WB Govt’s New Lows after Madhyamgram Repeated Gangrape and Murder

The Madhyamgram double gangrape and murder of the 16 year old girl, abduction of the victim’s body and attempts by police to forcibly cremate it has brought out once again the deeply misogynistic hostility towards victims of sexual assault and a ruthless oppression of all voices of dissent that has come to define the two-and-a-half year old TMC rule in West Bengal. The fact that a survivor of gang-rape was gang raped again while returning after lodging a complaint with the police and was later burnt to death reflects how extremely insecure and vulnerable the women have become under the Mamta Banerjee-led TMC rule. Not only did the state police fail to provide her with any security following her complaint, far from accepting its failure, it first tried to paint her brutal murder as an act of suicide and then shamefully hijacked the body and tried to cremate it without her family’s consent. When the aggrieved parents appealed for justice, the police reportedly told them to ‘go back to Bihar’, from where they originally belong.

The incident and the utter apathy of the administration has shocked the people of WB. On New Year’s Day, the victim’s father, who is a member of CITU, took part in a funeral procession organized by CITU and joined by representatives of all other central trade unions. On the same day, AISA along with other progressive students’ organizations took out a protest march from College Square condemning police’ role and administrative apathy. The march blocked the busy Esplanade crossing for some time. Several other protest marches and demonstrations were organized on the same day by concerned citizens, human rights groups and cultural organizations. An AIPWA delegation met the Women’s Commission on 3rd January. Comrades Meena Tiwari, Chaitali Sen, Divya Gautam (AISA leader from patna) and others from the delegation visited the girl’s parents. A street-corner meeting was held on the following day in front of Moulali Dargah. The meeting was addressed by Comrades Kavita Krishnan and Meena Tiwari among others. A candlelight march followed where local people and passers-by joined spontaneosly. Same day, AISA and AIPWA jointly protested in front of the Banga Bhavan in Delhi.

A protest meeting was held at Madhyamgram 4-point crossing on 5th January. Kavita Krishnan, Meena Tiwari, Partha Ghosh and others addressed the gathering. CPI(ML) called for observing an all-India Protest Day on 6th January. The day was observed in memory of the Madhyamgram victim and all other victims of gender violence, with local-level rallies and street-corner meetings in most of the districts. Students in Jadavpur University held a march condemning the whole incident and Govt’s role, on the 7th.

On the 9th of January, the CPI(ML) and AIPWA, AISA and RYA took out a massive protest rally from College Square to Dharmatala demanding a public apology from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and action against the Police Commissioner of Kolkata for the reprehensible role of the Kolkata Police in abduction and attempted cremation of the victim’s body, and the sacking of the Police Commissioner of Bidhan Nagar for failing twice to provide safety to the victim and trying to masquerade murder as self-immolation by keeping the victim’s dying declaration secret for a week. The rally also demanded the setting up of a fast-track court to ensure swift and exemplary punishment to the culprits of double rape, murder and those responsible for repeatedly threatening the victim and her family, and provision of adequate compensation and security to the grieving parents so that they can live their lives in safety and with dignity.

A week later another major protest was held in the College Square area jointly by Left trade unions, other mass organisations and prominent representatives of the Kolkata intelligentsia.

Mill Owners Rule Over Sugar Cane Farmers In UP

- Afroz Alam

The recent Muzaffarnagar riots in UP, sponsored by the Samajwadi Party government and the BJP, not only claimed 50,000 lives and rendered thousands homeless, but the rampant communal passions also created a communal divide in the sugar cane belt of Western UP where the sugar mill owners, in collusion with the SP government, is taking full advantage of the situation to loot the sugar cane farmers.

The biggest farmers’ organization in UP, the Bharatiya Kisan Union, whose leader was formerly Mahendra Singh Tikait and is currently his son Naresh Tikait, has its base in Western UP. The BKU President Naresh Tikait’s brother Rakesh Tikait was seen openly seen on the same platform with BJP-RSS leaders in Muzaffarnagar and inciting the riots with inflammatory speeches. The BJP-ization of the BKU has dealt a huge blow to the unity of the farmers in Western UP. Many BKU leaders , under the leadership of MS Tikait’s erstwhile colleague and senior leader of BKU Ghulam Mohammad Jaula (also known as Mahatmaji), left the BKU and formed the Kisan Mazdoor Sangh.

Sensing this divide within the sugar cane farmers of Western UP, the sugar mill owners and the SP government dealt them a body blow. First, the government deliberately and inordinately delayed fixing the rate of sugar cane. Moreover, no pressure was put upon the sugar mill owners to start milling operations on time. Thus the mills which normally started work between 15 October and 15 November, this year started work only after 3 December. Meanwhile, in order to vacate the fields for the sowing of the wheat crop, the farmers were forced to sell their sugar cane at Rs 90 to Rs 150 per quintal, and sell the presses and crushers. This caused the farmers in the State a loss of thousands of crores. While the farmers were selling their produce at throwaway prices, the government was keeping up a pretext of talks with the mill owners, and the end result of these talks left the farmers cheated and looted, while the mill owners profited to the tune of thousands of crores of rupees.

First, CM Akhilesh Yadav announced that this year the rate of sugar cane would remain the same as last year (Rs 280 and 275 per quintal respectively for A and B grades), whereas according to a government agricultural survey report, the outlay for the produce of 1 quintal sugar cane is Rs 280. Therefore, has the government decided that farmers should sell sugar cane at the rate of outlay? This was not all. Sugar mill owners refused to purchase sugar cane at this rate and stopped milling operations. The SP government, having come to power on the strength of farmers’ votes, bowed to the diktat of the mill owners and permitted them to pay Rs 20 per quintal of the purchase price after perai and also gave them a 889 crore package.

Produced at an outlay of Rs 280 per quintal, after a cut of Rs 20 per quintal, the farmer will now get Rs 260 and Rs 255 per quintal for grade A and B respectively. Minus the amount of Rs 9 per quintal spent in washing, the farmer will thus get in hand Rs 251 for grade A and Rs 246 for grade B. The SP government, in power on strength of farmers’ votes, has left these very farmers no option but to either commit suicide in the face of such heavy losses, or to migrate here and there in search of work. At the same time, in addition to fixing the price of sugar cane according to the wishes of the mill owners and giving them an 889 crore package, the government has also waived their purchase tax, toll tax, reduced the tax on sugar, and waived the Rs 6.20 pr quintal commission to be paid by the mill owners to the sugar cane co-operatives (cane unions). The government says this commission will be paid by the government itself, whereas there is no such provision in the Cane Act. The money from this commission was being used for providing the farmers with fertilizers, seeds, means of irrigation, pesticides, and to construct schools, colleges, roads, and bridges, which have all been put at risk now.

Along with the reduced prices, another big crisis for the sugar cane farmers of UP this year is the non-payment of 23 crores by the mill owners even 9 months after the purchase of the cane, whereas the Cane Act stipulates payment within 14 days of purchase, with interest to be paid after this period. The UP CM proudly announced that talks have been held with mill owners to solve their problems; the government’s priority is to keep the mills running, therefore the issue of payment of dues will not be raised. The farmers are being shamelessly told to bring fresh sugar cane produce without asking for payment for their previous produce. This is the loot perpetrated on the farmers by the so-called pro-farmer UP government and the mill owners! The SP is busy gearing up for Mission 2014 in UP and SP Supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, nurturing dreams of becoming PM, feels that this dream will be fulfilled not through the ‘votes’ of the people in UP but through the ‘notes’ of the sugar mill owners.

Not having received payment for their previous produce, the sugar cane farmers in the State are on the verge of starvation; they are unable to repay their debts; ornaments and other items of value from their houses have reached the lockers of moneylenders; they are unable to perform the marriages of sons and daughters; children’s names have been struck off schools due to non-payment of fees. Faced with this dire situation, farmers have started committing suicide. Two farmers have committed suicide in Lakhimpur Kheri. When the farmers agitated with one of the dead bodies at the gates of the sugar mills, the guards of the mill owners punished them with lathis and bullets. Clearly, the SP government is completely under the sway of the mill owners.

Despite the effects of the Muzaffarpur riots, the UP sugar cane farmers are on the path of agitation. Their demands are that the rate of sugar cane should be announced as Rs 350 per quintal, previous dues should be paid with interest to farmers, and the price of sugar cane should be paid in a single instalment. The farmers have understood that the proposal to pay Rs 20 per quintal later is part of the anti-farmer Rangarajan Committee recommendations, which advocate 80% payment on the spot and the remaining 20% after the perai season when the profits have been realized: in case of non-profit, the 80% already paid shall be considered full payment. To guard against this back door method of denying them 20% payment, the farmers are demanding full payment in a single instalment.

It is with these demands that the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh organized a State wide dharna-demonstration on 25 November, with programmes at Moradabad, Baheri (Bareilley), Paniya (Lakhimpur Kheri),Gorakhpur, Gazipur and other places. 2 December was observed as Protest Day throughout the State to protest against the farmers’ suicides in Lakhimpur. Farmers’ protests are continuing all over the State, particularly in Western UP. In Baheri, an indefinite dharna is in progress under the leadership of ABKMS State executive members Mohd. Javed and Mohan Singh. The protests by the Kisan Union, it is to be noted, is being conducted jointly in collaboration with the BJP.

The need of the hour is to fight the attempts by communal forces to break farmers’ unity in UP and to rebuild the forces of the farmers’ movement, for which the agitation against land acquisition in Bareilly is showing the way. The farmers of UP are facing loot and destruction, and the ABKMS is determined to take up the challenge of uniting the farmers in the struggle to fight against this injustice.

Janvikalp Sabha in Bagodar On Comrade Mahendra Singh’s Martyrdom Day

CPI (ML) organized a huge Jansankalp Rally in Bagodar on 16 January 2014, the 9th anniversary of Com. Mahendra Singh’s martyrdom. Addressing the sea of people gathered on this occasion, CPI (ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya said that 2014 would be the elections to reverse the present policies. He stressed that policies which have no place for the poor, the farmers, women and youth, need to be overturned. We need to convert the coming elections into a fight for people’s rights against corporate machinery. This election will not be about Modi or Rahul but about the people. As the elections near, the dilemmas of the Congress and the BJP are also increasing.

Remarking on Modi’s silence at the BJP rally in Jharkhand, he pointed out that Modi has not even apologized for the abject conditions in Jharkhand today. Modi’s silence is untenable; the BJP must take responsibility for the ruin of Jharkhand, because it is they who were the first, and the longest, rulers of the State. Appealing for alertness against BJP’s communal manipulations, he said that Modi has engineered the riots in Muzaffarnagar in UP through Amit Shah, the chief villain of the Gujarat riots. He said that the BJP wanted to spread communal tension from Patna to Ranchi under cover of the Patna bomb blasts, but the people of Bihar, through the Khabardar Rally, defeated this unholy purpose. BJP stands similarly exposed in Jharkhand too, and the people of Jharkhand and Bihar will give a fitting reply to such machinations by the BJP. The conspiracy to push the minorities into the slot of secondary citizen will also be shattered.

Remembering Com. Mahendra Singh, the Party General Secretary said that anyone wishing to see how much synergy is generated by martyrdom has only to come here, to Bagodar. Com. Dipankar stressed that the legacy of Bhagat Singh and Com. Mahendra Singh would put paid to fascist plots and corporate loot. He pointed out that Modi said, at Baba Ramdev’s camp, that tax would be abolished. The truth is that taxes will be abolished by Modi for those who have become billionaires through corporate loot!

The General Secretary said that today two kinds of models are being talked about in Kodarma. One model was Com. Mahendra Singh, who gave his all for fighting for the people’s struggles; the other is Babulal Marandi who, far from fighting for the people on the ground, does not even raise a question in Parliament. He said that the legacy of Com. Mahendra Singh is the fight for “Insaan, Insaaf aur Inquilab” (Humans, Justice and Revolution), and this is the CPI (ML)’s fight. Announcing the Jansahyog-Jandavedari (People’s Cooperation-People’s Rights) Abhiyan, he said that between 27 January and 10 February the plan is to meet 5 lakh voters, acquaint them with the Party’s thinking, take their cooperation in the form of Rs 5 to Rs 10, and then turn the people’s cooperation into people’s rights.

Red flags were flying all around the Janvikalp Sabha held at the culmination of the 2 month-long Jansankalp Abhiyan organized in Jharkhand from 15 November. On the occasion of the 10th Martyrdom Day of Com. Mahendra Singh, the huge participation of thousands of women from Kodarma Lok Sabha constituency was clearly visible. Many young people are breaking away from Parties like AJSU, JVM, and BJP.

Earlier, a garlanding function was held in Com. Mahendra Singh’s native village of Khambhra, after which floral tributes were paid to his statue at the Com. Mahendra Singh Bhavan in Bagodar. The Janvikalp Sabha was addressed by Bagodar MLA and Party CC member Vinod Singh, State Committee member Rajkumar Yadav, Rajesh Yadav, Satyanarayan Das, Sitaram Singh, Jayanti Chowdhuri, Rameshwar Chowdhuri, Pawan Mahto, Reena Gupta, Kodarma citizens Ramdhan Yadav, Basudev Yadav and others. The meeting was presided over by Parmeshwar Mahto and conducted by Mustaqeem Ansari. Politburo member DP Bakshi, Janardan Prasad, Manoj Bhakt, CC member Anant Prasad Gupta, former CC member Bahadur Oraon, Marxist Coordination Committee legislator Arup Chatterjee, State Committee member Puran Mahto, Usman Ansari, Kaushalya Das, Shyam Dev Yadav, Prem Prakash and others were present at the meeting.

RMP Statement: On The Verdict In The TP Chandrasekharan Murder Case

The court verdict in the T.P. Chandrasekharan murder case delivers a major blow to the cult of assassinating political rivals, practiced by the CPI(M) in Kerala.

The court has found the CPI(M) functionaries K.C. Ramachandran (member of the Kunnummakkara local committee), Manojan aka Trouser Manojan, (branch secretary of Kadanganpoyil) and P.K. Kunhanandan (member of the Panur area committee) guilty, along with members of the killer gang led by Kodi Suni. The indictment of its functionaries from Kozhikode and Kannur districts for the murder establishes the involvement of the CPI(M) in the conspiracy behind the murder.

TP Chandrasekharan was eliminated by the CPI(M) because he raised his voice against the corruption and rightwing deviation of its leadership. The conspiracy for his murder was hatched after the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, in which Chandrasekharan contested as the RMP candidate in the Vadakara constituency, receiving significant votes. Scared by his growing popularity, the CPI(M) planned and executed the murder on May 4, 2012.

RMP appreciates the role of the investigators and the prosecutors in the case, who had to work under tremendous pressure. Broad sections of the media, civil society and Leader of Opposition Comrade V.S. Achuthanandan also stood by the cause of justice. Many ordinary members of the CPI(M) have also helped in bringing out the truth behind the murder.

However, the RMP feels that the full extent of the conspiracy has not been revealed through the trial, which requires further investigation into the role played by the CPI(M) leadership. The CPI(M) leadership has tried to deliberately mislead the public by initially suggesting the hand of other persons and forces behind the murder. Subsequently the CPI(M) leadership announced an internal inquiry and said that if its party members are found involved, action will be initiated against them. That internal enquiry also turned out to be sham exercise.

The CPI(M) in Kerala has collected and spent huge sums of money to protect the accused and pressurize the witnesses in the case; 52 witnesses turned hostile in the course of the trial. Through its influence within the state machinery it ensured that the accused were provided special facilities within the jail. These actions expose its involvement in the crime.

The RMP demands a CBI enquiry into the case to look into the full extent of the conspiracy behind the murder. The RMP will further pursue the case through legal and political means to bring all those responsible for the murder of TP Chandrasekharan to book.

N Venu and KK Rema
on behalf of
RMP State Committee

Protests against Clearance to POSCO

Veerappa Moily, the new Minister of Environment and Forest (MOEF), audaciously cleared POSCO’s Steel Project, violating all norms, just before the arrival of the President of South Korea, Park Geun-Hye’s visit to India.

The Environment Ministry, in a dishonest sleight of hand, is turning an integrated project into convenient compartments and giving clearances separately to each one of them in a gradual manner to deceive the public. As the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) says, “You can’t separate mines from the plant and the plant from the port. You can’t also ignore the fact that certain matters are still tried in National Green Tribunal.”

The people in Dhinkia, Patna, Govindpur and Nuagaon villages have taken a resolve to intensify our struggle at any cost and to ensure that POSCO is ousted from Odisha’s soil. To protest against the coalition of two hostile governments (in the state and at the centre) on POSCO issue and to protest against atrocities on protestors, PPSS held a massive Dharna in Dhinkia on January 15, 2014, to coincide with the S Korean President’s visit, and also in Bhubaneshwar. In solidarity, the JNUSU, Delhi Solidarity Group, AISA and others organized a Citizens’ Protest at the Environment Ministry.