Massive Protest in Assam Demanding Tarun Gogoi’s resignation
In Assam, a massive protest is on demanding resignation of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi after arrest of a Cabinet Minister of his Government. Ripun Bora was arrested by CBI on 3 June when he offered Rs. 10 lakh as a bribe to one of its officials to hush up the murder case of popular tea tribe leader Daniel Topno, who was killed in the year 2000. Arrest of a Cabinet Minister has totally exposed the real character of the Gogoi Government and Tarun Gogoi has no moral right to continue as CM. On 4 and 5 June CPI(ML) held protest processions and organised dharnas in different places in Assam including Guwahati, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Borgang, Silchar, Nagaon and Jorhat.
On 6 June CPI(ML) called an Assam bandh on two demands: resignation of CM Tarun Gogoi and withdrawal of price hike of petrol, diesel and LPG. The bandh evoked a good response in many districts. On 9 June, CPI(ML), CPI, CPI(M) and RSP jointly called an Assam bandh demanding withdrawal of price rise in petroleum products. On the same day Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and other opposition parties also called for an Assam bandh on the same issue. The Bandh was spontaneous and total.
JNUSU and AISA Join Kashmir Univ. Students in Protest
In the occasion of the visit of the Indian President to the Kashmir Valley, Kashmir University students were asked to vacate the hotels without any prior notice on the pretext of the President’s security in the campus, where she was coming to inaugurate the Institute of Kashmir Studies.
The students were not only asked to vacate the hostels, they were also threatened by the University administration when they protested against these moves under the leadership of the newly formed Kashmir University Students’ Union (KUSU). Facing stiff resistance from the students led from the front by KUSU, the administration had to shamelessly adopt the most draconian and uncivilised means for destabilising the resistance, ranging from cutting off the water and electricity supplies in the hostels, to physically assaulting and threatening the students that they would be framed as terrorists.
It is in this context that the KUSU sought support from the Jawaharlal Nehru Students’ Union (JNUSU) in their struggles. A team led by the JNUSU President Sandeep Singh along with AISA activists Javed Wani and Saptarshi visited KU, and took part in several protests and meetings organised by KUSU.
The JNUSU delegation also met with the mother of Rafiq, a student of KU, who was framed for involvement in the Sarojini Market blasts, and in spite of evidence of his innocence, is still being detained and tortured in Tihar Jail for the past three years.
The irony was that the President’s visit was being touted as the Indian state’s attempt to involve the people of Kashmir to convince them that the Indian state was indeed interested democracy and development of Kashmir. The visit was also meant to project the image that the people of Kashmir were largely supportive of India’s role in Kashmir. However, the true picture was revealed in the fact that the students and researchers of a University were not involved, and were in fact kept away, when a new centre was being inaugurated, supposedly for their benefit. It is no wonder that the students rejected this false propaganda and rose in protest
Punjab Panchayat Elections
Panchayat elections were held in Punjab in the month of May. Earlier elections for all the three tiers of panchayat hierarchy used to be held simultaneously, but this time round, the rules were changed and Gram Panchayat elections were held after results had been declared for the Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti polls. Also, unlike previous elections panchayat pradhans were no longer directly elected leaving it to the elected panchayat members to elect their head.
The ruling Akali Dal was clearly wary about the possible fallouts of the simmering agrarian crisis in the state and therefore it employed all the money- and muscle-power at its command to virtually rig the panchayat elections. In many places, members of the newly launched Akali student organisation (the so-called Student Organisation of India) worked as storm troopers for the ruling party.
Basing on a 12-point charter of demands, we fought the election in an organised manner in Mansa district and also in pockets of Barnala and Sangrur districts. A few candidates were also put up in Bathinda and Ludhiana districts. The key issues highlighted in our campaign were the questions of homestead land and wages as well as opposition to privatisation and SEZs. In fact, in some areas people fought a pitched battle for land and even spent several days in jail in the course of the election campaign.
We had put up six candidates for the Zila Parishad in Mansa and they polled some 12,000 votes, the highest being about 5,600 votes. In Barnala district, our three ZP nominees polled a total of nearly 3,500 votes. At the GP level we won some 60 seats in all, nearly 40 of them in Mansa district. This includes a near-total majority in one panchayat where we won 8 out of 9 seats. Among significant features of the election experience in Mansa mention should be made of a growing inclination among dalit voters towards our Party and our expansion in old communist-influenced areas.
CPI(ML) Protest Dharna in Durg
On June 12, CPI(ML) staged a protest dharna at Durg Collectorate for ensuring jobs, safety and health-care for the agrarian labourers, and highlighting the demands of the dozens of the workers killed and injured in an accident at Akoli village when they were being taken to work in a sponge iron factory. These agricultural workers were forced to go to work in the iron factory, some 25 kms. away from their homes as NREGS was not implemented in their village. They were being carried in an overloaded luggage vehicle. Among the 13 dead workers 10 were women, and 25 workers were injured. Party leaders visited Akoli village and sent a memorandum to the Chief Minister against the insensitive attitude of the administration. They termed Chief Minister Raman Singh’s Vikas Yatra a hypocrisy and asserted that the Akoli killing of agrarian labourers had exposed the anti-poor, anti-peasant face of his government.
The protest was led by Comrades Brijendra Tiwari, Rajendra Pargania, Ashok Miri, ex. MLA and Minister DP Ghritlahre, Shyam Lal Sahu and others. The Akhil Bhartiya Satnami Kalyan Samiti joined the dharna and expressed solidarity.
CPI(ML)’s Jharkhand State Conference: For a True Left Alternative
The 3rd Jharkhand State Conference of CPI(ML) from 9-11 June 2008, concluded successfully amidst enthusiasm for further struggles, with central slogans of “prepare for a new Jharkhand for assertion of peasants and workers” and “workers-peasants call, end the reign of loot and repression.” The conference was held in Comrade Mahendra Singh Hall of Comrade Vinod Mishra Nagar (Maithon, Dhanbad). Total 297 delegates and 40 observers from various parts of the State participated in the Conference. A huge mass meeting was organised as opening session of the Conference on June 9, the martyrdom day of Birsa Munda, the legendary figure of resistance.
The CPI(ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya in his inaugural address mentioned that in the run-up to the Conference Party had given a call to finish off the reign of loot and repression and during the preparation of the Conference Com. Kameshwar Yadav, an elected delegate to the Conference, was murdered by feudal-criminal nexus. He reminded of other recent attacks and assaults on the Party and said that our slogan for ending the reign of loot and repression is not a mere slogan but an essential day-to-day task. He said that the ruling classes thought to halt our march by killing Comrade Mahendra Singh but CPI(ML) is ever growing in the State and even in the areas where certain weakness was creeping in we are now seeing activism. He said that there is a tide of people’s resistance emerging in all parts of the country amidst growing insecurity to life and livelihood and threats to our Independence, sovereignty and national dignity and the official Left cannot provide leadership to the emerging mass resurgence, therefore the responsibility is ours and we have to muster all our strength and potential for making breakthroughs. He emphasized on a fusion of the Jharkhandi identity with the communist identity in Jharkhand.
Prior to inauguration Com. Bahadur Oraon hoisted the Party Flag and a minute’s silence was observed in the memory of martyrs.
The work-report presented by outgoing Secretary Com. Subhendu Sen, while noting the complexities in the ruling classes’ search for formation of any ‘credible’ government, proposed tasks for strengthening the assertion of workers-peasants on various issues in the State, viz. attaining a leading role in the working class movement, developing powerful pockets of anti-feudal peasant movement and a new mobilisation of peasants centring on the new issues emerging in this phase of agrarian crisis, expansion of Party among tribals broadening the scope of democratic movement among rural poor, attaining at least the status of recognised Party for an effective parliamentary intervention. It was decided to form Jharkhand Mazdur Samiti in place of Jharkhand Mazdur Kisan Sabha.The tasks included some targets: achieving membership targets of 40 thousand for Party, 5 lakhs for Jharkhand Mazdoor Samiti, 1.5 lakhs for the AICCTU, 1.25 lakh for Kisan Sabha, one lakh for AIPWA and 50 thousand for AISA-RYA. Apart from this, target of one thousand active Party Branches, 300 effective local committees, elected district committees in 16 districts and strong dist. committees in 8 districts, 3 thousand members for Lokyudh and 500 for Liberation, strengthening and consolidation of work in 25 Assembly and 7 parliamentary segments were taken up. 85 delegates participated in the debates. The proposals were passed unanimously. In the end a 33 member State Committee was elected and this in its turn elected Com. Janardan Prasad as the new State Secretary.
AIPWA Protests Against Stripping of Dalit Mother and Daughter in Rajasthan
In Sayar village in Ajmer district, a powerful Jat man repeatedly sexually harassed a 16-year-old dalit girl. When she resisted his advances, he along with another man broke into her house and tried to drag her off by force. When her 52-year-old mother resisted, the two men Banalal Dhankad and Jasraj Dhankad stripped both mother and daughter. When other members of the family protested, eight members of the family were brutally assaulted and thrown out of the village. The entire family including the six children, terrorised, sat in front of the office of Sarwar town deputy SP, demanding protection and justice. Although an FIR was registered, the accused were not arrested. In spite of this, the police refused to take the family’s fears seriously and kept advising them to return to the village. It is such callousness that leads to atrocities like the mass rape of dalit women at Khairlanji.
A team of AIPWA and CPI(ML) activists from Ajmer went to Sarwar to investigate, and brought both the victims to Ajmer. Ajmer’s AIPWA leader Bhanwari Devi took them both to the Ajmer District Collector’ office. After AIPWA’s intervention, both the accused were eventually arrested, and the police ordered to escort the family home safely. Bhanwari Devi also accompanied the family to the village and planned to convene and address a mass meeting in the village to mobilise opinion on the issue. The struggle to ensure safety of the family, secure compensation for the victims and ensure punishment for the guilty men for their assault on dalit women will continue.
Women’s Assertion Rally by AIPWA in Patna
The Bihar unit of All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) organised an agitated and impressing rally on 30th May consisting of large number of women demanding to rein in the growing incidents of victimisation and rapes of women in the State. Despite scorching sun women came in thousands from various corners of Bihar to participate in the rally. Stopped by police barricades, and told that the CM would not meet them, the rallyists held a spirited protest meeting. The march was led by AIPWA National Secretary Meena Tiwary, State President and Secretary Saroj Chaube and Shashi Yadav and others.
Addressing the mass meeting the speakers said that the projects for women’s empowerment in Bihar have proved to be damp squibs. They expressed deep resentment and anger at the rising graph of assaults on women’s life and cases of rape, saying that even women’s dignity is not guaranteed in the State. Among the main demands put before the CM in a memorandum are: holding the administration and police accountable for the incidents of victimisation and rape of women, increasing the number of primary schools for girls’ education, stopping distribution of licenses to liquor shops in the name of excise tax collection, declaring Asha and Aanganbadi workers as govt. employees and fixing a minimum of Rs.5000/- for the Asha workers. On the occasion AIPWA also released a booklet titled “Women’s victimisation in Nitish rule – an open letter to Chief Minister: Governmental claims vs ground realities”.
Protest Against Witch-hunt of Women Students in Kolkata
Against the harassment of women students (activists of the Matangini Mahila Samiti) in Jadavpur on 7 June, AISA and Kolkata Nagarik Samonnay arranged a protest programme at Jadavpur on 8 June. The 5 women – Puja Bose, Jayita Das, Annesa Sarker, Deblina Chakroborty, and Somdutta Mukherjee – who were at the centre of the incident, participated in the protest. Puja described the incident, and Usha Chakroborty, their land lady, spoke in support of the women. AISA State Secretary Malay Tewary, Jayanta Sen from Bandimukti Committee, Basudev Bose from AICCTU, Amit Das Gupta from Kolkata Nagorik Samonnay and eminent intellectuals of Kolkata, like Arpita Ghosh, Manish Mitra, Panchu Roy, Dwaipayan Banerjee also addressed the gathering. More than two hundred people took part in the programme.
Dalits Assert Their Social Right in TN
In Kodangipatti (a village panchayat in Dindigul dist. of Tamilnadu) Dalits, mostly agricultural labourers active with CPI(ML) and AIALA, asserted their social right on the question of performing Abhisegam (a ritual felicitating the deity) at the temple on par with the upper caste people. Most influential upper caste men in this area who control the temple affairs also own the land on which the Dalits toil. CPI(ML) and AIALA leaders of Karur and Dindigul district put pressure on the District Administration to accede to the demand of the Dalit people. A campaign was launched covering several panchayats and village hamlets. Active support was mobilized in favour of the Kodangipatti Dalits and the District Administration’s anti-Dalit bias was thoroughly exposed.
A case was also filed in High Court against the RDO’s order denying the Dalits their right. After the Court’s direction to the District Administration to ensure that there is no discrimination against the Dalits, a group of enthusiastic Dalits along with CPI(ML) and AIALA leaders and cadres entered the temple. When the temple priest refused to cooperate with the Dalits, the people decided to intensify the campaign against the denial of social dignity and equality to Dalits.
Comrade Harhangi Prasad, a veteran Party comrade, passed away on 2nd May, 2008 at the Gorakhpur Medical College. He suffered a heart attack. He associated himself with the CPI(ML) since 1973. He was also associated with the Employees’ Union of the Medical College. He was employed at the Gorakhpur Medical College and only few months were left for his retirement. The Party Committee of Gorakhpur cremated his body and bid him a farewell. We pay our tributes to Comrade Harhangi Prasad who was always a sincere soldier of the Party.
Comrade Ram Singh Khatri
Veteran Party leader and active member of CPI(ML) in Bhind district of MP Comrade Ram Singh Khatri passed away after a prolonged bout of cancer on 23 May 2008. He was 72. He joined the Party in the late 1960s in the wake of the Naxalbari movement. Hailing from Allahabad, he settled in Bhind. When the first UP State Conference of CPI(ML) was held in leadership of Com. Charu Mazumdar he was the only member from MP who was asked to attend the Conference as a Delegate and he did so. Later, in association with Comrades Shivkumar Mishra and Dada Shambhunath he contributed to developing Party work. It is thanks to his spirited efforts that Party structure came in Bhind also. One of his important roles was to arrange secret meetings apart from providing shelters for the comrades.