Struggles against Land Mafia and Police Repression in UP
In Ghazipur district of UP, struggles to free land from land mafia and ensure the grant of pattas to landless poor have been ongoing since November 2009. On November 5, protests were held at different blocks demanding work and wages under MNREGA. In retaliation, the AIALA District Secretary and another activist were booked by police on false charges. Next day, when the District Secretary of the party Comrade Ram Pyare Ram went to the SP’s office to lodge a protest against the police action, he was told by the SP himself to refrain from “Dharna-Pradarshan” (demonstrations or protests) or be ready to face dire consequences. This intimidation did not dampen the spirit of the masses and in Sadar and Jamania tehsils, hundreds of rural poor laid claim to gram samaj land by placing the red flag on the land.
On December 24 2009, a tribal Juit Vanvasi was arrested by the police of Nonehra Police Station on charge of theft. He was tortured for 7 days in the police station. After the party intervened in this matter, the torture stopped but he was booked and sent to jail. Many others were also falsely arrested by this notorious police station. On January 22, a procession against the terror unleashed by the police was held at this police station. The police attacked the procession. Comrade Ram Pyare Ram along with 10 other comrades were arrested and brutally beaten inside the PS. False cases under 143,504,506,353,332,336,188, IPC 7 CLA were slapped on them and they were all sent to jail. The next day, about 600 people protested against the police action. The ongoing land struggles and the police repression galvanized the poor masses of the district and it culminated in a 4000 strong contingent courting arrest during the state wide ‘Jail Bharo’ programme on February 8. This is the largest mobilization by our party in Ghazipur district in recent years. The arrested comrades came out of jail after 18 days of imprisonment.
January 15 is the birthday of UP Chief Minister Mayawati. Last year, it was marked by the shocking murder of a PWD engineer Manoj Gupta by a BSP MLA for resisting attempts at extortion by the latter on the pretext of for her birthday celebrations. This year, Behenji’s police had a new gift for her birthday. In village Surjanpur of Lakhimpur district, police raided the house of Harhangi Lal, a principal of a primary school on the night of 14-15 January. When the people protested the arrest (which took place without a proper arrest warrant), the police started beating the family members including the women. The infuriated villagers detained some policemen and demanded that the DM come to their village and see for himself the misdeeds of his officials. However, what reached the village was not the DM but a large police force from various police stations of the district. The police started beating the villagers and even fired in the air. They set Harhangi Lal’s house on fire and arrested 29 people including 12 women. Incidentally, Harhangi Lal belongs to the OBC category. One pregnant lady, Kusma Devi was arrested about 2 kms away from this village and sent to jail after being beaten. She delivered a baby in jail the next day.
On hearing of this incident, CCM Krishna Adhikari visited the village. A memorandum was given to the ADM demanding a check on police terror, release of the arrested and action against the policemen responsible for the incident. A Dharna was organised in Lakhimpur on January 16. An indefinite Dharna began from January 19 and the district administration imposed Section 144 the next day. Under pressure from the movement, the SHO of Mailani and the SHO women thana were suspended for beating the pregnant Kusma Devi. All along, the various political parties were silent on this issue but once the claim of CPIML about Kusma Devi was vindicated by police action, they too sprung into action and started giving press statements. Sensing the mood of the terrorised masses and the need of effective intervention, a ‘Surjanpur March’ was held on January 29. The district administration was determined to foil the march. About 250 party cadres took the lead and started reaching Surjanpur in batches of 15-20, shouting slogans against the police. Gradually, people of the village came out of their houses and a 1200 strong mass meeting was held which was addressed by CCM Krishna Adhikari and SCM Kranti Singh amongst others. Subsequently, a magisterial inquiry was ordered by the administration.
On 8 February, thousands of activists courted arrest in different districts of UP to protest the rising prices, police atrocities, loot in NREGS and the refusal of the BSP Govt. to redistribute ceiling-surplus land to the landless.