Vol. 18, No. 30, 21-27 July 2015
CBI Parrot Sings Modi Tune
The CBI was a caged parrot in UPA rule. And in Modi rule, the parrot is not only caged when it comes to cases in which those close to the ruling regime are implicated. The parrot is singing the tune copied from Prime Minister Modi himself, and branding Teesta Setalvad a 'threat to national security'!
The CBI's declaration that Teesta Setalvad is a threat to national security is a blatant display of the fact that country's top investigative agency is being used as a tool to punish activists regarded as enemies of Modi, the BJP and the RSS.
Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand and their organization Sabrang Communications have consistently campaigned against communal violence since the 1990s. After the communal pogrom of Gujarat in 2002, they, as part of the Citizens for Justice and Peace, did remarkable work to challenge the impunity hitherto enjoyed by powerful political perpetrators of pogroms. They worked to identify and protect witnesses and wage painstaking legal battles – all in the face of relentless intimidation and harassment including a host of false cases. If there have been 120 convictions in the Gujarat 2002 pogrom cases, it is due in very large part to the efforts of Teesta and her comrades. This has naturally earned them the ire of Modi, the BJP and the Gujarat Government which did all they could to subvert justice.
What Modi found unforgiveable, however, is that Teesta worked with another courageous and indomitable woman – Zakia Jafri – to hold Modi directly accountable for his role in the 2002 violence. Zakia Jafri, wife of the former MP Ehsan Jafri who was brutalized and murdered by a mob in 2002, was helped by the CJP to file a criminal complaint implicating Modi and other politicians and police officers for their role in the 2002 pogrom.
The timing of the CBI raid on Teesta is significant. Zakia Jafri's criminal revision petition (filed to challenge the rejection of her petition) is coming up for hearing on July 27th – and the CBI raid is the latest bout of intimidation, timed to disrupt and deter CJP's work in pursuing that petition.
Systematic subversion of justice marks one year of Modi's rule at the Centre – with agencies and institutions working to protect scamsters and killers close to the BJP, RSS and Modi, while hounding activists who pursue justice for these crimes.
The CBI that has declared Teesta to be a threat to national security, is the same that failed to challenge the court order dropping Amit Shah from the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case. In the past year, cops and politicians who were jailed as undertrials or convicts in 2002 pogrom cases or Gujarat fake encounter cases, have secured bail. Public Prosecutor Rohini Salan has publicly testified to the efforts of the NSA to go soft on the terror blast cases in which Hindutva groups are implicated. In what can be called a 'witness scam', Jharkhand agriculture minister Randheer Singh, who had won on a JVM ticket, defected to the BJP and was made a Minister turned hostile in the Ajmer blast case!
In the Asaram rape case (in which the rape-accused godman is being publicly defended by prominent BJP leaders), there is evidence that witnesses are being bribed to turn hostile – and those that fail to do so are being killed or murderously attacked. In the Vyapam scam too, in which powerful BJP and RSS leaders of MP are implicated, witnesses, investigators and journalists are being murdered or dying mysteriously, and a whistle-blower has been given a 'punishment' transfer. Now, the Vyapam case has been handed over to the CBI. But can the CBI, which has already shown how it is a tamed pet of the Modi regime, be expected to expose and punish the likes of MP CM Shivraj Chouhan and former RSS chief KS Sudershan who are implicated in the Vyapam scam?
If Modi has nothing to hide regarding his role in the 2002 pogrom, why is he fearful enough to make ridiculous claims, via the CBI parrot, that Teesta is a threat to national security? Courageous activists can't be silenced or deterred by intimidation and false cases. The Modi Government, by going after Teesta, is only confirming that it has reason to fear Teesta's activism for justice in the Gujarat 2002 cases.
Left Parties' Nationwide Protests Against Corrupt Modi Government
Left parties- CPI (ML), CPI, CPI (M), Forward Block, RSP and SUCI (C) held protest marches and meetings in several cities, state capitals and the national capital, Delhi on 20 July 2015, to protest against the shielding of scamsters, murder and terror accused by the Modi government even as it launched a vindictive witch hunt of activists. The blatant attempts by the BJP government to shield the accused in the Lalit Gate, Vyapam Scam and Vyapam murders and several other scams surfacing in states where there are BJP governments such as in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand.
In Delhi, along with the six aforementioned parties, CGPI also participated in the protests. Among those who addressed the protestors were Com. Kavita Krishnan, PB member CPI (ML), Com. D. Raja from CPI, Com. Sitaram Yechury from CPI (M), Com. Abani Roy from RSP, Com. Debabrata Biswas from Forward Block, Com. Satyavan from SUCI (C) and Com. Prakash Rao from CGPI. Com. Brinda Karat, PB member CPI (M) also participated in the march that started from Mandi House and culminated in a public meeting in Jantar Mantar during which the effigies of scam tainted ministers were also burnt. The left leaders who spoke in the public meeting, raised the issue of the BJP governments at the centre and the state who were using every possible trick to shield the BJP ministers and other high profile people with strong BJP-RSS links whose involvement in scams like Vyapam and Lalitgate have exposed the hollowness of BJP's anti-corruption claims. The attempts to shield the accused this time have assumed an unprecedented level with nearly 50 people related to a particular scam dying under 'mysterious circumstances' in last two years. They demanded immediate action against Sushma Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Besides raising the issue of shielding of accused, the left leaders also highlighted how the government was launching a witch-hunt against activists like Teesta Setalvad and Javed who were carrying on a determined struggle for justice for the victims of the Gujarat 2002 riots.
In Ranchi also the left forces combined to protest against the various scams and the subsequent attempts to shield the accused by the central and state BJP governments. CPI (ML) General Secretary, Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya and ex CPI (ML) MLA, Com. Vinod Singh were among the left leaders who participated in the protest in Ranchi. The issues raised also included the massive corruption that is coming to light in the civil supplies, health and housing departments.
Protests were also held in several places in Tamil Nadu such as Tirunelveli, Madurai, Pudukkottai, Coimbatore, Kanchipuram, Namakkal, Karur, Dharmapuri, Erode, Salem, Thiruvallur, Kanyakumari and the state capital, Chennai. In the protest march organised in Chennai, the left leaders who addressed the hundreds of protestors included, CPI (ML) State secretary, Com.Balasundaram, Com K. Subbarayan, ex MP from CPI, Com. T. K. Rangarajan, Rajya sabha MP from CPI (M) and Com Rengasamy from SUCI(C). Protests in all places, particularly Pudukkotai, Chennai and Coimbatore, witnessed a massive participation by the people.
In Odisha, the 6 left parties organized a demonstration in front of Odisha Assembly in which several hundred activists and people participated. The demonstration was led by CPI (ML) Central committee member Com. Yudhistir Mohapatra, Com. Ashok Pardhan, Com. Mahendra Parida from CPI (ML), Com. Ali Pattnaik and Com. Suresh Panigrahi from CPI (M), Com. Ramakrushan Panda and Com Dibakar Nayak from CPI, Com. Raghunath Das and Com. Puran Behera from SUCI(C) and Com. Joyti Mohapatra from Forward block. Protest demonstrations were also held in various districts like Kalahandi, Bhaadrak, and Kendrapara. Raising concerns about corruption at both state and centre levels, the left parties demanded resignation of the accused ministers.
Protests were also held in several places in Punjab such as Moga, Tarn Taran and Chandigarh. The protestors demanded sacking of the accused ministers and also raised slogans against the anti-people land acquisition ordinance. The state leaders of the left parties – Com. Hardev Arshi (CPI), Com. Charan Singh Virdi (CPM), Com. Mangat Ram Pasla (CPM-Punjab) and Com. Gurmit Singh Bakhtupur (CPI-ML) Liberation) addressed protestors in several protest sites.
Left parties also joined to hold similar protest in Lucknow near the Gandhi statue.
In Bihar, the left parties have jointly called for a Bihar bandh on 21 July to protest against the corrupt and anti people governments at both the centre and the state.
People come out on the streets to protest killing of Com. Arun Pandey
Thousands of people came out on the streets in Giridih district on 13 July 2015 against the killing of Com. Arun Pandey. Earlier, on 7 July too, a protest march had been taken out in Ranchi against the murder of Com. Arun. The protesters demanded the arrest of the culprits and exposed the murderous politics of the BJP. The people cautioned the police and administration not to shield the culprits. The police have arrested one accomplice of the killers and are calling it a matter of mutual enmity, but the statement of the arrested man exposes the BJP's lie that he is an innocent Party activist.
The 13 July chakka jam brought rail and road traffic to a standstill across the district. The GT road and railway line at Hazaribagh were blocked for several hours causing stoppage of train traffic. Traffic remained blocked in almost all districts including Bagodar, Sariya, Birni, Dhanwar, Deori, Jamua, Bengabad, Gande, Giridih town and Dumri.
In the recent past, local criminals were being protected by BJP MLA Nagendra Mahto and it is these criminals who murdered Arun Pandey. Com. Arun, who had earlier worked under the leadership of Com. Mahendra Singh, was an extremely popular leader amongst the poor, dalits, and adivasis of Koyridih and neighbouring panchayats.
He had mobilized the marginalized people under the CPI (ML) banner in struggles against feudal and criminal elements. Considered a spoke in the wheel by the BJP who indulged in the politics of crime, a number of false cases had been slapped on him but he never allowed them to weaken the struggle. One hand, while the police under pressure from Nagendra Mahto are not apprehending the killer, on the other hand the Jharkhand State BJP President and Kodarma MP Ravindra Rai is openly issuing statements in support of the killers. Addressing the protest meeting, State Secretary Janardan Prasad said that the Raghuvar government is suppressing dissent by taking recourse to murder. He pointed out the killings of Com. Arun, 12 killings in Bakoriya, and the murder of Ladu Sao in Chandwa by the coal mafia. Party leaders who spoke, vowed that the Party would strengthen agitations throughout the State to fight against the unholy deeds of the BJP.
From the killings in Gujarat to the recent killer-Vyapam scam in MP, the killer politics of BJP is there for all to see. The people are coming out against this protection of killers, scamsters and corporates. Protest marches were also taken out and effigies of CM Raghuvar burnt in Ramgarh Patratu and Gulmi of Ramgarh district, Dhanbad town, and Jhumri Talaiyya of Kodarma district.
Midday meal workers in Bihar organize a 3 Day hunger strike
There are about 2,28,000 workers, mostly women who are engaged in preparing midday meals in government schools in Bihar. Earlier, in March, mobilized by CPI (ML), they had submitted a memo to the Chief Minister demanding government employee status and 15,000 per month honorarium. In May this year, they had organized a conference in Patna and formed the Bihar Rajya Vidyalaya Rasoiya Sangh affiliated to AICCTU. As a result of their agitation in the months of May and June, the Bihar government was forced to bow down and at least give a wage scale albeit very low. Inspired by the initial outcome of the struggle, the association called for a 3 day hunger strike on 8, 9, 10 July in front of the Chief Minister's office. A massive rally was taken out from Gandhi maidan on 8 July led by AIPWA Gen Secretary Com. Meena Tiwari, Rasoiya Sangh State President Com. Saroj Choube, State Secretary Com. Sohila Gupta, Com. Anita Sinha and others. AICCTU leaders also participated in the march. Addressing the rally, the speakers said that women workers play the biggest role in implementing all the welfare schemes of the government, but the government does not pay heed to the rights of the women workers or try to improve the quality of their life. They are given a mere pittance of 1,000 as honorarium which is far less than the minimum wage fixed by this very government.
The third day of the hunger strike saw the biggest rally of about 2,000 midday meal workers, with the maximum number coming from Motihari. The meeting was addressed by Com. Kunal and Com. Krishnadev Yadav. They stressed on the unjustness of the low honorarium and said that the fight for the midday meal workers' rights would be carried on till the end. They pointed out that the trend of contractual/honorarium employment was closely linked to the pro-corporate policies of the government.
While the government took no cognizance of the hunger strike on the first two days, on the third day however, when both gates at R block were blocked, the Magistrate promised to meet a delegation, following which the strike was called off with pledges to make the 21 July bandh a huge success. The next agitation will be held on 5, 6, 7 Aug during the Assembly session, during which it will be ensured that no midday meal is prepared by workers at the honorarium of Rs 1,000.
Initiatives for Agitation in Chandauli District
Following the Party's national workshop on 30-31 May, the CPI (ML) and other people's organizations took several initiatives in the direction of carrying out agitations on a local level. A dharna under the banner of the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha was held in Raiyan of Chahniya block on 12 June against the corruption in the distribution of disaster relief cheques to farmers. The dharna, led by Kisan Mahasabha leader Dinesh Maurya, was called off after assurances from the tehsildar to end the corruption.
On 15 June AIARLA national councilor Com. Ram Dular Bind and AIPWA leader Com. Anita led a dharna in Dhapri village of Niyamtabad block on issues of accommodation-housing and corruption in MNREGA. The dharna was called off on 23 June when the tehsildar came to the spot and gave assurance of fulfilling the demands. On 17 June a dharna was organized at the Chakiya district hospital demanding an end to the widespread corruption in the hospital and providing food, ultrasound facilities, and medicines to patients by the hospital. The dharna was called off after the CMO and ADM gave assurances that the demands would be fulfilled. On 22 June Com. Shashikant Kushwaha led a dharna at the block head quarters demanding withdrawal of false cases slapped on innocent people by the Forest Department. Kisan Mahasabha leader Dinesh Maurya led a dharna on 24 June at Chahaniya to demand disaster relief cheques for sharecroppers and to protest against the fixing of 1 acre land as the minimum for compensation eligibility. On 25 June at Tajpur village in Chakiya possession was taken on patta land by planting the Party flag. An indefinite dharna had started on 8 April in this village to demand action against those who sold this revenue village, to cancel registrations, get back money paid, and give residence parchas to those settled here. On 21 May after a public meeting, the dharna was converted into an indefinite relay hunger strike. Under pressure from the agitation, the ADM visited the spot and assured fulfillment of demands and possession to 65 people. However, when after one week the possession was still not given, a land-right march was taken out on 25 June and possession was taken forcibly by planting flags. The police tried to stop the agitators but could not do anything in the face of the people's fight for their rights. Finally the administration was forced to give in writing that they would give immediate possession and it was only after this that the people left the spot.
On 26 June, the anniversary of the Emergency, a march under the banner of RYA was taken out at the Collector's office under the leadership of comrades Shrawan Maurya and Sanjeev Yadav. On 30 June, a march was organized under the banners of CPI (ML) and AIPF in which over 500 people participated.
DAA demonstration in Chennai demanding punishment for the killers of a Dalit youth
A Dalit youth Gokulraj, who was in love with an upper caste girl was murdered by casteist forces in Tamil Nadu. Democratic Advocates' Association organised a demonstration outside the Chennai High Court on 30 June demanding that the culprits be immediately booked. District Organiser of DAA, Com. Athiyaman presided over the meeting during the protest. The meeting was also addressed by Mr. Sankarasubbu, senior counsel of the High Court, Com. Rajanikanth, president of Tamil Nadu Progressive Advocates' Association, Com .Milton of Peoples Rights Protection Council and Com. Bharathi, state organiser of DAA. Com. Bharathi also addressed a demonstration organised by Oppressed Peoples' Liberation movement belonging to CPI on the same day.
Chetavani Rally by Asha Workers in Bhind
A Chetavani or a warning rally was organized on 4 July 2015 under the banner of ASHA Karmachari Sangathan, Bhind (affiliated to AICCTU) in Bhind town. The rally started from the Krishi Upaj Mandi Samiti gate and progressed through the main roads of the town to culminate in a public meeting at the Collector's office gate. The rally was led by ASHA Karmachari Sangathan district coordinator and AICCTU district General Secretary Com. Suraj Rekha Tripathi, comrades Manju Tomar, Aruna Sharma, Seema Ranavat, Geeta Jatav and others. At the close of the meeting a memorandum was submitted to the Collector through which the ASHA workers demanded from the Prime Minister, State Chief Minister and Health Minister that- (i) ASHA workers be given the status of government employees and that they be paid a monthly wage of Rs 18,000; (ii) until such time as they were regularized, they should be paid an honorarium of Rs 15,000; (iii) ASHA workers be provided with a Scooty for travelling in the health insurance project areas, and that they should be given maternity leave facilities, uniforms, kits, and travel allowance. The memorandum listed a total of 12 demands.
Kisan Mahasabha Protest in Mathura
A huge march was taken out on 29 June 2015 under the banner of the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha, Mathura district committee to protest in front of the Collector. Hundreds of farmers and workers from dozens of villages participated in the march which started from the Tank chowraha and culminated in front of the Collector's office. The marchers rent the air with slogans such as, "Kisan mazdoor ekta zindabad, poonjivad ho barbad" (farmer-workers' unity long live, down with capitalism), "Bhoomi adhigrahan adhyadesh wapas lo" (Take back land acquisition ordinance), "Ola vrishti se barbad faslon ka muawza do" (Pay compensation for crops destroyed by hail storm), and "Ek lakh tak karja maaf karo (Waiver debts till the amount of one lakh)". Braving the scorching heat, the protesters showed remarkable enthusiasm. The march culminated in a meeting in front of the Collector's office conducted by Com. Rakesh Verma and presided over by Com. Hada Ranvir Singh. All the speakers exposed the anti-farmer policies of the Central as well as the state government. They dubbed the Modi government an Ambani-Adani government which was soaked in corruption and also unmasked the anti-people policies of the Akhilesh government. At the end of the meeting a delegation submitted a memorandum to the President through the SDM, who was representing the DM.
AIPF demonstration in Tamil Nadu demanding the protection of livelihoods of tribals on Hul Diwas
AIPF organised a demonstration at Vilupuram demanding the state government to take necessary action for the release of Tribal people of Tamil Nadu languishing in Andhra Pradesh prisons falsely framed in cases of red sandalwood smuggling. They are forced to migrate to Andhra Pradesh for livelihood since they have been deprived of their traditional lands and the continued neglect by Tamil Nadu state government. Following demands were raised during the protest:
i. Form legal assistance for the release of tribal and other toiling people who have been unable to obtain bail for years and are languishing in jails.
ii. Grant grant money for the subsistence of their families.
iii. Form a separate state act to prevent their migration and to protect their land from being grabbed.
iv. Immediately implement the Forest Rights act 2006 immediately and also ensure the rights of the tribals to sell small forest and hill grown products.
v. Introduce special schemes to provide employment in their areas of living.
vi. There should not be a reduction in reservation quota in central and state PSUs. A special drive should be launched to fill up all the vacancies.
Tamil Nadu State secretary of CPI (ML) Com. Balasundaram, AIPF Campaign committee member Com. Chandramohan and the District secretary of CPI (ML) Com. Venkatesan led the protests.