August 9:

“Vajpayee Hatao, Desh Bachao” campaign"

“VAJPAYEE HATAO” (Oust Vajpayee) demand, that was articulated spontaneously all over the country in the wake of the Tehelka revelations, has gained momentum in the more than five months that followed it, and Vajpayee govt. was found to be involved in many more scams, the recent being the UTI scam, in which the PMO has direct involvement. The new economic policies have turned the country into a graveyard for industry and agriculture, while scamsters continue to make merry. The government’s blatant support for the missile-crazy Bush administration and the shameless offer to host possible US military bases in the country have badly tarnished the country’s image, reducing the world’s second biggest country, with more than a billion people to the pitiable position of a vassal state of Washington. Linking all this to the ongoing unrest in the countryside against the govt.’s anti-peasant surrender to WTO, the Party in order to intensify “Vajpayee hatao” movement, issued a call to observe 9 August, the historic Quit India Day, as a day of expressing protest through rasta roko, rail roko and jail bharo movements throughout the country. The call “Vajpayee hatao, Desh bachao”(Oust Vajpayee, Save the Nation) against the onslaught of globalisation and communal fascism evoked widespread response among Party ranks, activists of mass organisations and masses all over the country. Roads were blocked, trains were stopped, blocking the tracks at several places, processions were brought out and tens of thousands of people were arrested in ‘Jail Bharo’ programmes all over the country. The details.

In Bihar, around 25,000 people were arrested in various cities and towns. In Patna, a large anti-globalisation march with more than 5,000 activists and supporters led by Com. Ramjatan Sharma, Rameshwar Prasad, Saroj Chaube, Rajaram Singh, Mithilesh Yadav, and others courted arrest. They raised slogans like “stop selling the country at the instance of World Bank” “down with traitors” etc. In Rohtas, more than 2,000 people led by Com. Pawan Sharma brought out a procession at Dehri-on-Sone. In Katihar, police lathicharged at Kursela on peasants blocking NH-31. At Kachna in Barsoi, a train was stopped for hours. In Nawada, a train was stopped for hours, and thousands participated in a march in the city, and courted arrest at the station. In Siwan, Mairwan railway station was paralysed. Com. Amarnath Yadav, Satyadev Ram and Amarjeet Kushwaha were arrested along with thousands of peasant activists. In Arrah, more than one thousand peasants led by Com. Chandradeep Singh, Chandrama Prasad and others brought out a procession and courted arrest. Similar programme was observed in Jahanabad, led by Com. Ramadhar Singh, Kunti Devi, etc. Reports of courting arrest are there from Gaya, Samastipur, Chhapra, Begusarai, Darbanga and Madhubani. In Bettiah of East Champaran, more than 4,000 peasants, workers, students and youth participated in a procession, largest ever in Bettiah, and gheraoed the Collectorate. The DM came out and admitted that he was unable to arrest this large number of agitators. Reports of arrests are there from Muzaffarpur, Bhagalpur, Bhabhua, Dhamdaha, and Saharsa etc.

In Jharkhand, Party and allied mass organisation activists blocked roads at four points in Garhwa; the police resorted to lathicharge at Bhavnathpur. A procession was taken out in Ranchi city and traffic at the main centre Firayalal was stopped for one hour. Roads were blocked in Palamu, Barwadih (Latehar), Bundu (Ranchi). The National highway was blocked at three points in Hazaribagh, in which around 1,000 comrades participated. Roads were also blocked at Koderma, Dumka and Gumla. In Giridih, around 4,000 people blocked GT Road, and around 1000 blocked another highway at Birni. In Dhanbad, around 500 comrades blocked roads at 4 places including Nirsa. In Bokaro, police resorted to lathicharge in the city and some 700 people participated in road blocks at Jaina More, Phusro. In all, 11,000 people participated in the road block programmes.

In U.P., more than 5,000 activists took to the streets implementing the national call, while the demand of ouster of police-mafia saffron govt. of Rajnath Singh to restore democracy in the state was also raised along with it. At Mailani station, police lathicharged demonstrators led by Com. Krishna Adhikari and even resorted to firing in the air. Around 20 activists got injured but people resisted police attack and kept Ruhelkhand Express blocked. A dozen activists were arrested and sent to jail, and false cases including 307 Cr.PC were clamped on 16 activists including Party CC member Krishna Adhikari, State Committee member Jawaharlal and Distt. Secy of Kheri, Ramdaras. In Mughalsarai, around 2,500 activists led by Com. Akhilendra Pratap Singh marched through Mughalsarai bazaar, where people spontaneously supported and shops were closed showing the people’s anger against Rajnath Singh. After blocking the railway traffic for two hours, at Mughalsarai Jn. activists courted arrest. In Karnalganj of Gonda district, dharna on railway line went on for two hours. In Pilibhit, 400 activists were arrested while blocking Assam Road. Processions were brought out in Ballia and Bhatpar of Deoria, Allahabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Ghazipur and Jalaun, where hundreds participated. In Lucknow, the rallyists led by Com. Lalbahadur Singh were arrested by police at Hazratganj. In Kanpur, the effigy of Atal Bihari Vajpayee was burnt and the activists were arrested.

In Rajasthan, Jhunjhunu bandh was widely successful. The procession was led by Com. Mahendra Chaudhary and Phoolchand Dhewa. Mass meetings were held at Banswada, Salumber and Dhariawad of Udaypur distt. Pratapgarh in Chittor district. In Dungarpur, ‘chakka jam’ and dharna were led by Com. Ramprasad Dindor. In Jaipur, Party activists led by Com. Srilata Swaminathan took part in a joint programme under the banner of People’s Campaign against Globalisation, blocked road and courted arrest.

In Madhya Pradesh, around 200 youth and women activists, workers and intellectuals participated in a dharna in Gwalior led by Com. Rajaram, Gurudatt Sharma, Vinod Rawat, Narendra Pandey and others. Dharna was also held at Bhind.

In Chhattisgarh, workers took out a rally in Bhilai and then staged a dharna at Power House. It was led by Com. Shambhu Singh, Ashok Miri, Shekhar Rao and others. In Raipur, dharna was staged at a central place Motibagh, led by Narottam Sharma and others. Similar programme was also taken up at Bilaspur.

In Punjab, Party, AISA and RYA activists staged a protest demonstration in Ludhiana, led by Com. Ramesh Sharma, Harbhagwan Singh and Bhagwant Singh.

In Haryana, Party and mass organisation activists led by Com. Prem Singh Gahlawat, RK Khokhar, Mahendra Chopra, etc. stopped traffic at Ambedkar Chowk, Karnal, where they were all arrested. Prior to this a meeting was held at Karna Park.

In Gujarat, Party activists, workers, student-youth etc. led by Com. Ranjan Ganguli, HJ Pagare, Laxmanbhai Patanwadia, veteran communist Kantilal Dabhi, Amit Patanwadia and others, brought out a militant rally and held a mass meeting.

In Karnataka, public meeting in Bangalore was attended by more than hundred people. Com.V Govindarajan, TM Poonacha, Subramani, GA Srinivas etc. addressed the gathering. At a demonstration held in Mysore, Com. Raghu and Javaraiah spoke.

In Assam, road was blocked at Noonmati in Guwahati, where various worker and employees unions, peasants and cultural organisations took part. In Silchar, nearly 300 activists participated in a road block. Protesters came out for road blockade at Jorhat, at Moran under Dibrugarh district, at Pathsala in Borpeta district and Behali and Ratowa in Sonitpur district. In Karbi Anglong and NC Hills, road block was total.

In South Tripura, Com. Jayanta Das, Babul Pal and Jagdish Munda led a protest demonstration held at Belonia. Activists led by Com. Mrinmoy Chakravarty, Partha Karmakar and Gopal Roy courted arrest in Udaipur. Activists led by Com. Rajjab Ali, Nijjaram Tripura and Amit Chakravarty courted arrest in Amarpur. At Kailashahar in North Tripura, around 150 activists led by Manik Pal and Chiranjib Bhattacharjee were arrested at SDO office.

In West Bengal, highways and important roads were blocked for one hour in more than 35 places. In Debagram, Nadia, police arrested Com. Krishna Pramanick and 40 activists. In Kolkata in a day-long sit-in programme at Hazra More, state and district leaders addressed the gathering.

In Delhi, around 700 Party and mass organisation activists held a meeting at Jantar Mantar and then marched militantly towards Parliament. They were stopped and arrested at Parliament Street Police Station. The meeting was addressed by Poliburo member Com. Swadesh Bhattacharya, Kumudini Pati, Swapan Mukherjee, Rajendra Pratholi, Ranjit Abhigyan, Sunita and Santosh Roy.

Brutal Lathicharge, Firing at Mailani Joint Protest at Kheri

IN A letter faxed to Home Secretary, Govt. of India and Governor of U.P., Party protested against brutal lathicharge and firing by police on CPI(ML) activists at Mailani in Lakhimpur Kheri district when they were observing all-India “Azadi bachao” campaign on 9 August. Party said that the arrest of 12 Party leaders, clamping of false cases including Sec. 307 against them sending them to jail is undemocratic, unwarranted and against the spirit of democracy. The letter demands unconditional release of the arrested comrades. Four comrades including CCM Krishna Adhikari have been warranted under the same charges.

A joint meeting of left-democratic forces was held at Kheri in U.P. on 12 August to condemn the incident of police attack. It was conducted by Com. LB Singh. A joint communique signed by CPI(ML) and CPI was also issued. UP State Committee observed statewide protest day against the incident on 13 August, under which protest dharna was held at Kheri.



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Land seizure movement in Chandauli

IN CHANDAULI district, Biarath farm land movement is already well-known. Now the movement has also spread to Jaymohani, Sikandarpur, Dighwat, Kundalia and Mirzapur. In Jaymohni village of Naugarh, the forest deptt. had given arable land pattas to adivasis displaced by Chandraprabha dam. But non-adivasi evil gentry have not only usurped this land but got it entered into land records against their names. The Party has now started movement on the question of occupation of this land by adivasis. In Sikandarpur gram sabha of Niyamatabad block, a Rajput landlord has 7 bigha ceiling surplus land under his occupation, which the High Court has ruled as gram samaj land. On 24 July, the rural poor led by Party captured this land and put the proposal for its distribution before the ADM. Landlords, patronised by Samajwadi Party district president, have threatened to resort to armed violence. But the poor people led by the Party are alert to beat back any such attack. In Dighwat of Sakaldiha block, gram samaj land spread over hundreds of acres is registered as a pond in land records. A handful of powerful Rajbhar families patronised by BSP have illegally held this land and they even made a futile attempt to get it legalised by the High Court. Now, led by Party, over 50 Rajbhar families and dalits have occupied this land and demanded from the tehsil administration to declare this land as arable and distribute it among the poor. The landholders are trying to terrorize the occupant landless labourers.

The struggle to capture arable land in Rasia forest of Shahabganj block is going on. More than 50 Mushahar families put up huts on this land a few days back and founded Sherpur basti there. In this movement, hundreds of Raidas families came out of BSP fold and joined our Party. The forest deptt. had to retreat after its repressive tactics failed. But kulaks and rich peasants in the nearby villages have set their eyes on the land. They tried to sow discord among our Party ranks on caste basis, but it was quickly resolved and it was decided that 80 Vanvasis and Dalits will get 1 bigha each, whereas more than 50 Vanvasi families will get 1/5 bigha each. Preparations of offering effective resistance to possible attacks by landlords, evil gentry, criminal gangs and forest deptt. are going on.

CPI(ML) team visits Baghpat

When the village pradhan of Dalu Khera village under Balaini PS located on Meerut-Baghpat road, about 75 kms away from Delhi settled a dispute arising out of a road accident, he never imagined it would soon lead to a nightmare for the people of that village and nearby areas. The SO of the Balaini police station picked up the pradhan on August 19 for amicably settling the dispute depriving them a chance for extortion, and was beaten black and blue. The villagers demonstrated before the police station the next day for the release of their pradhan. That very night, a huge posse of police led by the SO raided the village, ransacked the houses and mercilessly beat up the people, including women and children during night-long terror. The villagers, mostly Yadavs, called a Maha Panchayat, a larger congregation of nearby villages in Balaini on 22 August and a huge gathering of thousands of people marched to the police station. The police resorted to unprovoked firing, killing four people. A CPI(ML) team led by senior Polit Bureau member Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya, and comprising Comrades Rajender Pratauli, Delhi Secretary, Prem Singh Gehlawat, Incharge of Haryana and Parmender visited the spot and talked to the people. The team demanded immediate dismissal -and arrest of the SO and other policemen responsible for the killings and compensation for the victims. The team also called upon the people to put an end to Rajnath Singh’s police raj in UP.


Peasant convention in Durg

IN ORDER to mobilise peasants in ‘freedom campaign’ of All India Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, a kisan convention was organised on 15 August at Berla in Durg distt. of Chattisgarh. Around 250 peasants from various villages of Berla block attended the convention. Com. Narottam Sharma, Shambhu Singh, and others addressed the convention.

Garwah episode: Height of police atrocity

THE GARWAH district committee of CPI(ML) had scheduled its district party conference on 4-5 August at Garwah town. Our influence has been growing in Garwah district on the basis of anti-feudal struggles of the rural poor and resistance against mafia and other reactionary forces and our consistent voice against police repression being let loose in the name of curbing extremism. The local administration and police, under the leadership of SP Mr.Bhatia, and in collusion with corrupt businessmen of the local chamber of commerce and leaders of ruling party, decided to ‘teach a lesson’ during the district conference of CPI(ML).

On the morning of 4th August, the police arrested Comrade Ajoy Chandravanshi from Maral, who was not wanted in any case. He was brought by a group of plainclothes policemen to Garwah town in a Marshal van and was told by the police that some wanted cadres of CPI(ML) would come to the conference and he would have to identify them failing which he would be killed. The plainclothes police were patrolling the entire town keeping Comrade Ajoy with them and his face was covered with a cloth mask. Suddenly, the police found a car with a red flag near a hotel and they immediately rushed inside and arrested Comrade Laxman Singh who was taking some food there. Laxman Singh is a tribal peasant leader and was a candidate in Bhawanathpur assembly segment in the last two assembly elections.

Meanwhile, Comrade Ajoy was sent to the party office of Garwah at 2.30 p.m. to enquire about the comrades who were present in the office. Of course, at least 30 plainclothesmen had encircled the office from three sides. At that time, Comrade Sunil Kispotta, the district secretary of Garwah, was present in the office and upon hearing about the presence of police from Ajoy, he asked him not to leave the office. He also sent a message to the comrades gathered at the conference venue to reach the office in small groups. When the plainclothesmen were at a loss as to what to do after waiting for nearly 2 hours, suddenly about hundred of our comrades reached the office and soon formed themselves into in a procession shouting slogans. Comrade Sunil and other district leaders, along with Comrade Ajoy, joined at the head of the procession and it moved through the main roads of the town. The policemen were following the procession. After some time the police tried to take away Comrade Ajoy from the procession but the comrades, especially women, encircled the police and retrieved Ajoy and the procession again proceeded towards the conference venue, which was a middle school. Police forces were rushed there and suddenly the police started a lathicharge under instructions from SP Bhatia and arrested comrades Sunil, Akhtar, Ajoy and Jitendra after severely beating them. Comrade Jitendra is a lawyer and vice-president of the Bar Association at Garwah court. The delegates were scattered and the conference couldn’t be organized.

Comrades Sunil and Akhtar were released that night and Comrade Laxman was booked under old cases and the other three comrades were biked under 17 criminal sections as the police normally do in extremist cases. A protest march was organized in Garwah town on 5th morning. A protest march was also organized in Ranchi on 5th August and delegations met Home Secretary and DGP. Immediate suspension of SP and other police officials of Garwah was demanded for their undemocratic act. This issue was also raised in the August 9 rasta rokos in Jharkhand. On 14th August, a convention was organized in Garwah town against police atrocities and a signature campaign was taken up to remove Mr.Bhatia from Garwah. On 21 August, there were protest marches in all blocks of Garwah and there was a dharna before DC’s office in Palamu and there was also a demonstration before Assembly at Ranchi condemning the police raid on the conference venue. A big rally is scheduled for 30 August. The district conference would again be convened at Garwah town between 10-15 September.

Incidentally, 3 youth activists were arrested by the SP two months ago in Garwah town when they were collecting donations from people for “office building fund” and they were also booked under 17 criminal sections. Mr. Bhatia started harassing CPI(ML) activists after we conducted a strong protest against the killing of 8 dalits in Simri Banjara in the name of encounter with PWG on February 2001.

-- DP.Buxi




Black Day observed on Malayalam New Year’s Day

CHINGAM 1, the auspicious beginning of the Malayalam calendar year (the day Onam festivals begins), is officially observed as “Peasants’ Day” in Kerala. This year, the CPI(ML) unit of Palakkad district called upon the peasants to observe the day, which fell on 17 August, as “Peasants’ Black Day”, as a protest against the anti-peasant policies and measures of Central and State governments. Led by Com. Joy Peter, Secretary of Palakkad district Party unit, activists and sympathisers wearing black badges and carrying placards in their hand demonstrated at the official ceremony being held at Palakkad, and distributed leaflets explaining why Party has been forced to observe this black day. They raised slogans like “Peasant-worship is a deception, while they are being starved to death”, “abrogate all agreements which push down the prices of domestic agricultural products”, “write off all the outstanding agricultural loans”, “stop the import of palm oil, save coconut farmers”, “provide insurance to paddy crops”, and “fight against globalisation, fight against Vajpayee-Antony governments”.


A New Initiative in Darbhanga town

In the past, very few activities took place in Darbhanga town. Urban work occupied marginal place in Party work, rendering the urban mass organisations lifeless. Even part-time political organisers to conduct regular political-organisational activities, even at the lowest level, were not there.

Following powerful intervention by the Party subsequent to the police firing on youth assembled for army recruitment and growth of popularity of CPI(ML) in the countryside, plan to reorganise work in Darbhanga town was taken up. A leading team was set up taking active members and work began in a systematic manner. During past one year, regular political-organisational activities have been conducted and popular movements have been launched, beefing up the prestige of our Party and expanding the area of its influence. A report of some important movements:

Movement against house tax

Darbhanga is one of the six municipal corporations in Bihar. The authorities suddenly increased tax on the houses arbitrarily and the town poor were brought under its net. A month-long campaign against house tax was conducted holding street-corner meetings and collecting signatures from the houses. The municipal corporation was forced to promise a review.

Movement to save ponds

Darbhanga is a town of ponds. Ever since Darbhanga Raj days, there are innumerable ponds in the town. However, the land mafia growing with the expansion of the town has also launched a sinister drive of filling the ponds and getting the land registered against their names. Gaina Pokhar is one such pond, which is in existence for past 150 years and religious festivities are observed around it. Land mafia tried to purchase it and employed local goons to fill it. This caused resentment among the people, and a few Party members took the initiative to mobilise them. Hundreds of people were assembled, who chased away the mafia and the goons. Once again, the mafia tried to regroup the goons and launch attack and this time the people caught them, thrashed them severely and compelled the administration to take steps against them. Compelled by the movement, the administration has recently ruled that the ponds cannot be filled or purchased. Permission will have to be taken from the DM even to fill even a privately owned pond.

Movement to repair drainage system

For several decades, the drainage system of the town has not been repaired, nor has any new drain been constructed. This has caused the problem of water-logging and unhealthy conditions of trash getting deposited at various points. Mobilising resentment of the people on this question, the Party initiated a movement, holding dharnas, demonstrations and even hunger strikes. This movement forced the municipal corporation to repair drains in several wards where Party has its work, and to order construction of new drains.

Movement for wharf at the river bank

River Bagmati flows through the middle of town Darbhaga. In a thickly populated area, there is Imli Ghat, where thousands of rural and urban people cross the river on ferrying boats. Much earlier, there was a wharf, which facilitated carrying of bicycle, two-wheeler, jeep or even a supply-laden vehicle onto the boas, but for many years, it has become useless, and people had been demanding a new jetty. Last month a few renowned leaders of the town took to hunger strike and hundreds of people staged dharna in support. As large number of people got involved in the movement, ultimately on the fourth day the administration was compelled to issue tenders for the wharf. The movement has facilitated expansion of Party influence to a greater domain. Problem of the river cutting into the land in several localities have also been raised.

Movement to Get “Slum Development Project” Properly Implemented

Slum development projects are being implemented, mostly in towns having municipal corporations. This scheme abounds in corruption. Under this scheme, building of community residential houses with two-storied clusters, drainage, roads, toilet and bathroom and promoting economic prosperity, etc., are to be introduced in the urban slum areas. These schemes are not seeing the light of the day due to the nexus of officers-intermediaries-contractors. The Party has conducted a sustained movement on this question and, in a number of localities, we have scored success in promoting people’s control over these schemes.

Movement to stop recovery of earthquake loans

Darbhanga town was badly hit by the earthquake of 1987 and no house was unaffected by it. HUDCO extended loans to poor people under which a sum of Rs.3000 was handed over each and Rs.1000 was kept in fixed account. Now the recipients of the loan have received notices to repay it. Party has planned to launch movement on this issue.

Movement against corruption in Welfare Department loan scheme

Scheduled caste persons are issued loans with special subsidy under this scheme. But Welfare officials, in connivance with bank officials, corner almost the entire loan amount. Compelled by the movement launched by the Party, a committee has been set up to investigate into the matter.


Land seizure movement

The question of land seizure is directly related to the demand of agrarian labourers. For a number of years, emphasis on this aspect of struggle had waned, because of our entanglement with Ranvir Sena. Because of this, the agenda of land seizure had occupied secondary importance. In a number of places where land was seized earlier, feudal forces had regained their possession, and we could not launch any protest. Party had decided that it was better to concentrate on a single issue rather than scatter our attention on several fronts. Taking advantage of this, Ranvir Sena propagated their the claim to have recaptured many plots of land earlier seized by Maley. The bourgeois media too highlighted this propaganda. With the change of situation, forms of struggle also change to suit them, and priority too changes simultaneously. As we advanced in the direction of defeating Ranvir Sena, we started concentrating on the basic issues of agrarian labourers. In the 6th District Conference, we laid emphasis focussing on burning problems of agrarian labourers in the rural areas and decided to intensify movement under the banner of Khet Mazdoor Sabha. Immediately after the Conference, we took programmes of land seizure.

Sandesh (Bagamath): 

In 1992, peasants led by Kisan Sabha captured land belonging to Bagamath in Sandesh block of Bhojpur. The mahant had to flee the math. Hundreds of acres of land owned by the math is there in Paliganj, Chapra, Gaya, Hazaribagh, etc. He started residing at some other place. People started cultivating the land. Agrarian labourers received parchas of the seized land under the Ceiling Act. However, the administration took no interest in bringing the land under the possession of agrarian labourers. People had occupied the land on their own and when we got entangled in a fierce battle with Ranvir Sena, the mahant utilised the situation and reasserted his right and began to manage the land with the help of Ranvir Sena. The police also sided with mahant, though the land remained fallow for several years. This year, on 16 July, Ranvir Sena and mahant jointly started the tilling of the land. As the news reached the people, numbering four to five thousand, assembled from nearby areas. Ranvir Sena started firing to disperse them, but people offered sustained resistance and ultimately the goons had to flee from the field.

On 1 August, Khet Mazdoor Sabha held a mass meeting at the same land and demanded from the administration to divide the land among people having parcha, and distribute hundreds of acres of land under mahant’s possession among agrarian labourers.

Sahar (Baruhi): 

In Baruhi village of Sahar block, there was 18 bigha ceiling surplus land. This land was under the occupation of Ramchandra Rai, an active member of Ranvir Sena. This land also came under Kisan Sabha’s red flag in 1992. This land too went out of hand when we got entangled with Ranvir Sena. This year on 23 July, around five to six thousand people led by Khet Mazdoor Sabha went to occupy the land. During the land seizure, the administration tried to stop people from hoisting the flag there. However, with a militant posture the people just waved aside the threats issued by the administration and the police and hoisted red flag there and held a large mass meeting under the banner of Khet Mazdoor Sabha. The Circle Officer, after understanding the whole scenario, assured to distribute parchas to agrarian labourers. In the beginning, there was a hesitation among the people that the land being in the possession of Ranvir Sena, a bitter bloody struggle would have to be conducted. However, when people got mobilised in large number on this issue, the hesitation broke down.

Sahar (Anhari): 

The 58 bigha land of Anhari Math and 14 bigha land of Bihta Math falls in Anhari village of Sahar block. This total 72 bigha of land was under the possession of feudal lords. Out of this, only 28 bigha of land could be identified until now, and a decision was taken to occupy this land. This area has been a sensitive area in the past, and was known to be a Ranvir Sena stronghold. Bathani Tola is situated in this area, where Ranvir Sena conducted the big massacre. Therefore, the situation was tense from the beginning and there were many an apprehension. Still, the decision had to be carried out. It was a busy sowing season, so the problem of organising a good mass participation was also there. First of all, a leaflet was distributed on the question of land seizure. All the Party and mass organisation activists took part in a propaganda campaign. There were rumours among the people that Ranvir Sena is amassing weapons, it would not allow land to be captured, none of the people going to seize the land will be able to return unhurt, etc. On the other hand, Khet Mazdoor Sabha was consistently propagating among the people to mobilise them in largest possible number. Police too had intensified patrolling. On the day of seizure, 5 August, a contingent of around 500 agrarian labourers armed with traditional weapons and red flag in hands, shouting slogans “We will not allow your right over the land that belongs to us”, started out of Anhari village the police stopped it in the way. Scuffle ensued and immediately another contingent of 400 people reached the field and hoisted red flag there. Knowing this the police reached there too and along with them, the people too reached there. All the agrarian labourers who were sowing seeds or weeding, left their work and assembled to witness the struggle. The land seizure movement was led by Khet Mazdoor Sabha District President Sidhnath Ram and Secretary Kamta Singh.

As the flag was hoisted, a procession was brought out covering Kharaon, Bathani, Ojhwalia, and Anhari villages. In the evening, a march was brought out by the resistance squad. In the face of militant people, police accepted its defeat and did not put any hurdle in land seizure. The self-confidence of basic classes has reached a new height as a result of success in this struggle. Peasant leaders Kapil Sao, Lal Bahadur Shashtri, Rambachan Pal were in the forefront of this struggle.

Tarari (Jethwar): 

The land captured last year in Jethwar village of Tarari block, was once again tilled this year by the people. This land had also gone under the possession of landlords. Last year it was recaptured, but cultivation could not be started. It was done this year.


Convention against globalisation

A convention against globalisation was held in Begusarai on 31 July. It was inaugurated by Party GS Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya. He said that globalisation is an anti-production phenomenon which only emphasized superprofits. The very character of capital has changes into that of looting the people. The Third World regimes have almost surrendered to the attack of global capital. Only a worker-peasant unity can provide the basis for defending the sovereignty of the country and the left should be in the center of this struggle, he added. Comrade Rajaram Singh, co-convener of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Samiti and an MLA, spoke on the crisis of the peasantry. The convention was attended by a good number of academics and intellectuals.






CPI(ML) in flood relief

ORISSA, ONE of the most backward states in our country, is once again reeling under the impact of nature’s fury. After the unparalleled Super Cyclone in 1999 and severe drought in 2000, this year floods have ravaged Orissa. As per official estimates, nearly 1,00,000 people, in 24 districts, have been affected by the floods. Crops in 75 lakh hectares of land have been damaged. More than 100 people have lost their lives.

Heavy rainfall in Chhattisgarh which constitutes the source of important rivers of Orissa, unexpected release of water in huge quantity into Mahanadi from the Hirakud dam, continuous rainfall in the coastal regions of Orissa for 15 days and the hightide in Bay of Bengal preventing drainage of flood water through the rivers etc. were the immediate factors for the flood havoc. But the incompetence and callousness of the BJD-BJP regime in Orissa aggravated the crisis. First of all, the Navin Patnaik regime utterly failed in flood control measures, especially embankment of canals, desilting of drainage channels, and normal repair and maintenance work to irrigation systems. Secondly, in the face of a grim flood situation the government miserably failed to organise any relief.

The government is also obstructing relief initiatives undertaken by political parties, social organisations and NGOs. To cite an example, when one of our youth leaders, who is also an elected member of the panchayat samiti in Delong block of Puri district, mobilised the people to protest against irregularities in the distribution of relief materials and forced the block officials to accept people’s supervision over distribution, the local MLA of BJD instigated the district officials to book a case against him.

The NDA government at the Centre, of which BJD is also a part, was also equally indifferent to the plight of the people of Orissa. Vajpayee, after his much-publicised aerial survey, released only Rs.100 crore as against an estimated loss of Rs.600 crore. How much of it would really reach the affected people is anybody’s guess. A CAG report has pointed out widespread irregularities in relief distribution in the wake of the Super Cyclone. The CPI(ML) activists have once again risen to the occasion and stood by the people during their agony. Their main thrust was to release popular initiative in relief and rehabilitation work and to check the official loot through people’s supervision.

Land struggles by tribals

IN SOUTH ORISSA, especially in Gajapati district, in the face of growing tribal unrest, the Orissa government appointed special task force for settling the land disputes of tribals. Barring a few superficial attempts, this committee could not make any meaningful breakthrough in solving these disputes. In this backdrop, the CPI(ML) and its kisan wing have launched land struggles in Rayagada and Gajapati districts. In Padampur block of Rayagada district, nearly 25 acres of ceiling-surplus land under the occupation of upper caste landlords in two places were seized. Tribal people were mobilised in these struggles and they could rebuff the attempts by the mafia and police to strike terror. In Gosani and Kashinagar blocks of Gajapati district, 30 acres of government land under the control of vested interests were seized by mobilising hundreds of rural poor.

In contrast to the anarchic activities based on dalams and the trend of tribal-dalit conflict over land, our organised land struggle on the basis of proper investigation and popular initiative has become a trendsetter in this region and has the potential of rapid expansion in the days to come.

The plight of the tribal people of South and West Orissa has been further aggravated by the decision of the Navin government to stop bamboo cutting which is an important forest produce and source of livelihood for the tribals in Orissa. The revenue loss to the state government would be Rs.16 crore. The tribals would lose 2 lakh mandays of employment. The CPI(ML) has launched a popular campaign to force the government to allow bamboo cutting again.




Sit-in Demo demanding inquiry into the carnages of the ’70s

THE DECADE of the ‘70s was steeped in revolutionary heroism unparalleled in the history of post-Independence India. Inspired by the Naxalbari peasant revolt, and responding to Charu Mazumdar’s call, thousands of students and youth in Bengal plunged into a revolutionary course for the cause of liberation of the motherland. A unique revolutionary saga of sacrifice and martyrdom was scripted with the precious blood of these revolutionary youth. But it was also a decade that witnessed the worst kind of terror perpetrated by the ruling classes and the state revealing sharpest class antagonism. To finish off the revolution and the revolutionaries, numerous massacres were executed and several CPI(M-L) leaders including Saroj Dutta (5/8/1971) and Charu Mazumdar (28/7/1972) were killed in cold blood. The question of political democracy has, therefore, been a living issue in West Bengal since the latter half of the ’70s.

When the Left Front Government (LFG) came to power in West Bengal in the ’77 elections, its promises also included inquiry into the massacres and meting out punishment to the culprits. However, nothing has been done by the LFG in this regard during the 24 years of its long rule. On the contrary, notorious police officers, perpetrators of the ghastly crime, have been rewarded during the left regime. The CPI(M-L) and other democratic sections in West Bengal have time and again raised the demand of trying and punishing the guilty. The CPI(M-L) had organised a padayatra from Siliguri to Calcutta from 11 to 22 February in 1999 and even called a successful Bangla Bandh on the issue on 26 February, 1999. But the Left Front has all along turned a deaf ear to the issue, betraying utter callousness. Around 50,000 signatures have also been submitted to the then Home Minister (Police), Buddhadev Bhattacharya.

To raise the demand forcefully once again, the CPI(M-L) state committee organised a sit-in demonstration on 12-13 August on the 30th anniversary of Baranagar-Cossipore carnage at the ground beside the martyrs’ column at Sinthi More in north Kolkata. Besides the CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya and State Party Secretary Comrade Kartick Pal and other central and state Party leaders, other Naxalite leaders Azizul Haque, Santosh Rana and Pradip Banerjee, distinguished poet Amitava Dasgupta, intellectual Tarun Sanyal, SUCI leader Prativa Mukherjee and others also participated in the sit-in demonstration and addressed the participants. The programme began with offering of floral tributes at the martyrs’ column by the central and state leaders and the noted personalities present. Two-minute silence was also observed in memory of the martyrs. The sit-in concluded on the evening of 13 August with CPI(M-L) leaders and other participants addressing a mass-meeting. In the speakers’ reminiscences, the spirit ’70s once again came to life. Slogans like “Put killer Siddhartha Shankar Ray to trial”, “Arrest Siddhartha Shankar Ray”, “The Congress goons involved in the heinous carnages must be punished”, “The Left Front must explain its failure to try the culprits and punish the guilty” etc. rent the air.

12th and 13th August are two days that weigh heavily on the Bengali psyche even today. On these two fateful days in 1971 the infamous Baranagar-Cossipore carnage was perpetrated in which more than 150 youth were slaughtered by Congress goons in connivance with the state administration. The orgy of violence let loose by them even surpassed the British butchers in cruelty. To get an idea of the ghastliness of the whole incident we here reproduce a portion of the report published in Frontier on September 18, 1971: “More than 150 boys were butchered within two days –– the Friday and Saturday. Others who were not young had also to die. Lest there be any mistake, a list containing the names of the boys killed was hung up on an improvised scaffolding on Kutighat Road, the main road connecting the Baranagar police station with the other parts. There were hour-to-hour additions to the list, and the list covered only a part of the whole area of operations. The list ran to more than 60 names on Friday alone, and enlisting the dead was discontinued as the dead were lost count of.”

But what prevented the LFG from trying and punishing the guilty? The CPI(M-L) leaders addressing the gathering pointed out that it was the lack of political will that explains its passivity. Addressing the gathering, Com. Dipankar said that this immobility on the part of LFG is no less a shame than the shame of 1971. He went on to say, “Europe tried Hitler and fascism. And so few will be found in Europe who dare say that Hitler is his/her role model, because they had squared accounts with fascism. But in West Bengal, in spite of a Left Front Govt. presiding over the state for long 25 years they are yet to deal with the semi-fascist rule of the 70s.” The speakers said that it were not the Congress goons alone that were involved in the ghastly carnage. Pointing to the CPI(M), Com. Kartick Pal asked, “Was it out of fear that some people at Alimuddin Street (CPI-M headquarters), some ex-MLAs of the party and even some party leaders would get implicated in the case, that the LFG not ready to inquire?” He informed the gathering that in its Howrah State Conference, the CPI(M) had included the name of Sata Ghosh –– the notorious Congress leader involved in the Cossipore-Baranagar carnage –– among the list of the dead to be remembered. However, on CPI(ML)’s protest, the name was finally dropped.

The speakers pointed out that it has become a ritual of the CPI(M) to remember the Naxalites before the elections. Taking a dig at this opportunism of CPI(M), Com. Dipankar observed, “Every five years, as the election approaches, they remember the decade of the 1970s. They tell the people that in case they are not returned to power, the black days of the 1970s will return, the carnage of Cossipore-Baranagar will be repeated. Did our 200 martyrs lay down their lives for this politics of black-mailing?”

Some people including Azizul Haque were in favour of a non-governmental inquiry. With utter lack of confidence in the LFG, they feel that a citizens’ inquiry was the only possible course. Deliberating on it Com. Dipankar said that CPI(ML) was not opposed to the proposal. He however was not ready to spare the Government either, “It is also the duty of the citizenry to force the government to do its duty. … I appeal to you all to put pressure on the government so that it cannot dare to pursue the path of duplicity again, it cannot exploit the election market by shedding crocodile tears for our martyrs. Side by side, I also hail the initiatives to be undertaken by the citizenry. It will be better if the matter is settled before 28th July, 2002 the 30th year of the martyrdom of Com. CM, so that this agony of West Bengal can once again be laid bare to the conscience, to the democratic consciousness of the state.”

The West Bengal Government’s decision to extend its policy of granting allowance to the Naxalite political sufferers also drew a flak from Com. Dipankar, “If the West Bengal Government really wants to do something it must, first of all, do political justice to the martyrs of the 1970s. When it intends to pull a curtain on that political chapter bypassing the issue, we cannot but condemn it.” The speakers also reiterated that the reminiscences were not an end in itself, the objective was to derive inspirations from the martyrs, for moving further onto the path lit by them and for accomplishing their unfulfilled mission. Com. Kartick Pal appealed to the assembled people, “In the 1970s you did not confine yourself to the four walls of your home. To realise the dream of the martyrs, today you must emulate the martyrs’ path.” Com. Dipankar’s fervent appeal also echoed in all ears, “In this rain-soaked evening let us pay our tribute to the martyrs of Cossipore-Baranagar, to all the martyrs of the 1970s, and pledge ourselves to the unrealised tasks of the martyrs and forge a broader unity to build up surge of relentless movements.”

-- Joydeep Mitra

Resistance against eviction

NOW THAT elections are over in West Bengal, the Left Front Government (LFG) and the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) led by Trinamool Congress (TMC) have once again started evicting hawkers, slum-dwellers, residents along Tolly’s Nullah (a sewage canal) and tenements of other poor people. It may be recalled that on an earlier occasion the LFG had undertaken “Operation Sunshine” (Nov. 24, 1996) to evict the hawkers from Kolkata’s footpaths. The TMC, then in opposition at the CMC, opposed Operation Sunshine. And on 17th of June this year, the RAF and police bulldozed hundreds of hutments, shops etc. on the bypass at the eastern fringe of the city. Those people who once raised slogans like “McNamara go back” are now acting at the behest of institutions like the World Bank (WB) and Asian Development Bank (ADB). After initially putting up a reluctant posture, the ruling LF regime has finally taken aid from these imperialist institutions accepting their conditionalities and has set out to give a face-lift to Calcutta, newly christened as Kolkata. In this process, the livelihood and survival of the poorest of the poor are under threat. It is because of these projects, sponsored by the imperialist institutions, about 3,00,000 people are threatened with displacement. It is a sad commentary on the Left Front’s much-touted self-employment scheme. At a time when unemployment is at its peak these policies of the government are all set to deprive a huge number of people of their employment.

But the people have refused to take it lying down. Particularly, the residents along Tolly’s Nullah have been putting up a dogged resistance for quite sometime. The ADB has sanctioned more than Rs.1000 crore as loan for its projects, that include, development of sewerage and drainage in Kolkata and cleaning up of Tolly’s Nullah. To implement these projects, the CMC wants to displace several thousand families who have been residing along Tolly’s Nullah for two or three decades and has offered only a paltry sum of Rs. 1500 per family. The residents have made it clear that they are not opposed to these projects and are ready to move away, but have demanded that a proper rehabilitation be arranged first. The CMC and the LFG did not pay any heed to their appeal and were bent on going ahead with their demolition drive and displace them through brute force. The Tolly Nullah Anti-Eviction Committee made extensive propaganda and undertook several programmes. They also moved the Court. On 6th July, a citizens’ convention was held, attended by prominent personalities, in which the speakers criticised the government’s policy of evicting the poor and appealed to it for refraining from such action without arranging rehabilitation. On 9th July, a procession was organised – with 1000 people participating and blocking the Hazra Road Crossing in South Kolkata – and leaders addressing the masses in a street-corner meeting came down heavily on the pro-rich and inhuman attitude of the Government and the CMC.

Meanwhile, an anti-eviction morcha has come up, with different organisations coming under the same umbrella to resist eviction policies. The Jukta Morcha organised a huge procession of around 10,000 people on 10th August. The programme got good coverage in the local media. The hawkers, the rickshaw pullers, the auto-rickshaw drivers, the residents of Rajarhat and Kulpi facing eviction threat, and the poor residents along the Tolly’s Nullah – all people coming from the lowest rungs of society surged onto the streets to tell the world that their very existence is at stake even under the left rule. Different organisations of workers, students, youth, women, and democratic rights activists, environmentalists etc. also took part. The procession started from College Square, and winding through a 10-KM stretch, terminated at Gariahat. The speakers addressed the masses at the start as well as at the end of the procession. The speakers on behalf of the morcha included Prashanta Sett, Prabir Das, Shaktiman Ghosh, Sujato Bhadra, Imanul Haque, Bidhan Chatterjee, Gautam Sen, Arijit Mitra. Besides them, Sunil Das, leader of the rickshaw pullers’ organisation, RYA leader Jayatu Deshmukh, Indrani Dutta of AIPWA and environmentalist Chira Dutta also addressed the masses. They put both the LFG and the TMC-led CMC on the dock. They made it clear that the city of Kolkata belonged to the poor, the toilers and the middle classes. Real development of Kolkata is not possible sweeping them away like dirt. Every attempt of eviction without rehabilitation will be resisted, they asserted. They also demanded that while drawing up rehabilitation blue-prints, the representatives of the poor and the toilers should also be included in it. They also appealed to the masses to resist the World Bank-inspired inhuman, undemocratic measures of the Left Government and the CMC by putting up united resistance. The authorities have been put on the defensive, but for the time being, and there should be no complacency. The people must be vigilant and fight future eviction attempts also, they stressed.

-- Joydeep Mitra