The Assam State unit of the All India Students' Association (AISA) staged a militant protest on 4th May at Bijli Bhawan, Guwahati against the proposed electricity price hike and for regularization of power supply in the state. It may be recalled that Assam State Electricity Board (ASEB), in the name of reform took a loan of Rs. 1200 cores from the Asian Development Bank, but did not take any steps to increase power production. Rather it unbundled the ASEB into five companies and decided to hike power tariff in every slab. On the other hand, the people of the state had to suffer unprecedented load-shedding. The security forces of the board tried to blockade the AISA march at the main gate of the H.Q, but the protesters went ahead, breaking the gate and staged a dharna in front of main gate of Bijli Bhawan, where security forces attacked the protesters. 15 students including two girl students were seriously injured. Two AISA activists Akhil Rongson and AISA State Secretary Balindra Saikia were arrested and detained for the night. AISA demanded regular power supply in the state and demanded withdrawal of the electricity price hike, the anti-people electricity reform and a halt to the 'Commission-Raj'. AISA warned that if the govt. did not fulfill these demands it would further intensify the movement.
The Jharkhand state unit of the Party had made elaborate plans to conduct the ‘Right to Employment' campaign throughout the month of May. As a result of the campaign for stopping work at block HQs during April, the district administration in many districts came under pressure and job card distribution has gained momentum. In Barvadih, Manika and Latehar, Right to Employment Day was observed separately on May 1. On this occasion, rallies were organized with resolve to further intensify the agitation. On May 2, the office of Palamu Deputy Commissioner was gheraoed with the slogan “Give cards, Give jobs'. Despite scorching sun and the season of marriages etc., the gherao was successful. The administration tried its best to drive the agitators out of the D.C. office but failed to do so. Around 12 noon , the D.C. sent a proposal for dialogue with the representatives, asking for ending the blockade. However, this proposal was turned down, demanding that the D.C. himself should come among the agitating masses and answer for the irregularities in the implementation of the NREGA. Since the DC did not turn-up among the people, it was unilaterally declared that gherao would be continued and right to employment campaign of CPI(ML) and JHAMKIS would be further intensified. It was declared that through a week-long campaign in the villages, first the panchayat-sevaks would be gheraoed to immediately issue job-cards for all applicants. Then pressure would be mounted on block HQs through massive mobilizations and indefinite blockade if necessary. The district administration succumbed to this pressure and in a unilateral declaration directed the BDOs to issue cards to all applicants and inform district HQ in this regard within a week. This militant gherao has pressurized the administrative officials from top to bottom and enthused the masses and the organization.
At demonstrations at Meral and Ranka blocks of district Garhwa, too, the demand for providing cards and jobs to all was echoed. At Meral block HQ, in absence of the BDO, block employees themselves promised to issue the remaining cards within a week. At Ranka block HQ, the BDO was forced to seek apology in front of around 500 people. He assured to compensate for the delay within a week. During the gherao, people seized 600 cards from a middleman and presented them to the BDO, demanding action against him. The shamed BDO apologised in public and assured that such an incident would never be repeated in future. In fact, attempts are being made to distribute the cards through the henchmen of local MLAs and other dominant middlemen so that the loot may continue unabated like in other schemes. In the meantime, around 500 villagers gheraoed the Dhurki block HQ on May 3. Bogged down in administrative transfers-postings etc., this block finds itself unable to distribute the job cards. Again on May 4, around 800 people, through a militant demonstration at Ramuda block, demanded immidiate provision for jobs and distribution of remaining cards. The demonstrators submitted signed applications demanding jobs. In this block, around 7000 cards were distributed among our base.
In all the 3 districts of Palamu division, dharna-demonstrations and gheraoes continue uninterrupted. They will be continued and further intensified till cards and jobs are guaranteed for all. As the result of CPI(ML) movement around one lakh job cards have been distributed in the 3 district. In some areas our political rivals are pressurizing the administration to deny our base the cards in order to weaken us. Campaign for collecting applications demanding jobs is going on in the villages where cards have already been distributed. In Garhwa, 8000 forms were printed for this purpose. Job applications would be collected at the individual as well as collective levels. Expediting the campaign for job applications, we are trying to corner the administration lest it makes excuse in the name of absence of job applications. Though, under movemental pressure, the administration has expedited the work of job cards distribution, the nexus of corrupt bureaucrats, middlemen and corrupt politicians is making all possible efforts to take this scheme into its own control and turn it, too, into a loot-scheme like previous ones. Hence, powerful protest and resistance of the rural poor is necessary.
AIPWA Mahapanchayat in Lucknow
AIPWA held a massive 2-day Mahapanchayat in Lucknow on 28-29 April. Hundreds of women from rural districts all over UP marched from Charbagh Station to assemble in front of the Assembly, raising slogans in protest against the growing assaults on women in the State. Labouring women from various districts shared their own experiences of fighting for justice, when the Government and local Administration protected rapists and endorsed violence on women. The Mahapanchayat was addressed by AIPWA State Secretary Ajanta Lohit, State President Kripa Singh, National General Secretary Kumudini Pati and Vice-President Tahira Hussain.