Bihar AIPWA Conference

The state conference of AIPWA, Bihar was held at Gaya, the political nerve-centre of Central Bihar, on 15 December 2000, after a gap of five years. The Conference site was chosen, keeping in mind increased attacks on women at the hands of the Ranvir Sena, whose area of operation was mainly Central Bihar; AIPWA wanted to send a message to democratic sections in this region that to take on the fascist Ranvir Sena in Bihar was the primary task for the progressive and democratic stream of the women’s movement, and a broad-based movement, cutting across caste and class lines was the need of the hour. The Conference began with a mass rally, with over 500 women marching from Gaya station to the Haadi Hashmi Secondary School, which had been named after the martyr Com. Lahiri. Women chanting slogans like ‘balatkaar ki kya saja, fansi ka fanda aur kya’, ‘Bihar mein mahila aayog ka gathan karo’, ‘Ranvir sena ko dhwast karo’, entered the school premises and, after paying homage to the women martyrs at the Shaheed Bedi, they participated in the flag hoisting, the AIPWA flag being unfurled by Prof. Seema Ghosh.

The Conference was inaugurated by veteran Comrade Prithwiraj Singh. The welcome address was delivered on behalf of the reception committee, by Com. Kusum Trivedi who said that she had received a good response from several quarters in the city, which was quite encouraging. Among other guest speakers were the secretary of Janwaadi Lekhak Sangh, Mr. Satyendra Singh, leader of the Govt. Hospital Nurses’ Union, Ms. Nirmala Pandey, teachers Ms. Tanveer Akhtar, and Ms. Shagufta Ansari. State leaders Com. Saroj Chaubey and Meena Tiwari, also addressed the inaugural session.Kumudini Pati, general secretary, was central observer and addressed the Conference centering on the need to develop AIPWA through anti-feudal mass struggles in the countryside, at the same time raising democratic issues of women like struggle against eve-teasing and increasing violence, including domestic violence on women, lack of education and jobs, denial of welfare benefits for working women, fascist attacks on women’s right to expression and the like. It is only through this that AIPWA would be able to counter the rightist upsurge in Bihar, which is the result of political failure of the RJD Govt. in satisfying the aspirations of the women of the state.

The delegate session, involving around 200 delegates from the state, started with The Secretary’s report being read out by the outgoing secretary Com. Shashi Yadav. The delegate session was presided over by Coms. Meena Tiwari, Kunti Devi, Damyanti, Kusum Trivedi and Saroj Chaubey, while the steering committee comprised Coms. Reena, Shashi, Anita and, Meera Thakur.

Some of the issues that came up for discussion were: growing unemployment among women agricultural labourers due to mechanisation, enequal wages, agitation against police excesses, for example the arrest of Kusum Devi in Bhabhua, the rape and subsequent defamation of Sudha devi of Jehanabad, as a result of which the NHRC refused to inquire into the case, the question of cultural movement against feudal, obscurantist ideas within our own mass base, the issue of mobilising more and more women students within campuses on democratic issues, insecurity among women in Siwan after several incidents of rape and kidnapping of women, including that of a Muslim woman by Shahabuddin’s goons, the question of lack of overall development in Bihar, including lack of education and health care as well as civic amenities, and conditions of famine or near-famine in several districts. A recent spurt in attacks on young girls for example, in the Mother Teresa girl’s hostel, molestation of schoolgirls in Patna city and the lack of democratic protest on the issue, as well as the negative role of the media was also discussed. Also, a recent trend of large number of women participating in religious functions publicly organised by womens’ wings of rightist organisations invited serious concern. Several delegates felt that there was a need to organise workshops frequently to educate women. In the end a 43-member State Council with Com. Saroj Chaubey as President and Shashi Yadav, as Secretary was elected. The conference resolved to intensify struggle against police repression, attacks by feudal armies like Ranvir Sena, to continue struggle for formation of State Women’s Commission, to fight for minimum and equal wages and against mechanisation in agricultural work, to fight for release of Kusum Devi and for justice to Sudha Devi as well as to make the National Conference of AIPWA (to be held in Patna in March ) a grand success.