AIPWA State Conference In TN
TN AIPWA held its First State Conference in Madurai on September 12. A rally was held before the conference which was flagged off by AIPWA National President Com. Srilata Swaminathan. The rally raised slogans against the DMK government’s betrayal of women, especially working women.
AIPWA flag was hoisted by veteran comrade Comrade Kuppabai, State Vice-President of AIPWA. Comrade Meena Tiwari, General Secretary, AIPWA inaugurated the conference.
The conference focussed on Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities and a document was placed by Comrade Thenmozhi. After discussion, the conference adopted the document. Over 500 women from 14 districts participated in the conference. A 21-member State council was elected and Comrade Thenmozhi was elected as State President and Comrade Usha as State General Secretary.
The Conference was addressed by Com. Srilata Swaminathan, National President AIPWA, Comrade Balasundaram, State Secretary, CPIML, Com S Janakiraman, State GS, AIALA, Comrade Bhuvana, State Dy.GS, AICCTU and Comrade Nirmala of VHN Association.
AISA, AIPWA Burn Effigy of Sibal, Shiela, Hooda
On September 11, women and students under the banner of AISA and AIPWA gathered at Jantar Mantar in Delhi to protest against schoolgirls' deaths in stampede in a Govt Girls' School in Delhi and diktats and death sentences meted out to young couples by khaap panchayats in Haryana. An effigy representing Kapil Sibal, Shiela Dixit and Bhupinder Hooda was burnt.
A memorandum demanding a law against coercion or violence in the name of ‘honour,’ or ‘culture’ was submitted to the Home Minister.
Mahila Adalat in Bihar Exposes Nitish’s ‘Sushasan’
Women from all over Bihar gathered in Patna on 27 August to testify at a ‘Women’s Court’ organized by AIPWA, putting Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s claims of ‘Sushasan’ (good governance) in the dock. The Jury comprised of social activist Sudha Verghese (recipient of the ‘Padmashree’), editor of Talash Dr. Mira Dutt, Prof. Bharti S. Kumar, History department, Patna University and advocate Anjana Bhagat, as well as AIPWA General Secretary Meena Tiwari and Secretary Kavita Krishnan. The court was conducted by AIPWA’s Bihar President Saroj Chaubey, who inspired the hundreds of women gathered there to participate actively in the Court in spite of lashing rains.
A chargesheet was presented by AIPWA State Secretary Shashi Yadav. Several young girls and women from different districts and walks of life presented testimonies at the Women’s Court. They testified to abduction, rape and repression, feudal violence, sexual harassment on campuses – and above all to official callousness and collusion with criminals.
After AIPWA activists from various districts presented reports, and members of the jury expressed their opinions, Prof. Bharti S Kumar delivered the verdict on behalf of the jury. She said that the testimonies in case of case, from Papiya Ghosh in Patna to every case in remote villages, were a damning indictment of the Nitish Government’s betrayal of women’s rights.
Adivasi Adhikar Sammelan in Sonebhadra
Just as loot and corruption in NREGA has become a rallying point for the rural workers across the country, the Forest Rights Act has mobilized the tribals and forest dwellers against the moves of the various State Governments to evict them from their traditional lands. In this backdrop, an impressive Convention was held in Robertsganj, the HQ of district Sonebhadra, Uttar Pradesh on 15 September 2009. The main demands raised during the convention were- 1) Granting Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to the traditionally forest dwelling castes like Kol, Mushar and Biyar; 2) Issuing ST status certificates to Gond and Kharwar castes who have been recognized as STs; 3) Ensuring the rights of tribals on forests and water-bodies, traditionally used by them; 4) Declaration of Sonebhadra and adjoining districts as drought affected; 5) NREGA wages to be hiked to Rs. 200/- per day with 200 days of work in a year; 6) In view of the drought, waiver of all government and private loans of the farmers.
Thousands of rural poor and tribals from the districts of Sonebhadra, Mirzapur and Chandauli took out a procession in the town before converging in the Ramlila Ground for the convention. Addressing the convention, the General Secretary of CPI(ML) Comrade Dipanker Bhattacharya said that the Forest Rights Act, instead of empowering the tribals was being used to dispossess them from the lands traditionally occupied by them for generations. Even in the absence of any Maoist activity in that region for some time now, the bogey of Naxalism was being raised by every government to crush the democratic rights of the poor. The Convention was also addressed by Ramji Rai, Politburo member of CPI(ML), and Sudhakar Yadav, UP state secretary of CPI(ML), who charged the Mayawati government with betraying the aspirations of the dalits, adivasis and poor.
The convention was also addressed by Com. Shanker Kol, Com. Salim, Com. Bigan Gond, Com. Bhagmati Kol, Com. Ramkrit Kol, Com. Sarita Patel. Com. Nandlal Biyar conducted the proceedings of the convention.
Communal attempts to oppose Namaz in NW Delhi foiled
The Muslim community of Rajapur village in Sector-9, Rohini of Delhi has been offering namaz in a local public park for the past decade. Some communal elements have begin trying to disrupt and oppose this. When representatives of the local Organizing Committee for Id Namaz preparations met the local Councillor (who is from the BJP) in this regard, he told them to secure a ‘recommendation’ from the very people who are creating communal tension by opposing the namaz!
Local CPI(ML) activists and the Delhi State Committee of CPI(ML) took up the matter and secured an assurance from the DCP. One night, some anti-social elements entered the house of CPI(ML) activist Mohd. Fahim (who is also President of the Organising Committee for Id Namaz preparations in Rajapur village this year) and assaulted him. Neighbours foiled their attempt to abduct him, and the assailants fled in a hurry. Local CPI(ML) activists then gheraoed the Prashant Vihar thana at night and demanded arrest of the assailants. Next morning, a delegation of the CPI(ML) met the local SHO and demanded the arrest of the elements conspiring to fan up communal tensions. A memorandum was also sent to the Delhi CM on the issue. The CPI(ML) also announced a Peace March in the area demanding action against the communal elements and holding of namaz in the park. The March was withdrawn after the demands were met: elements who had attacked Mohd. Fahim were arrested and the police assured that namaz would be held.
On the eve of Id, there was yet another attempt at communal mischief, with hose pipes placed in the park to flood it and make it unusable. Vigilant CPI(ML) activists promptly pressed the police to act, and the pipes were removed. On the day of Id, Namaz prayers were peacefully held in the park.
Flood Victims’ Struggle in Darbhanga
Taking no lesson from previous years, the Bihar Govt. failed to prepare for the yearly monsoon floods. As soon as the water catchment areas of Nepal faced a heavy rain, many districts in Bihar, including Sitamarhi, Madhubani, Darbhanga, Kishanganj and Katihar, were flooded.
First severe drought, then floods coupled with the steep price rise has created a famine-like situation in the whole of Darbhanga district. Small and middle peasants and sharecroppers have become paupers having lost everything in flood waters, yet the food supply department, mired in corruption charges, is unconcerned. There is not even a month’s rations in the households of dalit and poor holders of Antyodaya cards. On an average there is hardly 3-4 days worth of rations in households in poor localities. And unpaid wages under the NREGA amount to lakhs of rupees in almost every village and panchayat.
The Party’s ‘Bread for all, Job for all’ campaign took off in Bihar on 1 September with ‘Seize the Block Office’ (Ghera Dalo – Dera Dalo) movement in all the blocks. Militant protests were organized at the 14 block offices on 5 September. A district level mobilization demanding relief distribution was held on 7 September where thousands of people came from villages. But the district and state administration remained idle, and it was decided to organize a half-day Chakka Jam from 7 am to 12 pm on 11 September. Protestors were injured in police lathicharges.
At Biraul sub-division the condition of Lal Bahadur Saha, who was sitting on a hunger strike in protest, began to deteriorate seriously. Spontaneous protests against this throughout the sub-division forced many officers and employees to leave the sub-division office. People declared that the office would be under siege until proper relief distribution work began. Ultimately the administration succumbed to peoples’ pressure and started relief work, though criminal cases against the protestors have been filed under various false and serious sections.
Similar blockades were also held at Bahadurpur and Sadar subdivisions for a full fortnight. Dozens of leaders sat there on hunger strike. The health conditions of Abhishek Kumar, Damodar Paswan and Sitaram became serious on 13th day of fasting. They were hospitalized. Many women hunger strikers in Sadar subdivision were also given medical aid.
The militancy and day by day increasing participation of the common masses ultimately forced the District Magistrate to call the Party for proper negotiations which led the DM to announce a relief package up to the village level. He then ordered to properly distribute PDS grains and Kerosene as well as to make pending payments of wages under the NREGA. Still the administration is evading the question of giving relief to every affected person.
It has been decided to continue the movement against Nitish Govt.’s callousness and betrayal of the promise of providing relief to 1 crore 23 lakh families affected by the drought and the floods. The state govt. is now backtracking from the promise in the name of lack of central assistance. A joint meeting of Left parties was held which decided to hold a gherao of district headquarters on 22 September.