressive shifts in consciousness that had been achieved by movements. They are poisoning the social and political discourse and trying to establish divisive, hate-filled and regressive ideas as 'normal' and even 'nationalist.'
On the night of 13th November, Chorus presented a play, 'Paro', followed by a traditional Jharkhandi dance by the Prerna team and cultural performances by several other activists.
On 14th November, delegates from all over the country discussed the issues facing the women's movement and shared experiences of their struggles. The note was adopted unanimously after discussion in the house.
The delegates then elected the new AIPWA leadership, including a 101-member National Council. Comrade Meena Tiwari was reelected National General Secretary, Comrade E Rati Rao was elected National President; Prof Bharti S Kumar, Tahira Hasan, Farhat Bano, Iqbal Udasi, Pratima Engheepi, Krishna Adhikari, Raju Barua and Saroj Chaubey were elected Vice Presidents; and Prof Sudha Choudhary, Indrani Dutta, R Nagamani, Geeta Mandal, Shashi Yadav and Kavita Krishnan were elected National Secretaries.
Addressing the delegates at the end of the Conference, newly elected AIPWA President Rati Rao said that just as Dalits were refusing to perform caste-based labour, it was high time women also refuse to do our gender based traditional work. She stressed the need to uphold a Marxist perspective on the women's movement and also draw strength and insights from the writings of Dr Ambedkar, Jyotiba and Savitribai Phule, Periyar and Bhagat Singh as we address class, caste and gender issues together and confront fascist Hindutva forces.
People's Awakening March
A Jana Jagaran Yatra, to commemorate 50 years of Naxalbari movement began from School Dangi, in Naxalbari block on November 19, 2016. The Yatra started by felicitating 15 comrades who had actively participated in the Naxalbari movement in the early years. Amongst the comrades felicitated were Khokan Mazumdar, Mujibur Rahman, Shanti Munda, Khudan Mullick, Khemu singh, Dulal Chanda, Thadu Munda, Suniti Biswakarmakar, Nemu Singh, Nathuram Biswas, Kandra Murmu, Shiril Ekka, Amulya Das of PCC CPIML, Govind Chhetri of CPRM and others.
A big gathering that included local residents of Jhoru Jote, of Naxalbari block, that had seen the beginning of the movement with the killing of the notorious police officer Sonam Wangdi by the peasants and locals, was present to begin the Yatra. The gathering was addressed by veteran Com. Khudan Mullick and Com. Khemu Singh as well as by CPI(ML) leaders Kartick Pal, Partha Ghosh and Abhijit Mazumdar. The programme began with revolutionary songs sung by the revolutionary cultural organisation under the leadership of Com. Nitish Roy. The speakers highlighted:
• The revolutionary legacy of the Naxalbari movement, and its enduring inspiration for today's struggles
• The need to resist land grab by corporates and their mafia nexus.
• The condition of tea garden workers who are living in abject poverty with low wages coupled with starvation on account of closures and non-payment of wages.
• The demonitization that has hit the poor section of the society the hardest while adversely affecting the low income, middle class and small traders. The rural poor is affected especially in the peak agricultural season where people not only do not have money to buy seeds but are also forced to stand in long queues to get their own hard earned money out from the bank.
• The failure to provide irrigation facility to the farmers of the terai region despite crores being spent on the Teesta barrage irrigation project.
The Yatra travelled through the various villages of the three blocks of Naxalbari, Kharibari and Phansidewa where the Naxalbari movement began, and culminated at Chotopothu Jote on November 21, 2016.
Indore-Patna Train Accident Result of Railways' Criminal Negligence
CPI (ML) expressed deep condolences for the victims of the Indore-Patna train accident. This accident is a result of criminal negligence on the part of the Railways.
On the one hand the Modi government talks of starting bullet trains in the country but on the other hand it is not even able to ensure minimum safety of the passengers. The railway tracks are very old. The number of trains is increasing every year and train fares are also being raised, yet there is corresponding increase in the number of railway tracks or expansion in the workforce.
The inadequate workforce affects the crucial issue of maintenance of railway infrastructure and safety. Whereas there were 16 lakh workers in 2006, the number is reduced to 13 lakh in 2015-16. This laying off of workers has badly affected the maintenance of the tracks.
The CPI(ML) also appealed to the Bihar Government to make arrangements for the best available treatment for all the injured and demanded Rs 10 lakhs and government jobs as compensation for the the family members of the victims.
The CPI(ML) Patna city unit took out a candle march in the evening at Buddha Park to pay tributes to the dead and offer heartfelt condolences to the family members of the victims. The march included State Secretary Kunal, Politburo members Dhirendra Jha and Amar, Patna City Secretary Abhyuday, CPI(ML) leader Murtaza Ali, State Committee members Samta Rai, Prakash Kumar and Santosh Jha, AISA State President Mukhtar, Tariq Anwar, Sudhir and other leaders.
The condolence meeting was addressed by Dhirendra Jha and Abhyuday who said that the Modi government was responsible for several deaths through demonetization; and now more than 100 people have been killed due to criminal negligence on the part of the Railways, exposing the failure of the government.
CPI(ML) Statement on Mine Accident in Nawada
CPI (ML) State Secretary Kunal expressed deep concern and grief over the death of 10 workers trapped in the earth during illegal mining by the Sharda Mines Company at Abrakh in Chatkari Panchayat of Rajauli Block, Nawada District. He strongly condemned the attitude of the administration and the government in this matter.
Com. Kunal said that such illegal mining is going on and the country's resources are being looted under protection from the government; at the same time, poor workers are losing their lives during this illegal mining. Till now only 2 bodies have been excavated; the remaining 8 are still trapped under the earth. The administration shows no concern about retrieving these bodies. The workers who have lost their lives belong to the Adivasi community of Jharkhand.
Com. Kunal demanded that the Bihar government should take immediate action in this matter. The CPI (ML) District Committee will protest at the District Collector's office on 21 November to demand an end to illegal mining, retrieval of the bodies of workers still trapped in the earth, proper compensation to the families of the victims, and ensuring the safety of workers.
Joint Left Rally in Lucknow
On 9 November 2016, a joint Left rally was held in Lucknow against price rise, unemployment, corruption, corporate loot, attacks on democratic rights, and in defence of communal harmony was addressed by the national and state leadership of CPM, CPI, CPI (ML), Forward Bloc, and SUCI (Communist). The rally took place on the banks of the Gomti at Laxman Mela Maidan. People from districts from all corners of the State including Poorvanchal, Awadh, Bundelkhand and Western UP participated in the rally. The rally was addressed by CPI (M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI (ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, CPI Rajya Sabha member D Raja, Forward Bloc General Secretary Debabrat Biswas. Other leaders who addressed the rally were CPI State Secretary Girish Sharma, CPI (M) State Secretary Hiralal Yadav, CPI (ML) CCM Sudhakar Yadav, Forward Bloc State Secretary Shiv Narayan Singh Chouhan, CPI (M) former MLA Subhashini Ali, and SUCI (C) National Staff member Arun Kumar Singh. The proceedings of the meeting were conducted by CPI State Joint Secretary Arvind Raj Swarup and the vote of thanks was proposed by CPI (ML) State Secretary Ramji Rai.
Comrade Rohtas Bharati
Comrade Rohtas Bharati from Narela, Delhi, passed away in the early morning of 18 November 2016 in a hospital in Faridabad after a long battle with cancer. A veteran comrade, he was active since the days of the Indian People's Front. He was the Party's candidate from Narela in the last Assembly elections in Delhi. Till the very last he was active in organising various party initiatives in Delhi.
His cremation was attended by Delhi state CPI(ML) Secretary Ravi Rai and other comrades as well as many local people who remembered him fondly.