Ahmedabad Convention: Gujarat Needs a Left-Democratic Intervention


Messages of Solidarity to the Ahmedabad Convention

In its message of solidarity to Ahmedabad Convention, John Percy, National Secretary of the Democratic Socialist Party of Australia says: “We thoroughly endorse the demands of your Convention – dismissal of the Modi government, imposition of President Rule in Gujarat with a credible non-RSS Governor, full rehabilitation of the survivors of the genocide and bringing the planners and perpetrators to justice. Your convention coincides with protests around the world against another planned genocide – that being organised by US imperialism against Iraq. On September 28-29 in Sydney and Melbourne, and in London and Washington and other cities around the world, people will be demonstrating against Bush’s war against Iraq, and against another genocide already taking place, the Israeli state’s murderous assault against the Palestinian people.”

The message sent by London-based South Asia Solidarity Group, signed by Ms Sarbjit Johal, says: "We would like to express our warmest solidarity greetings to the Convention and fully support its key demands of dismissal of the Modi government, imposition of President Rule in Gujarat with a credible non-RSS Governor, full rehabilitation of the survivors of the genocide and bringing the planners and perpetrators to justice." The SASG message further says, “We believe that at this time of crisis the Convention will be an important step in signaling that, despite the unimaginable horrors of the Gujarat genocide, fascism will not be allowed to continue on its path of destruction and degradation. In taking this courageous step, you are also reminding India and the world that those who survived the genocide will not be forgotten, and that creating a situation in which they can live in peace and security is an urgent and continuing task. ... Today, on 28th September, we in Britain are also marching, as part of a massive anti-war demonstration under the slogan of ‘Stop Bush and Blair’s War- Don’t Attack Iraq’. For us the link between imperialism’s ‘war on terror’ and the fascist communal terror unleashed by the Indian state are clear."

In a separate press release, SASG has also condemned the recent attack on temple in Gandhinagar cautioning against the “propagation of communal hatred by the Hindutava fascists” as a probable fallout.

International South Asia Forum (INSAF), based in US, had sent its warmest solidarity to the Convention emphasising that, “It is not sufficient to ensure that the likes of Narendra Modi do not rule over Gujarat any more. They all, and their mentors and masters sitting in New Delhi and elsewhere, must be treated as those who have committed Crimes Against Humanity and Crimes of Genocide.” California based ‘Coalition For Egalitarian & Pluralistic India’ has extended its greetings and wished the Convention all success and said: "These are dark times with fascism straddlling the nation. Let those who have declared themselves to be the enemies of India’s oppressed masses be exposed, brought to justice, and barred from public life."

To take the saffron communal bull by its horns, CPI(ML) had decided to organize a massive protest programme mobilizing broadest possible sections of secular and progressive forces of Gujarat in the form of a march and convention against communal fascism in Ahmedabad, the epicentre of Sangh Parivar’s anti-minority pogroms, on 28 September 2002. The idea was to throw a serious left-democratic challenge to the saffron scheme of making Gujarat a laboratory of fascist Hidutwa project, particularly in the immediate context of taking out a brazen ‘gaurav yatra’ to further deepen the communal divide in Gujarat. When the preparations were nearing culmination Akshardham happened and the situation further deteriorated. Despite this adverse development, the Party went ahead with its plan and determinedly mobilised all the like-minded forces to hold a march against communal fanaticism and terrorism. Party General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya along with leaders of various organisations and intellectuals led the march for peace and harmony in Ahmedabad on 28 September and addressed the convention held subsequently. Before the march, Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya also visited Ahmedabad Civil Hospital and met all 33 injured victims including seven securitymen admitted there.

Participated in by over two thousand people from various secular democratic organizations, the march began from Ahmedabad railway station and after covering a two and a half kilometer route through the main streets of the city reached Ambedkar Hall at Saraspur. Apart from Comrade Dipankar, Central Committee members Swapan Mukherjee and Srilata Swaminathan, Party incharge of Gujarat Ranjan Ganguli, Secretary of Rajasthan Party unit Mahendra Chaudhary and Prem Singh, Party incharge of Haryana also participated in the march. The Convention held subsequently was attended by a packed hall of over a thousand people. A seven member presidium composed of noted intellectual and social activist Achyut Yagnik of Gujarat Ekta Manch, Party incharge of Gujarat Comrade Ranjan Ganguli, New Socialist Movement activist Amrish Patel, trade unionist Ashim Roy, social activists Sheeba George, Fr. Moses and Prof. Nissar Ahmed Ansari conducted the proceedings. Those who addressed the convention included CPI(ML)-Red Flag general secretary KN Ramchandran, CPI(ML)-Unity Initiative leader PK Murthy, CPI(M) state secretary Arun Mehta, CPI leader Panjanekar, SUCI leader Dwarakanath Rath, Ex-member of Planning Commission SP Shukla, social activist Mukul Sinha, veteran Gandhians Chunni Bhai Vaid and Prakash Shah and educationist Fr. RC Parmar. Comrades Vijay Singh of ‘Revolutioary Democracy’, Radhika of Communist Ghadar Party, representatives of Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) and Lal Nishan Party and several local social organizations including Gujarat Lok Sangharsh Samiti, Gujarat Khet Vikas Parishad, Lok Adhikar Sangh, Gujarat Ekta Manch, Insaf, Prashant, Punaruthan, Gujarat Adivasi Sabha, Banaskantha Zila Dalit Sangathan and Dalit Panther along with several journalists, scientists, women, student, adivasi activists and intellectuals also participated in the march and attended the convention.

The Convention began with observing a two minutes silence in the memory of those killed in the terrorist attack on the Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar in Gujarat, after Fr. Parmar read out the condolence resolution. Addressing the Convention, the CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya condemned the terrorist attack on Swaminarayan temple in Gandhinagar and called upon people in Gujarat and all over the country to maintain peace, vigil and harmony and make sure that saffron fascists are not allowed to create fresh round of trouble once again in Gujarat. Condemning Sangh Parivar attempts to incite people on Akshrdham, Comrade Dipankar said, “First they used the widely condemned Godhra carnage to unleash a series of well planned anti-Muslim pogroms and now, they want to use the temple tragedy to further capitalise on their communal gameplan”. He said, “Gujarat is crying for peace ... peace based on justice ... and this justice and peace can not be achieved through terrorist path. Gujarat needs a powerful left-democratic intervention. It calls for a vigorous political mobilisation of all the concerned secular-democratic forces. Only such a mobilisation can check the politics of competitive Hindutwa between BJP and Congress and can save Gujarat from being reduced to a graveyard of democracy and laboratory of fascism.” Comrade Dipankar called upon all communists and socialists as well as Gandhians, Ambedkarites and concerned social activists in Gujarat to come to a common platform.

Comrade Srilata Swaminathan read out the messages of solidarity to the convention (see below). The Convention passed resolutions demanding arrest of and severe punishment to all the politicians, administrative and police personnel and criminals responsible for the killings in Gujarat, adequate compensation to the families of deceased and injured, and proper rehabilitation of all the displaced people.