Land Struggle in Purnea
On the occasion of CPI(ML)’s 4th Purnea District Conference, a rally was held at the district headquarters on 15 March with the slogan – “Plant Flags on All Government, Sikmi (sharecropping) and Bhoodan Land; Integrate All Poor People With the Struggle for Land and Livelihood!” The rally acted as a warning for the district administration, and the Purnea DM called an emergency meeting of all concerned officers of the district’s 14 blocks, and gave orders that all land disputes, especially those relating to Section 48-D and E, be resolved at the earliest; 3 decimals of land be allocated to all landless households and the latter be given possession of the allocated land. Yet, the pressure of the local feudal forces on the administration ensured that the orders were not implemented.
In Purnea, most farming is done by sharecroppers. But landlords in collusion with the district administration and with the help of stay orders from the High Court, have been evicting peasants from land that the latter have been cultivating for years, and even destroying standing crops in the peasants’ fields.
According to the legal provisions for Sikmi Bataidars (sikmi sharecroppers), if the latter cultivate a piece of land continuously for 12 years, they get occupancy rights for that land. However, landlords and administration are falsely propagating that after the sikmi sharecropper’s death, the Sikmi right to occupancy lapses, and sharecroppers are being evicted on this basis.
There are also several cases of fake thumbprints being used to falsely claim that sharecroppers’ land has been handed over to others.
Another big issue is that of poor people failing to get legal rights over homestead land, in spite of having settled on raiyyati land, government land and gairmazarua land for over 50 years. The legal provisions mandate that people settled on raiyyati land for 12 years must be allocated land papers a maximum of 12 decimal land for ‘makan and sahan’ (homestead). Further, the government has announced that all landless poor who are not settled on any land, will get 3 decimals of homestead land. The poor demand that they should get this land where they already live, so that they benefit from government schemes.
Some Recent Struggles
In the Maikhand village of Badhara Kothi block, criminals and strongmen have, for years, grabbed 5 acres of land in the name of public use. On 18 March 2012, people led by the CPI(ML) planted flags on the land to free it. In the course of the struggle, when a daroga (SHO) misbehaved with a local leader, people beat up the SHO and forced him to apologise. In the face of the presence of a large number of people armed with bows and arrows, the police did not dare to unleash repression.
On 21 March, the administration organised a panchayat to resolve the land issue. Scores of people armed with bows and arrows and other traditional and household weapons, led by district committee member Comrade Lalan Singh, arrived at the panchayat. In the face of this mobilisation, the criminals and strongmen armed with firearms stayed away, while the police with their rifles kept their distance. The party’s presence proved stronger at the panchayat. Party representatives made it clear to the administration that the matter of this particular land would be discussed only when the records for all panchayat land and government land in the whole block was placed in front of the public; ceiling surplus land be redistributed among the poor by holding camps within a month; occupancy papers be distributed to Sikmi bataidars in the same way; bataidars who have been sharecropping for more than 12 years be registered under Section 48 E; and poor households settled on land for more than 12 years be given papers for 12 decimals of land. The administration was forced to accept these demands. Though the administration is yet to implement these demands effectively, the struggle has broken the people’s fear of the criminals and strongmen, and increased the confidence and assertion of the landless poor and sharecroppers in five villages.
In the Kukraun No.1 of Dhamdaha block, 30 green-card-holding peasants of the Uraon (adivasi) hamlet had sown crops in 30 acres of land. Last year, the sub-divisional administration, citing a supposed order, had the crops destroyed, and had cases filed against all the card-holders for ‘breaking the peace.’ The peasants were close to JD(U) and BSP. This year, a powerful JD(U) mukhiya secretively took land on lease and began evicting the card-holders. This time, they contacted our party.
On 20 March, the JD(U) mukhiya had the crops sown by the card-holders cut even while unripe. The angry people cut the crops on the land leased by the mukhiya. The mukhiya’s goons who attacked the people received a thrashing. Then, the JD(U) Rupauli MLA’s husband, notorious criminal and Bhawanipur block pramukh Awadhesh Mandal summoned a large contingent of police, and a force of criminals, seeking to launch an attack on the people. But seeing the large number of people armed with bows and arrows, the goons fled and the police too stepped back.
On the same day, when Awadhesh Mandal with his goons tried to help a lumpen neo-rich landowner grab a poor Sikmi Bataidar’s occupancy land in Bishnupur, people armed with traditional weapons attacked the goons and forced them to flee.
On 6th April, more than 500 people armed with traditional weapon participated in a mass meeting at Bishnupur Chowk. The meeting was addressed by party district secretary Pankaj Kumar Singh, Com. Lalan Singh and several others.
On 20 March, in Kataiyya village of Bhawani block, two local woman leaders of the party led a movement to plant flags on 35 acres of ceiling surplus land of the old feudal Badahari Estate. The land was tilled and moong crop sown. Egged on by the feudal forces who resented the loss of control over the land, the police filed cases against several of the comrades.
Similar struggles to redistribute ceiling surplus land are on in several other panchayats. In the Kachahari Balua panchayat, 21 acres of ceiling surplus land, which the local poor had been hoping for redistribution, was sold to a landlord. When the latter came to get the land ploughed, people resisted him, defended the land, and even erected some huts on the land. The huts were razed once, but people erected them again. Around his time, the people got in touch with our party. The party’s organised efforts have till now deterred police from taking action.
In Pokhariya tola of the same panchayat, four homes of mahadalit families were burnt down on 16 March, as punishment for their participation in the 15 March Rally of CPI(ML). The police refused to file an FIR. On 17 March, on the initiative of local party comrades, scores of people armed with bows and arrows, gheraoed the police station and forced the police to file FIRs against the assailants.
In the Gopalnagar dalit basti of Bohra panchayat of Banmakhi block, people planted flags on 9 acres of gairmazarua commons land. The local middlemen, landlords, police and administration, tried threats as well as all sorts of underhand methods to vacate the people from the land. On 5 April, CPI(ML) held a mass meeting at Prahlad Nagar, Banmankhi which has infused confidence in the struggle.
The CPI(ML) is striving to expand and consolidate the ongoing land struggles in Purnea district. In May, a ‘Land Rights Justice Yatra’ has begun in Purnea, where the party is conducting intensive campaigns and protests all over the district. q
AILC Leaders Address May Day Rally at Darjeeling
Darjeeling witnessed an impressive rally of the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists (CPRM) on May Day. Thousands marched with red flags aflutter, with leaders of the CPRM and All India Left Coordination at the forefront. The rally was marked by the large and enthusiastic presence of youth and women.
The rally was presided over by Comrade LN Lama. The rally was the first major public gathering in Darjeeling since the GTA agreement, and the growing unrest against the State Government’s failure to honour the agreement and take it forward was palpable. Speakers at the rally included CPRM Chairman RB Rai, CPRM General Secretary Taramani Rai, CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, CPM Punjab Secretary Mangat Ram Pasla, Left Coordination Committee Kerala Secretary Comrade Kumaran Kutty, and Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) Secretary Bhimrao Bansode. CPI(ML) PB member Comrade Kartik Pal, as well as CC member Abhijit Mazumdar and West Bengal State Committee member Basudev Bose participated in the Rally.
On 30 April, an AILC Convention was held at Darjeeling, which adopted a political resolution, the full text of which is reproduced below.
Resolution adopted at the AILC Convention (Darjeeling, 30 April 2012)
The convention of fighting Left forces being held in Darjeeling on 30 April 2012 welcomes the growing countrywide unity of Left forces under the banner of the All India Left Coordination (AILC). The AILC which was launched in August 2010 in Delhi through a national convention convened by the CPI(ML)(Liberation), CPM Punjab, LalNishan Party (Leninist) of Maharashtra and Left Coordination Committee of Kerala has become stronger with the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists (CPRM) joining the AILC as its fifth constituent.
The Darjeeling Convention of AILC supports the Gorkha people’s quest for self-determination. Demands for statehood and greater autonomy are being raised in different corners of the country, Telengana, Gorkhaland, the hill districts of Assam being the most prominent ongoing struggles in this context. The AILC supports the aspirations of various identities to secure greater recognition and opportunities in India’s federal democratic set-up and calls for the setting up of a Second States Reorganisation Commission for a speedy and sympathetic resolution of the statehood and autonomy demands.
The AILC convention resolves to intensify the battle of the Indian people against growing corruption and corporate loot and calls for enactment of an effective anti-corruption legislation and for reversal of the pro-liberalisation policies to ensure public control over all our precious resources. The AILC extends full support to the student-youth campaign for education and employment rights beginning from May 1 which will culminate in a March to Parliament on August 9. The AILC also calls upon the working people and Left ranks to prepare for sustained struggle against rising prices and unemployment and to secure people’s right to basic amenitiesand all-round development.
The Darjeeling Convention of AILC calls for withdrawal of all draconian laws and restoration and guarantee of democracy in every sphere. In particular the convention calls for repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the sweeping provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, an immediate halt to the Operation Greenhunt, release of all political prisoners and withdrawal of false cases on activists and leaders of people’s movements.
This convention condemns the growing attacks on freedom of expression by supporters and leaders of the Trinamool Congress in various parts of West Bengal. The Mamata Banerjee-led regime came to power promising change and democracy, but with every passing day it is betraying the people and belying their hopes. This convention resolves to hold high the banner of democracy and development, stand by the people in distress and wage determined struggle against every assault and every act of betrayal by the new regime. q
First Uttarakhand CPI(ML)
The first State conference of CPI(ML) in Uttarakhand was held at Haldwani on 13-14 May. The Conference site was named in memory of late party leader Comrade Dipak Bose who had initiated the work of building the CPI(ML) as an organised party in Uttarakhand. The Conference venue was decorated with red flags and portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Mao, as well as Charu Mazumdar, Vinod Mishra, and Nagbhushan Patnaik, and leaders of the communist movement and freedom struggle Comrades Chandra Singh Garhwali and Nagendra Saklani, as well as departed leaders of the CPI(ML) in Uttarakhand including Comrades Dipak Bose, Hayat Singh Hazara, KR Kapoor, Gopal singh Karki, Kala Bhandari, Yogesh Pandey, and Vasudha Sharma. The Conference began with hoisting of the party flag by veteran leader Comrade Bahadur Singh Jangi.
On the first day, an open session was held with a seminar on the ‘Challenges of building a Corruption- and Mafia-Free Uttarakhand, and the Left’. Addressing the seminar, Comrade Dipankar said that corruption and corporate loot marked all three new states that were formed in 2000 – Uttarakhand, as well as Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. People were being displaced and environment devastated, and people’s struggles were facing repression. Referring to Hillary Clinton’s recent visit, he said that imperialist forces were attempting to meddle in India’s economic and foreign policy as well as its internal politics and affairs. He spoke of the need to build a Left resistance to the plunder of resources and imperialist policies.
At the seminar, CPI(M) State Secretary Vijay Rawat extended good wishes for the success of the Conference and called for united struggle by Left parties against the loot in the name of development.
The party’s State In-Charge Comrade Raja Bahuguna said that it was CPI(ML) which had, during the Uttarakhand statehood struggle, given the slogan for a mafia-free and arrack-free Uttarakhand. Even before the State came into being, the CPI(ML) had stressed the need to set a people’s agenda for the new State.
The open session was presided over by CC Member Comrade Rajendra Pratholi, and conducted by State President of the All India Kisan Mahasabha, Purushottam Sharma.
In-charge of the Uttarakhand Leading Team, Comrade Raja Bahuguna, presented a detailed document on the political situation in the country and in Uttarakhand. The document summarised the party’s three decades-long journey in Uttarakhand including several landmark struggles, such as the land struggle in Bindukhatta; struggles on the land ceiling issue in the Terai; land struggles in the hill areas; the struggle of Leesa workers in Almora district (Leesa is a product of the cheed tree from which terpene oil is extracted); the struggle of Mehtosh Mod against the exploitation of Bengali women in Terai; the people’s struggle to protect agricultural land in Gauchar (Chamoli district) from forcible grab for an airstrip project; struggles of Century Pulp and Paper Mill workers and several student-youth movements. The document also summarised the party’s initiatives after state-formation, and an assessment of its work and organisation. The report was adopted by the house after being discussed and debated enthusiastically by the delegates.
Party GS Comrade Dipankar, addressing the Conference, warmly congratulated the comrades for holding their first State Conference, saying that the party’s long-standing work in a hill state like Uttarakhand had added a valuable chapter to the all-India party’s experiences. The party had been active at the time of the movement for separate statehood. After formation of the new state, big capital and mega projects are making inroads into the state, bringing mega loot in their wake. We must champion the struggles to resist the loot of water, forests, and land, and organise workers, peasants, and women in mass movements. He stressed the need to give a strong organisational shape to the party’s mass struggles in Uttarakhand, and said that the party would gain strength from forging closest possible unity with the masses. He said that because of the CPI(M)’s misplaced political priorities and sectarian conduct mutual political cooperation and united action remains a most difficult proposition in most states and also on the national level, but it is a welcome sign that states like Uttarakhand are witnessing a degree of joint action of the Left on issues that are vital for the people.
Under supervision of Central observer, CCM Com. Dhirendra Jha, a 13-member State Committee was unanimously elected by the house, which in turn unanimously elected Comrade Rajendra Pratholi as State Secretary. The rest of the State Committee comprises Comrades Raja Bahuguna, Purushottam Sharma, Bahadur Singh Jangi, Nishan Singh, Indresh Maikhuri, KK Bora, Kailash Pandey, Jagat Martoliya, Anand Singh, Man Singh Pal, Malti Haldar, and Surendra Brijwal.
Addressing the Conference, State Secretary Comrade Rajendra Pratholi said that the newly elected committee would strive to implement the directive adopted by the Conference, and to build a strong revolutionary party in Uttarakhand.
Central observer Comrade Dhirendra Jha said that there is a strong team of leading comrades in Uttarakhand, who will certainly take on the challenge of ensuring continuity of workers’ and peasants’ struggles and building the party on firm foundations.
The Conference passed several political resolutions including a demand of CBI enquiry into the 121 scams which took place in the past decade of BJP-Congress rule; condemning CM Vijay Bahuguna’s support for NCTC, SEZs and anti-people hydroelectric projects and his move to hold a Cabinet meeting at Gairsain without declaring it as the permanent State Capital; withdrawal of all false cases against CPI(ML) activists and other people’s movement activists since state formation; and demanding punishment for those responsible for the brutal police assault on AIKM leader Comrade Rajaram Singh.