Statewide Protests Demand Dissolution of Jharkhand Assembly
On June 11 CPI(ML) organised demonstrations and protests throughout Jharkhand demanding immediate dissolution of the Jharkhand Assembly and fresh elections. In the capital Ranchi protests were held at Albert Ekka Chowk. Braving the incessant monsoon rains, about a hundred protesters stood their ground and remained firm in their demands, addressed the people and raised slogans. Addressing the rally Central Committee member and MLA Vinod Singh said that the Congress can never be in a position to form a government in Jharkhand on its own strength and yet it cannot give up the desire for power and therefore it uses all underhand means to grab power. President’s Rule is an excuse hiding behind which the Congress is ruling in Jharkhand. The Congress is serving its own ends by keeping the Assembly suspended for such a long period and by keeping the JMM and the RJD under pressure. Com. Vinod stressed that the people of Jharkhand had become wise to the deceit of the Congress and is not prepared to suffer Congress rule any longer. If the Assembly is not dissolved and fresh elections held immediately, the people of Jharkhand will intensify their struggle on the streets. State secretary Janardan Prasad, CC member Anant Prasad Gupta, State Standing Committee member Parmeshwar Mahto, State Committee member Sukhdev Munda, AIPWA leaders Guni Oraon and Sarojini Bisht, youth leader Bhishma Mahto and others participated in the rally.
In Garhwa district protesters demonstrated in front of the district Collectorate under the leadership of State committee members Mohan Dutta, Kalicharan Mehta, and Sushma Mehta. At the Palamu district headquarters a protest was held where the speakers also also condemned the incident where shops of minorities were burnt down in Chhatarpur while the administration tried to evade the issue by refusing to enter into talks but the CPI-ML leaders stood their ground and the Deputy Commissioner finally spoke to them and assured them that the matter would be conveyed to the proper authorities and all efforts would be made to find a positive solution to the problems. This protest was led by District secretary R. N. Singh, Ravindra Ram and all others.
In Giridih, protesters participated in the demonstration in front of the district deputy commissioner led by District Secretary Manoj Bhakt, State Committee members Rajkumar Yadav, Rajesh Yadav, Usman Ansari and other leaders. A protest in Kodarma was led by State Committee members Prem Prakash and Shyamdev Yadav. In Dhanbad, protesters gathered at Randhir Verma Chowk. In Bokaro protesters rallied in front of District deputy commissioner’s office led by District Secretary Devdeep Singh Diwakar, State Committee members Janardan Harijan, J. N. Singh, Baleshwar Yadav and other leaders.
In Ramgarh, protesters led by district secretary Bhuneshwar Bediya and state committee member Devkinandan Bediya raised the issue of forcible capture of land by Jindal. In Hazaribagh state committee member Baijnath Mistry, AICCTU leader Pachchu Rana led the protesters against the illegal capture of thousands of acres of land by Reliance, NTPC and several other companies in the name of coal mining and power plants in the district. In Godda, demonstrators protested against the grabbing of Adivasi land by Jindal and declared that if action was not taken against Jindal and other corporate looting the people, the district headquarters would be gheraoed on July 15. The protest was led by Arun Sahay, Motilal and others. In Deogarh demonstrators sat in protest against the incidents of violence against women. It may be noted that even a month after the rape and murder of two minor girls in Deogarh, no arrests have so far been made. This protest was led by district secretary Gita Mandal and Sahdev Yadav. Protesters put forward their demands in Kundohit sector of Jamtara district. In Tata, people participated in the protest and raised their demands, led by state committee member and former MLA Bahadur Oraon, state committee member Om Prakash Singh and district secretary S. K. Rai. Protests were also organized in Dumka and Lohardaga and an effigy of the Central government was burnt in Gumla.
Chakka Jam of MNREGA Workers in Bihar
From the scrapping of the Amir Das Commission and acquittal of massacre-accused, dumping of the recommendations of the Land Reforms Commission, and failure to distribute 3 decimals of homestead land to the landless poor, Bihar’s Nitish Government has had a long track record of broken promises. The latest in this series of assaults on the poor is the Bihar Government’s withdrawal of the state-level allocation of Rs 30 to the Central Government allocation of Rs 138 as the wage for MNREGA, as a result of which the wage of Rs 168 announced by the Bihar Government was reduced to Rs 138. On May 7th, 2013, MNREGA workers and rural poor under the banner of AIALA held a massive demonstration in Patna to demand an answer from the Chief Minister.
MNREGA workers and AIALA declared a state-wide hartal (strike) and chakka jam to be held on June 8th. In response, Nitish Kumar sent a proposal to his Cabinet of MNREGA wages at Rs 162, which is still below the minimum wage.
On June 8th, more than 50000 MNREGA workers in 35 districts at more than 250 places struck work and hit the streets, blockading roads and railways. Several senior officials, MLAs and Ministers remained stuck for hours as a result, including the DGP at Fatuha (Patna), the SP at Jehanabad, the Land Reforms Minister Ramai Ram at Musahari in Muzaffarpur, BJP MLA from Pipra Dilip Verma at Gaunaha (West Champaran). Thousands were arrested at Patna, Gopalganj and several other districts. The DGP who was caught for hours in the blockade at Fatuha made it a prestige issue, and ordered a raid if a village the same night, arresting and jailing 5 MNREGA workers on charges of extortion and other cooked up charges. Efforts are on by the police to identify and arrest workers and leaders on the basis of video footage.
The participation of thousands of MNREGA workers in the protests is an indicator of the anger of the poor against the Nitish Government’s betrayals of promises.
Demonstration against Murder of Anti-liquor Activist in Uttarakhand
Sangita Malda was murdered on 29 May 2013. She was spearheading a movement against liquor smugglers in Uttarakhand – the land of anti-liquor movement with the slogan of “Nasha Nahin, Rozgar Do”. She was an ASHA worker in Mandalsera village of district Bageshwar. On 20th May, she led a protest demonstration of women at SDM office, Bageshwar demanding action against liquor smugglers in the village. Then on 24 May she submitted a memorandum with DM in which she gave the names of liquor smugglers and demanded protection for her and other women comrades. But the district administration ignored her demands. As a result of the callous and apathetic attitude of district administration, on 29th May she was murdered in her house by liquor mafia when she was alone. After murdering her, the culprits tried to convert the murder into a suicide scene by forcing pesticide into her mouth, and their agents went on to propagate that she has committed suicide owing to financial fraud done by her with women group and lodged a case of suicide. But these concocted charges were refuted by the treasurer of women group Ramuli Devi who informed that the entire fund is safely lying in bank.
Demanding punishment to the murderers of the martyred Sangita, who bravely fought against liquor mafia and for the dignity of women, hundreds of women, members of ASHA union, anganwadi workers and villagers under the leadership of CPI (ML) and AICCTU staged a militant demonstration on 4 June at DM office. They demanded lodging of murder cases against the accused, immediate arresting of the fourth accused, punishment to administrative officers and policemen who did not take any action despite repeated submission of memorandum and information, prohibition of legal and illegal sale of liquor in the entire district, arrest of all liquor smugglers and compensation and job to the dependent of the deceased. The militant demonstration forced the DM and SP to come out of office to face the demonstrators and to give clarification to every demand raised. They had to confess in front of the demonstrators that the police ignored the facts and were also conceded to the demands raised in the demonstration and declared that the case of murder will be registered after the enquiry into this incident by high officials. The district administration was given an ultimatum of 10 days with a warning of Chakka Jam if the demands are not met.
Protests Continue on the Streets of Tinsukia
Since the assassination of Com. Gangaram Koul, on 25th March 2013, not a single day has passed without protests in the Tinsukia district and Assam, demanding the arrest of the accused, all of whom are Congress leaders, the prime accused among them being Mr. Raju Sahu - one of the Parliamentary Secretaries and an MLA from Chabua Legislative Assembly Constituency and also a member of the faction within the Congress that is opposed to the Chief Minister of Assam.
On 12th June 2000 protesters took part in a street march in Tinsukia, and slogans of ‘Arrest Raju Sahu immediately, Tarun Gogoi down down, oust Tarun Gogoi to save democracy, to save Assam, down with Gogoi’s killers’ raj and mafiadom’ reverberated.
The march, which started from the Durgabari Hall, Tinsukia was led by Com. Subhas Sen, Rubul Sharma, Vivek Das, Arup Mahanta, Shubhrajyoti Bardhan, Balindra Saikia, Haripada Sarkar, Shikha Das, Gangaram Koul’s life-partner Shakeela Munda, Subhas Singh, Pawan Majhi, Gobin Proja, Sunil Tanti, Govinda Namashudra, Chandan Handique,(Brihattar Asamiya Juba Manch) and others. The march became a road-blockade that lasted for more than an hour at Tinsukia, the busiest spot of the town. The protesters, braving the scorching heat, demanded that the D.C. come to the spot of the road blockade to accept the memorandum addressed to the Governor of Assam. At this spot the effigy of Raju Sahu was burnt. Then the marchers pushed in though the main gate of the Circle Office (S.D.C.) who accepted the memorandum. Inside the complex of the Circle Office, a protest meeting was held which was addressed by Comrades Subhas Sen and party State Secretary Bibek Das. The processionists then again marched back to the Durgabari Hall where a mass meeting was held which was presided over by Com. Harendra Nath Borthakur – the veteran CPI (ML )member and the President of the Sodou Asom Janasangskritik Parishad.
A Souvenir named “Uttaran” (Transformation) in memory of Com. Koul was released by noted intellectualual and economist Dr. Jyoti Prasad Chatiha, and party Polit Bureau member Rubul Sharma, State Secretary Bibek Das, Shakeela Munda, Raju Bhumij, Gobin Proja, Bojen Konwar and others addressed the gathering. Com. Balindra Saikia Sang a popular song composed by Com. Bibek Das depicting the arduous life of tea workers and a Jhumair song was also sung by Shri Suman Tanti. The leaders gave a call to the gathering to come in large numbers to join CPI (ML) to take Com. Koul’s struggles forward. A resolution was passed in the house asking the Govt. to arrest Raju Sahu by the 15th of August (Independence Day) 2013 or the people will have the right to gherao Raju Sahu when and where he will be available after that date, and administer a fitting punishment.
Indefinite Hunger Strike in Madhubani
In Madhubani an indefinite hunger strike was launched on 3 June at the DM’s office demanding immediate unconditional release of Comrade Dhruvnarayan Karna and others arrested in the wake of the student revolt and police firing in October 2012. Family members of the arrested comrades, including large numbers of women joined the fast. The 53 arrested activists are also on hunger strike in the jail.
The plight of the hunger strikers outside and inside the jail in this scorching heat was not sufficient to force the insensitive Government and Administration to respond. Rather, the District SP threatened the agitators through press statements that the agitation is illegal, that under the new rules no movement can take off without the Administration’s permission. While the CPI(ML) is strongly backing the movement, the CPI and the CPI(M) have maintained silence so far.
A team of CPI(ML) leaders including the Polit Bureau member Comrade Dhirendra Jha, AIPWA leader Shashi Yadav, Colonel (Retd) Lakshmeswar Mishra and AIALA leader Dileep Singh visited the hunger strikers and conveyed the Party’s solidarity. The Administration did not allow a microphone to be used, neither did they let any male members of the Party to address the meeting at the site of hunger strike. Comrade Shashi Yadav, also a Central Committee member of CPI(ML) however, addressed the meeting condemning the assaults on peaceful protest and appeasement of feudal forces. CPI(ML) has appealed to all people to intensify the united movement for justice and democracy.
Even children have been arrested and are being held in Juvenile homes. Pinki Singh (member of Madhubani district council), Kiran Karn, Yasmin Khatun, Neelam Shah, Sudha Chaudhary, Asha Pradhan, Nishu Jha and others on indefinite hunger strike, while in Jail 53 are on hunger strike led by CPI(ML) leader Dhruva Narayan Karna and youth leader of CPI Anil Singh.