Wednesday, 24 December 2014

ML Update | No. 52 | 2014

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  17 | No. 52 | 23 - 29 DEC 2014

Jharkhand and J&K Election Results and the Modi Sarkar's Continuing Corporate and Communal Offensive

 With the declaration of the results of the last leg of 2014 elections, the BJP has predictably added Jharkhand to its kitty even as it emerged as the second largest party in a highly polarised and fragmented Jammu & Kashmir. While this has been the best ever showing of the party in the Assemblies of these two states, the outcome has fallen significantly short of what the BJP had expected or most pollsters had generously predicted. In Kashmir, the BJP failed to open its account in the valley and in Jharkhand it could barely cross the majority mark only after it changed tack to seal a last minute pre-poll alliance with the AJSU.

While the BJP's central poll plank that sought a clear and complete majority for the party did not cut much ice with the Jharkhand electorate, what stood out was the electorate's rejection of every leader who has been in power till date.  Jharkhand's former BJP CM Babulal Marandi was decisively defeated in his home constituency Dhanwar by CPI(ML)'s Rajkumar Yadav, (although unfortunately this significant victory was accompanied by the loss of the historic Bagodar seat which the CPI(ML) has been representing uninterruptedly since 1990, defying the assassination of Comrade Mahendra Singh during the 2005 elections). Meanwhile, the other BJP CM, Arjun Munda, had to bite the dust in his traditional seat Kharsawan. Notoriously corrupt former CM Madhu Koda lost at Majhganon; Deputy CM, and AJSU chief, Sudesh Mahato was defeated at Silli; and even the outgoing CM Hemant Soren of JMM finished second at Dumka.

For the BJP-AJSU combine in Jharkhand, the key challenge now will be the choice of the new leader, a question that was put off at the time of the election campaign with the projection of a BJP-led government in Jharkhand as just another branch of 'Modi sarkar'. The J&K elections, on the other hand, have produced a hung assembly, leaving the entire issue of formation of the new government at the mercy of intricate post-poll calculations. Even though the BJP in Kashmir has put a temporary tactical lid on its strategic call for abrogation of Article 370, the ascent of the Modi regime in Delhi with its unmistakable agenda of unmitigated Hindutva has already vitiated the political environment in Kashmir no end. Any intervention of the BJP in the formation of the government in Kashmir can only be a recipe for greater instability.

As the year draws to a close and the Modi juggernaut rolls along, albeit with diminishing electoral steam, the coming year will surely pose major challenges on every front of our collective existence. The indications are already crystal clear. On the economic front, the government is moving towards privatisation of all our key sectors. The high decibel 'make in India' campaign is being used not only to promote indiscriminate entry of FDI but also to ride roughshod over all environmental and labour rights safeguards to sell India as a lucrative destination for FDI. And hand in hand with this economic onslaught is the growing communal and sectarian aggression of the Sangh brigade replete with shrill cries of 'gharwapsi' and 'Hindu Rashtra'. Modi and his ministers are also making no secret of their utter contempt for the principles and institutions of constitutional democracy and norms of parliamentary accountability.

The growing offensive of the RSS has renewed the dilemma of India's professedly liberal rightwingers. They would like us to believe that the Hindutva aggression is the handiwork of a few fringe forces and that Modi is serious about disciplining them and confining them to the 'Laxmanrekha' of constitution and governance. Nothing could be more facile than this illusion. In the post-Emergency Janata Party regime, representatives of the Sangh had to face isolation over the issue of their Sanghi identity and allegiance. During the Vajpayee era, the Sangh had to invoke the analogy of the mask to simultaneously legitimise the appearance and the essence. And now while the Sangh hails Modi as its first authentic and organic product occupying the high office, Modi is taking every opportunity to expand the imprint and intervention of the RSS in the functioning of his government. The Sangh-BJP symbiosis could not possibly get any more brazen.

While liberals are faced with the challenge of demarcating themselves from the growing communal-authoritarian direction of the Modi regime, the task of resisting the offensive lies squarely with the fighting forces of the Left and various streams of people's movements on the ground. Having effectively replaced the Congress, the BJP under Modi is now increasingly targeting non-Congress ruled states and the Left will have to face this challenge head-on. By all indications, 2015 will be a key year in the battle for the future of India and revolutionary communists will have to intensify the resistance on every front, taking any electoral reverses boldly in their stride.

Peshawar Massacre:

Lessons for Pakistan, India and the Subcontinent

The barbaric massacre of 132 school children in Peshawar by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has underlined the senselessness and inhumanity of the toxic cocktail of religion and politics. This unspeakable crime must mark the beginning of the end of the Taliban and intensify our resistance against every variety of religious fundamentalist violence.

The Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as the Boko Haram and ISIS plan and execute the deliberate, cold-blooded, planned massacre of unarmed innocents in the name of religion.

The Peshawar massacre, terrible as it is, could mark a turning point for Pakistan. For decades, the Army has had an overbearing presence over Pakistan's democracy, while Pakistan's rulers have appeased religious fundamentalists and US imperialism at the same time. Various fundamentalist and terrorist outfits have been nurtured by the Pakistani State in collusion with US imperialism.  

It is well documented how the US in collaboration with the ISI and Pakistani military helped create and cosset the Taliban and other extremist groups in Afghanistan, and fuelled the rise of the Taliban in Pakistan too. In May 2009, the then Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari told a US TV channel that the Taliban "was part of your past and our past, and the ISI and CIA created them together." The same month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said about the Taliban, "We came in the 1980s and helped to build up Mujahedeen to take on the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The Pakistanis were our partners in that. Their security service and their military were encouraged and funded by the United States to create the Mujahedeen in order to go after the Soviet invasion and occupation." Not only the Afghan Taliban but also the al Qaeda were products of this phase of CIA and ISI collaboration, also fuelled by Saudi money. 

Even after the cold war ended, the Clinton administration, along with Benazir Bhutto's government in Pakistan, continued to do business with the Afghan Taliban, using it to protect US oil interests in the region. In a later phase of increasing confrontation between the al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, the latter began to use Pakistan's autonomous tribal territories as a hide-out. The US ignored it in return for bases for US troops in Pakistan.

But the moves made by the US supposedly to 'fix' the mess they themselves created in Pakistan, created new dangers. The US began pressurizing Pakistan to send in its Army into the autonomous regions.  The tribal chieftains saw the incursions as a betrayal of their traditional pact with Pakistan's rulers. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan took root in this period, nourished by the anger against the Pakistan Army and US drone attacks that took a huge toll of civilian lives in the region. Pakistan's people – and the children in Peshawar – are paying a terrible toll for the deals made by their own rulers and the US, with terrorists.    

What is striking and welcome, after recent episodes of terrorism, has been the refusal of people to succumb to the climate of Islamophobia. On the day that hostages were held hostage in a Sydney café, tens of thousands of ordinary Australians flooded social media and real life with the offer "I'll ride with you", offering to travel on public transport with Muslims scared of reprisals. In India after the Peshawar attack, social media was flooded by the spontaneous expression of solidarity – 'India with Pakistan'. And when one of the key accused in the Mumbai terror attack case was given bail by a Pakistan court, Pakistani people reciprocated by echoing the outrage felt by Indians.

This mutual solidarity threatened political hate-mongers in both India and Pakistan. The Delhi Police detained eminent citizens and students seeking to light candles at India Gate in solidarity with the children and people of Pakistan ravaged by the Peshawar attack. Clearly, India's current regime recognizes that Indian people's rejection of Islamophobia and solidarity with Pakistan can deal a blow to their politics of divisiveness and communal hatred.

In many ways, the Peshawar massacre and Pakistan's current situation is a warning to India, of the consequences of the toxic mix of religion and politics and of being a tool of US imperialism in the region. India under Narendra Modi has, in the last six months, already begun its journey down the slippery slope of majoritarian hatred and violence. Nearly every day, a functionary of the Government or the ruling party declares the country to be a Hindu nation rather than governed by a secular Constitution. The RSS has dropped all pretence of being a 'cultural' outfit and is wielding its political influence in key areas of governance more and more openly. Violent intimidation of minorities, imposition of moral policing in the name of 'Indian culture' and suppression of dissent are on the rise. And India's current and recent rulers have been vying to replace Pakistan as the US' favoured ally and partner.

The Pakistani State needs to urgently introspect, take stock and correct course. Religious fundamentalist politics, terrorism and violence perpetrated by stoking religious emotions, have taken a terrible toll in every country in the sub-continent. The solidarity forged across countries following the Peshawar attack must help the democracy-loving people of the entire sub-continent to defeat the hate-mongers and achieve peace and unity.

Arwal-Paliganj bandh, and statewide protests in Bihar against feudal carnage

After the recent Pura massacre in Gaya district, the Kurmuri rape in Bhojpur, and burning alive of Sai Ram in Rohtas,  feudal criminal forces have perpetrated yet again carnage – this time in Bhaisasur Jalkhar in Kosdihara (Paliganj). Four fishermen were brutally murdered and 2 others injured on 14 December; the victims were CPI(ML )activists and supporters.

On hearing news of the murders, thousands of CPI(ML) activists and supporters blocked the Jehanabad-Arwal road demanding the immediate arrest of all the six accused. A CPI(ML) team consisting of former MP Com. Rameshwar Prasad, Com. Mahanand, Com. Anwar Hussain and Com. Rambali Yadav conducted a detailed enquiry into the incident and met the families of the victims. Com. Kunal, Amar, and Lalan Singh met the injured at the PMCH in Patna. Expressing his views on the brutal carnage, Com. Kunal said that the Bihar government has failed miserably in reining in these feudal criminal forces. Despite talks of empowerment of the poor, oppression is sharply on the rise. The JD (U), along with the BJP, is responsible for boosting the morale of these forces, resulting in a renewed spate of massacres. He pointed out that the dissolution of the Amir Das commission has raised the morale of these forces to its peak. The Kosdihara victims were fishermen belonging to the Bind caste and were killed by a gang led by Chandrakant Sharma, Subhash Sharma, Jumhan Khan and Raju Khan who wanted to stop their fishing work and establish control over the Bhaisasur Jalkhar.

On 16 December, a bandh was called in Arwal-Paliganj and the day was observed as Protest Day across the State. Protest marches were held and Chief Minister Jitanram Majhi's effigies were burnt at several places. The last rites of the victims were performed on the banks of the Son river at Arwal. Addressing the condolence meeting which followed, Party leaders said that the 5 lakh rupees compensation announced by the Bihar government is not justice for the poor but a cruel deception. They asserted that the protests would continue unless the perpetrators were immediately arrested and strict punishment given to them. Thousands of Party activists and supporters poured out into the streets and blocked the Patna-Aurangabad road. A huge public meeting was also organized at the Jehanabad crossing.

The Paliganj and Dulhin bazaar bandhs in Patna district were also effective, with all shops remaining closed and traffic coming to a standstill. Effective protests, bandhs, and road blocks were also organized at Bikram, Masaudhi, Dhanrua, Naubatpur, Bihata, Punpun, Phulwari, Sampatchak and Fatuha. In the capital Patna, a protest march led by Com. Santosh Sahar was taken out from the radio station to station Golambar demanding the immediate arrest of the feudal criminals who perpetrated the Kosdihara carnage. Protest marches were also held in Bhojpur, Sahar, Charpokhri, Jagdishpur and Siwan district. A public meeting was organized at the Jehanabad road-Arwal crossing. Protest marches were taken out and effigies of Chief Minister Jitanram Majhi burnt at Nalanda, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Purnea, Bhagalpur and other places.

According to the report of the CPI(ML) enquiry committee, on 14 December some fishermen from Mungila village in Paliganj block were fishing in Bhaisasur Jalkhar for which Anil Chandravanshi had already obtained rights through an auction. A feudal criminal gang led by Chandrakant Sharma and Subhash Sharma of Rampur Aiyara, and Juman Khan and Raju Khan of Jamharu stopped the fishermen in their work and the controversy escalated as this gang wished to establish its rights over the Jalkhar. The fishermen tried to run from the place, and at around 10 pm the gang fired on them, killing four and critically injuring two. The four persons killed were Manish Bind (20), Janardan Bind (17), Rameshwar Bind and Uday Bind. Rameshwar Bind was a member of the CPI(ML), while Uday Bind's father Lali Bind is a village level Party activist. The injured Rajni Bind and Anil Bind are being treated at PCMH Patna.

Protests in Delhi against sexual violence and for women's freedom

Two years after the brutal gang rape of a young woman in Delhi, which sparked off massive protests not only in Delhi but across the country, protests were held to reiterate demands for women's freedom from sexual violence and moral policing. Onwards to 16 December, the JNU Students' Union commemorated and saluted the spirit of the anti-rape movement which followed the brutal gangrape and murder in December 2012. A public meeting organised by JNUSU in JNU, which was addressed by AIPWA secretary Kavita Krishnan and noted Supreme Court advocate Vrinda Grover. Raising the issue of the recent rape in an Uber cab in Delhi, as well the continuing patriarchal and communal diktats to control women's dress, choices and movement, Com. Kavita talked of the need to place women's freedom and autonomy at the centre of the discourse around sexual violence. She pointed out that coercion and violence against women and couples who defy caste, creed and gender norms to love, is as much against women's consent as is rape. Vrinda Grover, addressing the meeting, talked of the need to challenge the State's response to sexual violence, which invariably centres around awarding the death penalty in a few cases while it refuses to respect and acknowledge freedom of women. After the public meeting, hundreds of students marched to the Munirka Bus Stop, where the victim and her friend were picked up by a private bus two years ago, and then raped.

On 16 December, various women's groups in Delhi – including AIDWA, AIPWA, NFIW, PMS, Jagori and others – held a united protest at Jantar Mantar. Com. Kavita addressed the meeting on behalf of AIPWA.

Workshop for women workers at Haldwani

AICCTU organized a State-level workshop for women workers on 7 December 2014 at Haldwani in Uttarakhand. Inaugurating the workshop, AIPWA National Secretary Kavita Krishnan said that Prime Minister Modi's "Shrameva Jayate" in reality translates into "no respect, no identity for work " and, along with "Make in India", is actually the key for corporate houses to loot labour freely. She pointed out that women's labour has become a synonym in all work sectors for maximum work, minimum payment, and minimum safety. The onus of improving the abysmal state of rural health has been put on ASHA and anganwadi workers, but they are being deprived of their rights and identity. She said that the government is denying these women workers government employee status on the shameful pretext that as they give these services free to their family, similarly they should give these services free to society also. This is a huge insult to the women's work force, she pointed out. Com. Kavita said that crimes against women are on the rise as powerful perpetrators go unpunished and projects for women' s safety such as shelters for working women and crisis centres have been shelved on the pretext of lack of funds. She pointed out that incidents of violence against women are rising in Uttarakhand also but there is no system in place for prevention and effective punishment.

AICCTU leader KK Bora presented a report on the state and organization of women workers and possibilities of movements and struggles in the future. Several women workers related their experiences of work and struggle. AICCTU National Vice President Raja Bahuguna said that governments boasting of women empowerment are openly exploiting and oppressing women workers, who have never got their due in Uttarakhand. He stressed that organization and struggle are the two key tools through which anti-worker governments can be challenged. The workshop was also addressed by Kamla Kunjwal, Saraswati Punetha, Rita Kashyap, Janaki Gururani, and Kulvinder Kaur. Bahadur Singh Jangi, Kailash Joshi, Vipin Shukla, Lalit Matiyali, Ruby, Kamal Joshi and others were present at the workshop.

Workers' Protests in Bangalore  

Thousands of workers participated in a demonstration by AICCTU and BBMP Guttige Poura Karmikara Singha against the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), demanding implementation of minimum wages, arrears since April 2013 and prompt payment of wages on the 10th of every month.

About 2000 contract sanitation workers protested at the BBMP office at Bangalore on 10 December from 11 am to 6 pm, demanding notified minimum wages with dearness allowance at the rate of Rs 8558. Net payable amount after PF and ESI deduction, is Rs. 6553. The union leaders Com. S. Balan, Clifton, Com. Shankar and others held discussions with the labour minister and labour commissioner on 27 August 2014. As there was no substantial result of this meeting except for the Labour Commissioner's letter reaching the BBMP Commissioner's office, union leaders headed by Com. Balan demanded that the BBMP commissioner take immediate action. The BBMP commissioner announced that the said payments would be made, and he instructed his deputies to make arrangements to ensure prompt payments. He assured that erring contracters will be blacklisted and prosecuted.

In order to mobilize workers, the union had organised a series of meetings for three weeks prior to the 10 December protest. The union has also filed 1200 cases with the Labour Comissioner under rule 25(2) (v) (a) of CLARA, citing multiple violations of workers' rights. 

Left activists protest against Taliban in Lahore

In the wake of the horrific killing of school children in Peshawar in Pakistan, Left parties in Pakistan held a massive protest in Lahore on 21 December against the Taliban. The following press statement was released:

Press Release - The Left Stands United Against Religious Fascism and State-Sponsored Terrorism

Hundreds of Left activists demonstrated in Lahore against Peshawar school massacre, and Talibaisation of the state and society. The protest was jointly organized by Awami Workers Party (AWP) and Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP) this afternoon at Charing Cross, Lahore. The rally chanted slogans against the rise of religious fundamentalism, Taliban and terrorism, demanded separation of state from religion.

Farooq Tariq, General Secretary, AWP said that religious fundamentalism has emerged as the biggest challenge and an obstacle to development of our society. It has not only engulfed large section of the middle class but also a significant section of working class. However the Peshawar attack has shaken the consciousness in a very dramatic manner. Today all those who were supporters of Taliban are forced to speak against them, including right-wing political parties who have been actively supporting them including PTI and JI. He demanded arrest of Mullah Aziz and all those defenders of terrorism in Pakistan. He said that most madrasas have become breeding-homes of fanatic ideas and demanded that all the madrasas should be nationalised. He also demanded separation of state from religion.

Taimur Rehman, General Secretary, CMKP presented a charter of demand/communique of the left that included demands: no dialogue with the taliban, nationalization of the all madrasas and converting into regular schools, delinking of links between the state and religious fascists, separation of the state and religion, and continued measures by the state to root out religious fascism.

Zahid Parvez, President Lahore- AWP and Comrade Irfan Ali from CMKP also addressed the rally. They said that hanging won't absolve the state and the government from many hard decisions. The continued Islamization and militarization of the state, which was started by General Zial-ul-Haq, must be stopped. Baba Najmi also attended the rally.

The rally raised slogans against Taliban, terrorism and expressed solidarity with the families of those who were martyred or injured in Peshawar school massacre.

Farooq Tariq, General Secretary, AWP


Protests were also held in Delhi; JNUSU and AISA participated in a joint citizen's protest and candle light vigil which was held at India Gate against religious fundamentalism. Several students, teachers, intellectuals and activists from Delhi participated in the protest. However, as soon as the protestors gathered at India Gate and lit candles in memory of the children killed in Peshawar, the Delhi Police arrived and detained all those assembled. The protestors were taken to the Parliament Street police station and detain for some hours.

In Patna, AISA, AIPWA, RYA and Jan Sanskriti Manch held a candle march against war and terrorism from J.P. Golambar to Buddha Smriti park. The march culminated in a condolence meeting for the children killed in Peshawar.

Friday, 12 December 2014

ML Update | No. 50 | 2014

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  17 | No. 50 | 9 - 15 DEC 2014

Hate-Speech Reflects BJP's Ideology and Politics, Not Niranjan Jyoti's Social Background

Campaigning for the BJP towards the Delhi Assembly elections, the Modi Government's Minister of State for Food Processing, asked voters to choose between a Government of 'Ramzade' (sons of Ram) and 'Haramzade' (bastards). This was not just a case of the use of an abusive word. Questioned by a journalist, she elaborated her meaning on camera. She said that "Muslims and Christians are also sons of Ram – and if they don't believe this, they can't believe in the nation either".

As an outcry rose nationally demanding the sacking of this Minister, the Minister issued a vague and general 'apology' in case she had 'hurt anyone's feelings'. Subsequently, the Prime Minister told the Parliament to forgive and forget the Minister's lapse, since she was a novice, a first-time MP, and a village woman. The BJP also hinted that the Minister was being singled out and targeted by the Opposition because she was from an extremely backward caste.

The Prime Minister's explanation is an insult to the women of India's villages. Niranjan Jyoti's foul-mouthed hate-speech was not learnt by her in any village. It is systematically imparted by the RSS through its network of outfits. And this can easily be proved by looking at the track record of utterances of various BJP and Sangh leaders.

On 21 November 2013, a BJP leader from Uttar Pradesh, Ram Pratap Chauhan made remarks identical to Niranjan Jyoti's – at the Vijay Shankhnaad Rally in Agra in the presence of Narendra Modi. Modi had also addressed the same rally, held to felicitate Muzaffarnagar riots accused Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana. Modi, at the time, made no objection to Chauhan's 'Ramzade/Haramzade' remark and his distinction between 'nationalist Muslims' who are devotees of Ram, and the anti-national ones who do not identify with Ram.

Ram Pratap Chauhan also repeated the very same 'action-reaction' hate-speech formula that Modi himself had voiced to justify the Gujarat 2002 communal pogrom.

In 2011, Subramaniam Swamy wrote an article in an English daily, advocating to "declare India a Hindu Rashtra in which non-Hindus can vote only if they proudly acknowledge that their ancestors were Hindus". In 2013, Swamy joined the BJP and is one of their most-seen faces on national television.

In July 2014, Goa's Deputy CM from the BJP, Francis D'Souza, said that "India is already a Hindu nation and all Indians in Hindustan are Hindus".  

What is most offensive and unpardonable about Niranjan Jyoti's words is not just the abusive word 'bastards'. It is her declaration that non-Hindus who fail to identify as descendants of Ram, are not true citizens of India. This declaration goes against the spirit of India's Constitution. And this declaration is one that is routinely made by BJP leaders, including Ram Pratap Chauhan, Subramaniam Swamy or Francis D'Souza.

These are not random rants by individual maverick leaders. They reflect the core ideology of the RSS. The second RSS Sarsanghchalak, M.S. Golwalkar had written, "the foreign races in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment – not even citizen's rights". What Swamy or Niranjan Jyoti or Ram Pratap Chauhan say, is a mere paraphrasing of this openly fascist declaration by their hero, the RSS chief Golwalkar.

Golwalkar's successor, the RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat said in August 2014, "Hindustan is a Hindu nation... the present inhabitants of the country are descendants of this great culture".

The divisive idea of a Hindu Rashtra where religious minorities will be denied equal citizenship, is a core principle and goal of the RSS and the BJP. But Modi as PM has to ask Niranjan Jyoto to avoid such utterances, thanks to the fact that this idea is violently at odds with India's Constitution. Niranjan Jyoti, addressing a rally in Trilokpuri in Delhi, an area recovering from communal violence fomented by the BJP, mocked at people who "took offence" to her remarks, and said that her message remained the same, but "a gesture is enough for the intelligent".   

What emboldens hate-speech in India, is the fact that it has gone unpunished, even in the most blatant of instances.

Addressing an election meeting during Lok Sabha campaigns, the BJP President Amit Shah referred to Muslims as "the community that rapes our mothers and daughters". In the same election campaign, Modi himself referred to the Muslim community as "those who slaughter cows" (failing to mention, of course, that Hindu ritual in Nepal demands the mass annual slaughter of buffaloes).

In September 2002, during the Gujarat Gaurav Yatra post the 2002 pogrom, Modi himself asked, "Do we go and run relief camps? Should we open child producing centres? Hum paanch, humare pachees (We five, our 25) Is family planning not necessary in Gujarat? Where does religion come in its way? Where does community come in its way?" Modi, now India's Prime Minister, made this offensive reference to the relief camps for the riot-affected Muslims!

By allowing Niranjan Jyoti to remain in her post as Minister, Modi and his Government have proved that behind all their talk of 'development', sowing hate to reap votes remains a staple strategy of the BJP and its parent Sangh Parivar. The struggle to resist the politics of hatemongering and assert a robust democratic commitment to the Constitutional equality and rights for people of all faiths, will continue. 

Massive Nationwide Protests on 22nd Anniversary Of Babri Masjid Demolition

6 December 2014 was the 22nd anniversary of the day the Babri Masjid was demolished by frenzied mobs led by leaders of the RSS, VHP, BJP, Bajrang Dal and various affiliates of the Sangh Parivar. 22 years since that horrific assault on the democratic and secular fabric of the country, the perpetrators of the Babri Masjid demolition not just remain unpunished, but are now well-entrenched in the top echelons  of power in the state machinery. Moreover, in the current climate of systematic hate-mongering and low-intensity communal conflict in Delhi towards the Assembly elections, as well as in many other states, the occasion of 6 December was extremely relevant. Across the country, massive protests were thus held this year, demanding justice and unity against communal hate-mongering and violence, against state terror and for rebuilding a just society.  The protests that resonated on 6 December this year demanded punishment for the perpetrators of the Babri demolition, radical political reforms to truly empower people and build a modern and civilized India, and for legislation and mechanisms to prevent state-organised communal violence.

In Delhi, several organizations – left parties and progressive organizations, women's groups, civil rights and human rights groups and secular and democratic individuals and organizations – came together to march from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar. CPI(ML), AIPWA, AISA, JNUSU and AICCTU, as well as Lok Raj Sangathan, Citizens for Democracy, DSF, Left Collective, SUCI (Communist), Communist Ghadar Party of India, Socialist Party of India, Association for Protection of Civil Rights, All India Muslim Majlis e Mushawarat, Welfare Party of India, National Patriotic Peoples Front, Purogami Mahila Sangathan, Hind Naujawan Ekta Sabha, Mazdoor Ekta Committee, Peoples Movement against UAPA and many others participated in this march which culminated in a massive gathering at Jantar Mantar. CPI(ML) politburo member Comrade Kavita Krishnan, addressing the gathering, pointed out that Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti's recent 'ramzada' and 'haramzada' comments were no aberration, and in fact were a clear reflection of the RSS's founding tenets. Lambasting Prime Minister Modi's efforts to characterize the sadhvi's comments as the 'inexperienced' response of a rural woman from a deprived background, Comrade Kavita said that such justifications were in fact an insult to the poor working women of this country. The sadhvi's comments were nothing to do with her rural or caste background, and everything to do with her ideological affiliation to the RSS. AISA leader Comrade Shweta also addressed the meeting, highlighting the Modi's government's efforts to rewrite history and project a communal, distorted and divisive notion of our collective histories.

In Lucknow, various Left parties – including the CPI(ML), CPI, CPI(M), SUCI(C) and Forward Block held a joint culminating in a protest demonstration at the state's Vidhan Sabha, demanding punishment to the perpetrators of the Babri demolition, and also strong actions against communal hate speech and riot mongering. An effigy of communal fascism was burnt, and the protestors also demanded the removal of Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti as a Minister in the central government for her unconstitutional hate speech. The protest was led by CPI's Mohd. Khaliq, CPI(M)'s district secretary Pradeep Sharma, CPI(ML)'s district in-charge Ramesh Singh Sengar, SUCI(C)'s  Jagannath Verma and Forward Block's Radheshyam Verma.

In Kolkata, 17 Left Parties together held a grand rally along Kolkata's Central Avenue all the way from Mahajati Sadan to Rabindra Sadan on 6 December to give a strong rebuff to the Sangh Parivar fascists. This massive rally in which an estimated 50,000 people participated under the joint leadership of CPI(M), CPI, CPI(ML), SUCI(C), Forward Block and RSP, was held barely a week after BJP chief Amit Shah's rally in Kolkata. The rally highlighted the resistance to BJP and Sangh Parivar's attempts to flare up communal tensions and Islamophobia in the state after the Burdwan blasts on the issues of 'illegal immigrants' (an euphemism for Muslims living in areas adjacent to the Bangladesh border), 'terrorism' and 'love jihad'.

Leaders of all the left parties gave brief addresses at the culmination point. In his address CPI(ML) state secretary comrade Partha Ghosh emphasized on three points. First, he reiterated the demand for the punishment of the Sangh-BJP masterminds of Babri Masjid demolition and the ensuing riots. Second, he called the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC's anti-communalism rally (on the same day) a 'farce' since the TMC, which has been assaulting democracy and butchering democratic rights in West Bengal, cannot claim simultaneously to put up any fight against fascism. He also pointed out the TMC's abominable record of participating in the erstwhile NDA government and keeping silent after the 2002 Gujarat riots. Third, he asserted that the struggle against corporate-communal fascism cannot be won by tailing behind the Congress or other bourgeois parties which are themselves responsible for corporate loot and communal assaults on the people of India. Protests were also held in other states, and more reports of the same will be published in the forthcoming issues of the ML Update.

Workers' All India Protest Day Observed on 5 December

On the call of 11 Central Trade Unions, massive protest demonstrations, rallies and dharnas were held by workers across the country on the All India Protest Day on 5 December 2014, against anti-worker amendments in labour laws, further enhancing of disinvestment of PSUs including financial sectors, hiking/allowing FDI in strategic sectors such as Defence, Insurance and Railways and other anti-worker, pro-corporate measures of the Central government. The call was given by central trade unions including AICCTU, BMS, INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, UTUC, LPF and various independent Employees Federations and Associations of Banks, Insurance, Defence, Telecommunications and other sectors. Held at the end of 6 months of the Modi government, this was the first united action of the Indian working class at the national level, in which several thousands of workers participated. Apart from capital city, Delhi, protest programmes were held in various state capitals and other cities including Patna, Raipur, Bhuvaneshwar, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Puducherry, Mumbai, Jaipur, Kanpur and Haldwani. Programmes were also held at district headquarters in various states. AICCTU was actively involved in all initiatives to ensure success of this joint protest.

During the joint protest held in Delhi, near the Parliament, trade union leaders lambasted the move of central and some state governments to amend labour laws like the Factories Act, CLARA, Apprentices Act and the ID Act and to bring in new pro-employer legislations such as the Small Factories (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) bill. Trade union leaders pointed out that all these amendments are aimed at empowering the employers to retrench and close industrial establishments, to have a free hand to hire and fire workers, to ensure mass scale contractualisation and to remove more than 70 per cent of industrial and service establishments out of purview of almost all labour laws. They also raised serious concerns over the move of the President of India to give assent to the recent anti-labour Rajasthan amendments made on the recommendations of the Cabinet. The leaders expressed dismay over the government's total inaction to the various demands of trade unions, including ensuring minimum wages for all of not less than Rs 15000 per month, granting worker status to over 10 millions employed in various schemes of the government, employment generation, compulsory registration of Trade Unions and ratification of ILO Conventions 87 and 98.  AICCTU national secretary Comrade Rajiv Dimri addressed the rally in New Delhi on behalf of AICCTU.

On 5 December a joint trade union protest was also organised in front of the Raj Nivas at Puducherry. The Central Trade Unions including AICCTU, AITUC, CITU, INTUC, BMS, ATP, MLF and the BSNL Unions took part in this protest.  The protest was led by MLF leader Comrade Gabriel.  The state level leaders of  various unions, along with workers and cadres, protested against the anti labour policies of the Central and State Governments. Addressing the protest, National Secretary of AICCTU Comrade S. Balasubramanian attacked the Modi Government's so-called labour 'reforms' and demanded immediate withdrawal of all amendments recently made in various Acts and withdrawal of new Labour Bills. 

In Lucknow, various trade unions called for a march which began from the Charbagh railway station and went through Hussain Ganj to the premises of the state legislative assembly. AICCTU's Comrade Ramesh Singh Sengar as well Surendra Prasad addressed the protest. After the protest, a detailed charter of demands was handed over to the Uttar Pradesh chief secretary.

AICCTU Rally in Kolkata Rejects Modimix of Labour Reforms and Communalism

On 8 December, just two days after the Babri Masjid demolition day, workers from various sectors such as tea gardens, jute, construction, hosiery, power, coliery, defence, railways and transport along with mid-day meal, ASHA, anganwadi and beedi workers, street vendors, domestic workers, government employees and workers who were employed in mills which have now been shut down, assembled on Rani Rashmani Road in the heart of Esplanade in Kolkata. Earlier in the day, several rallies – most notably those starting off from Howrah and Sealdah railway stations – brought busy city roads to a standstill and culminated at the assembly point. Pressing issues of concern in various sectors were discussed and points of struggle charted out in speeches given by leaders of the respective sectors. In the Jute sector it was resolved to defeat the Central government's buckling under pressure from the polythene lobby and its attempt to remove the government's regulatory bindings on the exclusive usage of jute bags in transporting food grains. Comrades Omprakash Rajbhar – jute worker and leader, Basudeb Bose, Atanu Chakrabarty, Kishore Sarkar, Dibakar Bhattacharjee, Meena Pal, Nabendu Dasgupta addressed the assembly, along with CPI(ML) state secretary Comrade Partha Ghosh. Four political resolutions were passed unanimously by workers. They rejected the communal polarization by the Sangh brigade and vowed to intensify working class resistance against corporate-communal fascism. It was resolved to fight back the Labour law reforms proposed by the Central government. The rally rejected undemocratic anti-labour measures of the Mamata Banerjee government like curbing the freedom of press and pledged to rollback the anti-peasant West Bengal Agricultural Marketing Bill that the state government has tabled in the state assembly. The rally also resolved to support the upcoming Taxi strike and join hands with the fighting Taxi workers. A heavy presence of women workers marked the rally.

JNUSU Organises Convention "Re-imagining India, Reclaiming the Republic"

Onwards to 6 December, the Anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition, and also the death anniversary of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, JNUSU organized a convention in JNU on 5 December on "Re-imagining India, reclaiming the Republic". In the first session of the convention, Anand Patwardhan well-acclaimed documentary 'Raam ke Naam' was screened. Prof. T.K. Oomen, Prof. Harbans Mukhia, Prof. Tanika Sarkar, Prof. Achin Vanaik, Prof. Atul Sood, Prof Jayati Ghosh and Sreenivasan Jain of NDTV addressed the second session of the convention where various contemporary concerns such as communalization of society, saffronisation of education, and pro-corporate economic policies were highlighted and discussed. Prof. Tanika Sarkar spoke on teaching pedagogy in RSS schools – elaborating on distortion of Vedic texts, vilification of Muslims and Christians and the venomous content. Prof. Harbans Mukhia pointed out the inverse relationship between geographical spread of Muslim rule in India and concentration of Muslims, and the rise in population of Muslims during the British rule in India, thus dispelling the RSS propaganda of 'Islamic conversion by the sword'. Sreenivasan Jain of NDTV talked of the corporate control over media and the ensuing challenges for democracy. Prof. Jayati Ghosh and Prof. Atul Sood elaborated on the economic priorities of the Modi government and the implications of these policies for the agricultural sector and for workers and the poor and the deprived sections of Indian society. The programme was conducted by JNUSU President Ashutosh. 

Protests against Uber Rape Case in Delhi, demanding government accountability

In the wake of a horrific rape in Delhi by a taxi driver of the Uber multinational cab service provider, AISA, AIPWA and JNUSU held protests on 7 December, demanding strong action and accountability of various Ministries of the government which routinely allow unregulated, unsafe and unlicensed service providers to operate. JNUSU called for a protest at the Delhi Police headquarters at ITO – highlighting the fact that the police had allowed not just Uber, but several other cab services to blissfully violate several established rules, regulations and norms set by the government.  

Addressing the protest, JNUSU Vice President Anant Prakash Narayan pointed out that there are many reasons why this is not just the individual rapist whom we need to hold responsible, but the Government. To begin with, the driver accused in the present case had also been accused of rape previously in 2011. Yet, the Delhi Police, which works under the Home Ministry, gave a 'character certificate' to this driver, with no accountability being fixed. Secondly, cab companies operate in India by openly floating a host of laws. Ola, Uber and Meru Genie, for instance, pose as 'software providers' and not cab operators to circumvent Central Motor Vehicles Act. These cab companies don't have permits under Delhi Radio Taxi Scheme 2006 or Economy Radio Taxi Scheme 2010. Yet, the Ministries whose job it is to regulate these companies – the Transport Ministry and the Home Ministry – remain silent and allow the companies to make profits.

AISA leader Shweta Raj pointed out that the whole issue wasn't just about Uber. It was about why an unregulated regime is provided to companies whose services directly affect the safety of Indian citizens. She asserted the need to keep asking such questions even in the context of factories and environmental regulations, because the present government is busy dismantling the meagre regulations (labour laws and environment laws) that existed, inviting companies to Make Money in India, assuring them of cheap lives, cheap labour, cheap land – in the process jeopardizing Indian citizens at workplaces and polluted habitats. JNUSU general secretary Chintu said that just as in December 2012 the government had refused to accept accountability, we are now hearing the same deafening silence from the Home Minister, Transport Minister and Prime Minister, who are washing their hands off their criminal failure to ensure safe transport in Delhi and India.

Protests in Delhi in solidarity with ongoing anti-racist protests in the US

Over the past couple of weeks, even as massive anti-racist protests have emerged on the streets of various towns and cities in the US, students and youth in Delhi have been organizing protests in solidarity. After the horrific verdict of the grand jury in Ferguson, which ruled that criminal charges would not be brought against police officer Darren Wilson who had fired 12 rounds of bullets into the body of Michael Brown, a vigil and public meeting was called on 29 November at the Ganga Dhaba in JNU by several concerned individuals and anti-racist activists. Several student groups, including AISA and the JNU Students' Union, participated in this well-attended protest meeting. After the recent verdict where yet another grand jury (this time in New York) refused to press charges against a police officer who choked another black man Eric Garner to death, a protest was called at the US embassy in Delhi on 8 December. The Delhi Police repeatedly tried to prevent the protest from happening – the bus carrying the protestors was detained no less than three times. The protestors were threatened with detention, while a truck bearing a water-canon followed the protestors' bus. Yet, the determined protestors refused to relent, and insisted on holding their protest. The protest was finally held at the Carmel Convent School near the US embassy. American as well as Indian students spoke on the rampant militarization and white-supremacy in the US, as well as revitalized casteism and racism in the Indian context.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

ML Update | No. 49 | 2014 |

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  17 | No. 49 | 6-8 DEC 2014

Ferguson and the Rationalisation of Racial Murder   

Yet again, America's racist underbelly has been exposed: the murder of an 18-year old unarmed black boy by a police officer was followed by systematic state-sponsored efforts to subvert justice and protect the police officer. Last week, a 'grand jury' in the US ruled that criminal charges would not be brought against police officer Darren Wilson who had fired 12 rounds of bullets into the body of Michael Brown, whose  only 'crime' was that he was black and unarmed in a country where racist prejudice runs deep in the police forces and in American society. From the beginning, the entire judicial process was rigged for the sole of protecting the police man. In fact, as it has been correctly pointed out by various commentators, throughout the hearings, the prosecutor's office sought to place Michael Brown, not Darren Wilson, on trial. Soon after Michael Brown's murder, 12-year old Tamir Rice was killed by a US police man while he was playing with a fake gun. Earlier in 2012, a young Black boy Trayvon Martin was shot dead by a man claiming he felt threatened because Martin was wearing a sweatshirt with a hood. Martin's killer was acquitted by a jury. Police officers and civilians alike in the US seem to enjoy a licence to murder Black children, claiming that the latter appear 'threatening'.  
The Ferguson grand jury verdict has been met with massive protests all across the US, including militant demonstrations of anger in Ferguson itself.    

Racial killings and their rationalization of course have a long history in the US. The killing of Michael Brown and Tamir Rice in 2014 brought back memories of the horrific lynching of 14-year old Emmett Till in 1955. Emmett Till was kidnapped and beaten up, his eyes were gouged out and he was shot. He was then thrown into the Tallahatchie river with a cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire – the images of this violence proclaiming the deep-rooted racial prejudices and hatred in American society. As in Michael Brown's case, Till's murderers too were acquitted. The saga continues unabated.

Clearly, the rhetoric of America having left behind its racist legacy rings hollow. The jubilation over the election of America's first Black President has evaporated, with Obama himself castigating the protestors, defending the atrocious verdict in favour of Michael's murderer, moreover preaching 'peace' and 'morality' to the protestors, and justifying the repression unleashed on protesting crowds.

The Ferguson verdict, for us in India, is a reminder that racist violence is on the rise in India too. The lynching to death of a young African student in Punjab, the recent incident where three African men were beaten by a violent mob at a metro station in the capital city Delhi, and the earlier racist mob violence on African women in Khirki in Delhi, as well as organized racist propaganda and violence against Africans in Goa, are just some of the examples of racism against Black people in India. And racist discrimination and violence against people of the North East is reaching epidemic proportions. 

Moreover, it is impossible to ignore the stark similarities between racial violence in the US and feudal casteist violence as well as communal prejudices and stereotyping in India. Just as the judicial system in the US protects police officers as well as civilians who kill Black people, we have courts in India committing judicial murder, by refusing to indict feudal violence by the Ranveer Sena. Till date, the victims of Bathe and Bathani massacres, as well as communal pogroms against Sikhs and Muslims, remain deprived of justice, even as the state colludes with the murderers to discredit unmistakable evidence and deny justice. The police in India as well as paramilitary forces and the army routinely enjoy huge immunity as far as murder and custodial torture is concerned. Massacres of adivasis in conflict areas by paramilitary forces happen routinely and go unprosecuted. This shield of protection and immunity is of course enhanced through the AFSPA in Kashmir and the north-east, and through several provisions such as UAPA. Many, many Fergusons take place in India: custodial killings like that of Ishrat Jahan, as well as massacres of adivasis in Bastar, are all justified by the claim that the victims were presumed to be a threat based on their identity. 

In the US, Blacks form the majority of jail populations – and the same is the case for the Dalits, adivasis and minorities in India – encouraged by a state machinery and society which is quick to brand them 'criminal' and 'violent'. Written into the exiting SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act is in fact an acknowledgement that false implication of Dalits in heinous crimes, leading to imposition of the death sentence against Dalits, are rife in our society.

In the US, with boasts of 'liberty', 'equality before the law' and 'equal opportunities' for all, Blacks continue to face tremendous social, economic and political discrimination. In India too, the all-permeating discrimination faced by the Dalits continues to be an ugly reality. Decades after untouchability was officially 'eradicated' from India, a recent survey which shows that at least one in four people in the country still practice untouchability. Undoubtedly, the rhetoric of being the world's 'largest democracy' sits uncomfortably with the reality that untouchability continues to be justified in the name of 'health', 'hygiene' and 'culture' – all code words in this case for deep-rooted prejudice and hatred.  

Ferguson has become a reminder that 'violence' is more than the policeman shooting down an innocent Black boy. The systematic denial of justice by the same judicial process that sends a disproportionate number of Black men to jail and death row is as stark a symptom of racist violence in the US. The same can be said of communal and casteist violence in India – where the actual massacres and pogroms and custodial killings are compounded by the judicial and political system that protects the perpetrators while sending a disproportionate segment of Dalits, minorities and adivasis to jails and death row!

The fight against the systematic racist, casteist and communal violence will continue and grow as the people's movements for justice all over the world forge solidarities with each other. 


Massive Chetawani rally in Ludhiana

A massive Chetawani rally (Warning Rally) was held on 28 November at Ludhiana at the call of the CPI, CPM Punjab, CPI(ML) Liberation and CPI(M).  The massive gathering of peasants and workers warned the Akali-BJP Badal government to scrap the draconian 'Prevention Of damage to Public And Private Property Bill 2014' law, and accede to a 14 point Demand Charter. The rally was addressed by CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat, veteran CPI(M) leader A B Bardhan, CPM Punjab Secretary Mangat Ram Pasla and CPI(ML) Liberation General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya besides various other Left leaders. CPI(ML) PB Member Swapan Mukherjee was also present on the stage.

Addressing the rally, Comrade Prakash Karat underlined that the Modi Government had ushered in 'acche din' only for Ambanis and Adanis, while the Government was accelerating the offensive on the poor people. He hailed the Left assertion in Punjab as marking a new beginning. Comrade Bardhan called for a powerful Left assertion against the Akali-BJP Government of Punjab. Comrade Pasla spoke of the inspiring legacy of Bhagat Singh, and tasked the Left with carrying forward this legacy. He said the battles of the people could only be fought with the independent assertion of the red flag - and the huge response to the Left parties' rally showed the potential for this.          

Among the demands raised by the Rally were Rs 3000 as old age/widow pension; strengthening the Public Distribution System; Rs 15000 as minimum wage; and steps to curb the illegal activities of drug mafia and sand, gravel, transport and cable mafias. 

Below is the text of the CPI(ML) Liberation General Secretary's speech at the Chetawani Rally:

Red salute to all of you for coming here in such large numbers and demonstrating the growing unity of the Left with such great power and spirit. All of us present here are worried about the thirty-nine Indian workers lying trapped in Iraq. The government at the Centre is keeping mum about their actual conditions. We call upon the government to ensure their speedy and safe return to India.

Narendra Modi and his party had promised to bring back black money from foreign banks in 100 days. Every Indian had been promised 3 lakh rupees on account of repatriated black money. Now six months later, the whole issue has been sealed in an envelope and Modi now says he does not know how much black money is there in foreign banks. We are here to hold the govt accountable on its promise of repatriation of black money.

While the issue of black money is being sought to be given a quiet burial, black laws are being invoked on every pretext in the name of tough governance. Even as the state has armed itself to the teeth with draconian laws ranging from the AFSPA to UAPA, the Akali-BJP govt of Punjab seeks to truncate and deny the democratic right to assemble and agitate in the name of protection of public property. We have assembled here in this 'chetavani rally' to reject the autocratic fiats of the Akali-BJP govt and assert our democratic rights.

The new government is turning out to be India's most brazenly pro-corporate government. Mukesh Ambani, who described the Congress as 'apni dukaan' as we know from the Radia tapes, literally pats Modi on his back even as Modi takes Gautam Adani to Australia to secure his coal venture in Australia funded by $ 1 bn loan from India's premier public sector bank SBI. The Planning Commission has already been dumped, the coal sector is being opened up for private commercial mining, and FDI is being worshipped as the biggest god while prices continue to rise through the roof.

Meanwhile whatever limited legislations were there to protect peasants and workers, and land, livelihood and environment, are being systematically subverted to give a totally free hand to big Indian corporates and foreign MNCs to grab our resources, loot our money and exploit our labour. We must expand and strengthen the unity of workers and peasants and job-seeking young people and fight tooth and nail against this economic onslaught and save our resources and rights from the clutches of the Ambanis and Adanis and their government.

It is not just the economy and our hard won democratic rights which are under attack, the Sangh brigade is working overtime to impose its communal, patriarchal, sectarian and obscurantist agenda in the spheres of education, culture and mass media. This all-out attack on our resources and rights, on the history and harmony of the people, is being camouflaged as good governance and better days. This devious, disastrous design must be defeated.

We know Punjab did not buy into this hype during the Lok Sabha elections. Punjab did not grant majority to the Akali-BJP combine. Punjab refused to elect the man who as India's finance minister is now busy spearheading the corporate raid on our resources while defending black money like our previous governments. Breaking the bipolar domination of the Akal-BJP combine and the Congress, Punjab expressed the quest of the people for a democratic alternative, giving the fledgling Aam Aadmi Party the dramatic windfall gain of as many as four seats. It is now for the Left ranks, for the heirs of Kartar Singh Sarabha and Bhagat Singh, to carry forward this quest beyond the faltering steps and retreating politics of the AAP to the clarity and bold assertion of the radical democratic aspirations and agenda of the people.

Time was when the ruling classes had proclaimed the victory of green revolution in Punjab. But the fable of agrarian prosperity soon gave way to the labyrinth of terror as Punjab was subjected to the terror spiral unleashed by the Khalistanis and the KPS Gills. When the terror spiral slowed down and came to a halt, the world found Punjab in a state of crisis, with the agrarian poor reeling under the combined burden of accumulated debt and acute social oppression. The burden has been rendered heavier by the near-epidemic proportions assumed by the hazards of cancer and drugs.

The united and determined struggle being waged by the labourers and small farmers of Punjab is the way to free Punjab from the clutches of agrarian crisis and heightened corporate plunder. Hand in hand with the agrarian struggles we have the assertion of the  workers and employees, of the youth and women. Let the united strength of the Left in Punjab take this struggle to a new height and inspire the resurgence of the fighting Left through the length and breadth of India.

Long live revolution.

Glory to Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh and all other great martyrs of Punjab.


Conference on Women's Freedom in Patna

AISA and AIPWA jointly held a conference under the banner of the magazine Adhi Zameen on "Women's Freedom versus Moral Policing" on 24 November at the AN Sinha Institute of Social Sciences in Patna. AIPWA National Secretary Kavita Krishnan, addressing the seminar, said that on the one hand reactionary and patriarchal forces are curbing women's freedom in the name of morality, perpetrating killings in the name of 'honour', branding inter-religious marriages 'love jehad', spreading communal passions, and persecuting boys and girls; but on the other hand women are also fighting for their freedom in every part of the country, especially after the December 2012 movement. Com. Kavita pointed out that while the current language of governance talks a lot about women's safety and protection, but does not say a word about women's freedom which is their basic right. She also pointed out that those who blame women's clothes for rape are unable to answer why women are subjected more to rape and violence inside the home rather than outside. Patriarchal and fascist forces make false propaganda of forced conversion of Hindu girls in inter-religious marriages, but even within the Hindu religion, a woman is forced to change many things, including identity and tastes, after marriage in the name of Indian culture, she pointed out.

The Director of the AN Sinha Institute stressed that the question of women's freedom is inseparably linked to the struggle for change in the entire social system. AIPWA National President Meena Tiwari said that Hindutva forces are not only curbing women's freedom, they are also openly coming out in support of rapists and perpetrators of violence against women, and students and youth must raise their voices and oppose these forces strongly. Com. Shivani Nag pointed out that those who complain about 'misuse' of women's rights laws forget that powerful people misuse every law, but that does not mean that all laws should be scrapped. Prof. Bharati Kumar, presiding over the function, said that the 'Adhi Zameen' magazine is powerful centre of thought to combat the rising right wing dominance. She said that the whole issue of moral policing is for controlling women's sexuality and maintaining the political and social domination of reactionary and patriarchal forces. JNUSU Vice President Chintu Kumari and writer Tulika Asthana, Manita Kumari, Meera Mishra, and Captain Aiman also addressed the conference. The cultural group Hirawal also presented several songs.

In the second session, presided over by journalist Nivedita and advocate Alka Verma, many women related their experiences and took part in the discussion that followed. There was unanimous agreement on the need for women to struggle for their rights inside the home and outside, individually as well as collectively. Bihar State President Saroj Choube, Secretary Shashi Yadav, Anita Sinha, Vibha Gupta, Anuradha, Madhu, Samta Rai, and several women intellectuals were present at the conference.


Kisan Mahasabha Demonstration in Haldwani

Hundreds of vanwasis, van gurjars, and khattawasis participated in a massive rally on 15 November organized by the All India Kisan Mahasabha, Uttarakhand, and submitted a 6-point memorandum to the District Magistrate of Haldwani after a demonstration in front of the district headquarters. The rally was led by AIKMS National Secretary Purushottam Sharma, State Council member Bahadur Singh Jangi, Ganesh Chandra Pathak, Mohammad Yamin, and Ghulam Rasool. CPI(ML) CC member Raja Bahuguna, State Secretary Kailash Pandey, and AICCTU State general secretary KK Bora also participated.

The Forest Department of Nainital district has imposed a one-year ban on sowing of pasture crop by van gurjars and khattawasis in the eastern and central forest sectors, whereas as there is no ban for non-gurjars. The demonstration was organized to protest against this discrimination. Addressing the meeting which followed the demonstration, Com. Purushottam Sharma said that the van gurjars who had played a significant role in voting the Harish Rawat government to power, were now left to suffer on the brink of starvation, deprived of the occupation which was theirs for the past so many generations. This is not only persecution, but also racial discrimination against them. Purushottam Sharma also pointed out that the Forest Department is refusing to issue grazing permits to people who separated years ago in family partitions, resulting in their being deprived of their traditional forest rights. The State government and district administration are procrastinating on the issue of registering the names of goth-khattawasis in the family register, on ensuring their basic civil rights, and their integration and rehabilitation. He warned that if these issues are not addressed, the Kisan Mahasabha would accelerate protests.

Com. Raja Bahuguna said that all governments so far had worked against the interests of farmers and workers, and for mafia forces, resulting in a rising graph of crime in the State. He called for the immediate rehabilitation of khattawasis and disaster victims. Com. Bahadur Jangi spoke on the failure to meet the demand for electricity connections, landline phones and a 3-G BSNL mobile tower in Bindukhatta as well as on demands to give Bindukhatta the status of a revenue village, and to take effective steps to end the pollution spread by the Century Paper Mills in the region. The memorandum of protest submitted to the DM elaborated all the above concerns and demands.


AISA Wins the Post of Vice-President in AUSU Elections

The verdict of the Allahabad University Students' Union (AUSU) elections held on 21 November has manifested the aspiration of common students for a fundamental change inside the University for democracy, equality and struggle for students' rights amidst an overall atmosphere of violence and lumpensim created by dominant casteist lobbies and ruling class political parties. Comrade Neelu Jaiswal from AISA has won the post of Vice-President and comrade Vidyotma Maurya has been elected as the PG/Research Scholar representative from Arts Faculty. Comrade Pawan Kumar from AISA gave a tough fight to the ABVP candidate for the post of Joint Secretary and polled second in the post. Other than AISA comrades, two representatives from AIDSO were also elected – comrade Ankush Dubey as Cultural Secretary and Comrade Vimsingh Chandel as UG representative from the arts faculty.

ABVP, which was trying to cash on the claimed NaMo wave, got a major setback. Even as the Left forces registered these victories, the much hyped 'saffron wave' got reduced to only one central panel post which it won by a very slender margin. The post of President and General Secretary were won by candidates of the Samajwadi Chhatra Parishad, the student wing of the SP.

Among the contesting forces in the elections, it was only AISA that made the rights of common students and deprived sections of society an agenda of the election. Along with raising issues of academic rights of the students inside the university, AISA also took up the task to expose the anti-people policies of the SP and BJP governments. When the ABVP representatives thought they could win the elections by simply naming Modi, AISA comrades made sure ABVP was held accountable by common students on the question of CSAT, scam in the SSC results, price rise, black money and communalization of academics and society.


Movement for campus democracy in BHU

During the past two weeks, AISA has been leading struggles in BHU for campus democracy, basic students' rights and restoration of student union elections in BHU. During a recent visit of the MHRD Minister Smriti Irani to the BHU campus, AISA activists and leaders demanded her immediate intervention to address several crucial demands of the common students of the University, including restoration of the student union elections which have been stalled since 1997. The students pointed out that a regime of repression  and denial of campus democracy continues in BHU, through administrative diktats and denial of democratic participation of students in decision-making at all levels. These demands were answered by a massive crackdown on BHU students. As a result of the crackdown, hundreds of students had to be hospitalised, and several were seriously injured.

After this brutal crackdown on BHU students, JNUSU organized a massive protest on 26 November at the MHRD against continuing assaults on campus democracy, and against the Lyngdoh committee recommendations. Elections in campuses like Allahabad or DU remain dominated by money and muscle power, while democratic models as In JNU remain scuttled by the Lyngdoh recommendations. Exposing the real motive of the Lyngdoh recommendations, which is to curb the organized student movement in the country, JNUSU as well as students representatives from BHU, Allahabad, Lucknow, Punjab, Jamia and DU participated in the protest demanding restoration of democratic elections to student unions.


Jute workers' strike in Kolkata

Thousands of jute workers from all over West Bengal gathered at Rani Rashmoni Road, Kolkata on 26 November after organizing a successful strike that shut down operations of the entire industry across the state. The strike call was given by 20 operating trade unions, including AICCTU, CITU,   INTUC, AITUC and BMS. A charter of demands of jute workers had been submitted to the IJMA, the association of jute mill owners as well as to the state and central government on 30 Jan 2013. However, these demands have not being met till date, leading to the huge strike of 30 November. The workers have demanding minimum wages of Rs 450 daily, a hike in DA point, introduction of grade and scale in the jute industry, payment of all statutory dues like PF, gratuity, ESI etc., mill wise manning ratio 90:20 for permanent and special badli, issue of identity card to all the workers and abolition of all sorts of  vouchers.

The TMC sponsored union opposed this strike. But despite threat and intimidation from the TMC union, workers maintained unprecedented unity. Com. Atanu Chakravarty from AICCTU, Debashish Dutta from AITUC, MD Amin and Anadi Sahoo (both former labour ministers of the Left Front government in West Bengal) and others addressed the rally.