A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 15, No. 16, 10 – 16 APRIL 2012
Life Sentence for Rupam Pathak:
Another Instance of Skewed Justice in Nitish's Bihar
In a gross miscarriage of justice, a special CBI Court today passed a life sentence on Bihar school teacher Rupam Pathak, holding her guilty of culpable homicide of Bihar's Purnea MLA Raj Kishor Kesri.
It must be remembered that the Bihar CM was forced to order a CBI enquiry into the Rupam Pathak case precisely because of public protests against the Bihar Government's attempts to smear Rupam Pathak's character and suppress the history of her complaints of rape and sexual harassment against the BJP MLA Kesri and his aide BN Rai. But the CBI enquiry has merely probed the killing of Kesri, and has failed to investigate Rupam Pathak's complaint of sexual harassment. Not only that, BN Rai was not even arrested – allowing him to be free to influence and threaten witnesses. While rape-accused BN Rai remained free, Rupam Pathak herself was denied bail, and prevented from having any opportunity to clear her name!
Rupam's long-standing complaint of rape and sexual harassment by Kesri and his aide BN Rai had been ignored by the Bihar police and the BJP-JD(U) alliance, of which Kesri was a prominent leader. She had sought justice by filing an FIR, but had withdrawn her case on the eve of the Assembly elections, obviously under political pressure. Seeing no hope of justice, Rupam Pathak was pushed to take the desperate step of confronting Kesri in his own house, in full public view.
After the incident, prominent leaders in the Government including the Deputy CM of Bihar, as well as Opposition leaders such as Laloo Yadav, branded Rupam Pathak a blackmailer and a killer, while extolling praises of Kesri's pure character and heroism.
The verdict, by failing to take into account the extreme provocation and desperation Rupam felt, due to the faint prospect of any justice against her powerful rapists and sexual harassers, and awarding her a punishment as severe as life sentence, displays a gender bias. In the landmark Kiranjit Ahluwalia case of Britain, a life sentence awarded to a woman victim of domestic violence who took her husband's life, was relaxed following a sustained campaign by women's groups, which resulted in domestic violence being recognised as a mitigating circumstance of extreme provocation. The Rupam Pathak case ought to be a similar instance in Indian jurisprudence, where desperate acts by women who have been subjected to sexual violence ought to be seen in the context of the failure of our systems to provide a credible prospect of justice for women. This ought to hold true especially in cases of repeated and prolonged sexual abuse or harassment, where attempts to secure justice through the police have been subverted or crushed.
The Rupam Pathak verdict is reminiscent of other cases of skewed justice in Nitish's Bihar, where the ruling forces patronise criminals and perpetrators of atrocities towards women and Dalits. In the Amausi massacre case, 10 mahadalits have been sentenced to death on flimsy evidence, while the chief of the feudal private army Ranveer Sena, Brahmeshwar Singh, received bail in cases relating to horrific massacres of Dalits, because of the State Government's politically guided decision not to counter his bail plea. Similarly the notorious feudal criminal Sunil Pandey has been acquitted in bank robbery and ransom cases, as police officials failed to give evidence against him; and subsequently he has been rewarded by becoming JD(U) MLA from Tarari.
The rulers of Bihar are eager to consign Rupam to jail and suppress her accusations of rape and sexual harassment because they threaten the image of the ruling political alliance. We must demand bail and justice for Rupam Pathak, the immediate arrest of BN Rai, and a re-investigation by the CBI into the whole case in the light of Rupam Pathak's complaints of sexual violence.
Countrywide Protest against Life Sentence
The All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) held protests all over the country on 11 April against the life sentence to Rupam Pathak of Bihar for the culpable homicide of BJP's Purnea MLA Raj Kishor Kesri, terming the verdict of the CBI Court to be a "gross miscarriage of justice."
In the national capital, women protested with a dharna at Jantar Mantar, raising slogans and placards saying, "Why Is Rupam Convicted While Her Rapists and Their Protectors Go Free?"
Women delegates at the CPI(ML)'s Bihar Conference at Darbhanga yesterday held a protest march, while protests are being held at several places in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal and other states.
Party's Ninth Bihar State Conference
Party's ninth Bihar State Conference was held on 9-10 April 2012 at Darbhanga in north Bihar. The inaugural highlight was a massive worker-peasant unity rally at Darbhanga Raj Maidan. CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar addressed the thousands of workers and peasants who came mainly from north Bihar's Mithilanchal and border areas. A large number of the participants were working class women.
Comrade Dipankar said that CPI(ML) is creating a new alternative along with strengthening the voice of opposition in Bihar's villages, towns, muhalla's, fields and farms and on the streets even if there is no opposing voice in the State's Legislative Assembly. He said that the road for Bihar's progress can only be laid through the united struggles of workers and peasants. The development that is being projected by Nitish Kumar through his propaganda machinery has never reached the poor, workers-peasants and the youth. On the one hand price-rise and unemployment is growing due to the policies of Central and State Govts and on the other a cruel joke is being played on the poor by reducing the requirement for being designated a poor. Nitish Kumar has conspired to seize the achievements and legacy of Bihari people and distort history by trying to convey through Bihar centenary celebrations that whatever is good in Bihar is due to his seven-year rule. No matter how high the claims are of good governance and development in Nitish's propaganda, the real achievement of this Govt is that it has boosted feudal dominance and today Bihar's women are insecure. Govt's injustice in Rupam Pathak case is there for all of use to see. Serious questions are being raised constantly on this Govt's wrong means of incurring expenditures. Providing open patronage to a criminal like Sunil Pandey and the continuation of their criminal businesses under state-patronage exposes the real face of 'development with justice'. That the Govt has emboldened the feudal-criminal forces is evident from the daylight murder of CPI(ML)'s Rohtas district secretary Comrade Bhaiyaram Yadav. Comrade Dipankar accused the Nitish Govt of instigating and encouraging communal forces by propagating about Mithilanchal as a new centre of terror; but the identity of Darbhanga or Mithilanchal is its labour and not communalism, the whole country is dependent on labour from Mithilanchal. Bihar's identity is labour and struggle and only through its forward movement can Bihar be transformed fundamentally.
The rally was also addressed by Party leaders- Comrades KD Yadav, Rajaram Singh, Saroj Chaubey, Satyadeo Ram and Mahboob Alam. The proceedings were conducted by Comrade Dhirendra Jha, Party's Mithilanchal incharge and Central Committee member.
The delegate session began in the evening at Comrade Ram Naresh Ram Auditorium (University Auditorium). The city of Darbhanga has been renamed as Jankawi Nagarjun Nagar (People's Poet Nagarjun city) on this occasion. The dias and platforms from where the delegate session was conducted was named after Comrades Chandrashekhar and Bhaiyaram Yadav. About 500 delgates, guests and observers attended the Conference.
On the second day deliberations and debates continued on the draft document presented by the outgoing State Committee. The issue of land reforms and share-croppers was intensely discussed and a resolve was taken by the house to intensify the struggles against eviction of sharecroppers from land and freeing up the land of parchadharis (land entitlement holders) from illegal occupation. The Conference also discussed strategy to intensify and reorient the anti-corruption movement in the State in light of the scattering of this movement coupled with continuing massive loot of public resources in the name of good governance and development. The Conference discussed bringing students-youth to the forefront of anti-corruption crusade in Bihar where several scams- AC/DC Bill scam, mining scam, bicycle scam and many others during Nitish's rule that needs to be exposed. The Conference also discussed bringing students-youth to the forefront as a force for radical change while intensifying movement on the issue of education and employment.
CPI(ML) Conference has emphasised on developing fighting, progressive culture based on worker-peasant unity against the regressive culture of state-power based on women's exploitation, feudal violence and communal prejudice. The Conference also discussed the issue of enhancing membership strength and expanding and consolidating organisational networks of its mass based organisations- AIKM, AIALA, AIPWA, AISA and RYA etc.
Of the 500 delegates from 36 districts of Bihar a good number was of women. There was a wide propaganda for the Conference and red flags and banners were visible all over the Darbhanga city. Several welcome gates were raised in the names of martyrs and leaders of the communist movement- Brajesh Mohan Thakur, Ram Sharan Sharma, Maheswar Bhagat, Bhogendra Jha, Dr. Nirmal, Santu Mahto, Mahendra Singh among others. Buildings where the delegates have been accommodated were also named after communist leaders.
More than hundred local comrades served as volunteers to make arrangements and make the Conference a great success.
A Powerful Left Movement is a Pressing Need against the Plunder of Natural Resources
CPI(ML) General Secretary also addressed a press conference on 10th April in Darbhanga, concluding day of the State Conference. He said that all streams of the Left should come on a single platform based on a common programme of struggle against corruption, feudal-communal conspiracy and imperialism, and this is what CPI(ML) understands about Left unity. A powerful Left movement is the pressing need to establish people's control over natural resources against its massive loot.
Replying to a question about the relations between armed forces and the Govt, he said that the issues raised by the army chief is important and it must be deliberated upon. The demand by JD(U) leader Shivanad Tiwari for his expulsion shows that they are not interested at all in fighting corruption. He also said that the defence budget has progressively spiralled to two lakh crore rupees and there should be accountability of defence expenditure too as it is people's money. The issue of corruption in defence establishment has not surfaced for the first time.
Terming the CBI court's verdict in Rupam Pathak case as one-sided he said that the probe should have been conducted comprehensively. Rupam reached a psychological state to kill because she did not get justice in time and she was pressurised to withdraw the case. Today this is not merely an issue of an individual woman but a larger social question. The Govt that claims about women empowerment, 50% reservation for women and development with justice should have stood-up with the victimised woman, but the JD(U), BJP and its Govt are set against her. Referring to CBI's role in probes related to comrades Chandrashekhar, Mahendra Singh and Ajit Sarkar, he said that the CBI was wearing a muzzle when it's the issue of political conspiracy whereas in RUpam Pathak's case a prompt verdict has been announced. The question will surely rise about the role of BJP, JD(U) and Bihar Govt behind this verdict.
CPI(ML)'s 9th TN State Conference
Through 5 years of struggle and two years of party work which includes participation in assembly and local body elections, Party in Coimbatore hosted 9th State Conference from 30 March to 1 April. The whole city was decorated in red flags and hoardings carrying the message and slogans of the conference. The billboards displayed in the run up to the rally and conference had the slogan 'Comrades of Appu, March to Coimbatore' evoked nostalgic emotions from the people of Coimbatore and the general public referred to the rally by the slogan. The conference and the rally had the pervading imprint of working class throughout the 3 days and the impact of 5 years of struggle was felt by everyone in the conference and the rally.
The rally held on 30 March was impressive and spectacular in which more than 2000 working people from all over the State participated. 200 workers of Coimbatore were clad in red T-shirt, white trousers, white cap and black belt-black shoes and carrying red flags marched in the forefront. Before them were a group of young Pricol workers who carried the torch honouring the memory of the martyrs from the memorial of Chinniyampalayam Martyrs. Before them were 5 women comrades in red saree-white blouse uniforms and 4 men comrades in uniforms carrying huge sized red flags.
The rally and the public meeting were led by Com. K Balasubramaniam, District Secretary of Coimbatore Party. Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya, Politburo member, received the torch from the comrades. Comrades S Kumarasami, PBM, S Balasundaram, State Secretary of the Party, Bhuvana and Bharathi, SCMs addressed the gathering. State AISA comrades who have been constantly involved in organisational work for the last four months handed over Rs.30,000 toward Theepori fund.
The Conference formally began on 31st March with Comrade Ponraj, Party veteran hoisting the red flag. It was followed with leaders and comrades paying homage at the martyrs column. A poster exhibition themed 'Story of Capitalism and the Story of Struggles against Capitalism' was opened by Com. Swadesh Bhattacharya, who compared the exhibition to a workshop.
Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya delivered the inaugural address who pointed out the opportunities for the revolutionary Left ahead and called the delegates to make all-out preparations, that the Party and the mass organizations grab the opportunities bring about revolutionary change in the state.
A nine-member presidium was formed to conduct the conference. Com. Balasundaram, Secretary of the outgoing State Committee presented the draft report. 63 delegates including 9 women delegates placed their views on the draft document. The report was unanimously adopted after discussions on 5 points viz., TN political situation, working class front, agrarian work, other mass organizations and party building. Apart from these points delegates also discussed other relevant issues in the draft report.
Comrades S Balasubramaniam, State Secretary of Puducherry, John K Erimeli, State Secretary of Kerala, Chandran of LMW, Simson of Liberation Front of the Oppressed, also addressed the conference. Comrade Venugopal of Kerala also attended the conference.
277 delegates including 51 women delegates, 15 observers and 4 invitees attended the conference. The conference elected a 31-member state committee after elections and Com.Balasundaram was elected as State Secretary. Com. S Kumarasami, in his concluding speech called upon the delegates to make the organization stronger as the iron is hot and the hammer is to be strong to wield a strong blow. The conference came to a close with comrades singing the Internationale.
The delegate kit consisted – apart from the usual stationery - a plate and a water bottle with a sticker carrying the message of the conference. It was a delight for many women comrades in the conference who have to wash utensils at home, to see all the men comrades wash their own plates. It was an exercise for many male comrades who seldom perform domestic chores at home and during deliberation on the draft, one of the delegates even appreciated the idea and asked all the comrades to follow the same after returning home.
Message from the CPI(ML) to the 21st Congress of the CPI
(Party General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya's address at the inaugural session of the CPI Congress held in Patna)
It is a great pleasure to see the oldest communist party of the country hold its 21st Congress here in Patna and I feel honoured to have this opportunity to address the open session of this important event. Thank you for your comradely invitation. On behalf of the Central Committee and the entire membership of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), I extend warm revolutionary greetings to all of you assembled here and convey our best wishes for the success of the Congress.
Let me also take this opportunity to extend a very warm welcome to our esteemed guests from the international communist and anti-imperialist movement and reiterate our shared commitment to defeat the sinister design of the US-led imperialist camp and the exploitative forays of global capital.
As we meet here today we keenly feel the loss of many of our veteran leaders and dear comrades. Comrade Bhogendra Jha, Comrade Jagannath Sarkar, Comrade Chaturanan Mishra are no more amidst us. We have also lost veteran CPI(ML) leader Comrade Ram Naresh Ram who had begun his communist life in the undivided CPI. I pay homage to all our departed leaders who have guided the communist movement in Bihar all these years.
Comrades, for all the tall claims of record-breaking economic growth, poverty is increasing in Bihar. And contrary to the professed gospel of good governance, the people are witnessing growing attacks on democracy. Communist leaders and activists continue to be targeted by feudal-communal forces and criminals enjoying political patronage. Recently Comrade Surendra Yadav of the CPI(M) was killed in Samastipur. Just two weeks ago, Comrade Bhaiyaram Yadav, secretary of CPI(ML)'s Rohtas District Committee and a popular leader of people's struggles was gunned down by JD(U)-backed goons at Nasriganj. Red salute to all our martyrs who have laid down their lives for the cause of the people!
Implicated in false cases and convicted on false charges, many communists are languishing in the prisons of Bihar. Comrade Shah Chand and 13 other CPI(ML) comrades are undergoing life imprisonment under the draconian TADA. I salute all our imprisoned comrades who continue to inspire us from behind the bars.
Comrades, your Congress is taking place in a changing international environment. Capitalism is facing a serious crisis not just in the periphery but at the centre, and this growing crisis has begun to find its echo in the political arena as well. From the Arab Spring to the Occupy movement, we have seen an inspiring upswing in class struggle and popular protests across the world. Quite significantly, this is also energising a renewed quest for socialism, for a systemic alternative to an increasingly decadent and crisis-ridden capitalism.
In our own country, we are witnessing powerful struggles against the ruling neo-liberal policy regime. Under popular pressure, the government has had to withhold the move to allow FDI in multi-brand retail and withdraw large-scale fare hikes announced in the recent rail budget. The response to the February 28 general strike has been quite encouraging as have been results of student union elections in some premier universities. The time is ripe for all of us in the Left to intensify the movement and press for a decisive reversal of the whole gamut of pro-corporate pro-imperialist policies, insisting especially on protection of agricultural and forest land and public control over mineral resources. Simultaneously, the Left must also emerge as the leading current in struggles against corporate loot and state repression across the country.
Results of the recent Assembly elections have once again highlighted the decline of the two big all-India parties of the ruling classes. The coalitions led by the two parties have naturally come under pressure. Yet, we cannot miss the fact that most of the non-Congress non-BJP governments are treading the same neo-liberal policy trajectory and are more interested in bargaining with the central government and bailing it out at critical junctures than offering any sustained opposition on the growing assault on the people and their democratic rights. For any credible third front to take shape, the Left must raise the level of its own assertion on the basis of shared struggles against the neo-liberal assault, imperialist offensive and communal mischief.
The country looks to the Left for a real political alternative. If we can accord the highest priority to the interests of the people and uphold the best traditions and the core vision of the Left movement, we can surely unite and move ahead in this direction. We in the CPI(ML) remain committed to this course and look forward to marching together with the broad spectrum of Left and democratic forces. We hope your Congress will strengthen the political will in the Left camp to forge a broad-based struggle-oriented model of Left unity. Recent electoral reverses have emboldened the forces of right reaction to mount a strident anti-Left ideological campaign and even violent physical attacks on the Left which must be rebuffed with all the strength at our command.
Comrades, in a decade or so from now, the communist movement in India will complete its centenary. As we approach this historic milestone, let us resolve to work tirelessly to bring about a powerful communist resurgence in the country, ensuring greater unity among all communist and Left forces, enlisting greater participation of the youth and spreading the communist message far and wide across the country. Once again, I wish you all a successful Congress and thank you for inviting us to the open session.
Red salute to the glorious legacy of the communist movement in India!
Obituary: Com. Promode Gogoi
We have learnt about the sad news of demise of Com. Promode Gogoi, President of AITUC. I, on behalf of entire organization of AICCTU, express our deep condolences on the demise of Com. Gogoi, a veteran communist and trade union leader. He will be always remembered for building working class and left movement in Assam, and as well, his leading role in oil workers' movement.
We share this moment of grief with the comrades of AITUC. Red Salute to Com. Promode Gogoi.
Swapan Mukherjee, General Secretary, AICCTU
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: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.cpiml.org