Widespread Protest Against Jharkhand Government's Assault on Freedom of Protest

  All over the country and beyond, there have been widespread and outraged protests against the Jharkhand Government's bid to frame the CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar and other CPI(ML) activists on charges of attempt to murder. A revision petition has been filed in the trial court challenging the framing of charges, and hundreds of people have demanded that the Jharkhand Government immediately withdraw the false cases.

In Bihar , five parties – the CPI, CPI(M), Lok Janshakti Party, Samajwadi Party and CPI(ML) - have jointly sent a letter of protest to Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda demanding immediate withdrawal of the falsely imposed cases.

Mahadharna at Ranchi

At Ranchi , a three-day Mahadharna organised by CPI(ML) in Ranchi concluded on June 15, in which thousands of struggling people from all parts of the state took part. Various political parties, human rights organisations, and cultural personalities joined the mahadharna in solidarity. The Mahadharna was led by Party's Polit Bureau member Swadesh Bhattacharya, Central Committee member and Editor of Samkalin Janmat Ramji Rai, and the State Secretary Subhendu Sen. Eminent intellectual and convener of Jharkhand Jan Sanskrit Manch Dr. BP Kesri, journalist Faisal Anurag, Adivasi Adhikar Morcha leader Dayamani Barla, Sashibhushan Pathak of PUCL, Aloka of IPTA, journalist Xavier Kujoor and many other social and political activists also joined and addressed the dharna. The Party's Bihar State Secretary Ramjatan Sharma and Central Committee Member Saroj Chaube also reached Ranchi to attend this programme. During the Mahadharna, at Birsa Munda's statue, thousands of people pledged to intensify the struggle against Jharkhand's Arjun Munda Govt. The CPI(ML) Jharkhand State Secretary Subhendu Sen read a charge-sheet against the Arjun Munda Govt. Cultural teams of Jharkhand Jan Sanskriti Manch, Prerana, and others presented many revolutionary cultural programmes during the dharna.

A five-point resolution was also passed by the Mahadharna. A pledge was taken to continue the struggle till all the cases framed on activists during movement against police firings on innocent people in Tapkara and Doranda are withdrawn. It was also decided to observe June 26 as anti-State Repression Day against the BJP Govt.'s attempts to crush the movemental forces struggling for a pro-people development and a new people's Jharkhand. In another resolution, it was demanded that the CBI inquiry be extended to include the investigation against SP Dipak Verma and Ravindra Rai, main accused in the Mahendra Singh's assassination case, and immediate arrest of Dipak Verma.

The Mahadharna was a culmination of a statewide campaign against state repression which began on June 9 with a dharna at Daltonganj in Palamu district. On June 10, protests programmes were held in Latehar, Garhwa, Bokaro, Giridih, Devghar, Dhanbad, Hazaribagh, Gumla, and Jamshedpur . Dharnas were also held in Bundu, Tamar, and Rahe in Ranchi district.

This will be followed by a Chakka Jam on June 26.

Citizens' Protest Meet at Delhi

In Delhi , on June 15, a public meeting was held at Gandhi Peace Foundation where prominent democratic personalities expressed grave concern over the increasing intolerance of the state towards democratic movements and demanded withdrawal of cases against Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya. Prominent among the speakers were Retd. Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Rajinder Sacchar, noted writer Arundhati Roy, Socialist thinker Surendra Mohan, Gautam Navlakha, Javed Naqvi, Editor of Mainstream Sumit Chakraborty, Com. Samal from SUCI, Journalist Amit Sengupta, AISA President Kavita Krishnan, Ravindra Garia and many others. Ex-IG of Jharkhand K. Subramaniyan, Professor in Hyderabad University Subhendu Ghosh, Journalist Lata Jishnu, and filmmaker Sanjay Kak also attended the meeting. The meeting noted:

Speakers condemned the growing trends of assault by the state on people's right to assembly and protest and said that the governments are resorting to such tactics to quell the public opposition against increasing liberalisation and implementation of policies under the pressure of corporates and the US . A need was felt by the speakers for a wider unity of all democratic forces to counter such attacks.

The Jharkhand Govt. has signed a number of MOUs with the big corporates and multinational companies which are going against the interests of the common masses in the state. CPI(ML) and others have raised this issue and are mobilising the rural poor and general public against such moves. This is the basic reason why Arjun Munda Govt. is attempting to victimise CPI(ML) leaders.

Speaking at the protest meeting, Arundhati Roy remarked, "The concept of the Indian democracy is the biggest publicity scam of this century. Holding elections every five years does not necessarily mean that our country enjoys a democracy. Democracy in India is only for the rich and the elite”.

The meeting was presided over by Swapan Mukherjee, General Secretary of AICCTU and conducted by Rajendra Protholi. Kumudini Pati, General Secretary of All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) moved the resolution demanding withdrawal of the false charges, which was adopted at the meeting.

Other Protest Programmes

A protest march against the Jharkhand Govt. was held in Patna on June 15 at Patna Railway station where a wide range of democratic citizens called to intensify the movement to foil this conspiracy by the BJP. A protest march was also held in Kolkata. A countrywide protest day was observed by AISA and RYA on June 20 against Jharkhand Govt.'s attempts to strangle the voices of democratic protests, in which AISA activists in various States and campuses sent memoranda to the President of India, demanding his intervention in securing withdrawal of the charges imposed by the BJP Government in Jharkhand. In Tripura, a delegation of the CPI(ML) mmet the Tripura Governor and submitted a protest letter, which he then forwarded to Jharkhand.

Letters of Protest to Arjun Munda

Several people, including CPI General Secretary A. B. Bardhan, Revolutionary Socialist Party leader and Member of Parliament Abani Roy, eminent journalist Kuldip Nayar, social activist Swami Agnivesh and PUCL President Justice Rajinder Sachar and many others have sent letters to the Jharkhand Chief Minister demanding withdrawal of the false charges.

Justice Sachar in his letter to the Chief Minister, has said, "PUCL strongly feels that filing such cases against personage for exercising their constitutional right of taking out procession and protesting against the police brutality are undemocratic and against law. I feel that the filing of chargesheet against Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya and others is a misuse of the authority of the Govt. I am able to say this with a little more confidence because I was personally involved in holding an enquiry into the police firing in which these 8 tribals were killed and many more injured."

He reminded that the Indian People's Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights had constituted a Tribunal chaired by him to hold an enquiry into the killing and also to assess the impact of the Koel-Karo project on the lives and livelihood of Advasi people in the region. The Tribunal had recommended that the police cases against the people be dropped forthwith and that the State Govt. will take action against the erring police officials. "Unfortunately, it seems that instead of proceeding against the police, your Govt. has chosen to move against the leaders of the political movement of the stature of Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya and his colleagues", he added and further said, "I feel that the continuance of the trial will be a great injustice. I would, therefore, request you that in order to create a congenial atmosphere your Govt. should move the court for withdrawal of this case. The charges which have been framed are of the usual type which police always apply in cases of any democratic protest either by trade unions, peasants or the poor tribals or slum dwellers. May I, therefore, request you to please ask your Public Prosecutor to examine the matter afresh so that he could take steps to move the court to withdraw the case against Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya and others."

Several Central Trade Union leaders including Gurudas Dasgupta (AITUC), G Devarajan (TUCC), Chittabrata Mazumder, (General Secretary, CITU) have also sent a letter to Arjun Munda. Several leaders of parties and people's organisations in Bihar have also written similar letters: Sarvoday leader Rammurty, Ex-DGP DP Ojha, Convener of Lokpaksha Shankar Raman, Priyadarshi of Jan Mukti Sangharsh Vahini, JD(U) leader Laxmi Sahu, Raghupati and Akhtar Husain of Sampurna Kranti Manch, Gorelal Manishi of Azadi Bachao Andolan, Arshad Azmal, State Vice President of PUCL Kishori Das

Prof. Shiv Jatan Thakur, ex-member of Bihar Public Service Commission, Prof. Bharti S. Kumar, Member of the Senate, Patna University, Prof. Santosh Kumar, Prof. Devendra Kumar, Prof. OP Jaiswal, Prof. Maya Bhattacharya, Prof. BN Singh, Prof. Daisy Narayan and senior advocates Indu Bhushan Singh, Vasant Kumar Chaudhary, Ratneshwar Prasad Singh, Bhupendra Kumar, Shruti Muni, Yogesh Chandra Sharma, Ibrahim Kadir, Brajesh Kumar and Ujjawal Kumar.

Many cultural personalities including Arun Kamal, Ravindra Kalia, Jaiprakash Kardam, Madhukar Singh, Rajendra Prasad Singh, Ramji Rai, Ramdhari Singh Diwakar, Shekhar, Naren, Awadesh Preet, Salil Sudhakar, Anant Kumar Singh, Gaurinath, Pratibha Verma, Sanjay Kundan, Gyandev Mani Tripathi, and many artists associated with IPTA, Theatre Unit, Dastak, Hirawal, Abhiyan, Prerna, Bhangima, Punascha, etc. have also demanded that the Jharkhand Chief Minister withdraw the charges.

Among the other people who have signed the petition to the Jharkhand CM are former West Bengal Finance Minister Ashok Mitra, writer Mahasweta Devi, RSP leaders Khiti Goswami and Manoj Bhattacharya, poets Amitav Dasgupta and Utpal basu, singer Pratul Mukherjee, historian Amalendu Dey, Amiya Bagchi, Jasodhara Bagchi, and noted playwright and director Bibhas Chakraborty.

Some of the hundreds of people who have sent solidarity messages and endorsed the online petition demanding withdrawal of the charges are:

Sitaram Yechury, PB Member, CPI(M)

Medha Patkar

Alex Callinicos, renowned Marxist ideologue and Professor of European Studies, King's College London

Dr Tabish Khair, Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Aarhus , Denmark

Ram Narayan Kumar, Director, South Asian Orientation Course in Human Rights and Peace Studies, South Asia Forum for Human Rights

Pierre Rousset, Président, Europe solidaire sans frontières (ESSF), France

Farooq Tariq, Labour Party of Pakistan

Rodrigo A. Cattaneo Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire - France

Alain Krivine and Roseline Vachetta, Former Member of the European Parliament, Spokesperson for the Ligue communiste revolutionnaire ( France )

Nagesh Rao International Socialist Organization, USA

People's Democratic Party (PRD) Indonesia

Nurdin Abdul Rahman Achehnese Community of Australia

Fred Fuentes, Resistance - socialist youth organisation ( Australia )

Peter Boyle and Sue Bolton, National Secretary and Assistant National Secretary respectively, Democratic Socialist Perspective, Australia

Arnljot Ask, international secretary of AKP, Norway

Aruna Roy, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan

Yogendra Yadav, Senior Fellow (Professor), Centre for the Study of Developing Societies

Subhash Gatade, Editor, Kriti Sanskriti Sandhan

Anil Nauriya

S.V.Rajadurai, Writer and Human Rights Activist, Tamil Nadu

Anand Patwardhan, Filmmaker

Dr. Gautam Appa London School of Economics

Dr. Dilip Simeon

Stanley Thangaraj

Ram Puniyani

Bela Bhatia, CSDS

Jyoti Punwani

Medha Thatte

Mukta Ashok Manohar

Dunu Roy

Dr John Dayal, Member, NIC, Govt. of India , President, All India Catholic Union

Pankaj Bisht

Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM)

Mukul Dube

Neeraj Jain

Sukla Sen, EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity), Mumbai

Ammu Abraham

Professor Alex Miller

Dr. Gautam Chatterjee

Harsh Kapoor

Dr. Kasturi Sen

Peter Boyle and, Secretary and Assistant National Secretary respectively of Democratic Socialist Perspective in Australia

Nirmala Rajasingam, Amrit Wilson and Sarbajit Johal of South Asia Solidarity Group in London

Yuri Dergunov, a journalist from Ukraine

E. Deenadayalan of Samarthan Trust