Nationwide Campaign 23 July – 20 August
The month-long Nationwide Campaign, launched on 23 July immediately after the trust vote farce, vigorously mobilized against the Nuke Deal and Indian Government’s tie-up with US imperialism, price rise and PDS, unemployment, state repression – taking on both the Central as well as State Governments. The Campaign culminated in a massive Jail Bharo (Fill the Jails) campaign on 20 August.
On 23 July, the anniversary of the Indian working class’ first political strike, the AIALA called for an Agrarian Strike all over Bihar. An agrarian strike was witnessed in more than 5,000 villages all over Bihar on this day. The rural poor protested at their respective panchayat offices, block offices and also in streets. When hundreds of people gathered at the SDO office in Biraul, Drabhanga, to protest against the failure to provide jobs or unemployment allowance for job-card holders under NREGA, besides minimum wage, BPL cards to all poor and subsidised food-grains through PDS at the rate of Rs. 2 per Kg. The Darbhanga SDO ran his jeep over protesting activists, seriously injuring dozens of people: Gangia Devi’s pelvic bone was badly crushed while Ramswarth’s legs were broken.
The Assam State Unit of AICCTU organized a workers’ convention at Guwahati Press Club on 23rd July which was presided over by Comrades Viren Kalita, Naren Borah and inaugurated by CCM Comrade Rubul Sarma. Apart from leaders of oil, bank, and fertilizer trade unions, AITUC and AIUTUC leaders addressed the convention, aimed against the Nuke Deal and anti-worker policies of the UPA Government. In Biswanath Chari Ali of Sonitpur district, the All Assam Chah Sramik Sangha organized a tea workers’ protest, where more than 1000 tea workers gathered. The General Secretary of the Sangha, Bibek Das, as well as Lakshmi Kanta Kurmi and CPI(ML) District Secretary Lila Sarma addressed the gathering, which protested against the Nuke Deal and demanded raising of tea workers’ minimum wages to Rs. 100.
On 28-29-30 July, the party held a dharna in front of the Bihar Assembly to protest the Nitish Govt.’s betrayal of promises of good governance and development in the state; in particular its refusal to implement the recommendations of the Land Reform Commission and Nitish’s Agriculture Road Map which is meant to ignore poor peasantry and has nothing to do with providing agricultural inputs at an affordable cost to make agriculture viable for peasantry. Thousands of people from districts neighbouring Patna participated in the protest. The dharna took the Nitish Government to task for its hesitation to implement the recommendations of the Common School System Commission and its failure on fronts of corruption, crime, police repression, dalit and women’s oppression. Resolutions were passed to intensify the struggle for agricultural Minimum Wage to be raised to Rs. 100 and NREGA wages to Rs. 200 a day.
On 9 August, Quit India Day, AISA-RYA held a seminar on the Indo-US Nuke Deal on 9 August (Quit India Day) at Kunwar Singh college, Darbhanga. On the same day, the Jharkhand Grameen Mazdoor Samiti (JHAMAS) held a one-day agrarian strike all over the state. In Giridih, at various block HQs and panchayat centres, agricultural labourers came out on to the streets with their tools and implemented the strike completely. At Hazaribagh, Ramgarh, Ranchi, and Gumla, demonstrations were held at block HQs. All over the state, land struggles were intensified to free Bhoodan, basgeet, gairmazarua, and demarcation lands from rural rich and feudal forces. Corruption in NREGA, murder of NREGA activists, failure to provide 100 days employment and unemployment allowance etc.. were major issues of the strike.
On 9 August, the West Bengal unit of CPI(ML) Liberation held protests against Indo-Us Nuke Deal and strategic partnership with US imperialism and corporate land grab. A Jail Bharo program was organized almost in district HQs all over the state. The Rally at Chunchura, Hooghly where the 8th State Conference of the party is to be held on 25 August, was the biggest. State Secretary Kartik Pal with district leaders Prabir Haldar, Chaitali Sen, Sajal Adhikari broke Section 144 with thousands of party activists. The Kolkata District Committee organized a procession of about a hundred people started from Subodh Mullick Square, led by CC members Kalyan Goshwami and Arindam Sen. After a stand-off with police, the agitators courted arrest. Construction workers from North Kolkata, rickshaw pullers from South Kolkata and students vigorously took part in the agitation.
The procession organized by North 24 PGS district committee, led by CCM & district secretary Partha Ghosh and DCMs Subrata Sengupta, Nabendu Dasgupta, Archana Ghatak, and Ajay Basak blocked the busy road of Barasat for half an hour.
At Nadia, a protest procession led by DCM Kajol Dutta Gupta, Vijay Saha, and Gokul Haldar started from Krishnanagar station. More than three hundred activists violated Section 144 to court arrest. In Burdwan also more than three hundred members marched in the procession led by DCS Srikanta Rana, DCM Sajal Pal, and Mansur Mondal. In Darjeeling district, 150 tea workers and party activists took part in the procession led by CCM Abhijit Majumder and SCM Basudev Bose. Spirited protests were held at the district HQs of Bankura, Birbhum, Malda, Jalpaiguri, Murshidabad, & South 24 PGS.
In Coimbatore on 9 August, workers at the Pricol factory organized a convention as a part of preparation toward the All India General Strike. The Convention was addressed by Kalpana Wilson of the London-based South Asia Solidarity Group (SASG), AICCTU National President S Kumaraswamy and CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya.
Peasants’ Protests in UP
On 8 August, the UP Kisan Sabha held a march from Charbagh station to the State Assembly at Lucknow demanding waiver of all loans including private loans, withdrawal of the Ganga Expressway project and other plans of land grab and forcible eviction at Chinhat and Mayawati’s village at Badalpur, withdrawal of anti-peasant policies responsible for peasants’ suicides, registration of sharecroppers, scrapping of the SEZ Act, giving back lands auctioned off for non-payment of loans and stopping the black-marketeering of fertilizers, payment of dues of sugarcane growers. Thousands of peasants from different districts of UP took part in the March, led by UP Kisan Sabha’s State Convenor Ishwari Kushwaha, CPI(ML) State Secretary Sudhakar Yadav and AIALA State President Krishna Adhikari. At the Assembly, a mass meeting was held, where the Mayawati Government of UP as well as the Central Government were taken to task for their anti-peasant policies. A 20-point Peasants’ Charter of Demands was submitted to the Governor of UP.
As part of the run-up to the 20 August Strike, the CPI(ML) and Uttar Pradesh Kisan Sabha observed 14th August in UP as a protest day against the incident of police firing on peasants in Greater Noida on 13th August. In Varanasi, half a dozen Party leaders were arrested for burning effigy of Mayawati Govt. Among them were Comrades Manish Sharma (AISA State Secretary) and Sarita Patel. Effigies of Mayawati Govt. was also burnt at Pilibhit, Allahabad, Mirzapur, Akbarpur (Ambedkar Nagar), Mau, Sitapur and many other districts. At Chandauli, Ghazipur and Nagina in Bijnaur the CPI(ML) members and Kisan Sabha activists organized protest marches.
A team comprising Prem Singh Gehlawat, National Co-Convener of All India Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Ishwari Prasad Kushwaha, member of CPI(ML)’s UP Standing Committee, and comrades Pradeep Kumar, CPI(ML) activists from Meerut, and CPI(ML) activists from NOIDA Ramesh Chand and Nandji visited Ghori Bacheda (where police firing on farmers took place) and other nearby villages in Greater NOIDA on 16 August. This team met people of the affected villages, where five farmers were killed, dozens severely injured or missing, 96 farmers have named FIRs and 1000 farmers have unnamed FIRs against them, and Police, PAC and paramilitary troops patrolled the entire area.
The team’s report observed, “Another story of peasants struggling on the issue of land – and receiving bullets in return – that too on the eve of the 61st anniversary of India’s independence. This time the site is Greater NOIDA in UP, not far from the National capital of Delhi. We found the villages under a shadow of terror. We were prevented by police from reaching Ghori Bacheda by road; we managed to do so on foot, guided by people of neighbouring villages through the fields and by-lanes. We found Ghori Bacheda seething with anger. Lands in this and nearby villages (including in Mayawati’s own village of Badalpur) have been acquired in the name of the Ganga Expressway, posh residential complexes, high-tech city, industrial area and tourism – but the farmers who are giving up their land and livelihood are getting a pittance in return: a merest fraction of the prevailing market rate.”
Jail Bharo on 20th August
In support of the all-India General Strike called by the Sponsoring Committee of Central Trade Unions on 20 August, the CPI(ML) held a ‘Jail Bharo’ all over the country.
In Delhi, hundreds of activists converged at Parliament Street, shouting slogans and raising banners and placards such as “Be it NOIDA or Nandigram – STOP Corporate Land Grab and Massacre of Peasants”; “Price Rise = Death for the Poor, Profits for Corporates!”; “Manmohan Singh: Betraying Aaam Aadmi, Obeying Ambani and America!”; “Congress-UPA, Have Shame: Stop Shooting Kashmiris in Hospitals and Streets!”
Around 500 activists, including those from Delhi as well as from Bijnaur in UP, led by CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar, marched towards Parliament, broke the barricades and were taken into custody in the Parliament Street Thana. Inside the thana, a mass meeting was held, which was addressed by CPI(ML) activists. On the same day, AISA conducted a widespread campaign for a Students' Strike on 20 August in Delhi University, Jamia Millia Islamia and JNU, mainly focusing against the Nuke Deal.
AISA General Secretary Ravi Rai, AIPWA activist Uma Gupta, CPI(ML) UP State Committee member Afroz Alam, Delhi State Committee members V K S Gautam and Amarnath Tiwary, AICCTU leader Santosh Rai, Delhi State Secretary Sanjay Sharma and CPI(ML) Central Committee members Prabhat Choudhury and Kavita Krishnan, and General Secretary Comrade Dipankar addressed the gathering.
In Delhi, apart from the central programme, AICCTU and CPI(ML) activists actively participated in the General Strike in the new industrial estate of Bhorgarh near Narela, along with workers of other Central Trade Union organizations.
In Bihar, about sixty thousand people courted arrest all over the State, with protests and arrests of CPI(ML) supporters and members taking place in most districts and blocks of the State. At Gaya, AICCTU held a mass meeting at Ambedkar Park presided over by Dinesh Prasad Sinha; Shyamlal Prasad, G S AICCTU Gaya, CPI(ML) District Secretary Niranjan Kumar, AIALA District Secretary Ganesh Das, BP Kisan Sabha Gaya Unit convenor Yugal Kishore Singh, AISA Convenor Shashi SInha and AIPWA District Secretary Rita Barnwal. At Patna thousands of protestors led by State Secretary Nand Kishore Prasad, as well as Rameshwar Prasad, K D Yadav and Shashi Yadav marched from ITO Circle and courted arrest. At Purnea, around 1000 activists marched straight to the jail and stormed the jail gate, demanding to be arrested.
At Jharkhand, more than ten thousand people courted arrest all over the State, including Ranchi, Giridih, Bokaro, Dhanbad, Jamtara, Devghar, and Bagodar. At Dhanbad, the strike was very effective all over the coal belt including Dhanbad town. The Strike was observed in all sectors - coal, steel, bank, LIC, postal, BSNL and railways, in spite of the opposition of Congress-led Unions. CPI(ML) and AICCTU had campaigned on 18-19 August in support of the Strike with torch-light procession, miking and wall-writing in Jharia, Patalwadi, Maithon, Govindpur and Sindri, and in ECL and BCCL, gate meetings were held on 14 August; a motorcycle march was held in Govindpur on 18 August.
On 20 August, a road blockade was held at Govindpur and Sindri and workers courted arrest; 300-400 workers, mostly coal workers, demonstrated at Maithon. At Dhanbad, workers, 60% of whom were coal workers from the organised sector who had struck work, marched from station to DC office and blockaded the road, held a meeting and courted arrest under the leadership of AICCTU General Secretary Swapan Mukherjee.
At Chhattisgarh, around 150 workers, mostly contract workers, marched via the Labour Commissioner’s office (where they raised slogans and submitted a memorandum) to the Durg Collector’s office, where they joined a Dharna jointly organized by Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha and AICCTU. A 15-point Charter of Demands was submitted to the SDM. Before this, AICCTU had held a dharna at Boria Gate (Bhilai) where more than 100 contract workers participated. On 20 August, more than 150 activists each courted arrest at Bastar (Jagdalpur) and Bilaspur.
At Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan, more than 200 CPI(ML) members courted arrest; prior to that the Party’s District Office was also inaugurated. At the state capital of Jaipur about 150 Party members courted arrest.
At Ahmedabad, Himmatnagar, Bhavnagar and Balsad in Gujarat, Dharnas were held with good participation of common people and Party members. At Haryana, more than 50 people courted arrest at Karnal. At Gwalior, MP, more than 300 Party members from Gwalior as well as Bhind courted arrest together. In Mansa, Barnala and Sangrur districts of Punjab, more than 300 people courted arrest.
In Tamil Nadu, at 30 places, around 6000 organized and unorganized workers, agrarian labourers, students and women participated in the Jail Bharo on August 20.
Defying the efforts of the management to prevent the Pricol workers from participating in the general strike and the jail bharao, around 1200 Pricol workers blocked the road for half an hour in Thudiyalur of Coimbatore. Comrade N K Natarajan, State General Secretary, AICCTU, and Comrade Krishnamurthy, Secretary, AICCTU courted arrest with the Pricol workers. In Coimbatore, around 80 unorganised workers courted arrest in Goundampalayam. Comrade Damodaran, Secretary, AICCTU and Comrade Govindaraj, State Council Member, AICCTU led the agitation. They were put in a temple by the police as they could not accommodate the arrested workers in the police station!
Comrade S Kumaraswamy, PBM, courted arrest with 350 construction and unorganized workers of Kanyakumari. Comrade Balasundaram, CCM, was arrested along with the rural poor and agrarian workers of Nagai and Thanjavur districts in Kumbakonam. He called for the rural poor to join the demonstration to be held in Chennai on August 23 against the police attack on the agrarian workers of Rettanai of Villupuram district who demanded Rs. 80 for NREGA work. Around 200 rural poor and agrarian workers participated in the Jail Bharo here.
In Sirkazhi also around 85 rural poor and agrarian workers took part in the struggles. Comrade Gunasekaran, SCM was arrested along with them. In Chennai, around 500 workers joined the struggle under the party banner, Comrade S Sekar, Secretary, AICCTU led the workers. They blocked the road for more than half an hour. They were then arrested. Comrade A S Kumar, courted arrest with more than 1000 workers in Chennai, in a joint struggle along with leaders and workers of CITU, AITUC and AIUTUC. In Saidapet of Chennai, in a joint program, Comrade Eraniappan, SCM, courted arrest.
In Tiruvallore District, more than 600 rural poor participated in the Jail Bharo which was led by Comrade Janakiraman, SCM. Here, the local police was not prepared to arrest the workers who blocked the main road in the market. The arrested workers were first taken to one hall and they were then shifted to another hall. They were transported in police vehicles through the crowded market with the participants waving red flags and raising slogans against the central and state governments.
At two places in Tirunelveli, more than 300 beedi, construction and other unorganized workers courted arrest. Comrade Sankarapandian, SCM, led the struggle. Here 15 women beedi workers arrived somewhat late and demanded that the police arrest them too. In Madurai, around 150 rural poor workers courted arrest. They were led by Comrade Mathivanan, district in-charge. In Rajapalayam and Tuticorin around 100 workers blocked the road and courted arrest. Comrade Ponraj, district in-charge led the road block.
In Villupuram, roads were blocked in 4 points. Around 330 rural poor and agrarian workers joined the protest. Comrade Venkatesan, district in-charge, led the protest.
In Cuddalore, around 200 rural poor joined the road block at two places. Comrade Ammayappan courted arrest with them.
In Pudukottai, around 125 rural poor and agrarian workers courted arrest. Com Aasai Thambi, district secretary of the party led the road block. In Trichy, Comrade Desikan, Secretary, AICCTU, along with 76 contract workers of OFT, courted arrest in a joint program. In Tanjore, around 120 workers blocked the road.
In Namakkal district, around 120 power loom workers were arrested. Com. A Govindaraj, Secretary, AICCTU and Comrade Thenmozhi, State Organizer, AIPWA led the struggle.
In Krishnagiri, around 150 workers blocked the road and courted arrest. They were led by Comrade Babu, district in-charge. In Salem, Comrade Chandramohan, SCM, courted arrest in a joint program with CITU and AITUC. In Karur, a demonstration was held in which around 65 workers participated.
At Karnataka, the July 23 – August 20 campaign began with panchayat level demonstrations in Davanagere and Koppal districts of Karnataka. Demonstrations were organized on issues of NREGA, BPL and land. At Harapanahalli taluk in Davanagere district, many panchayat level demonstrations were organized including Mathihalli and Uchangi Durga panchayats. Demonstrations were led by Comrades Ramappa, state secretary, Kotresh, AIALA and Chowrappa. This attempt unleashed local level initiatives in the course of political propaganda against the UPA government.
In the course of propaganda campaign, Mysore district work was also revived where Cooliekara Sangha (affiliated to AICCTU) branches were formed in some places beginning from 17th Aug. in Dooda Kanya village near Myosre city. The meeting was addressed by comrades Shankar, Rati Rao of AIPWA and Maridadaiah, President of Cooliekarara Sangha. HD Kote too witnessed new initiatives where a branch of Karnataka Pragatipara Kattada Karmikara Sangha (KPKKS - Karnataka Progressive Construction Labour Union) was floated on the same day. Comrades Shankar and Javaraiah addressed the meeting.
On 20 August, Bangalore, the Silicon Valley, addressed a different scene. While most of the unions decided to undertake high profile programs in the city, our union decided to march on the streets of high profile Information Park in the city. An impressive rally led by Comrade Shankar went through the streets of ITPL (Information Technology Park Limited) reverberating slogans against anti-people policies of the central government. The protest demonstration that followed was addressed by Comrade Shankar, R.Selvaraj, Organising Secretary of ITI Employees Union, PP.Appanna, Narayan Swamy and G.Somu, the office-bearers of the union in RMC Readymix India Pvt Ltd.
On the same day, hundreds of workers protested in front of taluk office at Harapanahalli in Davanagere District that was addressed by Ramappa, state secretary, Kotresh, AIALA, Lingaraju, NCM of AICCTU and Hanumanthappa, Davanagere.
While hundreds of people staged a Rasta Roko at Gangavati on the same day, a section of them courted arrest. Comrade Bharadwaj, State President of AIALA, Uma Shankar, Taluk Secretary of the party and Vijayan, NCM of AICCTU were among those arrested on the day.
At Andhra Pradesh, the Jail Bharo programmes were held at four places. In Visakhapatnam 73 people courted arrest while protesting at the Collector’s office, led by comrades B Vasudevarao, District Secretary and G Satyanarayana, AICCTU State Secretary.
In Kakinada 600 people protesting at the Collector’s office were arrested; among them, Comrades Bangar Rao, CCM, Y.Arjun Rao, B Viplav Kumar, K Ratnakumari, SCMs, Ganesh, AICCTU Secretary, Ch.Nageswara Rao, AICCTU State President, R Simhachalam, Adivasi Sangam State Convenor, and Gangababu, DCM.
In Vijayawada, a procession of 500 people marched to All India Radio where the protest programme was held and courted arrest. Comrades N Murty, State Secretary, D Haranath, K Janardan, D Pullarao, SCMs, R Nagamani, AIPWA State Secretary, T Aruna, President and others led this programme.
At Anantapur, the protest was led by Comrades C K V Sivareddy, District Leading Team Secretary, G Gayatridevi, AIPWA State Vice President, and Vali, Town Leading Team Secretary. Nearly 70 people went to the Collector’s office and locked the gates and were then taken into custody.
At Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand, around 200 activists from Gangolihat, Dharchula and Baram participated in a protest dharna at the DM’s office.
At Orissa, a four-week-long campaign culminated on 20 August when over 2500 activists (900 at Rayagada, 800 at Puri, 100 at Kendrapada, 100 at Kalahandi, 150 at Khurda, Bolangir and Bhubaneswar, 150 at Keonjhar) courted arrest.
In Uttar Pradesh, on 20th August thousands of CPI(ML) activists courted arrest all over UP against price rise, Nuke Deal and killing of peasasnts in Greater Noida. PBM Comrade Ramji Rai courted arrest in Allahabad along with hundreds of activists. UP State secretary Com. Sudhakar Yadav courted arrest leading hundreds of activists at Robertsganj (Sonbhadra). CCMember Comrade Krishna Adhikari courted arrest leading one thousand activists in Pilibhit. In Gazipur and Mirzapur one thousand party activists courted arrest.
In the capital Lucknow, 500 activists of the district committee led by State Committee member Comrade Arun Kumar, District Secretary Comrade Shiv Kumar and Construction Workers Union Secretary Comrade Raghunath Prasad demonstrated in front of the Assembly and marched towards the Collectorate, where police arrested them and took them to the Police line. The main demand in these protests was that cases be filed against the officials and policemen responsible for the killing of peasants in Greater Noida, cases against peasants be withdrawn, adequate compensation be given to the affected peasants and the relatives of the peasants who were killed, price rise be controlled and essential commodities be made available at cheap rates to all BPL families, and the anti-national nuke deal be scrapped.
In the State wide court arrest campaign activists from Mirzapur, Chandauli, Gazipur, Balia, Devaria, Gorakhpur, Azamgarh, Mau, Ambedakarnagar, Sitapur, Lakhimpur Khiri, Pilibhit, Jalaun, Varanasi, Gonda, Faizabad, Maharajgunj, Muradabad, Bijnaur, and other districts courted arrest.
The All India Strike and Jail Bharo was successful in different places of Assam including Guwahati. In Guwahati some 150 activists of AICCTU and its affiliated organizations were arrested from the Guwahati Refinery entrance, included Viren Kalita, Pankaj Das, Naren Borah, P K Barman, and Janik Barman. In Behali of Sonitpur district nearly 500 activists, most of them tea workers, were arrested when they took out a procession. In the Dibrugarh the bandh was total at 10 tea estates and partial in others. 150-odd activists got arrested when they held a protest procession at Dibrugarh Town. In Nagaon more than 100 activists took out a procession and got arrested. The Strike and Jail Bharo was successful at Jorhat, Tinsukia and Silchar also. AISA’s Students’ Strike was successful at Nagaon and Jorhat, where the bandh was total. AISA activists campaigned in favour of the strike at Jorhat.