A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 17 No. 04 22-28 JAN 2014
Reform the Police!
Make Police Accountable to Democratic Rights!
Reclaim the Republic!!
On the eve of the 65th Republic Day, Delhi witnessed a dharna by the AAP ministers and MLAs in Delhi. As the dharna entered its second day, Kejriwal said there would be no 'middle-of-the-road' solution and it would go on indefinitely and even confront the official show of Republic Day parade with lakhs of people on the roads of Delhi. But as the day passed into the evening, the dharna was called off following a face-saving declaration by the Lt Governor of Delhi to send two SHOs on leave.
The dharna gave rise to animated debates in the electronic media. There were voices from the ruling elite describing the dharna as anarchy and as negation of governance while Kejriwal defended the dharna as democracy. Past examples were remembered when elected governments went on agitations against the Central government or on larger political questions. Elected governments are perfectly within their rights to launch agitations in the interest of democracy and the people. The issue is the agenda of the struggle and the purpose it serves for the people the government is supposed to represent and serve.
Kejriwal raised the specific demand of action against three SHOs. A Danish woman tourist was robbed and gang-raped near Connaught Place in the early evening on 14 January. Neha Yadav was set on fire by her in-laws for alleged non-payment of dowry on 13 January in Sagarpur in south-west Delhi. Kejriwal wanted action against the concerned SHOs of Paharganj and Sagarpur. The third instance involves Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti and the SHO of Malviya Nagar PS. In this case the role of the minister has come in for serious public criticism and instead of responding to that criticism, senior AAP leaders ridiculed protesters, defended Bharti and demanded action against the Malviya Nagar SHO for not obeying Bharti's orders.
Now if there are specific reports of drug rackets or organised prostitution in the area, police must intervene and act according to legal provisions. But evidence indicates that Bharti was not seeking action against specific individuals, but rather, indiscriminate and illegal raids on an entire community of African nationals. The local people may have serious grievances against the police and AAP leaders are justified in taking up the cases on behalf of the local people, but the minister cannot lead a midnight raid with his supporters, making racist comments and instigating supporters to violate the bodily integrity, dignity and rights of African women on the basis of suspicion and allegation of being involved in 'drug and sex rackets'.
Drug and organised prostitution rackets may be serious issues in the area but concerns about organised racist politics and violence in the area ought to be equally a matter of concern for an elected representative, whose interventions must then be in accordance with the principles of human rights, justice and gender sensitivity. People accusing Somnath Bharti of displaying racist attitudes and violating the provisions of law and human rights have serious reasons for raising their point and AAP leaders and spokespersons have only exposed their intolerance for democratic criticism and opposition by ridiculing protesters as pimps and defenders of 'drug and sex rackets'.
It is ironic that while AAP ministers sat on dharna against the Union Home Ministry, the AAP government dropped the very idea of holding a Janata Darbar after thousands turned up in the first and only Janata Darbar to articulate their grievances. Contract teachers have been on dharna outside Delhi Secretariat for days together even as Kejriwal and his cabinet colleagues sat on dharna near Rail Bhavan. Just as the Delhi government is within its rights to demand greater powers for itself, it is also duty-bound to fulfil its electoral commitments to the people of Delhi. It is well within Kejriwal's powers to make contract workers – at least those employed in Delhi Government institutions – permanent, and he must not lose an instant in doing so. But disturbingly enough some contract teachers were reportedly beaten up at the AAP dharna site.
Kejriwal described the Lt Governnor's decision to send two SHOs on leave as a partial but important victory for the people of Delhi. How exactly this dharna would contribute to the larger question of urgent police reforms in the country or the agenda of securing full statehood for Delhi is not at all clear. What is clear is that AAP wanted to turn the issue of action against Bharti into a stand-off with the Union Home Ministry and use the Delhi dharna as a launching pad for its Lok Sabha election campaign.
Rather than championing the demand for the police's autonomy from partisan political control, Kejriwal's dharna merely demanded a change of political command for the Delhi Police. By insisting on transfer of an SHO who failed to do the illegal and irresponsible bidding of a Minister who was stoking passions against African nationals, isn't the Delhi Government in fact perpetuating the habits of other Governments which have routinely exercised partisan political control over the police?
Rather than the AAP's notion of mohalla-based social control over the police (the dangers of which have been demonstrated in the Khirkee episode), what is needed is to ensure the Police's strict adherence to democratic rights, and alertness to and sensitisation against caste, gender, communal, racial and other biases that are embedded in 'common' sense. In matters involving the rights of minorities and sections of people vulnerable to bias and prejudice, the police must uphold the laws and Constitutional norms strictly, rather than act at the bidding of Ministers or mob sentiment.
In Delhi and across India, people are victims of police high-handedness, corruption and repression in their daily lives. Democratisation of policing – defined not as obedience to majority sentiment but as obedience to the Constitutionally mandated norms of sensitivity and rights of all people including minorities - is a key component of the overall programme of democratisation of the Indian society and polity.
This Republic Day let us insist on the urgent agenda of implementing democratic police reforms in the country to make policing people-friendly and bring it in strict consonance with the law of the land, provisions of the Constitution, and democratic rights. Reform the Police! Make Police Accountable to Democratic Rights!! Reclaim the Republic!!!
"My friend told me, don't go outside, they are beating up African women. I was planning to go out, but I stayed in and locked my door. They banged on our door, I was terrifie
"The RWA in Khirkee has been activated in the past year, not over concerns of sanitation, water etc, but on an overtly racist plank, profiling and targeting the local African community. There have been multiple instances of violence against African women, and even African kids faced discrimination at school. The police used to be insensitive to the complaints of the Africans. But after we wrote letters to the police and spoke to them, the police's attitude has become more sensitive and principled. The SHO there has, in fact, acted responsibly when he received racist complaints about how Africans' 'food stinks' or how 'women dress in short skirts.' The complaints of so-called 'drug and sex rackets' need to be seen in the context of this organised racist targeting. We ask the Government if the SHO and local police should act as an obedient arm of racist sentiment? If the SHO is transferred, after our patient efforts have actually made him respond sensitively and responsibly, it will send a message to the police that they should not defend the rights of the minorities or foreign nationals." – Aastha Chauhan, an artist who has long experience of working among the African community in Khirkee
These were some of the voices from Khirkee village that were heard at a sit-in against racism, at Jantar Mantar on 19th January, that had been organised by the JNU Students' Union, AISA, AIPWA, RYA, and several other concerned individuals and activists. At the sit-in, the protestors gave a standing ovation to African drummers and hip-hop performers from Khirkee (who performed Hindi songs!).
Speaking at the sit-in, Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of AIPWA, said "According to news reports, the Minister, Somnath Bharti, asked locals to draw up a list of African nationals' residences - 'jahan aise log rehte hain/where such people live', vowing to raid and search each of these homes. He also told media, "I have received a lot of complaints from women in this locality against foreign nationals, yeh hum aur aap jaise nahin hain (They are not like you or me)." She said, "Mr Kejriwal says his Minister and his Government are not racist: we are here to tell him that Mr. Bharti's words and actions are copybook racism. To encourage a mob to catch hold of African women and eunuchs because he says they are sex-workers, is both racist and sexist, and downright unconstitutional. The Government and the AAP party should remove Mr Bharti from his post as Law Minister."
Other protestors said, "Will the Delhi CM only accept the version of local AAP members and the Minister as 'the voice of the people'? Or is he willing to listen to the dissenting voices from Khirkee village itself, who have been battling racism in very hostile circumstances? Will it recognise that voices that counter racism, communalism, casteism or gender discrimination, or who stand up for the rights of sex workers or hijras, may not be popular, but are more democratic; that 'majority' and 'democracy' aren't one and the same? Will he automatically assume that Ugandan women must be liars, or will he take their FIR seriously and take action against Mr Bharti based on their FIR? This is a basic test for the democratic character of any Government."
Protestors pointed out that the racist build-up and the efforts to counter it, preceded the formation of the AAP Government, and said that the Government should resist the temptation to turn the Khirkee incident into a political contest between the Delhi Government and the Home Ministry over the Delhi Police.
Protestors raised slogans against the CM's remark that 'drug and sex rackets led to 'rape tendencies', and held placards saying, "Violence against African women makes Indian women shamed, not safer!"
Shuddhabrata Sengupta, artist and writer with the Raqs media Collective, said that history would remember Razia Sultan of the 13th century for her broadmindedness, in a way that it would never remember Somnath Bharti. Africans in India had a history spanning 900 years. Madhu Prasad of the All India Forum for Right to Education reminded people that the freedom struggles of India and Africa inspired each other. Activists who have worked for the rights of gay and transgender people – researcher Ena Goel, Akshay, and Aditya Bandopadhyay, spoke about the difference between people' participative democracy and majoritarianism, and said that AAP would have to demonstrate that it understood the difference. Akshay, who has worked in Uganda, said that the Indian community in Kampala has faced racial discrimination since the time of Idi Amin.
Protestors recalled that there have been growing instances of xenophobia, racism and violence against Africans in Punjab, Goa and other parts of the country too. People from the North East states also experience racist prejudice and violence regularly in Delhi and elsewhere. They urgently called to counter the spread of the racist virus in the capital city.
The meeting was also addressed by Sucheta De and Shakeel Anjum of AISA and Aslam Khan of RYA. It was conducted by Abhiruchi, the GSCASH representative of JNU. JNUSU President Akbar and Vice President Anubhuti Agnes Bara were among the organisers of the protest.
Jan Vikalp Sabha Held in Bagodar on Comrade Mahendra Singh's Martyrdom Day
CPI (ML) organized a huge Jansankalp Rally in Bagodar on 16 January 2014, the 9th anniversary of Com. Mahendra Singh's martyrdom. Addressing the sea of people gathered on this occasion, CPI (ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya said that 2014 would be the elections to reverse the present policies. He stressed that policies which have no place for the poor, the farmers, women and youth, need to be overturned. We need to convert the coming elections into a fight for people's rights against corporate machinery. This election will not be about Modi or Rahul but about the people. As the elections near, the dilemmas of the Congress and the BJP are also increasing.
Remarking on Modi's silence at the BJP rally in Jharkhand, he pointed out that Modi has not even apologized for the abject conditions in Jharkhand today. Modi's silence is untenable; the BJP must take responsibility for the ruin of Jharkhand, because it is they who were the first, and the longest, rulers of the State. Appealing for alertness against BJP's communal manipulations, he said that Modi has engineered the riots in Muzaffarnagar in UP through Amit Shah, the chief villain of the Gujarat riots. He said that the BJP wanted to spread communal tension from Patna to Ranchi under cover of the Patna bomb blasts, but the people of Bihar, through the Khabardar Rally, defeated this unholy purpose. BJP stands similarly exposed in Jharkhand too, and the people of Jharkhand and Bihar will give a fitting reply to such machinations by the BJP. The conspiracy to push the minorities into the slot of secondary citizen will also be shattered.
Remembering Com. Mahendra Singh, the Party General Secretary said that anyone wishing to see how much synergy is generated by martyrdom has only to come here, to Bagodar. Com. Dipankar stressed that the legacy of Bhagat Singh and Com. Mahendra Singh would put paid to fascist plots and corporate loot. He pointed out that Modi said, at Baba Ramdev's camp, that tax would be abolished. The truth is that taxes will be abolished by Modi for those who have become billionaires through corporate loot!
Com. Dipankar welcomed the victory of the Aam Admi Party in Delhi but criticized CM Arvind Kejriwal's decision to stop holding Janta Durbars. He said that the public should not fear anyone and promises made to the people should be fulfilled.
The General Secretary said that today two kinds of models are being talked about in Kodarma. One model was Com. Mahendra Singh, who gave his all for fighting for the people's struggles; the other is Babulal Marandi who, far from fighting for the people on the ground, does not even raise a question in Parliament. He said that the legacy of Com. Mahendra Singh is the fight for "Insaan, Insaaf aur Inqalab", and this is the CPI (ML)'s fight. Announcing the Jansahyog-Jandavedari (People's Cooperation-People's Rights) Abhiyan, he said that between 27 January and 10 February the plan is to meet 5 lakh voters, acquaint them with the Party's thinking, take their cooperation in the form of Rs 5 to Rs 10, and then turn the people's cooperation into people's rights.
Red flags were flying all around the Janvikalp Sabha held at the culmination of the 2 month-long Jansankalp Abhiyan organized in Jharkhand from 15 November. On the occasion of the 10th Martyrdom Day of Com. Mahendra Singh, the huge participation of thousands of women from Kodarma Lok Sabha constituency was clearly visible. Many young people are breaking away from Parties like AJSU, JVM, and BJP.
Earlier, a garlanding function was held in Com. Mahendra Singh's native village of Khambhra, after which floral tributes were paid to his statue at the Com. Mahendra Singh Bhavan in Bagodar. The Janvikalp Sabha was addressed by Bagodar MLA and Party CC member Vinod Singh, State Committee member Rajkumar Yadav, Rajesh Yadav, Satyanarayan Das, Sitaram Singh, Jayanti Chowdhuri, Rameshwar Chowdhuri, Pawan Mahto, Reena Gupta, Kodarma citizens Ramdhan Yadav, Basudev Yadav and others. The meeting was presided over by Parmeshwar Mahto and conducted by Mustaqeem Ansari. Politburo member DP Bakshi, Janardan Prasad, Manoj Bhakt, CC member Anant Prasad Gupta, former CC member Bahadur Oraon, Marxist Coordination Committee legislator Arup Chatterjee, State Committee member Puran Mahto, Usman Ansari, Kaushalya Das, Shyam Dev Yadav, Prem Prakash and others were present at the meeting.
Dalits Attacked in Rajasthan Village
On 14 January (Sankranti) persons from the domineering Rajput caste attacked dalits, burnt their houses and killed three people. This village has 14 dalit families who were attacked by Rajputs from neighbouring villages. CPI (ML) intervened in this brutal incident and registered protest against the incident along with the villagers. Party CC member Com. Mahendra Chowdhury and Srilatha Swaminathan from the AIPWA termed the attack a BJP-Congress conspiracy and said that both these Parties are engineering attacks on the poor, dalits, and minorities in order to deflect public attention from the real issues in the ace of the coming Lok Sabha elections. They pointed out that this has been the history of the Congress and the BJP in Rajasthan State, and stressed that the CPI (ML) would strongly oppose any such attempts to vitiate the atmosphere in the State. Party leaders demanded that the guilty in this incident be arrested without delay, and that they should be punished after being duly tried for murder charges. CPI (ML) demands that the State government provides adequate security to ensure that such attacks are not perpetrated on the weaker sections of society.
Labour Leader Comrade Daulat Ram No More
UP State Vice President of CITU and noted labour leader of Kanpur Com. Daulat Ram passed away on 1 January. Com. Daulat Ram took part in the Kanpur textile workers' agitation when he was 14, during which movement his first arrest took place. He lived in Urai, having completed his High School in Kanpur and his Intermediate in Jhansi.
Com. Daulat Ram worked in close association with Com. Ram Asare, another well-known labour leader of his time. He became a member of the CPM in 1967 and was the Party's office-bearer for several years. He contested the Assembly elections 4 times and secured 5000 to 20,000 votes.
Thousands of workers, trade unionists, and women joined the funeral procession on 2 January. His life was dedicated to the welfare of the working class.
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