Mirzapur Police Targets CPI(ML) CC Meeting
The CPI(ML) Central Committee held its last meeting at Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, on 1-3 August 2010. Following the meeting, the Mirzapur police has made a deliberate attempt to intimidate the local party leaders in the name of an 'anti-Naxal' offensive.
On 6 August, a police official hand-delivered a letter addressed to Mohammad Salim, the National President of the Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) and a senior leader of the party in Mirzapur. The letter is signed 'In-Charge, Naxal Cell, Mirzapur', but there is no name accompanying the signature. The letter states that "information was obtained" that a CPI(ML) programme was organised at Mirzapur, in which office-bearers and activists from the "Naxal-affected states" of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, as well as 'Naxal-affected' districts of UP participated. The letter adds, "Mirzapur is an are extremely sensitive and Naxal-affected" district where there are "continuous reports of movement of Naxalites."
The letter goes on to say, "We have come to know that you have organised a Conference and cadre meeting in this Naxal-affected area, in which suspicious people took part. Being an Indian citizen and a senior office-bearer of CPI(ML), it was your topmost duty... to obtain permission from the district administration for such a meeting. You are already aware that Section 144 is in place all over Mirzapur, and no conference or programme can be held without permission in an unconstitutional way." In the manner of a show-cause notice, the letter then asks Comrade Salim why action should not be initiated against him and participants in the meeting for "100% violation of Section 144 CrPC," and warned that if no answer was received by 7 August, action would be initiated against him for which he would be solely responsible.
The Mirzapur party has responded to the 'letter' via the District Collector, demanding to know who the 'In-charge, Naxal Cell' is who has signed it.
The CPI(ML) has condemned in the strongest terms this attempt to brand its Central Committee as a haven for 'suspicious' elements. Rather, it is the behaviour of the UP police that is suspicious and shady. Well aware of the antecedents of the CPI(ML) and its leadership (including the fact that it is a party registered with the Election Commission of India, and CCMs who attended the meeting included several former elected people's representatives and leaders of recognised Trade Union, Agricultural Labour and Peasants' organisations with lakhs of mass membership), the UP police deliberately chose to target the party and its highest leadership.
It may be recalled that following the CPI(ML) State Committee meeting in Gorakhpur (February 12-14 2010), the UP police and intelligence officials had interrogated district-level CPI(ML) leader Rajesh Sahni for two hours, demanding to know why intelligence officials were not allowed to attend the State Committee meeting, and implying that this meant some illegal activities were being plotted in the meeting! The interrogators also asked why the party insisted on opposing the Government and Green Hunt, and warned that if the party did not change its stance on Green Hunt, it was liable to face action. Comrade Sahni was told that the police had considered arrested the entire State Committee. Subsequently, various other members of the district committee also received calls making 'enquiries' about each other and about the party functioning.
The UP police and Government are clearly taking advantage of the 'Green Hunt' climate to defame and intimidate people's movements and harass political forces that are voicing dissent..
Orissa CPI(ML) Leader Arrested in Land Struggle
Comrade Tirupati Gamango, State Committee member of CPI(ML), was arrested by the Rayagada police when 500 CPI(ML) Liberation activists occupied 24 acres of ceiling surplus land at Banduguda panchayat of Bisam Cuttack block of Rayagada district. Along with Comrade Tirupati, Comrade Rajendra Hikka was also arrested.
The party had been demanding redistribution of ceiling surplus land to local adivasis as per the rules of Orissa's Ceiling Surplus Act but the BJD-led government, while failing to distribute land that is the adivasis' rightful due, instead distributed 6000 acres of land to the MNC Vedanta.
On 4 August, as part of an ongoing land rights campaign led by the party, CPI(ML) activists occupied 24 acres of land. Following the arrest of Comrade Tirupati Gamango, a protest demonstration was held at Gunupur sub-collector's office on 9 August, where a delegation of state committee members including Comrades Yudhistira Mahapatra, Ashok Pradhan, and Muralidhar Behera met the sub-collector. A bail hearing for Comrade Tirupati and Comrade Rajendra Hikka is due on 26 August.
Recently, reports by official panels indicate how the Orissa Government deliberately colluded in the large-scale violation of laws by POSCO and Vedanta. The same Government, while colluding in corporate crimes and grab of adivasis' and peasants' land, is out to arrest and harass activists who are leading adivasis' struggles for land.
Police Firing on Farmers in Western UP
A Fact-finding report
(On 14 August, ironically the eve of Independence Day, farmers protesting against corporate land grab were fired upon in Western Uttar Pradesh. A team of the All India Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM) comprising AIKM Vice President Comrade Prem Singh Gehlawat and National Executive member Comrade Afroz Alam visited the site and met with protesting farmers. Main findings and observations of their fact-finding report are summarized below. Ed/-.)
Farmers whose land is being acquired for the Yamuna Expressway and the associated Hi-Tech cities have been agitating for long against land acquisition. The Yamuna Expressway would be 165 km long, acquiring the fertile lands of Gautam Buddha Nagar, Aligarh, Mathura, Agra and Hatras districts of Western UP and affecting 1192 villages. Jay Prakash (JP) Associates are the builders and developers of this project. Other than the expressway, some 30,000 bighas of land on either side of the Yamuna are being acquired for building townships and commercial ventures. It is this prime land which the Government is acquiring from farmers at throwaway prices and handing over to JP for mega profits that has irked the farmers and brought them out from their farms to the battlefield.
Villagers from the six villages - Zikarpur, Kansera, Jehangarh, Udaypur, Tappal and Kripalpur villages of Tappal block in Aligarh district had been sitting on an indefinite fast since 27 July under the banner of Sarva Dal Kisan Sangarsh Samiti, led by Ram Babu Katelia. 88 villages of Tappal block would be affected as 510 hectares of their farm land would be acquired for building the township. Their main demands were 1. Increase of land rate from the existing Rs. 412/m2 to Rs. 870/m2, the rate given to farmers in Noida two years ago 2. Residential accommodation in the new township to the farmers whose land had been acquired for building the township 3. Residential accommodation to landless labourers of the area who would lose means of livelihood after land acquisition.
Background of movement
Farmers had not wanted to sell land initially. Land was first acquired from small farmers, mostly Jatavs (Dalits) in Kripalpur, Birja Nagla at the rate of Rs 336/ m2. Farmers say only 22.5% of them have agreed to sell their land. Farmers filed a writ in the High Court against land acquisition. The judgement on 2 July went against them. After that, between 8-11 July, the district administration in collusion with JP razed to ground the standing crop of farmers of the six villages, building embankments to encircle their lands and forcefully evicted them. Farmers in Udaypur broke these embankments. The Government had also deviously acquired possession of the land in land records even before the agreement with farmers was finalised. The farmers were then compelled to start an indefinite fast from 27 July against the state government. Thousands of farmers from the nearby villages would gather daily at the dharna in solidarity with the movement.
On 14 August, at about 5 pm, a plainclothes Station Officer of Tappal Police Station along with some masked goons of JP reached the dharna site and arrested Ram Babu Katelia. When farmers resisted, they were fired upon by the SO and four people received gunshots. Hearing that their leader had been kidnapped, villagers from the neighbouring villages started gathering at the scene. Meanwhile, a PAC truck reached there and uprooted the tents at the dharna. The people then realized that Katelia had been arrested by the police and they retaliated against the PAC. The PAC fired on the unarmed villagers, killing three, including two children. The PAC entered Zikarpur village and mercilessly beat up even women and children. The villagers fired in self-defence and in the ensuing melee one PAC officer was killed. The farmers were in no mood to relent and ultimately the PAC had to flee. Meanwhile some farmers erected blockades on the Aligarh-Palwal road. Next day, on 15 August, thousands reached the dharna to chalk out the next course of action. The neighbouring towns of Tappal, Jattari and Zewar observed total bandh. In adjoining Mathura, farmers blocked the roads. A large part of Western UP was celebrating its own version of Independence.
On 16th, a massive Kisan Panchayat was organized at the Dharna. Leaders of all major political parties addressed the Dharna. Com. Prem Singh Gehlawat, the National Vice-President of AIKM and Com. Afroz Alam, the national Executive member of AIKM also reached the spot and addressed the gathered villagers and visited their homes.
To dowse the spreading fire, Mayawati rushed her Cabinet Secretary to Aligarh where Katelia was jailed. Under pressure from the movement, Katelia was unconditionally released, a compensation of 10 Lacs was announced for those killed by the police and the land rate increased from 412 to 570/m2.
Those killed in police firing include 13-year-old Mohit, a Class V student from a Jatav family; 13-year-old Prashant Sharma of Jahangarh and 26-year-old Dharmendra of Sarol village. 13-year-old Rafiq Khan, a Class VIII student of Kansera village, has also disappeared since the day of the firing and is presumed dead. Comrade Prem Singh visited the homes of all four.
The UP Unit of CPI(ML) has declared that it will observe 23 August as a Black Day all over the state against the corporate land grab and police firing on farmers.
Celebrating AISA’s 20 Year Legacy of Struggle
On 9th August, 1990, in the Union Hall of Allahabad University, the All India Students’ Association (AISA) was born. Confronting the twin challenge of the neoliberal assault on people’s rights and livelihoods and rise of communal fascism that marked the dawn of 90’s, AISA established itself as a revolutionary student organisation that has taken forward the struggle for student rights and also allied itself with democratic movements across India and the world.
On 9th August this year, to mark the twenty years of AISA movement, an All India Student Convention was organized at Allahabad University with the call to resist corporate loot of resources and education and the assaults on democracy in campuses and the country. Delegates from sixteen states attended the Convention, along with over two hundred students from Allahabad itself. Despite the fact that the Allahabad University administration refused to open the premises of the student union hall for the Convention, AISA activists in Allahabad, defying the orders of the administration, successfully managed to hold the convention outside the Students’ Union hall.
The Convention paid tribute to Comrade Chandrashekhar, AISA leader and twice JNUSU President, who was martyred in Siwan as a wholetime activist of the CPPI(ML), at the hands of the mafia RJD MP Shahabuddin. The first session of the Convention had former leaders of AISA movement reflecting on the legacy of the past two decades as well as the current political situation. The guests included Prashant Shukla, one of the founding members of AISA, currently a faculty member in BHU; Sunil Yadav, student leader in BHU in the 1990s and subsequently National General Secretary of AISA; Girija Pathak, former President of the Kumaon University students’ Union in 1993; Kumudini Pati, one of the key activists of the Progressive Students’ Organization(PSO) which preceded AISA and Vice-President of the Allahabad University Students’ Union in 1983-84; Mohammed Salim, National President of the Revolutionary Youth Association; Pranay Krishna, President of the JNU Students’ Union in 1993 and presently General Secretary of the Jan Sanskritic Manch; V Shankar, AISA’s national president in 1997-98; Indresh Maikhuri, former national president of AISA; and Ramji Rai, former student leader of PSO and now Polit Bureau member of CPI(ML) Liberation.
A booklet entitled ‘Chhatra Andolan ke Pramukh Padav’ (‘Important Episodes in the Student Movement’) was released commemorating the occasion. It examines and offers a critical evaluation of the students' movement in India, from the time of the freedom struggle to the present day.
From the afternoon onwards, the second session of the convention saw cultural performances by Hirawal, Bangal Sanskritic Gana Parishad, a dance group from Karbi Anglong and a theatre group from Jamia Millia Islamia on the premises of the Nirala Delegacy. The programme concluded with an evening of poetry marked by the presence of a range of poets including Sahitya Akademi award winner Viren Dagwal, revolutionary poet Ramashankar Vidrohi, Pankaj Chaturvedi, Rajendra Kumar, Harishchandra Pandey, Priyadarshan Malviya, and Ashutosh Kumar.
Onwards to 7th September All India General Strike
All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) held a Workers’ Convention on 12 August 2010 in Constitution Club, New Delhi "Against Corporate Loot, Privatization and Assault on Workers’ Rights". The Convention was attended and addressed by leaders of Maharashtra Sarva Shramik Mahasangh, CTU (Punjab) and Left Coordination Committee, Kerala. Worker activists and leaders from Delhi and neighbouring states like Punjab, U.P. and Uttarakhand participated in the convention.
The convention was presided over by Comrades N M Thomas, Hari Singh, R N Thakur and Bhagwant Singh Samao of AICCTU, Bhim Rao Bansode of Maharashtra Sarva Shramik Mahasangh, P Kumanrankutty of Left Coordination Committee, Kerala and Comrade Randhawa of CTU (Punjab). The main speaker at the convention was CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya. A resolution supporting the All India Strike was read out by Rajiv Dimri.
The General Secretary of AICCTU Swapan Mukherjee welcomed the participants and also delivered the concluding speech. Apart from members of Presidium, the convention was addressed by Vijay Kulkarni of Maharashtra Sarva Shramik Mahasangh; Ram Kishan, Secretary General of All India Health Employees and Workers Confederation; leaders of AICCTU - Babulal (U.P.), Santosh Roy (Delhi), K.K. Bora (Uttarakhand), Satbir Shramik, (MTNL); Ravi Rai, General Secretary of AISA; Kanwaljeet, leader of RYA (Punjab) and others.
The convention resolved to give a fitting rebuff to the anti-worker approach of the powers that be and intensify the nation-wide campaign for the success of the all India General Strike on 7 September 2010 called by Central Trade Unions including AICCTU in the backdrop of intensified onslaught on the working class by the UPA Government at the Centre and State Governments of all hues and people's resistance.