On the Streets against WarRally 28 March Delhi

The CPI(ML) call for a Nationwide Protest Campaign against the war on Iraq, from 22 to 28 March, met with an enthusiastic response. The popular anger at US aggression was expressed in a variety of forms – ranging from massive rallies to energetic, spontaneous initiatives at the district and village level, in which youth and peasants vented their protest on effigies of Bush and Blair. Throughout the protest week, anti-war rallies of the CPI(ML) and its allied mass organizations took place at several districts all over Assam and Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand as well as Bangalore, Pondicherry,Jaipur and Udaipur. On March 27th a large anti-war procession was staged at Guwahati by AICCTU, CITU, AITUC and other trade unions. In Delhi, several large citizen’s marches and protests took place in which CPIML participated along with other left and democratic groups. On 28 March, the massive CPIML rally marked the largest anti-war protest in Delhi, where thousands marched to Parliament shouting slogans and holding placards condemning US aggression on Iraq as well as the Vajpayee government’s shameful pro-US vacillation. The mass meeting at Parliament Street was addressed by CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, CPI(M) Punjab leader Tarsem Jodha, Mainstream editor Sumit Chakrabarty and People’s Campaign against Globalisation convenor SP Shukla, among others.

Resolutions Adopted at the Anti-War Rally by the CPI(ML) in New Delhi on 28 March 2003

1. This Rally articulates the Indian people’s voice of indignation against the completely unjust and illegal US-led imperialist war of aggression on Iraq which has already killed more than 300 Iraqi civilians including children and women and is causing an unprecedented humanitarian disaster in the name of freeing the people of Iraq. We call for an immediate end to the war and withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq. We seek urgent intervention of the UN Security Council and General Assembly to this effect and call upon the Government of India to take urgent measures in this direction. We also appeal to the international community to declare Bush and Blair as war-criminals and try them in accordance with the international law.
2. We congratulate the Iraqi forces and the Iraqi people for their brave resistance to the Anglo-American imperialist invaders. This heroic resistance and the Iraqi people’s sense of national pride and dignity provide a befitting reply to Anglo-American arrogance and hypocrisy. As fellow Asians and fighters against American imperialist domination, we express our fullest solidarity with the fighting people of Iraq and wish them victory in defending the freedom and sovereignty of Iraq and in upholding their inalienable democratic right to determine their own destiny.
3. We extend our full support to the growing international movement against the war. The massive global assertion of the forces of peace, freedom and democracy is a most exciting and inspiring development of our times. We particularly welcome the growing anti-war campaign right inside the US, UK and Australia and other member countries of the US-led coalition. The voice of peace in these countries marks also a powerful blow to the politics of jingoism and racism.
4. We strongly condemn the Vajpayee government’s slavish attitude to the US imperialism. This RSS-dominated and BJP-led government has betrayed the country and insulted the glorious anti-imperialist legacy of the Indian people by refusing to oppose the war and take any international initiative for immediate restoration of peace and withdrawal of the invading Anglo-Ameican troops from Iraq. This war not only has adverse economic implications for India, it also increases the danger of American intervention in the whole of South Asia. By refusing to condemn such a war the Vajpayee government has exposed its true anti-national and pro-imperialist colours.
5. We fervently appeal to all sections of the Indian people to stand by Iraq and rise in a powerful movement against the war. In particular, we appeal to all of you to boycott all American brands, picket all American establishments and oppose every American instrument of domination. We also resolve to intensify our efforts to oust the Vajpayee government and free India from the stranglehold of all unequal treaties and arrangements with the US, especially in the strategic sphere of national independence and security.

CPI(ML) rally of Southern States on March 28, ChennaiOn the same day, another massive procession was held at the US Consulate at Chennai, where thousands from Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Karnataka, Kerala and Orissa participated. Protest rallies also took place at Patna and Ranchi, as well as at Kolkata, where protestors marched to the US Information Center. Cultural units of Party also participated in their own colourful way in these protest programmes.
AntiWar March, Ranchi March 28A joint protest was held in Pondicherry on 31 March in which CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML) and JD(S) participated, while in Delhi, a citizens’ peace march was organized by Committee Against War on Iraq, which began from Jama Masjid and culminated at Ramlila Grounds.
Anti-war protests were held on 31 March at Siwan and 1 April at Gopalganj, and then onwards in Motihari and Narkatiaganj, which were addressed by Party General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya.
Comrade Dipankar addressing a rally at Darbhanga, March 30Perhaps the most significant aspect of the protests has been the widespread expression of empathy and solidarity with the people of Iraq by the rural and urban poor, as well as the militant initiatives of youth, students and even schoolchildren as they boycotted American goods.
At Narkatiaganj, April 1On 23 March, at Lucknow, youth and students in hundreds from all over UP participated in a convention commemorating Bhagat Singh’s Martyrdom Day, organized by AISA and RYA, followed by an anti-war march to the UP Assembly. The next day, thousands of young people responded to a call by AISA and RYA and held a militant demonstration at the Bihar Assembly, saluting the anti-imperialist legacy of Bhagat Singh, and demanding that the Bihar Assembly as well as the Parliament condemn the attack on Iraq by Bush and Co. Even as the young voices made their presence felt outside the Assembly, CPIML MLAs inside the Assembly Hall staged a demonstration with the same demand. Com. Ram Naresh Ram, leader of CPI(ML) legislature group in Bihar, spearheaded the demand for the tabling an Anti-War Resolution, and condemned the Vajpayee government’s hesitation in tabling a similarly strongly worded resolution in Parliament. Eventually, the speaker of the Bihar Assembly had to table the resolution, which was unanimously passed by Bihar Legislative Assembly.
AISA activists of Miller High School, Patna on April 27As the US aggression came closer to occupying Iraq, the protest entered a new phase. Students and youth intensified their campaign for a boycott of symbolic American and British products. At Kolkata, AISA and RYA organized a militant picketing and protest at the Nike showroom 2 April, where students of Jadavpur University participated. This was followed by students protest at Citibank office on 4 April. A “Mass Convention for Boycotting American Goods” was organised jointly by AISA, RYA and Paschimbanga Ganasanskritik Parishad at Students Hall, College Square in Calcutta on 5 April. Apart from intellectuals, artists, literary personalities and political leaders, a large number of students also participated in the mass convention. The hall was over-flooded with participants, which represented the militant mood of the young generation against the US aggression of Iraq. Prominent among those who addressed the convention and supported the call for boycott of American goods were veteran writer Mahashweta Devi, editor of Bengali daily Aajkaal Ashok Dasgupta, eminent literary personalities Tapan Mitra, Nabarun Bhattacharya, Dipankar Chakraborty, Prasun Acharya, Jyotiprakash Chattopadhyay, Mohammad Hussain of ‘Matir Kella’, famous footballer Surajit Sengupta, Naxalite veteran Azizul Haq, leader of Refugee Movement Anil Singh, and Qamaruzzaman of West Bengal Madarsa Students Union, apart from leaders of CPIML, AICCTU and RYA. Leaders of SUCI and RSP also spoke out in favour of implementing the boycott; RSP leader Kshiti Goswami said his party, an LF constituent, would put pressure on the LF Govt. to refuse the entry of US MNCs in West Bengal.
Picketing at City Bank, KolkataThe West Bengal Unit of CPI(ML) observed Anti-Imperialist day on April 17 throughout the state against US occupation of Iraq and campaigned for boycott of US brands by picketing outside many MNC offices. In Kolkata, a picketing was organised at Standard Chartered Bank which continued for hours. Protest meetings were held at Barasat of 24 Paraganas district, Nadia and Siliguri. In Siliguri, a demonstration against Pepsi and Coke was held at a Pepsi Bottling Plant in Raninagar where party activists appealed to the workers of the Plant to join in protest against US imperialism. A big protest demonstration was also organised at a Pepsi bottling plant at Kamalgaji on April 13, another at Gariahat in South Kolkata.
Between 2-10 April, schoolchildren of the Miller High School, Pataliputra High School and two other High Schools at Patna under the banner of AISA, held several joint and separate protests in which they called for a boycott of American goods and Companies. This was followed by a militant Halla Bol protest by AISA at the local Pepsi agency at Patna on 10 April, in which hundreds of students braved police assaults. On 9 April at Chennai, RYA held a protest march to the US Consulate, while on 11 April at Kolkata, AISA and RYA held a protest demonstration calling for the boycott of Pepsi and Coke.
On 15 April, Jan Adalats were held at district headquarters all over Bihar/Jharkhand, where George W Bush was tried as a war criminal and his effigy was hanged subsequently. Clearly, the anti-imperialist movement has acquired a fresh, militant energy, and is bound to grow and spread in the face of impending imperialist offensives.