A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 14, No. 40, 27 SEPT – 03 AUG 2011
Planning Commission's Poverty Line:
UPA Government's Insult to the Poor
The UPA Government's callousness towards the common man has exposed itself once again, and quite shockingly at that. Making a mockery of the poor millions in India, a supercilious team of 'experts' sitting in New Delhi's Yojana Bhavan, headed by IMF agent and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, has declared that a man or woman should not be considered poor if he or she is in a position to spend Rs 965 per month (around Rs 32 per day) for urban areas and Rs 781 per month (around Rs 26 per day) in rural areas on food, health and education! The Prime Minister being the ex-officio Chairman of the Planning Commission, it is the UPA Government which is directly responsible for this insult to India's poor.
The Planning Commission (PC) of India stated this poverty line, based on the Tendulkar Committee recommendations, in an affidavit submitted in response to a court order of May 14 this year, when the Supreme Court came down strongly on the current extremely low poverty line and directed the Commission to revise it.
Well, a family cannot live on food, health and education expenses alone. It has to spend, at the barest minimum, also on items like fuels, house rent, clothing and footwear, and transport costs. So the poverty line prescribed by the PC actually means that if a family spends more than these meagre amounts on all items taken together, it will not be entitled to any benefits from the PDS and other poverty-alleviation programmes. According to the Planning Commission's calculations, just 32% of the population will be considered 'poor.' In other words, more than 70 per cent of the people in a country where some 77 per cent live on less than Rs 20 a day (as the Arjun Sengupta report informed us a few years back) will be excluded! And this in a period of galloping – and largely government-induced – inflation, including hikes in privatized medical and educational expenses!
It is against this silent conspiracy of exclusion amidst tall claims of "inclusive growth" that the people of India are protesting. Don't try to hide the true face of poverty – they warn – and certainly don't try to deprive us of our right to food and a decent living. The popular demand is simple and straightforward: withdraw the false affidavit now; include in BPL category all casual/contract/honorarium-based workers and all jobs covered by The Minimum Wages Act; and gradually move over to universalisation of all social benefits and social security.
In the face of such rational demands and sharp criticism from a host of eminent economists, including some from within the PC and the National Advisory Council, the Commission has fallen back on the hackneyed logic of funds crunch. We don't have enough money, so we tried to serve the most needy, they claim. This is sheer nonsense. It has been shown time and again that if the government takes serious steps to recover black money hoarded within the country and abroad and to stop systematic loot of taxpayers' money through mega scams and reverses its policy of granting whopping tax-cuts and other privileges to multi-billionaires, there will be no dearth of money for significant expansion of the social security net now, followed by its gradual universalisation. The shortage therefore lies not in funds, but in political will and also in the ability to reckon that investment in nurturing the country's human resources is also a good investment for promoting national economic development.
We will do well to remember that "BPL targeting" – that is, restricting various social benefits to households below the poverty line -- has been known to be a source of deprivation (according to the National Sample Survey, about half of all poor households in rural India didn't have a BPL card in 2004-05) favouritism and corruption. Its partial replacement by near-universalism in some states has yielded encouraging results, and can work better on a national scale. While keeping up popular pressure on the government to lead the country in that direction, we must intensify the immediate battle for automatic inclusion of all deprived classes and strata in the BPL category and for provision of sufficient quantities of food grains and at substantially subsidized rates.
Comrade Sukhu Manjhi Murder Case
Sankalp Sabha in Chhaati village
On 15 September, a sankalp sabha (pledge meeting) was organised in martyred Comrade Sukhu Manjhi's paternal village- Chhaati, to resolve to take the fight to its conclusion for which Comrade Sukhu (as were his three more brothers in the past) was martyred on 30 August 2011 (As reported in ML Update Vol. 14, issue num. 38: Family of Kavindra Singh Yadav, who is a tyrant has so far killed 13 people. Earlier his elder brother used to target people and he paid with his life at the hands of people for his crimes. The younger Kavindra, who is now patronised by the JD(U) is the one who killed Ganauri Manjhi in 1974, Binesar Manjhi in 1975 and Chanesar Manjhi in 1982. Comrade Dinan¬ath Manjhi was martyred at the hands of police in 1985. Comrade Sukhu Manjhi is the fifth martyr from this village). The eldest of the Manjhi brothers, Comrade Jagdish Manjhi, speaking from the dais, made a inspiring resolve – recounting how his four brothers were killed for defending a piece of land one by one only because they wanted to protect their only means of livelihood. He resolved that he will not rest until this fight is won and the killers punished. The meeting place reverberated with slogans of "long live Comrade Sukhu Manjhi".
The meeting demanded handing over of land documents of the said land to the poor people settled on this land. Administrative machinery and officials were stationed nearby the meeting place.
A few days after the ghastly killing, Local JD(U) MLA- Arun Manjhi, approached Comrade Sukhu's family and offered to fund his post-funeral rites. The family and the villagers took it as insult and sent him back. The MLA did not utter anything about punishing the killers and maintaining the controlling authority on the land. Such is the shocking political conduct of JD(U) which tries to save the feudal criminals by offering some dalda (vegetable fat) and sugar for post funeral rituals. Other speakers also lambasted the Nitish Kr. Govt and the local MLA.
An agrarian strike against the killers Kavindra Yadav and Bhola Yadav was also declared from the dais and it was resolved to sow the rabi crops on the land in issue at any cost. A declaration was also made for seizure of crops of both the feudals. CPI(ML)'s Central Committee member Comrade Krishna Deo Yadav was the main speaker who called upon to maintain the control of land come what may and intensify the agitation.
Party's 10th UP State Conference
10th State Conference of CPI(ML) was held successfully between 19-21 September at Comrade Jeeta Kaur Nagar (Gorakhpur) in UP, with the call to combat corruption and intensify the movement to defend land and defend democracy.
On the first day four km long march was held from Gorakhpur Railway Station to Comrade Rambali Pandey Hall (the conference venue) before the Conference began. Memorial gates were erected in memory of the martyrs of Chauri Chaura and the delegates were welcomed by writer Madan Mohan. Comrade Manoj Bhakta (CCM) was the Central Observer.
The Conference was inaugurated by Party's General Secretary. Addressing the open inaugural session Comrade Dipankar termed the loot of development fund as loot of the rights of the poor and said that the Conference is being held in the backdrop of massive assault on people's life and livelihood. The money meant for cases like checking the encephalitis outbreak and treatment of the patients in Gorakhpur was blatantly looted in NRHM scam and two CMOs were murdered. The land acquisition bill that UPA is bringing is more dangerous than the one legislated by British Govt in 1894. About BJP's drama against corruption- Advani's rath yatra and Narendra Modi's 'sadbhavna' fast – he said that these are dangerous signs for the society, because when the communal looters start talking about 'sadbhavna' it can be understood how grave the threat is. On the other hand the US is comparing Modi and Rahul Gandhi in a bid to hand over power to the parties of these two. But the political power must be rescued from them and the people must take it in their own hands. Politics does not mean being in power only, but to sharpen the struggle for people's rights. The inaugural session was also addressed by Politburo member and Party incharge for UP- Comrade Ramji Rai.
Secretary of the outgoing State Committee Comrade Sudhakar Yadav placed a 36 page political-organisational report before the house as soon as the delegate session began. He said that the Mayawati Govt encouraged crimininalisation of politics and the extremely corrupt BSP Govt accumulated wealth by plundering the lands of peasants and handing it to corporates-builders. CMOs murders were an outcome of blatant loot of public health fund. Mayawati Govt violated democracy by imposing undeclared emergency in the State. The mask of sarvajan has faded due to drastic increase in the incidents of rapes, violence and oppression against dalits and women. The militant support that dalits gave to BSP is fast waning and is translating into mass anger. Memories from the experience of Samajwadi Party's criminal-mafia rule is still fresh in people's mind and in such a situation CPI(ML) must accelerate its initiatives. About 375 delegates and observers attending the Conference commented on the draft document and after 2 days of debate-discussion it was passed unanimously with some amendments.
Election was held for electing the new State Committee and a 37 member new committee was elected which in turn reelected Comrade Sudhakar Yadav as the State Secretary. Several resolutions were proposed to the house that were passed unanimously too. One resolution proposed to intensify the struggle for ensuring adequate medical response from the Govt to fight encephalitis and cure patients in the Gorakhpur region. Another resolution was to ensure easy availability of fertilizers to the peasantry on just rates; fertilizer is being hoarded and sold in black market as in Bihar. Resolutions were also made for fighting for relief for the people ravaged by flood and eviction of long settled people on forest land.
Party's 4th Nainital District Conference
CPI(ML)'s 4th Nainital district conference was held on 18 September at Bindukhatta, albeit after a long gap. The open session was addressed by Comeades Rajendra Pratholi, CCM, and Raja Bahuguna, State's Party incharge. These speakers said that Nishank has been replaced by Khanduri as the new CM in order to restore some credibility in the eyes of people after massive and shameful scams by the BJP Govt in Uttarakhand- such as Mahakumbh scam, Sturdia land scam, transfers scandal and several land scams, to name a few. But the cabinet continues with the same corrupt ministers. SP and BSP, the two parties that opposed tooth and nail the formation of Uttarakhand are now trying to form govt in the State.
The Conference passed the draft document presented by Comrade Kailash Pandey after wider discussion on it. Several resolutions were passed by the Conference in the end after it had elected a 13 member District Committee with Comrade Kailash Pandey as the new Secretary.
Fact finding Report on Paramakudi Police Firing and Brutality on Dalits in TN
Following the brutal firing incidents on the Dalits at Paramakudi (Southern Tamilnadu) on Sep 11th, a fact -finding team led by CPI(ML)'s TN State Secretary Comrade Balasundaram and including mass organizations leaders visited Ramnad, Sivagangai and Madurai district on 19-20 September. The team visited all the victims' native villages, hospitals, police stations, SP and Collector offices, firing spot, Paramakudi and Ilayangudi.
11.09.2011 was the 54th death anniversary of Emmanuel Sekaran. He was brutally killed by upper caste goons in 1957 as a revenge for his relentless fight against oppressive social order and for dignity and equality of Dalits. His burial place is in Paramakudi. He is revered and worshiped as Martyr by the Dalits of Southern Tamilnadu. Every year on September 11, Dalit organizations rally in huge number at his cemetery to pay tributes.
The then AIADMK Govt led by Jayalalithaa which has much clout over Devar community, declared Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thever's (the iconic leader of Mukkulathore community Kallar, Maravar and Agamudaiyar) death anniversary as official Govt function. The Dalits and organizations also have been demanding Emmanuel Sekaran's death anniversary to be declared as a Govt function. This demand gained popularity. Even an AIADMK contestant assured in April-May assembly elections that if his party was voted to power their demand will be met.
In this back-drop, with the AIADMK govt back in power, the govt machinery, anti-Dalit police establishment and aggressive Mukkulathore section wielding enormous clout over the govt decided to thwart the Dalit political mobilization this year at any cost.
At Ilayangudi (Sivagangai dist), enroute to Paramakudi, between 1-2 pm, Ilayangudi DSP Ilango of Agramaseri, belonging to Maravar Community, opened fire without any provocation. Hardly 25 youths tried to block the road within 50 to 60 yards from the police station hearing the news of arrest of John Pandian and firing incidents at Parmakudi. A school boy Anand, who was not part of the agitated Dalit youths and coming from the opposite side was hit by the bullets. His right palm was pierced through as he kneed down raising his hands. This is a clear case of indiscriminate firing. Here different cases were foisted on more than two hundred young people including women.
Most heinous is old people aged 60 and above were shot and killed brutally. Ganesan of Pallavanethal village, Panchayat secretary AIADMK, went to Paramakudi to distribute his son's marriage invitations was also killed in the firing when a bullet hit him in the stomach. Vellaichami (65) of Kakkanethal who was to board a bus for Madurai, was killed too but not bullet injuries on his body. Chinnan of the same age and village accompanying Vellaichami sustained injuries but fortunately he was rescued by a woman. Veerambal Panner (about 55), a Dalit Christian was shot on his forehead when he was taking his ill daughter to a hospital. Jeyapal (Amar), aged just 21, was shot at from point-blank range on his fore head. His 18 year old wife Gayathri is about to give birth. Keezhakodumanur Theerpukani, first year diploma student was killed in the firing. Shooting spree went on from 12.30 noon to evening 5.30. The melee started around 11.30 in the morning. The number of agitating Dalit youth was less than 500 while the strength of police force around 4000. Several DIGs. SPs, ASPs and DSPs were present. The police version that the situation went out of control is blatantly false. Vajra van was set on fire by police itself. Collectors of the three districts were not informed or consulted before the firing.
Two men died on 20th Sep while fleeing on seeing the police. One Palani who returned home after cancer treatment was arrested and sent to jail. Family members ran from pillar to post to know whether their wards were in hospitals. Post-mortem was conducted without the presence of the relatives. More than 75 critically injured were denied proper treatment. After High Court intervened some improvement was seen in treatment.
Our findings: This is premeditated high level conspiracy to stop the death anniversary celebrations of Dalit leader Emmanuel Sekaran and curbing of of Dalits' political mobilisation. One Appa Nadu Maravar Sangham despatched an unsigned letter to their community people to assemble to find out ways to stop the Dalit mobilization for which nobody was arrested. On 9 Sept a school boy of Pallappachery - Palanikumar was killed by Mukukkulathore community on the pretext that some denigrating remark was scribbled on the walls of Manickamandalam, a village dominated by Mukkulathore community. The design was that aggrieved Dalits will mobilize and on the pretext of law and order situation the police machinery will stop the Dalit mobilization which failed due to the restraint shown by the Dalit people.
As next step, the top police officials arrested TMMK (Thamizhaga Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam) leader Jhon Pandian at Thuthukudi, 133km away from Paramakudi on the plea that his entry to Ramanadapuram dist will escalate tensions. He was to visit Paramakudi to observe Emanuel Sekaran's death anniversary. Subsequently he was arrested and denied entry. This is the sole reason for the alleged out of control situation.
Hearing the news Jhon Pandian's supporters gathered to protest their leader's indiscriminate arrest. Jayalalitha is justifying the firing saying that Dalits were creating communal trouble and taking law into their hand. This strengthens the view that the Jayalalithaa Govt is anti-Dalit and pro-Mukkulathore bias.
We have demanded invoking PCR act against Police higher officials who must suspended immediately. A multi member enquiry commission must be announced. All the false cases against Dalits must be withdrawn. Dalits demand of announcing Emmanuel Sekaran's death anniversary as govt function on par with Devar Jayanthy be fulfilled. Un-conditional release of innocent people. rehabilitation package must be instituted (Upto 25 lac compensation, govt job to a family member, free rations, in case of caste oppression and state violence on Dalits).
Initiatives: On Sep 12th we issued a press statement fixing responsibility on the CM. Throughout the state we conducted poster campaign. We held protest demonstrations from 16th to 18th, at Madurai, Nellai, Kumbakonam, Kanyakumari and Chennai apart from other agitational initiatives.
AIALA Conferences at HPHalli
AIALA organized mass conferences and rallies on a single day at 3 out of 4 hoblis (revenue division comprising 5-7 gram panchayats) in Harapanahalli taluk of Davanagere district in Karnataka on 25 Sept. AIALA activists marched through Arisikere village and reached the conference venue where AIALA and party leaders addressed the gathering. Comrade Parasuram inaugurated the Arisikere hobli conference and resolved to make AIALA the number one organization in the taluk. Hullikatti conference was inaugurated by Maylappa, taluk committee member and the Mathihalli conference was inaugurated by Chowdappa, secretary of AIALA. Hundreds of agricultural labourers participated in the rallies and conferences and decided to follow it up with conferences at panchayat levels.
Comrade Shankar, CCM, came down heavily on the new poverty line of Rs.26 and 32 proposed by the central government. He also condemned the state government's plan to provide money instead of rations to the ration card holders in the state. He called upon agricultural labourers to elevate the level of 'Red Shawl Movement' to political level against the ruling class parties like BJP, Congress and JD(S). Com. Shankar also demanded arrest of the mining mafia and the local MLA Karunakar Reddy and his associates for illegal mining.
Com. Ramappa, state secretary elaborated the achievements of AIALA in taluk that included suspension of 12 village level corrupt officers who pocketed people's money to be disbursed through NREGA. He also complimented AIALA for being with masses and for organizing regular struggles on day to day issues of agricultural workers.
Arrest the Bellary Mining Mafia
Following the release of Loakyukta report on mining, resignation of Yeddyurappa and the subsequent arrest of Janardhan Reddy, former Karnataka minister and mining mafia by the CBI that is investigating the mining scam in Andhra, CPI(ML) organized a state level campaign demanding arrest of all Reddy Brothers and their associates involved in illegal mining.
A demonstration was organized in front of Harapanahalli taluk office on 8 Sep. demanding arrest of Karunakar Reddy, sitting MLA of the same constituency and former minister. Hundreds of proetstors demanded arrest of all accused in illegal mining scam along with government officers named in the Loakyukta report.
CPI(ML) Backed Candidate in Koppal
Assembly Byelections of Koppal constituency in Karnataka held on 26 Sep. witnessed a different candidate fielded by a broad platform of all progressive organizations in the district, including Left parties CPI(ML) (Liberation), CPI and KN Ramachandran group of CPIML. Vittappa Gorentli is the candidate fielded against the BJP, Congress and the JD(S). Unfortunately, CPI(M) remains the only Left party to support the mining scam tainted JD(S) in the elections. All major dalit organizations and Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) have also extended support to Com.Vittappa, a consistent democrat and leader of almost all joint struggles on democratic issue in the district. Com. Bharadwaj, CPI(ML) SLTM and AIALA state president, was also one of the prominent leaders who spearheaded election campaign against the BJP, Congress and JD(S).
AISA Held a Public Meeting against Minority Witch-hunt
with Members and Friends of Victim Families from Malegaon and Azamgarh
AISA organised a large public meeting on September 26th at JNU on the "Politics of Communal Stereotyping and Minority Witch-Hunt: State Media and 'Common Sense'". Friends and family members of the Muslim youth falsely accused in several bomb blast cases also attended the meeting to share their experiences. Apart from Maulana Abdul Quayyum Qasmi (general secretary of the Jamait Ulema-e-Hind) and Jaleel Ahmad Masihullah from Malegaon, and Mohd. Arif Naseem from Azamgarh, noted journalist Ajit Sahi (who has been covering this issue for a long time), and Abu Zafar from Milli Gazzette addressed the meeting.
The student's fact-finding report on minority witch-hunting was also released at the public meeting. In 2008, Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare conclusively brought into the public domain the communal designs of an entire range of Sanghi outfits including Abhinav Bharat and its foot soldiers of hate. In December 2010, Swami Aseemanand voluntarily confessed before a magistrate to the involvement of Hindutva terrorists in the 2006 Malegaon blasts – and yet as many as 9 Muslims from Malegaon continue to languish in jail on these same charges! On 17 March 2011, the CBI blocked the bail application filed by these nine men, on the plea that there was 'no evidence' of their innocence apart from Aseemanand's confession.
On the other hand, even as the involvement of Hindutva terror groups in various bomb blast cases (Malegaon 2006, Mecca Masjid, Samjhauta Express and Ajmer Sharif blasts) has been established, even as Wikileaks cables have exposed how BJP's Hindutva politics gets a 'boost' from terrorist attacks, there is yet to be any comprehensive probe into the extent of the Sangh terror network. It is in this context that AISA held this public meeting.
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