Tuesday, 24 April 2012
By Kavita Krishnan
23 April, 2012
The Bihar HC verdict of 16 April acquitted all accused in the Bathani Tola massacre of 1996.
At Bathani Tola in Bhojpur (Bihar), on 11 July 1996, Dalit and Muslim agricultural labourers, mostly women and children, were slaughtered by the feudal-communal ‘army’ – the Ranveer Sena – as punishment and warning against their temerity in asserting themselves economically, socially, and politically, and voting the CPI(ML) to win two Assembly seats in Bhojpur. Though the Ranveer Sena was backed by the BJP mainly, it also enjoyed the covert support of the then JD Government headed by Laloo Yadav. The police, and SP and DM of the district had refused to respond to repeated pleas of people who had anticipated the massacre. The actual bloodbath and arson took place in broad daylight, for three hours beginning 2 pm, and yet the police stayed well away. The only three police eyewitnesses deposed as defence witnesses in Court.
An Ara sessions court in 2010 convicted 23 for the massacre, sentencing 3 to death and 20 to life. And in April 2012, the Bihar High Court acquitted all 23. What was the verdict’s reasoning?
The verdict repeatedly holds that the witnesses (survivors) are ‘lying’ and ‘spinning tales’ and being ‘untrustworthy’ and ‘totally unreliable.’
The verdict says:
“In the present case, we find it quite conflicting that the allegation and the act are such that the miscreants had come to eliminate everyone in the village. After killing, they set fire to the houses. How could they did not bother to look for people in hiding in close vicinity of the village itself? The witnesses and the accused are neighbours and of neighbouring Tola. They would not be exposing their identity in broad day light giving people opportunity to identify them. Some prosecution witnesses say they hid in a ditch. IO says no ditch was shown nor was it there which could show a hiding place. Ahar (irrigation channel) is conspicuous place but surprisingly the witnesses hide there and, from time to time, were able to peep out unconcerned of their safety which is quite unnatural. Some witnesses are said to have hidden in bushes like jungle but on objective finding of the IO, there was no such place. People, who were intent to liquidate everybody, naturally would have seen that there were no male members, they would have searched for male members who were all hiding in very close proximity to the village itself. This is unnatural for the prosecution witnesses. Because of these reasons, we have found the identifications made by the prosecution witnesses not worthy of reliance for the purposes of this extreme punishment of either death or life imprisonment.”
In the excerpt above, the verdict observes that the witnesses claim to have run away and hidden in bushes or ditches. But the IO, according to the verdict, did not find any bushes or ditches. The verdict asks that if we accept that the assailants had come to liquidate everybody, would they not have found and killed these men too?
What is the verdict telling us? That since these people are alive, we must assume they are lying about being eyewitnesses? That in any massacre, the only truthful witness can be a dead witness? Dead men and women, (un)fortunately, tell no tales, and cannot give evidence in court.
The ones who survive a carnage alive, according to the verdict, are by definition, dubious and suspicious witnesses, since if they were indeed present to witness the carnage, how come they are alive to tell the tale? Only if they were killed could they have been credible and trustworthy.
Going by this impeccable logic, can anyone ever be convicted for a carnage?
The verdict does say, “thanks to the investigating agency and the administration the true culprits have escaped.” But the verdict does not contain a breath of uncertainty about the innocence of the accused who have been named by the eyewitnesses!
Says the verdict, “People suffered, their families obliterated with no solace as to the punishment to the perpetuators. Thanks to the misguided investigation and prosecution.” But the verdict itself seems to wilfully forget that those suffering families are the ones who bore witness. By branding these sufferers and anguished survivors as “witnesses who were totally unreliable”, the verdict has rubbed salt into their wounds, and has rendered them terribly vulnerable to retribution from those it set free.
The verdict has held that the prosecution and eyewitnesses were both equally malafide, and that both conspired to frame innocents. The witnesses have been spoken of as though they are the ones in the dock.
In fact, the verdict goes to the extent of apologising to three of those accused by eyewitnesses of some of the most heinous crimes – on the claim that they were juveniles at the time of the incident, and yet have spent time in jail and been sentenced to death and life imprisonment.
What will be the impact of such a verdict on the ground in Bathani Tola?http://www.countercurrents.org/krishnan230412.htm
Are the accused who have just been acquitted, being emboldened by the verdict’s implied message: that they are now free to avenge the injustice done to them by the witnesses who helped send them to jail?
The Nitish Kumar-led Bihar State Government has announced that it will challenge the acquittal in the Supreme Court. But its real intentions behind this formal posture can be gauged by the comments of one of its Ministers Giriraj Singh, who has opined that the “Bathani Tola massacre case should be nipped in the bud. The issue should not be discussed any more as it could vitiate the atmosphere.” The Government that allowed Ranveer Sena chief, the ‘Butcher of Bathani Tola’, to go free because it did not oppose his bail plea and did not file any FIR against him in the massacre cases; the Government that disbanded the Justice Amir Das Commission which was set up to enquire into the political patrons of the Ranveer Sena, can hardly be expected to pursue justice for the Bathani Tola victims.
Kavita Krishnan is National Secretary, All India Progressive Women’s Association, AIPWA; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stand By Bathani Tola In the Battle For A New and Just Bihar
By Dipankar Bhattacharya
23 April, 2012
Nearly 16 years ago Bathani Tola had shocked and shamed the nation as yet another site of a gory massacre in Bihar. An obscure sleepy hamlet in Sahar block of Bhojpur district in Bihar, Bathani Tola experienced a brutal feudal assault on a fateful July afternoon in 1996. As many as 21 lives, including 11 women, seven children and two infants were killed with a kind of barbarity that was to be seen on a much bigger scale six years later in Gujarat. Bathani Tola was indeed a precursor to the 2002 Gujarat genocide. With Bathani Tola, the country woke up to the sordid reality of the Ranveer Sena, an upper caste feudal private army massacring the oppressed rural poor with the avowed aim of exterminating the CPI(ML) and the radical peasant movement.
Sixteen years later, Bathani Tola is back in the news. The oppressed poor of this obscure village, who have been waiting for justice for years together, have experienced yet another massacre. This time round, it is a judicial massacre perpetrated by the High Court of Bihar which has overturned the verdict of the lower court and acquitted one and all who were convicted for their heinous role in executing this barbaric massacre.While acquitting the guilty, the High Court has apologised to some of the accused even as it has termed the witnesses liars spinning tales. Nothing could perhaps demonstrate the farcical nature of the judicial system than the failure or refusal of the system to mete out any punishment to anybody for a massacre of 21 persons that had taken place not in the darkness of night but in broad daylight.
When Bathani Tola happened Bihar was being ruled by Laloo Prasad with the slogan of social justice. The government banned the Ranveer Sena but the ban was never enforced and the Sena went on massacring people at will. Laxmanpur Bathe, Shankarbigha, Narayanpur, Miyanpur – the list of massacres got longer even as Laloo Prasad himself told his audience in a public meeting that he was ready to team up with the devil to finish the CPI(ML) off. On one level Laloo Prasad waxed eloquent against the BJP, but in Bihar his own government continued to connive with the most reactionary organ of feudal-communal violence. Sixteen years later Bihar today is ruled by Nitish Kumar with the backing of an increasingly aggressive BJP. The slogan of social justice has given way to the rhetoric of development with justice. But for the predominantly dalit, and as in the case of Bathani Tola also Muslim, victims of feudal violence, justice clearly remains as elusive as ever.
What has happened to the Bathani Tola victims is no judicial accident. This has rather been the norm in Bihar and if this exposes for the umpteenth time the caste-class bias of the judiciary we must remember this bias is reinforced by the government of the day. This was true of Congress-ruled Bihar when upper caste politicians used to dominate in the government, and it has remained true all through the last two decades when Laloo Prasad and Nitish Kumar have been in the helm with slogans of social justice or good governance. We must remember that the first thing that Nitish Kumar did on assuming power was to abandon the Amir Das Commission set up in the wake of the Laxmanpur Bathe massacre to probe the political links of the Ranveer Sena. His government also made sure that Brahmeshwar Singh, the infamous supremo of the Ranveer Sena, came out on bail to vitiate the trial of various massacres cases. And Sunil Pandey, another notorious lynchpin of the Sena had already been acquitted and today he is the JD(U) MLA from the post-delimitation Tarari constituency that Bathani Tola comes under.
The abandoning of the Amir Das commission and the subsequent dumping of the Land Reform Commission reports have been two key steps of the Nitish Kumar dispensation that clearly reveal the pro-feudal character of the regime. The verdict delivered by the High Court is just a natural consequence. Equally ‘natural’ in Nitish Kumar’s Bihar is the conviction of people challenging the feudal order. Rupam Pathak, a teacher who had been fed up with being subjected to continuous sexual harassment by a BJP MLA has been issued life sentence and Bodhan Sada and his comrades, who had been fighting for the land rights and dignity of the landless rural poor of the Musahar community, christened Mahadalit by the Nitish government to win the community’s votes, have been handed out death sentences.
Even as Bathani Tola grapples with this judicial massacre, ruling class politicians continue to play their political cards. Union Home Minister P Chidambaram wonders why nobody is speaking out in favour of the Bathani Tola victims, Bihar government says it would now approach the Supreme Court for justice! While challenging the feudal bias on every front and level, the battle for justice for the Bathani Tola victims will have to rebuff this pretentious politics of crocodile tears. The renewed massacre and shame of Bathani Tola has revealed like nothing else what continues to ail and retard Bihar. For everybody aspiring for a better future for Bihar in the centenary of its administrative birth, the message is loud and clear. Bihar can only move forward by effecting a decisive rupture with the still well entrenched feudal forces and mindset, and the continuing politics of appeasement of and alliance with feudal forces is the biggest betrayal to the cause of both justice and development for Bihar. Let us stand by Bathani Tola in this battle for a new and just Bihar
Dipankar Bhattacharya is the General Secretary of the CPI(ML)
Monday, 23 April 2012
ഇടതു മുന്നണി സര്ക്കാരിന്റെ അടിച്ചമര്ത്തല് നയത്തെയും ഭൂമി പിടിച്ചെടുക്കല് നയത്തെയും തിരുത്തിക്കുറിക്കുന്ന 'പരിബോര്തന്' എന്ന മുദ്രാവാക്യത്തോടെയാണ് തൃണമൂല് കോണ് ഗ്രെസ്സിന്റെ പുതിയ ഗവര്ന്മെന്റ് പശ്ചിമ ബംഗാളില് അധികാരത്തില് വന്നത്. എന്നാല് മാറ്റത്തെക്കുറിച്ചുള്ള വാഗ്ദാനങ്ങളുടെ പൊള്ളത്തരം മറനീക്കി പുറത്ത് വന്നപ്പോള് ഇന്ന് ബംഗാളിലെ സമസ്ത ജന വിഭാഗങ്ങളും ജനാധിപത്യാവകാശങ്ങളുടെമെലെയുള്ള ഫാസിസ്റ്റു കയ്യേറ്റം അനുഭവിച്ചരിയുകയാണ്.
കര്ഷകരെ അവരുടെ ഭൂമിയില്നിന്നും നിര്ദയമായി ഒഴിപ്പിക്കുന്നതിനെതിരെയാണ് സിന്ഗുരിലും നന്ദിഗ്രാമിലും വ്യാപകമായി ജനരോഷം ഉണ്ടായതും അതിനെ മുതലെടുത്തുകൊണ്ട് മമതാ ബാനര്ജി യുടെ തൃണമൂല് കോണ്ഗ്രസ് 'മാതാവ്- ഭൂമി -മനുഷ്യത്വം' എന്ന മുദ്രാവാക്യത്തിന്റെ സഹായത്തോടെ അധികാരത്തില് ഏറിയതും. അടുത്തകാലത്ത് ബംഗാളില് അരങ്ങേറിയ സംഭവ വികാസങ്ങള് പ്രസ്തുത മുദ്രാവാക്യത്തിന്റെ അന്തസ്സത്തയെത്തന്നെ അവഹേളിക്കുന്നവ ആയിരുന്നു. കൊല്ക്കത്തയിലെ നൊനാദംഗയില് ചേരിനിവാസികളെ ഒഴിപ്പിക്കാന് മമതയുടെ സര്ക്കാര് നടത്തിയ പോലിസ് ബലപ്രയോഗത്തില് ഒരു ഗര്ഭിണിയും പിഞ്ചു കുഞ്ഞും ഉള്പ്പെടെ നിരവധിയാളുകള്ക്ക് സാരമായ പരിക്കുകള് പറ്റി. ഐല ചുഴലിക്കാറ്റില് പാര്പ്പിടങ്ങള് നഷ്ടപ്പെട്ടവരെ പുനരധിവസിപ്പിച്ച ഒരു സ്ഥലത്തുനിന്ന് സര്ക്കാര് ബലപ്രയോഗത്തിലൂടെ വീണ്ടും അവരെ ആട്ടിപ്പായിക്കാന് ശ്രമം നടന്നപ്പോള് ആണ് ചേരി നിവാസികള് ചെറുത്തുനിന്നത്. ഇതില് 68 പ്രക്ഷോഭകരെ അറസ്റ്റു ചെയ്തതും ഏഴു പേര്ക്കെതിരെ കേസ് ചാര്ജ്ജു ചെയ്തതും പോരാതെ അവരില് ചിലര്ക്കെതിരെ നന്ദിഗ്രാം പ്രക്ഷോഭവുമായി ബന്ധപ്പെട്ട കേസ് കള് പുനരുജ്ജീവിപ്പിക്കുന്ന ലജ്ജാകരമായ നടപടി കൂടി തൃണമൂല് സര്ക്കാരിന്റെ ഭാഗത്തുനിന്നു ഉണ്ടായി! ത്രിണമൂലിനെ സംബന്ധിച്ചിടത്തോളം സിന്ഗുരും നന്ദിഗ്രാമും അധികാരത്തിലേക്കുള്ള കുറുക്കു വഴി മാത്രം ആയിരുന്നുവെന്നാണ് ഇത് തെളിയിക്കുന്നത് . .
മറ്റൊരു സംഭവത്തില് ടെ എം സി യുടെ നേതൃത്വത്തിലുള്ള ഒരു ഓട്ടോ യൂണിയന് തൊഴിലാളി പ്രകടനത്തെ തൃണമൂല് ഗുണ്ടകള് ആക്രമിച്ചു . നൊനാദംഗ ചേരി നിവാസികള്ക്കെതിരായ കുടി ഒഴിപ്പിക്കലിനും പോലിസ് ബലപ്രയോഗത്ത്തിനും എതിരായി പൊതുജനങ്ങള് നടത്തിയ ഒരു പ്രതിഷേധ ജാഥക്കെതിരെയും തൃണമൂല് ഗുണ്ടകള് ഇത് പോലെ ആക്രമണം അഴിച്ചു വിട്ടു .
സംസ്ഥാനത്ത് അടുത്തയിടെ സ്ത്രീകള്ക്കെതിരെ നിരവധി ആക്രമണങ്ങള് ഉണ്ടായി . ബലാത്സംഗങ്ങള് സംബന്ധിച്ച ഏതാനും റിപ്പോര്ട്ടുകള് കള്ളമാണെന്നും അവ തന്റെ സര്ക്കാരിനെ താറടിച്ചുകാണിക്കാന് വേണ്ടി കെട്ടിച്ചമച്ചവ ആണെന്നും മുഖ്യ മന്ത്രി സ്ഥാനത്തിരുന്ന് ഒരു മടിയും കൂടാതെ പ്രസ്താവന നടത്തുകയാണ് മമതാ ബാനര്ജി.
24 പര്ഗാനാ ജില്ലയില് നടന്ന മറ്റൊരു സംഭവത്തില്, ഒരു ശാസ്ത്രജ്ഞനേയും മകളെയും ഗുണ്ടകള് കഠിനമായി ദേഹോപദ്രവം ഏല്പ്പിക്കുകയും മകളെ വിവസ്ത്രയാക്കുകയും ചെയ്തു. സേവനത്തില് നിന്ന് വിരമിച്ചശേഷം ഒരു ഫ്ലാറ്റില് വാടകയ്ക്ക് താമസിച്ചുവരികയായിരുന്ന ഈ കുടുംബത്തെ ഒഴിപ്പിക്കാന് വേണ്ടി ആസൂത്രണം ചെയ്ത പ്രസ്തുത ആക്രമണത്തില് പങ്കെടുത്തവര് ഫ്ലാറ്റിന്റെ ഉടമയും സമീപത്തുള്ള ഒരു 'ക്ലബ്ബിലെ 'അംഗങ്ങളും ഉണ്ടായിരുന്നു . ത്രിണമൂലിന്റെയും സി പി ഐ (എം) ന്റെയും അനുഭാവികള് കൂട്ടത്തില് ഉണ്ടായിരുന്നുവെന്ന് റിപ്പോര്ട്ട് കളില് കാണുന്നു .
പശ്ചിമ ബംഗാള് സര്ക്കാരിന്റെ ഭാഗത്തുനിന്ന് ജനങ്ങള് നേരിടുന്ന അതിക്രമങ്ങള് പലതും കേട്ടുകേള്വി പോലും ഇല്ലാത്തത്രയും വിചിത്ര സ്വഭാവമുള്ളവയാണ്. ജാദവ് പൂര് സര്വ്വകലാശാലയിലെ ഒരു പ്രൊഫസര്,
തൃണമൂല് ഗുണ്ടകളാല് കയ്യേറ്റം ചെയ്യപ്പെട്ടശേഷം, പാതി രാത്രിക്ക് പോലിസ് അറസ്റ്റു ചെയ്തതത് അദ്ദേഹത്തെയായിരുന്നു! മുഖ്യ മന്ത്രിയെ ചിത്രീകരിക്കുന്ന ഹാസ്യ ഭാവനയിലുള്ള ഒരു കാര്ടൂണ് രചിച്ചതിന് ആയിരുന്നു അത്. അതിനും മുന്പ് പ്രചാരത്തില് മുന്നിരയിലുള്ള ചില പത്രങ്ങള്ക്ക് പബ്ലിക് ലൈബ്രറികളില് വിലക്ക് ഏര്പ്പെടുത്തി. ടീ എം സി മന്ത്രി യുടെ ഒരു ഉല്ബോധനത്തില്, "സി പി ഐ (എം) പ്രവര്ത്തകരുമായി "വിവാഹ ബന്ധങ്ങള് പാടില്ലെന്ന് പറഞ്ഞു. സോഷ്യല് നെറ്റ്വര്ക്ക് കളില് മുഖ്യമന്ത്രിയെ അപകീര്ത്തിപ്പെടുത്തുന്ന തരം കാര്ട്ടൂണുകള് പ്രചരിക്കുന്നുണ്ട് എന്ന് പരിശോധിച്ച് അവയെ നീക്കം ചെയ്യിപ്പിക്കാനുള്ള തീവ്ര പരിശ്രമത്തില് ആണ് സംസ്ഥാനത്തിലെ സി ഐ ഡി മാര്. "സൈബര് ക്രൈം" കള് ക്കെതിരെ നടപടിയെടുക്കണമെന്ന് ഇയ്യിടെ കേന്ദ്രത്തോട് ഒരു ആവശ്യം ഉന്നയിച്ചപ്പോള്, തന്നെ വിമര്ശിക്കുന്ന കാര്ട്ടൂണ് കളും കമെന്റുകളും ഇന്റര്നെറ്റ് ഇല് പ്രചരിക്കുന്നതു തടയണം എന്നാവും മമതാ ബാനര്ജി ഉദ്ദേശിച്ചത്.
ഇപ്പോള് പശ്ചിമ ബംഗാള് സര്ക്കാര് 'സി പി ഐ (എം) പ്രവര്ത്തകര് ', 'മാവോയിസ്റ്റ്' എന്നീ വാക്കുകള് ഒരു ചുരുക്കെഴുത്ത് പോലെയാണ് ഉപയോഗിക്കുന്നത് . സര്ക്കാരിനെ വിമര്ശിക്കുന്ന ആരും അതില് പെടും ഇടതു പക്ഷ സ്വഭാവമുള്ള രാഷ്ട്രീയമോ സാമൂഹ്യമോ ആയ ഏത് ഇടപെടലിനെയും ഈ ചുരുക്കെഴുത്ത് പ്രതിനിധാനം ചെയ്യുന്നു എന്ന രീതിയില് ആക്കിത്തീര്ക്കുകയാണ് സര്ക്കാര്. കാര്ടൂണുകള് മുതല് ബലാത്സംഗങ്ങളും ആശുപത്രികളില് നടക്കുന്ന ശിശു മരണങ്ങള് വരെ 'സി പി ഐ (എം) ഗൂഡാലോചന'എന്ന രീതിയില് ചിത്രീകരിക്കുന്ന അപഹാസ്യമായ നിലപാട് ആണ് ഇന്ന് ബംഗാള് സര്ക്കാരിന്റെത്. ജനകീയ പ്രതിഷേധങ്ങളും പ്രക്ഷോഭങ്ങളും അടിച്ചമര്ത്താനുള്ള ഒഴിവ് കഴിവായി അവയെ 'മാവോയിസ്ട് ' എന്ന് മുദ്രകുത്തുന്ന അടവ് മറ്റൊരു ഭാഗത്ത് സര്ക്കാര് പ്രയോഗിക്കുന്നു. ജനാധിപത്യ പരമായ വിയോജിപ്പിന്റെ നേരിയ ശബ്ദങ്ങളെയടക്കം ഭരണകൂട ബലപ്രയോഗത്തിലൂടെയും ഭീഷണികളിലൂടെയും അടിച്ചമര്ത്താന് ശ്രമിക്കുന്ന ഒരു കമ്മ്യൂണിസ്റ്റു വിരുദ്ധ വേട്ടയാണ് ഇന്ന് ബംഗാളില് നടന്നുവരുന്നത്.
സി പി ഐ (എം) നേതൃത്വത്തിലുള്ള ഇടതു മുന്നണി ഭരണത്തിന്റെ അന്ത്യ ഘട്ടത്തില് ഉണ്ടായിരുന്നത് പോലെ ദരിദ്ര ജനതയെ അവരുടെ ഭൂമിയില് നിന്നും ചേരികളില് നിന്നും കുടിയൊഴിപ്പിക്കാനുള്ള സാധ്യതയും പ്രതിഷേധിക്കുന്നവര്ക്കെതിരെ ഭരണ പക്ഷ പാര്ട്ടി കേഡര്മാരുടെയും പോലീസിന്റെയും നേതൃത്വത്തില് സംഘടിതമായ ആക്രമണങ്ങളും ബംഗാളില് ഇന്നും തുടരുന്നു വെന്ന് മാത്രമല്ലാ, ഇന്ന് അത് പ്രകടമായ ഫാസ്സിസ്ട് സ്വഭാവം കൈവരിക്കുക കൂടി ചെയ്തിരിക്കുന്നു. മുഖ്യ മന്ത്രിയെക്കുറിച്ച് തമ്മാശ പറഞ്ഞു ചിരിച്ചാല് ചിലപ്പോള് ഒരാള്ക്ക് ജയില് വാസം ലഭിച്ചേക്കും. കോഫീ ഹൌസുകളില് നടക്കുന്ന ചര്ച്ചകള് പോലും പോലീസ് നിരീക്ഷണത്തില് ആവുന്നതും, ജനങ്ങള് ഏത് പത്രങ്ങള് വായിക്കണം എന്നതുവരെ സര്ക്കാര് തീരുമാനിക്കുന്നിടത്തും വരെ കാര്യങ്ങള് എത്തിയിരിക്കുന്നു.
എന്നാല്, പ്രതീക്ഷകള്ക്ക് പുതിയ ജീവന് നല്കിക്കൊണ്ട് ബംഗാളില് ജനാധിപത്യാവകാശങ്ങള്ക്ക് നേരെയുള്ള ഭരണകൂട ആക്രമണങ്ങള്ക്കെതിരെ പ്രതിഷേധങ്ങള് കൂടുതല് ശക്തമായിക്കൊണ്ടിരിക്കുകയാണ് . ഭീഷണികളെയും സര്ക്കാര് ബലപ്രയോഗങ്ങളെയും ആത്യന്തികമായി അതിജീവിക്കാന് ബംഗാള് ജനതയ്ക്ക് കഴിയും എന്ന് തന്നെയാണ് അത് സൂചിപ്പിക്കുന്നത് .
Friday, 20 April 2012
From Nandigram to Nonadanga:
The Change That Never Happened
The TMC regime came to power in West Bengal with a promise of 'Poriborton' (change) from the policies of state repression and eviction of the poor pursued by the erstwhile CPIM-LF Government. But the promise of change is unraveling fast, and all sections of the people in West Bengal are witnessing all-out fascist assaults on democratic rights.
Land grab and brutal eviction of peasants at Singur and Nandigram had unleashed widespread resentment and protest, resulting in the unseating of CPIM's Government and helping Mamata Banerjee's TMC win power with her slogan of 'Ma-Mati-Manush' (Mother-Land-Humanity). Recent developments in TMC-ruled W Bengal, however, appear a cruel mockery of that slogan. Slum-dwellers at Kolkata's Nonadanga (mostly refugees rendered homeless by the Aila hurricane) were forcibly evicted by the State Government, and when they protested, a ruthless lathicharge followed, injuring many including a pregnant woman and an infant. When concerned citizens protested against the eviction and the police repression, 68 protestors were arrested. Seven of the protestors were jailed, and shamelessly, the TMC regime has re-opened cases against some of them, relating to the protests against land grab at Nandigram! For Mamata Banerjee, it seems, the show of sympathy for the protests at Singur and Nandigram was only a ploy to secure power.
In yet another incident, a protest organized by the auto-drivers' union (incidentally one that was supportive of the TMC) was subjected to an assault by TMC goons. TMC goons also beat up people marching in a procession organized by a civil liberties' group against the Nonadanga eviction.
A spate of rapes in the State was blatantly denied by the Chief Minister, who accused the complainants of lying to malign her Government. In a recent incident in South 24 Parganas, a retired scientist and his daughter were beaten up and the latter stripped naked: reportedly by their landlord and members of a local 'club', to pressurize them to vacate their rented flat. Significantly, the assailants reportedly included both TMC and CPM supporters.
The West Bengal Government's offensives are ominous – with a touch of the ludicrous and farcical. A Jadavpur University professor was beaten up by TMC goons and arrested past midnight – for the 'crime' of circulating a light-hearted and witty cartoon lampooning the Chief Minister. Earlier, the Chief Minister banned a range of leading newspapers from public libraries. A TMC Minister has asked people not to marry 'CPIM workers.' The State's CID is policing social networking sites, seeking to remove any cartoons that are 'derogatory' to the Chief Minister. Mamata Banerjee has asked the Centre for measures against 'cyber crimes': apparently referring to cartoons and comments critical of her on the internet!
It must be noted that in Mamata-ruled West Bengal 'CPIM worker' and 'Maoist' are shorthand for any form of dissent or criticism of the Government, and for every form of Left activism. Everything from cartoons to rapes to deaths of babies in hospitals are blamed on 'CPIM conspiracy', while all forms of agitations and protests are branded as 'Maoist,' as a pretext for cracking down on them. What West Bengal is witnessing today is a virtual anti-communist witch-hunt, with every shade of democratic dissent being intimidated, gagged, and punished.
In TMC-ruled West Bengal, as in CPIM-ruled West Bengal, you can expect eviction from your land and slums if you are poor, and you can expect attacks by police and cadres, as well as jail if you protest such eviction. But there is an added fascist dimension in today's Bengal: your gatherings at Coffee House will be policed, the Government will decide what you are allowed to read, and laughing at the Chief Minister can land you in jail.
But the ray of hope in West Bengal lies in the sustained protests against the assaults on democracy – protests that continue undeterred by the Government's campaign of crackdown and intimidation.
Condemnation and Protests Against Acquittal of All Bathani Tola Accused
Terming the Bihar HC verdict acquitting all 23 perpetrators of the Bathani Tola massacre to be the result of a conspiracy against the poor, the CPI(ML) pointed to complicity of the Nitish-led BJP-JD(U) Government in protecting the perpetrators of feudal atrocities.
On 11 July 1996, the feudal private army, the Ranveer Sena, conducted a gruesome massacre at the hamlet of Bathani Tola, hacking to death 21 landless poor people, mostly from the Dalit and other oppressed castes and the minority community. Children and pregnant women were especially targeted in manner which can be said to have provided a template for the Sangh Parivar's genocide against Muslims at Gujarat in 2002. Then President KR Narayanan had termed the massacre to be a national shame. After Bathani Tola, the Ranveer Sena perpetrated similar massacres at Laxmanpur Bathe and Miyanpur.
A lower court in 2010 had convicted 23 persons for the massacre, passing a death sentence on three and sentencing the rest to life imprisonment. The recent Bihar HC verdict has shockingly acquitted all 23.
The HC order observed that "The investigation was not fair in respect of the persons who perpetrated the ghastly crime ... Apparently investigation has directed in a particular direction far from the truth and not above suspicion." Therefore it is clear that the state machinery and police in Nitish-ruled Bihar is doing all it can to weaken the case and protect the guilty. Not long ago, Ranveer Sena chief Brahmeshwar Singh, notorious as the Butcher of Bathani Tola, went free after the Government failed to oppose his bail plea! Earlier, the RJD Government which had been in power at the time of the massacres, had also done its utmost to protect Brahmeshwar and others of the Ranveer Sena. The Nitish Government, as soon as it came to power, disbanded the Amir Das Commission, which had been about to name several political leaders including many from the BJP-JD(U), as patrons of the Ranveer Sena. In Nitish's Bihar, mahadalits are sentenced to death for the Amausi massacre while perpetrators of feudal atrocities against dalits and the rural poor go scot free.
The CPI(ML) has demanded that in view of the glaring complicity of the Bihar Government with the perpetrators of feudal massacres, the Supreme Court should take cognizance of all cases relating to such massacres at Bathani Tola, Bathe and Miyanpur, and pass an appropriate order to ensure that justice is not subverted.
Condemning the verdict which exposed the hollowness of Nitish's promises of 'Justice Along With Development,' CPI(ML) held protests all over Bihar, at the capital Patna and at Bhojpur, Jehanabad, Arwal, Sasaram, Bihar Sharif, Siwan, Gopalganj, Champaran, Gaya, Navada, Muzaffarpur and other districts. In Patna the protest march was led by Politburo member Ramji Rai, CC Members KD Yadav and Saroj Chaubey, AISA State Secretary Abhyuday, SCMs Naveen Kumar, Anita Sinha, and RYA National President Kamlesh Sharma.
The Call of April 22, 2012:
Intensify the Battle against Corruption and Corporate Offensive!
Launch all-out Preparations for the Party's 9thCongress!
Recent times have seen a great worldwide upswing in popular struggles and India is surely no exception. The country continues to pulsate with powerful struggles against mega corruption, land acquisition, mining loot,and arrogant, autocratic governance. The scam-ridden UPA governmenthas been pushed back on several occasions. Be it the issue of FDI in retail, fare hike in the railways or the move to give sweeping powers to the Intelligence Bureau in the name of countering terrorism, the government has had to either withhold or roll back its decisions. The situation calls upon us to deliver more powerful blows to the powers that be to press for substantive policy changes and push back the growing corporate assault on the Indian economy and polity.
Meanwhile, the list of scams continues to get longer with explosive revelations emerging from within the top layers of the system. A leading newspaper has published a draft CAG report exposing the process of allotment of coal blocks to private companies causing an estimated loss of about Rs. 11 lakh crore to the national exchequer, more than six times the magnitude of the 2G scam that came to light in 2010. This has once again brought to the fore the need to establish public control over our precious national resources.
In a series of stunning statements, none else than the Army chief himself has raised his voice against massive corruption and irregularities in defence purchases. This year's budget has provided a huge sum to the tune of nearly Rs. 2 lakh crore for defence expenditure. Defence outlay constitutes the single biggest item of budgetary allocation in every successive budget. Clearly the huge expenditure which is always sought to be justified in the name of national security has become a source of limitless loot by a corrupt nexus of arms dealers, army top brass, top bureaucrats and ruling politicians. Enforcing strict monitoring and absolute accountability of defence expenditure is the need of the hour and this must go hand in hand with reduction in arms imports and greater emphasis on improved indigenous defence production.
A third shocking example of political corruption has come once again from Jharkhand where in an unprecedented move Election Commission had to cancel the RajyaSabha elections and the High Court had to order a CBI probe into the horse-trading of MLAs cutting across political divides. As ever, the lone CPI(ML) MLA in the Jharkhand Assembly has been the most honourable and consistent exception and bold voice of protest to this murky politics.
The Constitution of India envisioned the RajyaSabha as a Council of States, a federal complement to the LokSabha or the House of the People. The federal nature of the RajyaSabha was first undermined by parties like the Congress using the RajyaSabha for backdoor entry of leaders from states on the basis of false residential claims. Thus Manmohan Singh entered the RajyaSabha from Assam just as Pranab Mukherjee once came from Gujarat. With the legalisation of this system, the RajyaSabha has now become an easy destination for corporate moneybags. The RS poll scandal makes it crystal clear why the MPs and MLAs must be brought within the purview of the proposed Lokpal/Lokayukta Act and why the original character of the RajyaSabha must be restored to stop corporate representatives from subverting the federal principle and trespassing into the RajyaSabha.
To carry forward the battle against corruption we must rebuff this growing corporate assault and this is where the communist movement must take the lead and show the way to all patriotic and democratic forces in the country. On the 43rd anniversary of Party foundation let us dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly to this challenging task.
The results of the recent Assembly elections in five states have clearly shown that the people are getting increasingly fed up with the two main parties of the ruling classes. Popular disenchantment can also be seen to be growing in states where governments had come to power in the last elections with massive majorities. West Bengal and Bihar are two significant cases in point. In states like Gujarat and Karnataka where notorious BJP governments have been in power for years together, there are now unmistakable signs of decline and even an element of disintegration in the BJP camp.
The situation seems favourable for the rise of non-Congress non-BJP forces and the UPA and the NDA are both feeling the heat. But there are little signs of any third front yet, and without a powerful resurgence of the Left movement there can be no third front that can pose any major challenge to the two-decade-old neoliberal policy regime that has been playing havoc with the resources of the country and livelihoods of the working people.
In the first four months of 2012 we have successfully concluded Party conferences in four major states. Within a year from now we will hold our Ninth Congress. The coming months will require us to work hard on every front so we can expand our organisation and unleash powerful initiatives in terms of mass and class struggle and ideological-political intervention. The entire Left camp is passing through an intense churning and a successful Ninth Congress will take us ahead towards our cherished goal of bringing about a powerful resurgence of the revolutionary Left. Let us pool all our strength and make our best possible efforts to fulfil the tasks ahead.
Communist Party of India
9th CPI(ML) Bihar Conference Concludes at Darbhanga
We have, in the last issue of ML Update, reported on the first two days of the 9th Bihar State Conference of the party. In continuation, we report on the concluding session of the Conference.
On 11 April, the third day of the CPI(ML)'s Bihar State Conference began with an address by Politburo member Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya who drew the attention of the delegates to the changing land and agrarian relations in Bihar and the need to intensify land struggles and organize the share-croppers and tenants as a core force of the peasant movement. Following this, the central observer, CC Member Comrade Sudhakar, presided over the election of the new State Committee. The conference elected a 53 member State Committee and the newly elected State Committee then elected a 21-member Standing Committee, and Comrade Kunal was elected as the new State Secretary.
In his address, Comrade Kunal emphasized the need to respond to changing conditions and organize struggles of the new generation of workers in urban and rural areas. The central observer Comrade Sudhakar expressed the confidence that the party in Bihar would rise up to the occasion and meet the challenges and possibilities posed by the political situation in the state.
Addressing the concluding session, party General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya observed that the past year was one of serious challenges for the party. Veteran leader Comrade Ram Naresh Ram passed away. Results of Assembly and panchayat polls were disappointing. Recently, our young comrade BhaiyyaramYadav was assassinated. He congratulated the outgoing state committee and its leadership for successfully steering the Party in the face of these challenges.
He said that in spite of disappointments, we should not stop dreaming big: the focus of our discussion should be whether we are making appropriate plans and putting in our best efforts and making effective use of all the resources at our command.
Pointing to the growing disillusionment with the Nitish regime, Comrade Dipankar called upon the conference to meet people's aspirations for an effective Left opposition and take all-round initiatives.
Comrade Dipankar called upon the delegates to stay ideologically alert and politically agile without unnecessarily stretching and elevating small differences arising in the course of practical work to some presumed ideological-political plane. He reminded the conference of the 8th Congress emphasis on the integral nature of our tasks where political, ideological and organizational aspects merge into a single whole. Instead of treating the Party as a sum total of different mass fronts and remaining preoccupied with Party's relations with mass organisations, he stressed the need for everybody to focus more on expanding and developing our mass organisations within the masses of concerned classes and social strata and building Party within the advanced elements produced by this mass practice.
He emphasized that we need to pursue both expansion and consolidation: only by expanding to new areas and among new sections of people can we consolidate existing areas of work. Feudal domination in society continues, but the leaders, slogans, and forms of such domination change. While keeping our basic anti-feudal orientation, we must take all the new initiatives and new issues and forms necessary to contend with the changing situation. He ended by expressing confidence that the new committee would take on the task of taking the party and movement to new heights.
The Conference ended with a rousing rendition of the Internationale. Around 150 volunteers had worked day and night to make the Conference a grand success.
Protests Against Life Sentence for Rupam Pathak
The All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) held protests all over the country 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 on 11 April, 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?" Addressing the demonstration, Uma Gupta, National Executive Member of AIPWA conducted the protest meeting. Addressing the meeting, Kavita Krishnan, National Secretary of AIPWA said that since Rupam's accusations against Kesri and Rai have not been investigated, Kesri will be hailed as a martyr, Rai will continue his political career without a stain on his character, while Rupam, branded a murderer, will languish in jail all her life. Actually the severe life sentence to Rupam is a life sentence for a woman's voice demanding justice against rape and sexual harassment and taking on the ruling political establishment to which the rapists belong.
Others who addressed the protest meeting included Sucheta De, JNUSU President, CPI(ML)'s candidates in the Delhi MCD polls – Shakuntala Devi from Ashok Vihar (Wazirpur), and Rasheeda Begum from Narela, and AIPWA activist Renu. Sheela, the CPI(ML) candidate from Kondli, AISA activists Rajrani, Anubhuti, Sunny, Farhan, and others too participated in the demonstration.
On the same day, AIPWA held a protest march in Ranchi culminating at Albert Ekka Chowk, where a protest meeting was addressed by AIPWA State President Guni Oraon, AIPWA Ranchi Secretary Sarojini Bisht, and other participants included Shanti Sen, Lalo Devi, Shanti Kacchap, Neela Devi, Chando, Singi Khalko, Mamta and other AIPWA activists.
On 12 April, AIPWA held a protest march from BHU gate to Ravidas Gate in Banaras, culminating in a protest meeting addressed by AIPWA National Executive member Kusum Verma.
On 14 April, AIPWA held an impressive 'Chakka Jam' all over Bihar in protest against the verdict. All over the state, women blockaded roads, highways, and rail routes, demanding justice for Rupam Pathak.
Campaign in Jharkhand Against Corruption in the RS Polls
On 16th April, the CPI(ML) in Ranchi flagged off a statewide campaign (16 April-3 May) callinf for popular vigilance to monitor the rampant corruption and horse-trading in the Rajya Sabha polls. The RS polls, which had to be cancelled in view of evidence of corruption, is being held again in the State.
The campaign, pointing out that MLAs were found engaging in rampant horse-trading and corruption, will again demand that all MLAs and MPs need to be brought under the ambit of the Lokpal Bill. Reminding that the Rajya Sabha had been envisaged as the Council of States, the campaign will point out that Manmohan Singh and Pranab Mukherjee began the trend of undermining this spirit of state-specific representation. The campaign will demand a return to the constitutional spirit of state-specific representation, demanding that activists and individuals connected to the Jharkhand movement and other democratic concerns in the State must be candidates for election to the Rajya Sabha. The JVM led by Babulal Marandi has been posing as the champion of the protests against corruption in RS polls. But the campaign is pointing out that the JVM has no right to speak on this issue, since it is yet to initiate any action against its own MLAs from Rajdhanwar and Jamua, who were implicated in the scandal!
These issues were raised at a Citizens' March called by the CPI(ML) in Ranchi on 16 April, where a large procession marched from Sainik Bazaar to Albert Ekka Chowk and held a public meeting there. Participants in the march and public meeting included Prof. B P Kesri, activists Dayamani Barla, Faisal Anurag, and Gladson Dungdung, and journalist Srinivasan, and CPI(ML) leaders including State Secretary Janardan Prasad, Bagodar MLA Vinod Singh and CC Member Bahadur Oraon. The public meeting was presided by Comrade Anil Anshuman, and Comrade Sunil Minz thanked the participants.
Till 3 May, the campaign will continue in various forms in districts all over the State.
Workers Movement in Bhind, MP
Since 5 April, the AICCTU-affiliated Hamaal Palledaar Mazdoor Union' (load bearers' union) at the agricultural market at the district headquarters at Bhind, Madhya Pradesh, had been striking for their demands – including increase in wages for loading sacks onto trucks. The strike had been notified on 5 March and on 31 March, the administration was again reminded that the strike would take place if the demands were not met by 4 April. The workers went on strike when the demands were ignored.
During the strike, workers held sit-ins, demonstrations and processions. The administration kept favouring the traders, but the workers remained united. By 12 April, the situation became tense, when traders beat up the striking workers, and police, instigated by the traders, arrested several including CPI(ML)'s Bhind Secretary Comrade Suraj Rekha Tripathi, as well as 11 workers including AICCTU National Council member Vinod Suman and leading activist Comrade Prabhudayal. In protest against the arrest, workers gheraoed the police station, and held processions in main parts of the city. By evening the administration released Comrade Suraj but the other 11 were jailed.
The movement continued, and CPI(ML) leader Comrade Devendra Singh Chauhan convened an all-party meeting of non-Congress non-BJP parties on 13 April. The SP and Loktantrik Samajwadi Party, CPI, CPIM and various organizations participated, and it was decided to jointly call for a Bhind Bandh. The Bandh was successful, with sit-ins and militant demonstrations by workers, and several rounds of talks with the administration took place.
On 16 April, the District Collector held talks with a joint struggle committee led by Comrade Devendra Singh Chauhan, and the 11 workers were unconditionally released, and the rate for loading sacks was increased to Rs 10 as demanded by the workers.
Wednesday, 11 April 2012
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: email@example.com, website: www.cpiml.org