Black Day observed nationwide

Massive Secular March in Patna

Over a thousand people participated in a massive secular march in Patna which concluded in a mass meeting. Addressing it Party General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya said that Sangh Parivar and BJP is bent on making private affairs (religion) public and public affairs private, which has brough the country on the precipice of disaster. He said that demolition of Babri Masjid was an attack on democracy as well as secularism. Those who attended the march and spoke at the meeting include Com. Jagannath Sarkar, Com. PK Ganguli of CPI, Nripendra Krishna Mahato of Forward Bloc, Gandhian Mr. Razi Ahmed, Sagina Choudhary of MCPI, Arvind Sinha of Unity Initiative, State president of Telecom Union Md. Yusuf, leaders of various minority communities, intellectuals and journalists. The meeting was presided over by veteran trade union leader Com. Yogeshwar Gope.

In Delhi, Mandawali Unit of Party took out a 2-km long torchlight procession on 6 December condemning communal-fascist forces of Sangh Parivar, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in particular, for instigating the recent spate of communal frenzy in the country. The march was led by Com. Rajendra Pratholi, Secy. of Delhi State Committee, and other party leaders including Com. Suneeta, Ravindra Sharma, Shashi Bhushan and Samundra Paswan.

In JNU, AISA organised screening of a film ‘Ram ke Naam’ produced by Anand Patwardhan and took out an anti-communal march in the campus. It was attended by around 100 students.

In Delhi University, DU Forum for Democracy organised a joint march in which there were around 200 students and teachers. AISA members also participated in it. After the rally there was a 5-hour long cultural programme comprising street play, revolutionary and sufi songs recital.

In Jaipur, Party held a dharna at the Statue Circle today and gave a call to all democratic citizens of Jaipur to protest against the communal-fascist onslaught. Com. Srilata Swaminathan, CCM, Party State Secretary, Com. Mahendra Chaudhary addressed the gathering. The dharna participants sang secular and national songs, held speeches and raised slogans. Apart from the CPI-ML activists the main participants were Nistat Hussain, President of National Women’s Welfare Association, Savai Singh of the Sarvodaya movement, OP Mathur of Jan Vichar Manch, Kavita Shrivastav of PUCL, Sucheta from Vividha, Com. Vaqar-ul-ahad of CPI(M) and Prof. Bharatiya of Rajasthan Vigyan Society.

In Punjab, hundreds of workers and Party activists took out a march in Ludhiana observing Black Day on 6 December defying prohibitory orders under Sec. 144. In Mansa, activists staged a dharna at a central place in the town.

In UP, carrying placards with the slogans ‘We will not allow Kashi to become a second Ayodhya’, ‘Break the bloody fist of RSS’, more than 200 Party activists from the three districts of Varanasi, Chandauli and Ghazipur congregated in Varanasi to participate in a ‘Secular March’ to mark the 8th anniversary of the demolition of Babri Masjid. Defying prohibitory orders under Sec.144, the protesters led by Party State Secy. Com. Akhilendra Pratap Singh started the march from the Varanasi Cantt. Rly Station and squatted on the G.T. road bringing the traffic to a halt when the police stopped them. Protesters demanded the resignation of three chargesheeted BJP ministers. They were arrested and taken to the police lines. Presence of local Muslim youths was remarkable. This march, as national media reported, has taken the wind out of communal fascists’ sail in Varanasi, who could not turn up in more than a couple of dozens to observe their much trumpeted “Shourya Diwas”.
Secular marches were also taken out in Lucknow, Kanpur, Pilibhit and Faizabad. In Lucknow, activists led by Party State Committee member and president of RYA Com. Lal Bahadur Singh marched on main Hazratganj road and held a meeting at Gandhi statue. In Faizabad, Jan Sanskriti Manch organised a seminar and took out a march. Party organised a seminar in Lakhimpur Kheri followed by a march. In Allahabad, general body meeting of party members was held and Com. VM’s selected writings were read out.

On 7 December, Party and RYA burnt the effigy of Prime Minister Vajapyee in Varanasi to protest against his communally aggressive statement on the so-called “unfinished national agenda” of temple construction.

Similarly, Party activists in Lucknow burnt the effigy of Prime Minister before the U.P. Assembly on 7 December.

In Assam, on 6 December, anti-communal day was observed in Guahati, seminars were held in Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Naogaon, Jorhat and Borgang, a procession was organised in Sonitpur.


Resistance against police terror in Sonebhadra

CPI(ML) held a massive resistance rally before Collectorate at Robertsganj, headquarters of Sonebhadra district, in UP on 7 November, 2000. Over 2,500 dalits and adivasis participated in it. Not only Sonebhadra, the whole region including Mirzapur and Naugarh, is now talked about as one in the fold of Naxalism. For all criminal activities the blame is being put on Naxalites, and adivasi youth are being killed in fake encounters — picked up from their houses, beaten in the lockup and implicated in false cases — and their houses are being razed to ground and belongings looted by the police. For the purpose of elimination of Naxalism, the government has launched a ‘Karmnasha Package’. BJP Chief Minister Rajnath Singh has poured in 1,600 crore rupees to provide modern arms to police, and ordered to “kill four Naxalites in case a single policeman is killed”. Dozens of villages including Majhgawan, Naugarh, Khairpur, Pathartal, Bakauli, Madhupur, Utarwan, Papi, Karki Minor have been ransacked. It was people’s anger against this repressive police campaign that in thousands they came to attend this rally.
Addressing the rally, Secretary of UP State Party Committee, Com. Akhilendra Pratap Singh said that Rajnath Singh has no right to talk of crime control when top criminals are parading as ministers in his cabinet. Extortionists, dacoits and murderers are being patronised by these ministers. Naxalism is a revolutionary stream, which had no relation with crime. So people will join Naxalism to fight against repression on dalits and adivasis and no Rajnaths can finish off Naxalism.

Similar mass resistance rally was held at Madhupur against arrest of dalits, in which 700 people participated. On 14 November, the Range Office was gheraoed to protest against oppression by the forest department.We fought for the post of chairman of city panchayat at Pipri in Sonebhadra district. Our candidate polled third, leaving SP, BJP, CPI and Apna Dal candidates behind. Party in this area is opposing every incident of oppression on dalits and adivasis and is endeavoring to mobilise people’s anger in the form of offensive mass movement.

—Dinkar Kapoor

Bairath Farm struggle

In Chandauli district of UP, the land of Bairath farm at Shikarganj has been lying in illegal occupation of ex-king of Kashi. More than half of it has been seized back by landless and poor people. Around 500 dalit and backward landless and poor peasants under the leadership of Poorvanchal Kisan Sabha seized 400 bigha of land out of the total 767 bigha (479 acre) Bairath farm. Some 200 huts and even mud houses have been erected in this land and Mustard, Masur and oilseeds have been planted on 150 bigha of collectively held land. The administration tried to evict people from this land with the help of massive deployment of police and PAC, but in the face of militant resistance of people they failed.

Bairath farm has been an arena of contention between two tactics of Left not only in Chandauli but in the peasant movement of the whole UP. During 1993 Assembly elections our Party was the first to raise this issue. Prior to this socialists had raised this issue but we gained a better position owing to our consistent work among workers in the stone quarries around Bairath farm and development of our Party structure among local dalits and forest dwellers. Whereas CPI(M) leadership kept the movement within bounds of legality we prepared for seizure by landless and poor peasants.

This land was not declared as government land after elimination of princely estates and even following zamindari abolition, less than half (350 bigha) of it was marked to be distributed. Litigation by ex-King of Kashi in the High Court stayed its implementation. Neither the government was interested in getting the stay vacated, nor CPI(M) became a party to the case. It was Poorvanchal Kisan Sabha that submitted petition in the High Court to become a party to this case and continued with its preparations to seize the land. Despite PAC deployment, CPI(ML) and CPI(M) activists did not allow the King of Kashi to run tractor over the land. But CPI(M) ultimately compromised with King of Kashi according to which only one third of Bairath farm land was to be given to peasants led by CPI(M) for cultivation. Till High Court arrived at a decision, 40% of the produce was to be deposited with Government Treasury.

Our Party initiated a new phase of movement in which the illegal compromise struck between the administration and CPI(M) and the latter’s betrayal was exposed. The King was stopped from cultivating “his own” two-third share of the farm land. Then landless and poor peasants started occupying the land. Administration, particularly under Rajnath Singh, has launched ruthless repression on adivasi and dalit people. On 7 December, hundreds of policemen mobilised from several police stations under the leadership of ADM and Circle Police Officer of Chakia attacked the poor people’s colony situated on Bairath farm, razed 50 huts to the ground, damaged the belongings and filled up the well with soil. Our Party cadres and several people were arrested and charged with false cases. Fifteen huts were burnt to ashes. An indefinite dharna was started at Chakia subdivision which culminated in a massive demonstration and warning meeting held on 16 December.

Enthusiased with this uncompromising movement for land, peasants of nearby areas, hitherto belonging to BSP and CPI(M), have started getting mobilised under the Party flag. Also workers in the stone quarries are coming to CPI(ML) fold.

—Yashwant Singh


Agrarian labourers’ conferences in Burdwan and Nadia

The first conferences of the agrarian labourers’ association of Burdwan and Nadia districts in West Bengal bear witness to the determination of the district Party organisations to organise agricultural labourers’ association as emphasised by Party’s Sixth Congress and the ‘Strengthen the Party’ campaign. The Burdwan district conference was held on 12th November at Nabadwip and the Nadia district conference was held on 16th November at Krishnanagar. The conferences were held in the wake of the devastating flood wrecking havoc in nine districts of the State, covering 171 blocks. Being the poorest stratum of the society the agrarian labourers were the most hard-hit by the ravages of flood. They went without food, livelihood and roof worth the name over their heads. Still, it did not deter them from making the conferences a success and consolidating themselves in their own class-based organisation.

In both the conferences participation of agrarian labourers ran to several hundreds. Delegates came from almost all the blocks of the districts. Drafts were presented and lively discussions followed on the issues concerning their lives and livelihood. With the agrarian situation in both the districts marking not much of a difference, the issues raised were more or less similar. The delegates discussed the agrarian situation prevailing in the districts and upheld demands arising out of the burning issues of their existence. Among the demands raised were introduction of identity cards for the agrarian labourers, ensuring minimum wages prescribed by the government, a comprehensive legislation for agrarian labourers and distribution of vested lands. The role of the CPI(M)-led peasant association also came in for sharp criticism from the delegates. The CPI(M)-led Krishak Sava was subverting the peasant movement and was acting as an impediment in the way of realising the minimum wages — observed the delegates. The precarious agrarian situation prevailing in the state was giving rise to the number of agrarian labourers. And it was observed that in Burdwan district about one lakh peasants were swelling the ranks of agrarian labourers every five years. The delegates also marked certain weaknesses in developing peasant resistance struggles, and it was resolved in the Burdwan conference that in the coming paddy harvesting season movements in respect of wage increase will have to be built up wherever possible.

In the Nadia district conference three forces were identified to be dealt with as obstacles in the way of developing the peasant movement — the CPI(M) and other parties of the Left Front, the TMC-BJP combine and the foreign-funded NGOs. Addressing the Nadia conference, CPI(M-L) state secretary Com. Karitck Pal observed that in the name of peasant unity CPI(M) was doing away with the differences between the rural proletariat and the poor peasants on the one hand and the capitalist farmers and rich peasants on the other. Whenever a peasant movement raises its head, the state and the CPI(M) rush forward to crush it. He also observed that in the name of free trade under the WTO regime the small farmers and the peasants are being driven to destitution. The rural proletariat will have to constitute itself as the leading force in developing protests against this free trade regimes, he observed.

The tale of two bandhs: One successful, another that never was

At the call of CPI(ML) Liberation, a 12-hour bandh was observed in the four flood-affected districts of Birbhum, Burdwan, Nadia and Murshidabad of West Bengal. Besides these four districts bandh was also observed in Bangaon sub-division of North 24 Parganas district and Balagar block of Hooghly district. These were the districts where flood-fury was witnessed at its violent most. The Central Government must declare this year’s flood in West Bengal a national calamity, the state government must provide adequate relief to the flood-affected people, arrange for their rehabilitation, constitute an enquiry into the loss of several thousand lives and institute a commission with experts to find out a solution to the recurrence of flood — these were the issues that prompted the bandh call. With the people responding lively to the burning issues of their lives in the wake of the flood situation the bandh became an overwhelming success.

CPI(M-L) has been constantly spearheading movements on the issues concerning the flood victims. The agitational edge given to the political movement was having its impact, and as continuation of that agitation the party has called a state-level mobilisation of peasants on 9th January, 2001.

To cover up its failures on the flood-issues and with a view to directing the people’s grievances against the centre, the trade unions and mass organisations of the Left Front partners — with CPI(M)-led organisations at the helm — had also called a bandh on 20th December against the centre’s continued refusal to release any fund whatsoever as flood assistance. But the bandh has been deferred. The centre has assured of setting up a National Calamity Contingency Fund, and hence they could well do with deferring it — we have been given to understand the deferment logic thus. But without getting any amount whatsoever and merely on the assurance of setting up the calamity fund the deferment decision appeared to be rather curious. There are other sides of the story also. In the first place the opposition TMC-BJP combine attacked the bandh call on the ground that with the Muslim community passing through their fasting season of Ramzan, the bandh would cause them enormous hardship. The sponsors of the bandh had assured that some shops would remain open enabling the Muslim people to buy the necessary articles during evening. Secondly, a powerful section even within the CPI(M) opposed the bandh in its very form as a movement. Militancy in movement is not at all compatible with the interest of working class in particular and the people in general at this particular juncture in west Bengal — this is the refrain the CPI(M) leadership is harping on. The official Left-led mass organisations thus gave in not only to the opposition pressure, it also succumbed to the pressure from within.


CPI(ML) Team visits affected areas in Bongaigaon

A team of the Assam State Committee of the CPI(ML), led by Com. Naren Bora visited the areas in Bongaigaon District which recently saw a spate of mass killings. On the evening of 30 November, 19 people were killed by unidentified militants in the district.

The team met a cross-section of people as well as family members of the victims. Narrating the ghastly incident, eye witnesses said that in Gang Quarter, which is near the New Bongaigaon Railway Station, three youth came on a motorcycle at about 6.30 p.m. on the fateful day, and after firing a few blank shots, began to fire indiscriminately on common people and left 9 people dead. Among them were Hukum Chand Sahni (58 yrs., vegetable vendor), Shamshul Haque(38 yrs., wage labourer), Raj Kumar Sah( 40 yrs., tea vendor), Ramawtar Mandal( 50yrs., FCI worker), Harihar Prasad (55, Rly. worker), Tuntun Mahto (40, Driver), Swapan Pal (40, wage labourer), Kajal Bhatt (28, tailor) and Sitaram Giri (55, driver). Ten others were seriously injured and were hospitalised. This area is inhabited by about 2000 people, most of them Hindi-speaking and labouring people.
Again, in Sitka Gaon, 5 people belonging to one family were shot dead inside the house by militants who came in a Maruti van at 5.45 p.m. on the same day. Amit Kr. Chaudhury, 35, a small peasant, who was out was the only one saved. The family had been living in the area since 1933.

In yet another incident, militants killed 5 members of the same family, at 6.45 p.m at Bakholgaon in Bongaigaon district.
The nature of the killings makes it evident that the incidents were pre-planned, and targetted poor Hindi-speaking people and were aimed at terrorising them as well as creating a divide between them and the locals.

The CPI(ML) held the Government squarely responsible for this state of affairs, since it had failed in maintaining law and order, in finding out the identity of the killers and apprehending them, and in containing further violence; it also fully exposed the Unified Command policy of the Assam Government. The Assam State unit of the Party said that the C.M. Prafulla Kumar Mohanta had lost his right to hold office. It also criticised the Governor for having left the people to their fate and asking them to defend themselves with the help of lathis and stones. The BJP, Congress and AGP are deepening the communal divide for their narrow political interests, the Party opined and appealed to the people of all communities to maintain peace.

The Assam State CPI(ML) and AIPWA jointly organised a procession on 15 December in Gauhati to demand the resignation of Prafulla Kumar Mohanta for failing to protect the lives of innocent people in the state. Preceeding this protest demonstration a meeting was conducted by the Dibrugarh district unit of the Party with several representatives of the Hindi-speaking people. Party State Secy Com. Rubul Sharma criticised the role of the Hindu Yuba Chhatra Parishad, the youth wing of the Saffron brigade, after the killings and appealed to the Hindi-speaking people not to fall prey to their evil communal designs. An organisation called the Hindibhashi Manch has been launched. On 11 December, the Tinsukia district committee of the CPI(ML), AIPWA, RYA, Jan Sanskritik Parishad, Janwadi Hindibhashi Manch, United Platform of Motor Transport Workers called a 10-hour bandh against the bandh, which was a grand success. At Pathsala town of Barpeta district too, a citizens’ meet was organised on 15 December. Several intellectuals were present in the meeting.

On 11 December, Sadau Ahom Jansanskriti Parishad and other organisations organised a protest meet of artists in Guwahati. Prominent artists like Dilip Sarma, Sudakshina Sarma, Pranabiram Baruah, Malabika Bora, Nibedita Sarma, Bimani Choudhury, Khagen Mahanta, Loknath Goswami, Mahendra Borthakur, Samir Tanti and poets from Cotton College as well as several others condemned the killings and sang protest songs.