Save Jharkhand, Save Democracy Campaign

The CPI(ML) launched a ‘Save Jharkhand Save Democracy’ campaign at an cadre convention held on 16 November at Patel Park, Ranchi which was attended by over 800 activists from various districts of the State.

Addressing the meet, CPI (ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya said that no single Party or single leader was responsible for the loot and ruin of Jharkhand in the last 13 years. All the 5 parties in Jharkhand—Congress, BJP, JVM, JMM, and AJSU—are equally responsible. Before talking about Parties and leaders, we must talk about the need for policy change. The economic policies and the policies for land acquirement, privatization, and contractualization prevalent in the country and in the State are responsible for this loot. Jharkhand is rich in natural resources; it also has rampant poverty, unemployment, and migration. Earlier, coal mines were nationalized but now they are being handed over to private interests. Jharkhand has become the capital for loot of collieries and minerals. Corruption and price rise have escalated sharply in the country due to pro-corporate economic policies.

He added that after Muzaffarnagar, Bihar is the target for communal forces, in the run up to 2014 Lok Sabha polls, and Jharkhand won’t be far behind. The BJP is aware that unless it increases its seats in UP, Bihar and Jharkhand, its dream of the PM’s post will remain an empty one. Therefore it is following the strategy of “Inflame communal passions, increase number of seats”.

Comrade Dipankar added that Modi has the backing not only of the BJP but also of big corporate companies like Reliance and Ambani as well as Adani, power company owner and one of the world’s biggest capitalists. Jharkhand is the home soil of Birsa Munda and Mahendra Singh, we will not let it go into the hands of fascist and communal-corporate fascist powers.

Addressing the Convention, State Secretary Janardan Prasad said that we must bring Jharkhand out of the vicious circle of loot and repression. Our Party is gaining the confidence of the people of Jharkhand who are getting increasingly disillusioned with the ruling Parties.

The Convention was presided over by CCW member Shubendu Sen. Expressing his views, CCW member Manoj Singh Bhakt said that we must carry forward the struggle for the reconstruction of Jharkhand. Central Committee member and MLA Vinod Singh, Anant Prasad Gupta, senior leaders Bahadur Oraon, Mohan Dutta, Rajkumar Yadav, Bhuvaneshwar Kewat, Devdeep Singh Diwakar, Bhuneshwar Bediya, Prem Prakash, RN Singh, Mahesh Sawariya, Vijay Singh, Krishna Singh and other leaders presented reports of their districts. A people’s resolution booklet titled “Save Jharkhand, Save Democracy from Corporate Fascism” was released at the Convention. An intensive campaign all over Jharkhand followed in November and December.

CPI(ML) Team Visits Muzaffarnagar

A two-member CPI(ML) consisting of UP State leaders Mohd. Salim and Bal Mukund Dhuriya visited the riot-affected areas of Muzaffarnagar. They visited several villages and relief camps between 30 November to 5 December.

They found the conditions in the area to be deeply disturbing. The conditions of the relief camps are dismal, with children dying of cold and women being raped. So far 28 children have died in camps in Shahpur, Budhana, Malarpuur and Sunhati due to abysmal conditions and lack of medicines.

BJP’s felicitation of the BJP MLAs accused of leading the communal violence, coincided with the Akhilesh Government’s order forcibly evicting the riot-hit from the relief camps, and pressurising them to accept a Rs 5 lakh payment in exchange for giving up their right to return to the villages from where they were evicted! In exchange for the Rs 5 lakh, they are being asked to sign an affidavit saying ““Main aur mere parivar ke sadasya apne gram mein hui hinsatmak ghatnaon se bhayakant hokar gaon va ghar chhodkar aaye hain, tatha in kinhi bhi paristhitiyon mein ab apne mool gaon evam ghar nahin lautenge (I and my family left our village and our home due to the violent incidents there. We will not return to our village and home under any circumstances).” Also, the the UP forest department has booked thousands of Muzaffarnagar riots victims for setting up relief camps by “encroaching” forest land.

The report submitted to the UP Government by the 10-member committee of Ministers under the leadership of senior SP Minister Shivpal Yadav, appallingly, blames the madarsas running of the relief camp for not wanting to wind up the relief camps in spite of the situation having returned to ‘normal’! The SIT constituted to enquire into the riots is doing a mere token job of it and not bothering even to talk to the victims.
The CPI(ML) has called for national efforts at collection of relief materials for the Muzaffarnagar riot-affected, and will also pursue the matter of rehabilitation and justice for the survivors.

People’s Convention At Bareilly

Land acquisition affected Kisan Sangharsh Smiti and CPI (ML) organized a People’s Convention on November 28 at Seth Damodar Swarup Park Chowki to discuss the issues of the injustices perpetrated upon the farmers of Bareilly by the SP government for land acquisition, and the communal politics engendered in the State through Muzaffarnagar.

Addressing the convention, chief speaker CPI (ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya saluted the courage and commitment of the farmers’ movement in Bareilly. The old ploy of breaking people’s movements through lathis and bullets does not work any longer, as we have seen in the case of the Singur farmers’ movement in West Bengal. The general perception is that the intellectual middle class does not support such movements, but in Bareilly people like Dr. Mohd. Israr Khan, Prof. in Economics at Rohilkhand University are not only supporting the movement but leading it. The manner in which the SP government arrested Prof. Khan from the university campus for supporting the farmers’ cause, and sent him to jail slapping false charges against him, and had him beaten in the thana, brings out the ugly truth of this government. Com. Dipankar pointed out that former BJP MP Santosh Gangwar was being given a compensation of Rs. 61 lakhs while other farmers were given Rs. 25 lakhs and asked on what basis these rates had been fixed.

Com. Dipankar said that as a BJP-RSS leader Modi was not much of a force but with the backing of the corporates like Tata and Birla, he has become a darling of the media. The trick of the BJP to use Muzaffarnagar as a laboratory for communalism to facilitate Modi’s PM bid must be foiled by the united farmers’ movement.

Erstwhile colleague of former BKU leader Mahendra Singh Tikait, Ghulam Mohammed Jola said that those who were dissatisfied with the BJP-ization and communalisation of the BKU have broken off to form the Kisan Mazdoor Sangh. Co-ordinator of the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti and Professor in Economics at Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Ruhelkhand University, Prof. Israr Khan said that over 3 lakhs bigha of land in Bareilly is being grabbed in Bareilly under the pretext of various projects. The State government is acting as the agent of big companies and builders. 66 years after independence, he said, 1000s of riot-affected people have been living for months in camps around Muzaffarnagar, for which the BJP, the SP and the Congress in Delhi must be held accountable.

The people’s convention was addressed by All India Kisan Mahasabha National Vice President Prem Singh Gehlawat, CPI (ML) CCW member Com. Krishna Adhikari, AIKM State Secretary Ishwari Prasad Kushwaha, United Muslim Morcha State President Iqbal Ansari Advocate, Satish from Inqalabi Mazdoor Kendra, and others. The Convention was presided over by CPI(ML)’s district in-charge Com. Ali Kumar Rishi and conducted by Party State Standing Committee member Afroz Alam.

A resolution was passed in the Convention to demand a stop to forcible acquisition of farmers’ land in Bareilly, taking back of all cases against Prof. Israr and other farmers, and fair compensation for the lands grabbed in the name of the Big By-pass project. The Convention condemned the State government’s bowing down to the sugar cane farmers and not making the payment due to the sugar cane farmers.

December 16th: Marking A Year of the Delhi Gang-Rape

(The reports of the Delhi events are based on reports that appeared in the Times of India.)

In Delhi, students’ and women’s groups held a series of events marking a year since the December 16th gang-rape that sparked off a huge anti-rape movement.

On 15th December, the JNUSU and the GSCASH held a night vigil where through soul-stirring performances and inspiring speeches they extended their movement to encompass issues such as marital rape, the Armed Forces (Special powers) Act and the draconian Section 377.
The night vigil started with a five-minute short film – “In the Body of Justice” by Eve Ensler, author of ‘The Vagina Monologues’. Prof Nivedita Menon of JNU delivered a moving lecture on how the common persons must “take back the republic”.

She called for a new sexual assault law. “We need a freshly-designed law that will reflect gender neutrality for the victim.” This legislation, she said, should take into account mass violence during communal riots, violence on women in caste situations where dalit women are raped. “We need a law that reflects the realities of our society.”

Actor Maya Rao presented a skit called “Walk” developed against the backdrop of the Nirbhaya incident. Her message: “The battle got much bigger since 2012”. Freedom, not protection, is what this battle is about, she said.

The longest applause was for Soni Sori, survivor of custodial torture and rape by Chhattisgarh police, where the main accused has received a gallantry award. She said, “I got strength from the movement you have sustained since last December. The torture had demoralized and shattered me physically. In jail, I realized there are women in worse conditions than me. I reached out to you and you responded. The movement you launched and the strength I got from it kept me going.”

On Monday nearly 800 students marched to Munirka where Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association and gay right activist Gautam Bhan addressed the gathering with Prof Kamal Mitra Chenoy. Supreme Court lawyer Vrinda Grover addressed the students before the march began.

On the morning of December 16th, at a protest organized by All India Democratic Women’s Associaton ( AIDWA), All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA), National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) and several others, activists presented a memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister, demanding the removal of former Supreme Court judge Justice Ganguly besides taking steps for the creation of committees against sexual harassment at every workplace.

“When people were protesting against Nirbhaya’s gangrape here on December 24, Justice Ganguly, in a five-star hotel nearby, was sexually harassing this law intern. The PM has to assure us that whether it is a man from jhuggis, a high-profile journalist, or a Supreme Court judge, no one will escape punishment,” said human rights lawyer Vrinda Grover as protesters shouted slogans.

Aruna Kumar, senior private assistant to the principal of ARSD college in DU, spoke about how her position had not been restored even after a chargesheet was filed on her complaint of a sexual assault by the former principal. “My room at the college office has been closed. I have not been given any work since I filed the complaint and am still being discriminated against. Many such harassment cases in DU are now coming out,” she said.

Tribal schoolteacher from Chhattisgarh, Soni Sori, attended the protest but did not address the gathering. She sat quietly as other activists described how she was allegedly stripped naked and faced brutal sexual abuse in custody.

Revati Laul, journalist and a friend of the Tehelka journalist allegedly sexually assaulted by editor Tarun Tejpal, said she and the victim had been covering Nirbhaya’s case extensively and couldn’t imagine that their editor would assault somebody. “If there was a sexual harassment committee at work, my friend would have had the option to see her case pursued systematically.”

Salma (name changed), who used to be the national programming head with a radio channel, recollected the trauma after she was allegedly assaulted by the CEO of the company. “I have been fighting the case for three years but have got no support,” she said.

Gourab Ghosh, a JNU student leader, had come with many other students. “Every institution should have a gender sensitization committee against sexual harassment like that in JNU.”

Kavita Krishnan, secretary, AIPWA stressed that the government should immediately start a public education campaign on women’s rights and freedoms.

In Kolkata, women and student-youth activists of AISA, AIPWA and RYA held a day-long protest-demonstration at College Street on December 16, marking the anniversary of the spark that lit a prairie fire of movements against gender violence in the country. A stretch of the busy street, facing the legendary Coffee House, was lined with posters decrying the Supreme Court verdict on article 377, calling for justice for countless rape victims of the State, demanding Justice Ashok Ganguly’s resignation as chairperson of the WBHRC, and calling for a CBI inquiry into the Chit-fund scam that robbed the poorest toiling masses of Bengal by a nexus patronised overtly by the TMC Govt. The protest was addressed by CPI(ML) CCMs Comrades Bhuvana and Partha Ghosh, student activist Debmalya, women activists Shukla Sen, Chandrasmita, Kasturi, Krishna Bandyopadhyay, LGBT activist Anurag and many others. Several songs were sung as passers-by stopped over and joined with their voices. A street play was also performed. Protests were held at Hooghly and other places in the State..