A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 14, No. 27, 28 JUNE – 04 JULY 2011
Firing on Anti-Eviction Protesters in Guwahati: Growing Authoritarianism of Congress Regimes
Emboldened by its victorious return to power in the recent Assembly polls, the Congress Government in Assam has begun to show its authoritarian face, with forced eviction of the poor settlers and tribals from hill areas and wetlands around Guwahati, brutal firing on the demonstration against eviction, and the arrest of popular peasant leader Akhil Gogoi.
On June 22, hundreds of adivasis and other poor people facing eviction held a large protest rally in the state capital, Guwahati. The police lobbed tear gas shells and lathi charged the protestors, who resisted this high-handedness. The police then indulged in firing which claimed three lives including that of a nine year-old child. The government, (and incidentally the mainstream media too) branded the protestors as 'rioters'. And soon after, the leader of the rally, a popular young peasant leader and RTI activist Akhil Gogoi, who heads the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), was arrested on charges of rioting and destruction of public property. He was arrested on June 25 even as he was addressing the press in the state capital.
The Government's eviction drive is being conducted in the name of clearing 'encroachments' from forest areas. However, a large section of the protestors were adivasis and other dwellers who are demanding their rights under the Forest Rights Act. It should be noted that most of these people have been residing in these areas for years and decades, paying house tax and electricity bills and have even been allotted house numbers by the municipal authorities.
The government is clearly adopting double standards while evicting long-standing poor settlers even as influential individuals including businesspeople, bureaucrats and politicians continue to corner prime lands in one illegal way or another. Justice demands that the government first stop these illegal acquisitions and either regularise or satisfactorily rehabilitate and resettle the poor working migrant population of Assam that has settled in the forest areas or wetlands near the capital. The protesters apprehend that they are being evicted in the name of protecting the environment, only to make way for the real estate business.
Following widespread outrage over the firing, the Government has indirectly acknowledged the legitimacy of the protesters' demands. Soon after the firing the government declared that talks would be held with the protesters led by Akhil Gogoi and leaders of the Greater Guwahati Land Patta Demand Committee starting from 28 June. But the state government's real design became clear with the arrest of Akhil Gogoi. The Tarun Gogoi government says it would talk directly to the indigenous people on the issue of land rights, but will not involve any organisation. It is strange that this Government, which owes its re-election to peace talks with militant groups, is now refusing to negotiate with mass movement leaders on the grounds that they are 'professional agitators'!
Elsewhere in Assam too, this pattern of repressive measures and witch-hunt of activists is apparent. In Cachhar district, for instance, AICCTU leader Hyder Husain Choudhury has been arrested while a few days before AICCTU State General Secretary Subhas Sen had been heckled in Guwahati at the behest of the state health minister. It should be noted that both Hyder Husain and Subhas Sen are involved in organising ASHA activists in the state, women workers in health sector who have to work amidst most adverse conditions as they are denied minimum wages or any recognition or security as workers.
The Congress' repressive response is being seen outside Assam too. In Ranchi, NSUI goons physically assaulted AISA National President Sandeep Singh, who is a JNU student and former JNUSU President, when he asked Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal a question at a press conference. This attack is reminiscent of the lumpenism of the 'Sanjay brigade' of the Emergency days, and strengthens the sense that an undeclared Emergency is in place.
Increasingly, the Congress is resorting to draconian measures to suppress people's resistance and young voices who are challenging pro-corporate, anti-poor policies. But such measures will only strengthen the resolve of the country's youth and people's struggles to intensify the movement against authoritarian and corrupt regimes.
Nationwide CPI(ML) Protest against UPA's Undeclared Emergency
& Diesel-Kerosene-LPG Price Hike
Delhi: On the eve of 36th anniversary of the infamous emergency thrust on the country by the then Govt of Indira Gandhi, the Delhi State Committee of CPI(ML) held a dharna at the Parliament Street to protest the undeclared emergency and yet another increase in the prices of diesel and LPG. The dharna was organised as part of CPI(ML)'s nationwide call for protest on 26 June. Workers, students and citizens of Delhi participated in the dharna. The dharna was attended and addressed by CPI(ML) CCMs Comrades Swapan Mukherjee, Prabhat Kumar, Kavita Krishnan and State Secretary Sanjay Sharma.
Uttar Pradesh: Marches, dharnas and demonstrations were organised in various districts of UP on 25-26 June against Centre's and Mayawati Govt's autocratic rule, blatant violation of laws, ever rising corruption and unbridled inflaton. The Party units sent memorandums to the Governor and demanded resignation from Mayawati Govt for its complete failure in upholding the rule of law. The Party also demanded CBI enquiry into the murders of Dy.CMO Dr. YS Sachan and Sonam of Lakhimpur.
The Party said that in BSP's rule the women, children and even prisoners are not safe anywhere. A number of doctors have been killed related to corruption worth billions in the National Rural Health Mission. The top leaders of BSP are involved in these murders which is the reason Mayawati Govt is denying CBI enquiry. Citing the attempt of sexual assault on two women tourists from Delhi by the bodyguard and brothers of ruling party MLA Shahnawaj Rana at Muzzafarnagar, the UP unit of CPI(ML) maintained that hardly a day is passing without an incident of rape, gang rape and assault on women, especially dalit and minors.
The Mayawati Govt has completely failed in protecting women and common people and to suppress the anger it has undemocratically banned protests and demonstrations. There is an undeclared emergency in the State.
Hundreds of Party activists and members courted arrest at Lakhimpur Khiri on 25 June. People in large numbers participated in demonstration held at Mirzapur Dist. HQ. Dharnas and demonstrations were held at Robertsganj and Duddhi in Sonbhadra, Dist. HQ and Jamania in Gazipur, Ballia, Gorakhpur, Ambedkar Nagar and Kanpur. Marches and public meetings were held at Pilibhit, Varanasi, Allahabad, Moradabad, Jalaun and Banda apart from some other districts.
All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) held a rally and demonstration in Sitapur and displayed their wrath against an incidents of rape and murder in the State including one of a madrasa student in Sitapur. Dharna was held at Nichlaul tehsil HQ in Maharajganj on 26 June. Amarch and convention was organised at Mughalsarai in Chandauli. In Lucknow the police arrested the activists who were about to begin dharna-fast. They were released later.
Rajasthan: Party's call to protest against corruption on 26 June which is the anniversary of the emergency was held in many places of Rajasthan with great vigour. In Jhunjhunu a public meeting was held in which the main speaker were CCM Com. Rajaram Singh and Com Phoolchand Dheva. In Pratapgarh party cadres held a meeting led by State secretary, Com. Mahender Chaudhary and debated on the party booklet on corruption. In Udaipur District a strong rally and meeting was held in the tribal town of Salumbar under the leadership of Com. Gautamlal Meena and was attended by all local Party leaders and leaders of mass organisations. They condemned both Congress and BJP for their class exploitation of tribal workers and poor peasantry and the plunder of resources in the tribal area. The hike in prices of diesel, kerosene and gas was also condemned in all the meetings.
Tamilnadu: Responding to the call of the party Central Committee and all India mass organizations, party units and mass organizations took active part in the June 26 anti-corruption, anti-repression campaign in Tamilnadu. From June 19-25, as per the AIALA's National Cpouncil decision, CPI(ML) and AIALA units of Villupuram district undertook active panchyat level campaign and distributed 10,000 leaflets. Similar campaign held in four blocks of the district. On June 26, the campaign culminated in Tirunavalur where a mass meeting been held. The meeting witnessed enthusiastic participation of local people. Apart from AIALA, AIPWA dist leaders, Party dist secretary and AIALA leader Com. Venkatesan was the main speaker. The campaign theme was well received by the people everywhere.
In Tiruppananthal block of Tanjore dist, block level campaign was held. On June 26 a street corner meeting was held in Tiruppananthal town. AIALA state president TKS Janardhnan and other dist party and mass organisation leaders participated. CPI(ML)'s State Secretary Comrade Balasundaram was the main speaker. He called upon the people for intensifying movement for the ouster of UPA Govt that is cruelly attacking people's livelihood by land price rise and forced evictions. He also condemned the AIADMK Govt that rode to the power capitalising on the anti corruption mood of the people but not taking any step to curb corruption in high places. He also demanded that the State Govt brings an Act against corruption on the line of Jan Lok Pal Bill.
In Myladuthurai a protest demonstration was held. Tanjore-Nagappattinam district In-Charge Com. S Ilangovan addressed the protesters. In Tiruvallore dist, at Karanodai, a mass meeting was held in which Com. S Janakiraman, State Gen Secretary of AIALA and dist secretary of the Party, was the main speaker. In Pudukkottai dist, protest demonstration was held at Kandarvakottai addressed by Com. P Asaithambi, District Secretary of the party. In Cuddalore dist a panchayat level mass meeting was held.
In Coiambatore, Mettupalayam an open convention of 1000 workers was held by CPI(ML) and AICCTU in which Com. S Kumarasamy, PBM and National President of AICCTU was the main speaker. Com. NK Natarajan, State GS of AICCTU and other dist leaders and Pricol leaders participated and spoke. In Chennai, a hall meeting of 500 workers was held in Ambattur industrial area in which AICCTU state leader Com. Kumaresh, Chennai City Party Committee Secretary Sekar, State GS Com. S Janakiraman spoke. At Tirunelveli town a public meeting was held. Apart from dist leaders AICCTU State Dy. GS Com. AS Bhuvaneswari, Dist Party Secretary T Sankarapandian, and AIPWA State President Com. Thenmozhi addressed the meeting. A similar meeting was held in Kanyakumari in which AICCTU Dy. GS Com AS Kumar and dist Party in-charge Com. Anthonimuthu were the main speakers. In Salem town, the anti corruption mass meeting was addressed by Dist Secretary of the Party Com. Mohanasundaram and State Committee member Com. A Chandramohan. In Namakkal dist too similar meeting was held. Com. A Govindaraj, Dist Party Secretary and AISA leader Malarvizhi addressed the meetings.
Betrayal of the ruling AIADMK on the question of corruption was also well exposed. AISA and RYA activists continued their 'Young India against Corruption' campaign. Signatures and contribution collections are on and its getting good response from the people.
Puducherry: On 23rd June central trade unions - AICCTU, AITUC, CITU, BMS, TUCC, ATU and UTUC jointly observed a massive protest against hike in prices of diesel, kerosene and LPG at the main square of Puducherry town. Protest was jointly led by AITUC president R Viswanathan, AICCTU President S Balasubrmanian, CITU President Ramasamy, TUCC President U Muthu, UTUC President K Lenin, ATU Secretary Bapusamy and BMS Secretary Krishnamurthy. Workers of all Trade Unions participated in large numbers. Our AICCTU activists participated in large numbers compared with the CTUs. P Sankaran, Vice-President of AICCTU addressed the protesters. The demonstration demanded the withdrawal of increase in prices of petroleum products.
Combat corruption, resist repression, save democracy, save India demonstration was held on 26th June in front of head post office, Puducherry. The demonstration was led by K Selvan, Town Committee Secretary, S Balasubramanian, State Secretary CPI(ML), K Lenin, Central Committee member RSP, U Muthu, State General Secretary AIFB, NM Tamil Mani, social activist spoke among the demonstrators. A large number of party members, industrial and rural workers participated in the demonstration. Com. S Balasubrmanian demanded immediate passing of Lok Pal Bill at the Centre and such a special bill in the forth coming session of Puducherry Assembly, also demanded distribution of land to the farm workers of Aurobindo Ashram, housing quarters to the workers and free School Education to their wards.
Street corner meeting was organized at Karaikal district Headquarters town of Puducherry U.T. for the same demands on the same day. The meeting was presided by AS Dandapani, Rural Committee Secretary.
Orissa: Around 100 Party activists observed Black day against Posco in Bhubaneswar on 24th June in solidarity to with the movement against Posco. The rally was led by Party's State Secretary Comrade Khitish Biswal along with AIALA President Satyabdadi Behera, Com. Ashok Pradhan, Janaki Rao, Upendra Sahoo, Seema Sethi and Banshidhra Parida demanding withdrawal of Posco and stopping of forcible land grab.
AICCTU Workshop in Uttarakhand
A State-level workshop of All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) was organized at Pithoragarh on 17-18 June. The workshop including 110 delegates from Bhojanmata, Aanganbadi and ASHA workers was being held for the first time in Uttarakhand. On the concluding day the delegate strength reached 150.
The delegates from Nainital, Almora, Champawat and Pithoragarh district units of ASHA participated in the workshop, while Aanganbadi delegates came from district units of Bageshwar, Champawat and Pithoragarh and only Pithoragarh unit of Bhojanmata could send their delegates to the workshop.
Inaugurating the workshop, CPI(ML)'s Central Committee member Comrade Rajendra Pratholi said that development of potentials, understanding the politics of trade union along with knowing the history of communist party is the purpose of organizing the workshop for the leading women activists of these three unions.
Comrades KK Bora (AICCTU State Secretary), Kailash Pandey (member of SLT), Vidya Rajwar (AIPWA's State President), Premlata Pandey (AIPWA's State Secretary) and Jagat Martoliya (AIKM's State Secretary) elaborated on Trade Union, Communist Party and Trade Union, Women's Movement and Communist Party, Movement of New Workers, Organisational Affairs respectively.
Separate meetings of the three unions were held during the workshop. For Bhojanmata union it was decided that it will be extended to cover the whole State. Aangabadi's State Convening Committee was constituted with Deepa Pandey as Convenor. Aanganbadi Union's State Conference will be held on 17-18 September. Prior to this district conferences will be held in at least nine districts. Hemlata Saun was elected Convenor of ASHA workers union. The union will march to CM's residence at Dehradoon on 19th July with its demands.
Condemn Physical Assault by Congress Goons on Student Activist
At Kapil Sibal's Press Conference at Ranchi
The physical assault by Congress goons on a JNU student and former JNUSU President, and National President of All India Students' Association (AISA), Sandeep Singh at Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal's press conference at Ranchi on 24 June is symptomatic of the growing crackdown on democratic voices which challenge the UPA Government's patronage of corruption and policy regime of privatization. At the press conference, Kapil Sibal reiterated his government's and Ministry's commitment to privatization of higher education, pleading 'fund crunch' for expanding publicly-funded colleges and universities. Sandeep Singh, a student activist and a research scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), had responded to this by raising questions about the huge drain on public funds in the shape of mega scams and black money; funds which could otherwise be used for ensuring quality education for each young Indian. He pointed out that the HRD Minister had defended the 2G scam publicly, denying that any malpractice had taken place. Press photographs which appeared in Jharkhand papers, show how Sandeep, on asking his question, was immediately forced out by Congress goons, and then brutally kicked and beaten by them.
Kapil Sibal description of the Ramlila Maidan crackdown as a 'lesson to everybody' becomes clear from the Ranchi incident. The HRD Minister is accompanied by muscle-men who physically suppress and assault any student who dares to question the HRD Minister!
CPI(ML) condemns such attacks on the freedom of India's youth to demand answers of the Government on burning issues such as corruption and the right to education. Such attacks will only intensify the determination of India's students and youth to resist corruption and defy repression.
In Ranchi the enraged students and youth from AISA and RYA held a huge Raj Bhawan march on 26 June against the attack and demanded arrest of the goons involved in the attack including public apology from the minister. On 24 June, the day of the attack, AISA members in JNU, New Delhi, burnt SIbal's effigy to condemn the attack in his presence.
Workers Struggles Across India
Andhra: Hyderabad coal mine workers walk out: At least half of the 67,000-strong workforce at 50 government-owned Singareni Collieries (SCCL) mines in Hyderabad walked off the job on 21 June . Their 47 demands include shift change-over allowances and that employees be given four promotions during their service periods, which stretch up to 30 years. Coal production fell by 20,000 tonnes threatening supply to 10 thermal power stations in three Indian states, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Emergency talks on 22 June ended in deadlock. The strike was called by the Singareni Collieries Workers Union, which is affiliated with AITUC.
Kerala: Cochin Shipyard workers' strike in fourth week: About 2,000 contract workers at the state-owned Cochin Shipyard Ltd at Kochi port have been on strike since May 28 to demand a wage increase from 170 contract companies represented by the Cochin Shipyard Contractors Federation. The current work agreement negotiated by the Cochin Shipyard Workers Union expired on January 1, 2010.
The strike has affected export orders for platform supply vessels, ship repairs and ship building. CSL management claimed that by Tuesday it had lost 80 billion rupees ($US1.72 billion) in revenue.
Assam rail workers protest: Hundreds of thousands of Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) workers at Guwahati city, Assam have been holding limited stopwork action over long pending demands. Their 36-point charter includes the filling of 200,000 vacant positions, the creation of new positions to cater for the increased number of trains and rectification of salary anomalies.
Maharashtra: Mumbai cabbies call off token strike - The Mumbai taximen union called off a token strike after most of their demands were accepted after meeting with the CM on 22 June, on the eve of the strike.
Karnataka: Mill workers threaten mass suicide - Disgusted over the delay in payment of compensation, former employees of defunct Sri Krishnarajendra Mills in Mysore have threatened to commit suicide if their demands are not met by July 8.
Armed with a directive from the state human rights commission (SHRC), they have asked deputy commissioner PS Vastrad to intervene. In case the DC doesn't respond, the employees will commit suicide. "That is our last option," Mysore division general employees association president S Shanthappa said on Thursday.
Gujarat: Closed mills in state yet to clear workers' due - The closure of textile mills left many unemployed and the legal battles for their claims continued for more than two decades. Till date, only 42.7% amount of their total claims have been disbursed by 35 closed mills. However, there are seven mills that have made full payment to their workmen, while management of only five mills have paid more than 50 per cent dues to their workers. "Whatever dues the workers have got, it is after lengthy legal battle, and in most of cases, the claims are still not met and proceedings in this regard are pending in the high court," said advocate Dhimant Vasavada of the Textile Labour Association.
All India United Bank Unions to stage nationwide strike - The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) has called a joint protest and one day nationwide strike on July 7. The main issues and demands of the UFBU includes- protest against the hike of petrol prices, do not privatize public sector banks, do not reduce government's equity in public sector banks, do not avail World Bank loan to capitalize public sector banks, do not proceed with merger of banks including the associate banks with SBI, do not allow unrestricted entry of foreign capital in banking sector, do not delete Section 12 (2) of banking Regulation Act, do not remove the ceiling on voting rights of foreign investors, do not issue licence to industrial houses to start their own banks, do not outsource permanent banking jobs and normal banking services, do not proceed with the scheme of private business correspondents, do not violate provisions of bipartite settlement on outsourcing, review BSRBs recruitment of staff in public sector banks, provide adequate staff in banks through recruitments to maintain and improve customer services.
Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail: email@example.com, website: www.cpiml.org