Even after 55 years of independence, West Champaran district of Bihar virtually remains under the rule of half a dozen feudal estates each possessing thousands of acres, and around a hundred feudal lords illegally occupying hundreds of acres of land. On the other hand there are landless and poor peasants and agrarian labourers facing brutal attacks by feudal goons and police in case they demand ceiling surplus land or minimum wages. Successes in land and wage movements have made big landlords quite desperate and the nexus of landlord-mafia goons-politician-police-administration has started launching vehement attacks on the tolas of landless and poor peasants that have been centers of struggle. Even the force of several police stations was mobilised under the command of a DSP to launch raid on a tola inhabited by just 70 landless households in the name of nabbing four accused culprits of petty theft! Police have resorted to firing in many cases, poor peasants have been victim of custodial deaths and even the agitators have been killed in cold blood.
The latest example of police brutality particularly targeting our Party activists was witnessed at Bettiah when on 9 August, while observing ‘Champaran Bandh’ Comrade Ramji Patel was shot dead at point blank range by the police within the Bettiah railway station premises. Against this, protest was launched all over the state. In course of this protest campaign, the Party held a massive ‘Sankalp Rally’ in the memory of Comrade Ramji Patel at Mainatanr on 13 September. Addressing the rally Party General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya said that this is the third time in the history of this district that toiling people are waging a major battle against the feudal order of this district. First, during the British period, it was Gandhi who took over the leadership and the movement earned popular peasant support for the Congress for the first time in its history, but soon the Congress started openly siding with the Zamindars and conveniently forgot the question of land reform. Then, during the 1940s and onwards, the Communist Party took up the question mobilizing the broad masses of peasantry, but due to the compromising attitude of its leadership, which later abandoned the course of agrarian revolution, the task remained unfinished. This time the poor peasants, agrarian labourers and toiling people have rallied under the banner of the CPI(ML) in a determined struggle against the feudal order for the second independence. To the social forces that are still vacillating, he appealed to firmly stand by the cause of the poor and oppressed against the repressive landlords in the region. He also appealed to the women to take part in large numbers in the struggle against feudal-politician-criminal nexus for their rights and dignity.
This time it is the final battle being fought by the most downtrodden of the countryside for a radical change. So the rural poor have decided that however fierce be the repression, all the necessary sacrifices will be made, and there will be no rest till the landlord-mafia regime is overthrown. And CPI(ML) is determined to lead this struggle through to an end.
The meeting was also addressed by Rameshwar Prasad, General Secretary of Bihar Pradesh Khet Mazdoor Sabha, Virendra Prasad Gupta, Party incharge of West Champaran district, BPKMS leader Vidyanand Vikal, district Party leaders Nandji Ram, Sunil Rao, Rustam Ali, Dayanand Dubey and others.
Immediately after the meeting Comrade Virendra Gupta was invited for talks by the SP to his house, where the SP pressurised him to withdraw cases lodged against the police in the earlier incidents of firings. Comrade Virendra Gupta steadfastly refused to comply, following which the SP got him arrested revoking earlier cases against him. This incident has been condemned by all the democratic minded forces and individuals in West Champaran and a protest movement is building up.
In village Dhushma of Mahipur Panchayat in Raiganj block of North Dinajpur District in West Bengal, the police fired 30 rounds on the peasants resisting forcible recapture of around 82 bighas of vest land by an absentee landlord in collusion with local police and CPM leaders. The landless peasants, including 80-90 women agricultural labourers, participated in the resistance with bows and arrows. Though the landlord ultimately failed in his bid, the police let loose the reign of terror in the whole area which in 12 km. away from Raiganj. On 23 August midnight the police illegally arrested Comrade Ganesh Chhetry, a member of state committee, along with some local comrades, under section 307 of IPC.
The district party organisation successfully organised a 12-hour bandh in Maharghat, a local rural market on 23 August and held rallies in Raiganj town. The Party held demonstrations in all the blocks in North Dinajpur district, demanding immediate release of the arrested comrades and punishment to Circle Inspector of Raiganj. Demonstrations were also held in Krishnanagar and Dhubulia to press these demands. Public meetings were organised in Kolkata condemning police highhandedness and attack on mass movements.
The first district conference of Gwalior was concluded on Sep. 16 with a resolve to strengthen the left movement in the region by countering the growing threat of communal fascism and by wiping out the rotten feudal remnants prevailing in the social and political spheres over the region. The Conference was inaugurated by Party's Polit Bureau Member Swadesh Bhattacharya. Comrade Swadesh said in his speech that democracy and sovereignty of the country is being successively threatened by the BJP led government in the center. He termed Modi’s Gaurav Yatra as ‘Kalank Yatra’ and said that the government in Gujarat must be dismissed immediately in the interest of the people of the state and the nation. He also called upon the delegates to intensify the people’s movement against the anti-people policies issued by the Digvijay Singh Govt.
The Conference was attended by delegates from various cross-sections of the people, men and women, including construction workers, urban poor, unemployed youth, minorities, dalits and people from different professions and was addressed also by the CC member and incharge of Madhya Pradesh Comrade Rajaram besides Devendra Singh Chauhan and Gurudutt Sharma. A thirteen member committee was elected with Vinod Rawat as its Secretary. The Conference was peceded by a colourful rally.
Comrade Lalmuni Chadravanshi, member of Garhwa District Committee of CPI(ML), was recently murdered by People’s War in the village Sewadih under Ranka police station, when he was performing the last rites to his deceased father on 28 August. Apparently it was just another petty action by the PWG. However, what has gradually coming to surface is the fact that the conspiracy to get Lalmuni killed by PWG was hatched by lieutenants of the RJD MLA Girinath Singh. Opposing our call to observe protest day at divisional level and Ranka bandh on 29 August, RJD activists tried to terrorise the people. The bandh was successful despite all this but the RJD supporters are spreading all sorts of rumours regarding Com. Lalmuni’s murder.
Owing to the geographical situation of Ranka block adjoining Chhattisgarh, People’s War has turned it into one of its main areas of operation. However, police repression has considerably weakened them and they are also facing isolation from the masses. Our Party has made considerable expansion in this region and developed some popular movements, especially one against Parasnath Pandey of Khardih who has grabbed hundreds of acres of land of tribals and dalits and embezzled the development funds allocated for the poor. Curiously, this land grabber also maintains relationship with the PWG. While the struggle for snatching back the land of tribals and dalits from under the illegal occupation of feudal elements has strengthened their unity, it has also become a source of worry to the feudal elements and middlemen.
Developmental schemes are under the control of middlemen belonging to RJD close to the local MLA, who maintain close links with People’s War. The son of RJD block president himself is a People’s War activist. The relatives of the local commander of PWG have been rewarded with shares in many contracts. Feudal elements and middlemen, afraid of our struggle, have taken shelter in People’s War; in other words, these feudal elements and middlemen now constitute the base of People’s War. Because of our growing strength and struggles on the issues of land-wage and development, RJD MLA feels threatened of his political future. At the same time, our increasing penetration into their den has made People’s War restless. In this region our Party has succeeded in developing popular leaders among OBCs, minorities and tribals and thus intensifying the process of social polarisation.
It is because of this reason that throughout the area of Garhwa Legislative Assembly, the RJD in connivance with People’s War is launching regular assaults on us to stop our advance. Many of our cadres have been beaten and others are being regularly threatened. Despite all this, our activities are advancing. To stall our progress in Ranka, attempts have been made to unleash terror through the murder of Com. Lalmuni. In blocks like Garhwa, where Peoples’s War is weak, RJD is harassing us by way of implicating our comrades in false cases with the help of police and also by launching defamation drive against our leaders.
Only by accepting this challenge can we ensure our existence and advance. At this juncture, any escapist tendency or retreat will prove suicidal. We conducted Sankalp Sabhas (pledge-taking meetings) in villages and market places for one week, and then picketing and demonstrations at block level culminating in a district level ‘Sankalp Sabha’ in Ranka. We have planned mass resistance also against People’s War. We will not let the martyrdom of Comrde Lalmuni go in vain and we will further strengthen the political assertion of the poor with the blood of martyrs.
Giridih Party Committee organised an impressive meeting in Paparwatand, an industrial area near Giridih town, on September 3. The turnout in meeting was impressive not because of our traditional mass base but because large number of people coming to our Party from other parties attended it. The meeting itself was organised on the initiative of Comrade Vishnukant Jha and other comrades who have recently left CPI to join us. Comrade Bashirul Hussain and other comrades who have recently joined our Party leaving Forward Block were also among the organisers of this meeting.
Workers of Central Coalfields Limited and rolling mills also attended the meeting. In the meeting around fifty comrades declared their resolve to join CPI(ML) leaving JMM and BJP.
After the successful conclusion of the meeting, masses are flowing in from various parties towards CPI(ML), which is causing restlessness among them. Almost all the unions of coke plant are disintegrating. Various social forces have lent their support to CPI(ML) and this has generated a new hope for the revival of the struggle in the colliery area as well as the coke plant.
This is all part of the ongoing march of the Party and its developing profile. Afraid of this rapid advance of the party, Marandi govt. had tried to demoralise our ranks by arresting the leaders like Comrade Mahendra Singh, MLA and Comrade Raj Kumar Yadav and many others in patently false cases. However, ultimately they had to release all the comrades unconditionally in the face of continuous waves of our protest and resistance struggle.