A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 16, No. 18, 23 – 29 APRIL 2013
Fresh Wave Of Protests Demanding Action to Curb Rape and Ensure Accountability of the Police
What has triggered the current wave of protests is not just the heinousness of the rapes of minors, but the fact that these were crimes that prompt police action could possibly have prevented. Adding insult to injury, the police responded with corruption and criminal abuse of power that reeks of arrogance borne of a sense of impunity. In the Delhi case, the little girl was abducted by a neighbour. Had the police not delayed in filing the FIR and been serious about searching for the child, they could certainly have rescued her before she came to grievous harm. After she was found, the police tried to bribe the father into suppressing the complaint. And when people protested, a senior police officer was caught on camera repeatedly slapping a young schoolgirl protestor. In another case in Aligarh, the police refused to file an FIR in the case of a missing Dalit little girl, and later her body was found, raped and murdered. When the family protested, they were viciously assaulted by a police officer – again, caught on camera. Yet, the UP Government has failed to lodge an FIR against the Aligarh cops for delay in filing a case and for assault; similarly, FIRs are yet to be filed against the Delhi Police cops responsible for dereliction of duty or for assault. In another case in Bihta in Bihar, a 7-year old girl was raped and killed – but the police did not file an FIR for 5 days, clearly trying to protect the rapists.
The movement's demand for sacking of the Delhi Police Commissioner is entirely justified: because the Commissioner is guilty of protecting his junior officers. He claims that the suspension of the accused Delhi cops pending enquiry is 'due process' and is adequate action. When police officers break the law and commit a crime, they must not be spared: action as mandated by the law must follow just as it would in the case of a common citizen. And the law mandates that a police officer who is derelict in duty in a sexual violence case must face criminal charges that, if proved, could lead to between 6 months and 2 years in jail. Similarly, assault of an unarmed citizen by a police officer is a crime – why the delay in lodging an FIR against a crime, just because the perpetrator is a cop, that too when video evidence stands testimony to the crime?
In February this year, the Supreme Court has commented on the apathy of the Centre and State Governments towards the epidemic of missing children. Every day some 100 children go missing in India, and only a small proportion of them are recovered. The apex court had ordered that every missing child complaint must be automatically turned into an FIR, and be followed by exemplary investigation and efforts at recovery. It is clear that the Home Ministry and the various State Governments are yet to ensure that the police abide by the Supreme Court's order in this regard.
The Delhi Police CP has declared that his stepping down cannot bring down rapes. The fact is that accountability on part of the police is crucial in curbing rapes and other crimes against women. And accountability can be ensured only by a zero tolerance policy for wrongdoers in uniform. If action is not taken – both in the case of the Delhi and UP and Bihar cops – the UP and Bihar Governments and the Home Ministry are condoning criminal misconduct on part of the police, due to which cases of missing children turn into cases of rape and murder. It is clear that such cases are on the rise in all states, with BJP-NDA-ruled states like Bihar and Madhya Pradesh being no exception.
The Central Government and State Governments must immediately take steps to ensure strictest possible accountability on part of the police and other institutions, and implementation of the Justice Verma Report's comprehensive recommendations towards both preventing and punishing sexual offences.
Nitish Must Quit NDA and Apologise for Long Alliance with BJP Before Claiming to Be Anti-Communal
New Delhi April 18 2013 :
Nitish Kumar's anti-Modi posturing while remaining firmly in the NDA as a long-standing ally of the BJP reeks of hypocrisy and deception. As a Minister in the NDA Government in 2002, Nitish Kumar never uttered a word against Modi or the Gujarat genocide. He has remained among the staunchest allies of the BJP for well over a decade.
On his watch as Bihar CM, feudal-communal forces have asserted themselves with the full patronage of the police and administration. The result has been a communal atrocity at Forbesganj and attacks on Dalit students by mobs following the death of Ranveer Sena chief Brahmeshwar Singh with the approval of the police, and emergence of Darbhanga as the new centre of witch-hunt of innocent minorities in the name of investigating terror. Nitish Kumar himself gave the green signal for the feudal-communal assertion by winding up the Amir Das Commission that would have exposed the links of BJP-JDU leaders to Ranveer Sena, and backtracking on the agenda of land reform.
Nitish must stop insulting people's intelligence and democratic sensibilities by claiming that Modi is communal while BJP and leaders like Advani are secular. Nitish Kumar owes an apology to the people of Bihar and the country for his long-standing and continuing alliance with communal forces. He must quit the NDA and apologise for his opportunist support of communal forces before he can make any claim to be anti-communal.
Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary, CPI(ML)
Protests Against Rape of Minors and Cops' Criminality
In Delhi, the AISA, RYA and AIPWA played a leading role in organizing a vigil outside AIIMS hospital on the evening of 19th April for the 5-year old girl who suffered a brutal rape, and in spirited protests at the Delhi Police Headquarters at ITO on 20th April along with a range of women's and students' groups including AIDWA, Saheli, Jagori, JNU Students' Union, SFI, AISF, and DSF. On 21st April, the JNUSU and AISA called for a protest demonstration at India Gate. However, the police turned India Gate into a virtual fortress. One of the protestors described what followed: "The young men & women of Delhi proved that resolve matters more than numbers. Fifty odd protestors who were intercepted right outside the Central Secretariat Metro Station marched all the way till India Gate, overcoming the combined strength of the Delhi Police, the RAF & the BSF. And soon the crowds swelled – many joined us who had come to spend their evening at India Gate with family & friends. It all culminated at the ITO junction that echoed with songs of comradeship, freedom and equality." At the ITO junction, many student activists addressed the protestors, including Sucheta De of AISA.
On 22 April, a demonstration was held by a range of women's groups at Jantar Mantar, demanding sacking of the Police Commissioner and FIRs against the errant cops. The demonstration was conducted by Sehba Farooqui of AIDWA, and addressed by Annie Raja of NFIW, Ranjana Kumari, Kavita Krishnan of AIPWA. The protest was attended by representatives of Citizens' Collective against Sexual Assault, Nirantar, Saheli, Jagori, Purogami Mahila Sanghatan, Swastik Mahila Samiti, Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression, Stree Mukti Sanghathan, New Socialist Initiative, Pragatisheel Mahila Sanghathan, and many others. A memorandum was sent to the Home Minister and the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi.
On 21st April, AIPWA's UP unit held protests and burnt the effigy of the UP Chief Minister all over the state, in protest against the rape and murder of a dalit child followed by police brutality against protestors including aged dalit women in Aligarh. Protests were held at Lucknow, Sitapur, Kanpur, Pilibhit, Lakhimpur, Deoria, Gorakhpur, Banaras and Mirzapur, while AIPWA leaders were detained during the protests at Kanpur and Mirzapur.
On 22nd and 23rd April, AIPWA held protests all over the country at several places. On 22nd April, AIPWA, AISA and RYA held a protest march at Patna, protesting against the Bihta rape as well as the incidents in Delhi and other parts of the country.
Defying and Challenging TMC Terror in WB
On April 3, a day after Sudipto was killed, a spirited protest march was organised by AISA along with a few other progressive students' organisations. The march started from College Square and ended in Subodh Mallik square. On that same day, AFSU (Arts Faculty Students' Union of Jadavpur University) took out a protest march in Jadavpur.
On April 6, when lumpen forces unleashed by the TMC went on a terrorizing spree, ransacking offices of Left parties one after the other, the CPI(ML)'s Jatin Das Nagar branch office in Belgharia in North 24 Parganas was also attacked. Even the local Police Station cowered under political pressure and refused to register a FIR of the incident of vandalism which took place openly in public! Our comrades have since reinstated the ransacked office fully by April 12.
On April 9, student-youth demonstrators protesting Modi's visit to Kolkata were severely lathi-charged by the Police in front of Grand hotel near Esplanade, and Suvajit Maity (AISA activist) had to be hospitalized having suffered injuries. 22 protesters including Joyraj Bhattacharya (actor and noted theater activist) were detained in Lalbazar police headquarters, and only released when Modi had left the city. A spirited protest march condemning such police high-handedness was organized by AISA and other left and democratic organizations in College street. Protesters blockaded the busy College street-MG Road 4-point crossing for well above half-hour. On the same day, TMC goons brandishing firearms attacked and ransacked a street corner meeting organized by AISA-RYA-AIPWA in Siliguri in protest against Sudipto's custodial killing and Modi's visit, injuring Pulak Ganguly, a district committee member.
After the shocking vandalism and violence in Presidency University (which was presided over and supervised by the local TMC councillor, and other TMC leaders), the city witnessed several spontaneous protests by students and democracy-loving people. One such march was organised by AISA in College Street on the April 18.
Protests Demanding Justice for Gangaram Koal
On 11th April there was a commemoration meeting for Com. Gangaram Koal at Panitola with participation of 42 organisations and nearly 4000 people. Organisations like the Mottok Yuba Chhatra Parishad, All Assam Moran Students' Union, Asom Chah Janajati Jatiya Mahasabha, the Assam Tea Labour Union, the Brihattar Asamiya Juba Manch, the AASU, the AIPWA, the AICCTU, All Assam Bengalee Juba Chatra Parishad and others. On 12th April there was a Citizens' convention at the Guwahati Press Club convened by CPIML, Sadou Asom Janasangskritik Parishad and People's Forum for Democracy. Noted left intellectuals like Dr. Hiren Gohain, Paramananda Mazumder, Nalini Dhar Bhattacharjee were amongst the participants besides leaders of NEROWCC, APBEA, the UTCC, ASPWU, the Assam Juba Parishad, Assam Juba Control, the AAWU, the Ganakantha, AICCTU etc. Spontaneous movements were also organised even where the AICCTU or CPI(ML) do not have any organisation or political activities.
Convention Held in Solidarity With Arrested NOIDA Workers
AICCTU hosted a Convention on 23 April, at Gandhi Peace Foundation in Delhi, in solidarity with the workers of NOIDA who have been in jail ever since the February 20-21 All-India Strike. The Convention was addressed by leaders of many of the Central Trade Unions that had called for the Strike, and by noted intellectuals.
The Convention was conducted by AICCTU National Secretary Rajiv Dimri and presided by AICCTU Delhi President VKS Gautam.
Introducing the convention, Aslam Khan, RYA activist who has been closely involved with the workers' struggles in NOIDA said that workers in NOIDA are being punished for the remarkable success of the all-India Strike, with their democratic rights under an all-out assault by the police and administration, under pressure from the industrialists' lobby. In NOIDA, workers were picked up by police from trade union offices, homes, streets. Trade Union members all over NOIDA were targeted, while innocent workers were also picked up at random. The arrested workers have remained in jail ever since. They were denied bail in the Sessions Court, in spite of the fact that the FIRs against them are blatantly, obviously false.
Aslam Khan said, "The police claimed they had a video clipping of the violence that took place on February 20th. The counsel for the AICCTU members asked to see the video footage with the Sessions Judge, and also provided photographs of the AICCTU members to match with the faces of people in the video. We did this, knowing full well that there was no way any of these men were anywhere near the spot where the violence took place on the 20th February. However, the video was not shown to us – it was seen by the Judge in her Chambers, accompanied by the police. Subsequently, the Additional Sessions Judge passed an order denying bail. That order states that the accused causes crores of rupees of property to be destroyed in 200 factories; that they set fire to vehicles and factories; and that the police arrested the workers having recognised them in the video clipping! The bail rejection order states that "the accused have indulged in anti-people activity and have caused damage to public property." In a blatantly biased and illegal way, the bail rejection order deems the accused to be guilty even before the trial has been held – on the basis of a video clipping which would in fact go to prove the innocence of these workers!"
Comrade Shivji, AICCTU activist in NOIDA, spoke of the virtual emergency in place in NOIDA in the working class localities, and there is palpable fear in working class settlements. He said, "On 20 April, some students from Delhi and the CPI(ML)'s Delhi State Secretary went to NOIDA to campaign for a Convention to be held in Delhi on the 23rd April and for a March to the NOIDA DM's office on the 25th April. Even before they arrived, the SHO of the Sector 20 Police Station herself came with her team and sat near the AICCTU office in Sector 10 for a long time, warning workers that there would be more arrests if they distributed any leaflets or campaigned in any way!" The NOIDA SSP, when contacted, asked to know "the content of the leaflet" to be distributed. Activists asked if it has become the job of the police to enforce a gag order on any criticism of factory owners or police by workers and trade unions?
The Convention was addressed by Hind Mazdoor Sabha Secretary RA Mittal, CITU's Delhi General Secretary ML Mankotia, TUCC leader Devarajan, UTUC Secretary Abani Roy, and Swapan Mukherjee, General Secretary of AICCTU, as well as noted intellectual and activist Aditya Nigam, and Prof. Atul Sood of JNU.
The leaders of the CTUs called for united protests against the assaults on the working class in NOIDA and the Delhi-NCR region. They spoke of the rampant violations of labour laws all over the country, and the assault on the right of the workers to raise their voice or organize in unions.
Aditya Nigam said that the assault of capital was apparent not only on workers but on poor peasants and adivasis in corporate land grab, as well as other sections of society. He said there was a need for a powerful trade union movement that would break economistic boundaries and unite with other sections of society in confronting capital. Prof. Atul Sood spoke of the fact that the official statistics show that Gujarat tops Indian States in lock-outs and strikes. Yet capital flocks to Gujarat and backs Modi, not because labour unrest or labour's confrontation with capital is any less there, but because they are assured of a repressive state. He said that the line between organized and unorganized workers was being blurred rapidly, with most new jobs being highly unorganized and casualised in character. New segments of the working class – including a large number of women – are being employed in these casualised and unorganized jobs, deprived of the right to organize. This posed a new challenge for the working class movement, which must pay special attention to organizing the unorganized sector of workers.
CITU's Delhi General Secretary ML Mankotia proposed a joint convention by the CTUs in Uttar Pradesh, and joint actions in Greater NOIDA to ensure release of the workers. Swapan Mukherjee, AICCTU GS, said that the All-India Strike was especially effective in North India this time, and it was in retaliation for this that there was an all-out assault by capitalists and the UP Government and central government on the NOIDA workers. He said that the CTUs who gave the Strike call must unitedly organize a series of protests in defence of the NOIDA workers.
At the end of the Convention, Kavita Krishnan, Polit Bureau member of the CPI(ML), called for citizens of Delhi including students, teachers, and workers to join the Protest March on 25th April to the Greater NOIDA DM's office at Surajpur. Com. VKS Gautam gave a vote of thanks on behalf of AICCTU.
Struggles Mark 44th Party Foundation Day in Punjab
On the eve of Comrade Lenin's birth anniversary and Party foundation day General body meetings were organized in Mansa, Batala, Barnala and Chandigarh distts of Punjab. In Punjab a state wide strike of Brick Kiln labourers is going on for increase in wages and our unions are leading the strike in Mansa, Bathinda, Barnala, Sangrur and Gurdaspur. In Mansa, on 22nd April, goons of a brick kiln owner attacked Com. Gursewak of Mansa Distt committee member at a brick kiln in village Kot Dharmu when he went to stop owner from forcefully taking away bricks. Injured Comrade was rushed to hospital and a complaint to police was made for the same. The alleged brick kiln owner also admitted one of his goons in hospital with faked injuries and made a counter complaint. The Police in nexus with brick-kiln owner registered a FIR under IPC 323, 324 against Comrade Gursewak. Later on orders of SSP, Punjab state secretary Com. Rajwinder Rana, Com. Bhura Mann of PKU and Com Happy Mann of RYA were illegally detained and police took them to Kot Dharmu Police station under Mansa distt. As the news of arrest spread, more than 500 brick-kiln labourers and party activists gathered outside Police station and entrance was blocked for nearly 3 hours. Later SSP and 2 DSPs reached the police station. The brick-kiln owner was also called on the spot. Police bowing down to the labour demands released the leaders immediately and a meeting was fixed on 24th April for other demands of labourers. So, party foundation day was observed on 23rd April and jointly for distt. Mansa and Bathinda in Mansa party office. Call from Party's central committee was read and also discussion was done on coming Panchayat elections.
In Barnala, the general body meeting was organized on 22nd April in Tapa. Com Gurpreet Rudeke, distt secretary read out the central committee's call and also discussed the life and contribution of Com Lenin.
In Gurdaspur, the general body meeting was organized in Batala office. Com Gurmeet Bakhtpura, distt secretary read the call to party members.
In Chandigarh, the general body meeting was observed in Dhnas office. The central call was read by Com Hasmeet and discussion on spreading party base to new areas was also done. A protest march against the 'Delhi Rape' case was also held after meeting in which women and children participated in large numbers.
Jan Sanskriti Manch Against Arrest of Kabir Kala Manch Activists
On 17th April, Jan Sanskriti Manch issued a statement calling for immediate release of the cultural activists Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali of Kabir Kala Manch of Maharashtra. Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali and the Kabir Kala Manch are remarkable public performers of revolutionary music against caste, class and gender oppression, corporate land grab, and state repression. Their organization has been branded a Maoist outfit and its activists had been pushed underground for a long time. Recently, they defied the ban on their organization and performed openly, after which Sheetal and Sachin were arrested. Sudhir Suman, Joint Secretary of JSM, called for protests all over the country against this attempt to silence the revolutionary music of KKM.
On 22 April, Hirawal organized a musical protest at Gandhi Maidan against the incarceration of Kabir Kala Manch activists. Hirawal on this occasion performed Sheetal Sathe's song Bhagat Singh Tum Zinda Ho, followed by several other revolutionary songs. Hirawal will conduct a campaign from May 1-5, during which they will distribute leaflets and perform music among people, demanding that the voices of Sheetal and Sachin be freed.
JSM and AISA held a protest march in Allahabad against the arrest of Sheetal and Sachin and against rape and sexual violence, in which Janmat editor Ramji Rai, JSM General Secretary Pranay Krishna, Meena Rai, manager of Janmat, Prof. Rajendra Kumar, AISA leader Ramayan Ram participated.
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