CPI(ML) Statement on Hillary Clinton’s Kolkata Visit

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to West Bengal is fraught with dangerous political implications for India’s sovereignty. Clinton spoke of West Bengal’s crucial place in the ‘Silk Route’ of economic and trade relations, and is said to have made forays on several policy matters including sharing of Teesta waters between Bangladesh and West Bengal.  
Diplomatic relations are between countries, and the trend of representatives of foreign states dealing directly with State Governments to discuss policy matters, violates this basic parameter of international relations. In particular, the US Secretary of State’s statement advising India against the oil pipeline with Iran encroaches on India’s sovereignty and is highly objectionable. Statements attributed to her that apparently welcomed the change of political power in Bengal, treads on the internal political territory of the country, and are condemnable.
The Wikileaks cables had revealed the dealings of US representatives with the CPI(M)’s West Bengal Government and its Chief Minister, and the latter’s friendly overtures to US capital, as well as imperialist political representatives. However, this is the first time a US Secretary of State has made a visit of this kind expressly to meet a Chief Minister. The latter has expressed gleeful ‘pride’ in getting an approving American pat on the back.
The US is clearly seeking to play politics in India, and exploit the new regime in West Bengal to further its economic and geopolitical interests in the region. These attempts, and the cosy complicity of the West Bengal Chief Minister, are highly condemnable and deserving of sharp protest.
Protests Against Hillary Visit
In Kolkata, AISA and RYA organized a protest demonstration on May 7th against Hillary Clinton’s visit. A protest march was held at College Square, where AISA and RYA protested against FDI in retail sector, and against escalating intervention of US imperialism in our country’s foreign and internal policies. An effigy of US imperialism was burnt at the end of the programme.  On 6th May, CPIML and AICCTU organized a protest march against Hillary’s visit at Bakhrahat in South 24 Parganas. AISA and RYA also organized a protest march in Siliguri, where the effigy of US imperialism was burnt.

State Repression in Chhattisgarh

Lakshmi Krishnan

On May 10th 2012, we visited Durg Central Jail in Chhattisgarh on behalf of AIPWA, to express solidarity with advocate-activist Rekha Parganiha, who has been charged by the state government under the infamous Chhattisgarh State Public Security Act (CSPSA). Rekha, an advocate well-known for fighting cases on behalf of victims of state repression, has been in jail for more than two months. We had to take special permission from the jailer to meet her (kyonki woh Naxali mahila hai (because she’s a Naxalite woman), said a guard), and after having submitted proofs of our identity, we talked to Rekha.
Rekha’s case once again highlights the impunity with which the Chhattisgarh government is running roughshod over basic democratic rights. She has been charged with ‘sedition’ under the CSPSA – and what is the ‘evidence’ of the ‘seditious’ activity? Rekha is the wife of Deepak Parganiha, who was arrested in Kolkata in early March along with four others, ostensibly because they are members of the Central Technical Committee of the CPI(Maoist). And according to the state government, Rekha is also a ‘Naxali’ (the commonly used euphemism for ‘Maoist’ in the state government’s vocabulary) because she is his wife! These charges are being made against her, even though it is well-known that Deepak has not been in touch with any member of his family for the past four years. During the hearings in the Durg court, the government claims that Rekha is ‘guilty’ because she did not file for a divorce, neither did she report her husband’s absence by filing a missing person’s report.
The “incriminating documents” seized by the Chhattisgarh Police from Rekha’s house include literature by Bhagat Singh, Marx, Engels and Bertolt Brecht, as well as some folders on the history of the workers’ movement released by AICCTU and some articles from India Today and Teesri Duniya. When we met her, Rekha said the Police has even doctored the list of seized material – a book on the Maoist movement of Nepal was added on the list, though it was not found in the house.
Though the long incarceration of Dr. Binayak Sen as well as continuing state repression and use of draconian legislations like the CSPSA and the Sedition Act have created a public outrage from democratic sections across the country, the Chhattisgarh government continues to arrest and imprison well-known dissenting voices under absurd and flimsy charges. Rekha tells us that even in Durg Central Jail, three women (including her) have been framed under CSPSA. One of them has been charged with five years imprisonment and is serving her sentence, and the other is Ruchi, whose case Rekha has been fighting for the past two years before she herself was thrown into jail. Rekha also tells us that Ruchi’s trials in court have been going on for four long years, even though the state government has named just six witnesses. This, she says, is no stray experience.
Ironically, Rekha has been named as an accused in the very same case (Bola Bagh versus the State of Chhattisgarh) which she herself has been arguing on behalf of Bola Bagh’s wife Ruchi. When asked about her experiences in jail, Rekha says, “All human rights come to an end immediately after an FIR is filed against you”. She had recently been part of a team, along with the Delhi-based Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), visiting jails in Chhattisgarh to collect information on rights’ violations, and now she says she will write an insiders’ account of the reality immediately after being released.
Soni Sori and Rekha Parganiha are just two victims of the Chhattisgarh government’s attempts to suppress any dissenting voice. But these women and their courage are also indications that such attempts will not succeed.

ACFTU Delegation visits AICCTU HQ

Kanwaljeet Singh

A 6-member delegation of All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) was in Delhi during the first week of May. They paid a visit to the AICCTU central office at Delhi on 4th May. It was a first such exchange by a Chinese trade union delegation with AICCTU.
The delegation, including a woman leader, was led by Mr. Duan Dunhou, Vice-President of the ACFTU and the Secretary of the Secretariat. The AICCTU delegation led by AICCTU National Secretary Rajiv Dimri comprised of AICCTU National Secretaries Kanwaljeet Singh and Santosh Roy, NCM, Ardhendu Roy and Ram Kishan, Secretary General of All India Health Employees and Workers’ Confederation. The Chinese delegation was felicitated on their arrival in the office. The foreign delegation also presented AICCTU with gifts.
The meeting lasted for about two hours and discussed a variety of issues concerning trade union movements in India, China and world. The Chinese friends were keen to know the situation of workers in India and the functioning of AICCTU among them. They listened enthusiastically when Rajiv Dimri placed a brief account of areas of work and struggles lead by AICCTU in various sectors, the issues being focused by it, and the united national campaigns of different central trade unions. They showed special interest in knowing the plight and struggles of the workers in the unorganized sectors.
During talks the Chinese delegation explained the role of Chinese trade unions and working class in building the Chinese economy and the exclusive rights and preferences the Chinese working class enjoys in all spheres of life. They further said that the credit for non-vulnerability of China to world crisis goes to the Chinese working masses, which are represented at all levels of decision and policy making. The law in China gives workers the right to form trade union including in MNCs and it is worth noting that the Chinese workers are the first in the world to form a union in the international retail chain giant Wal-Mart. They also said that consultation with trade unions is mandatory for foreign investors who invest in china. They laid emphasis on their efforts to organize migrant workers for improving their conditions.
The meeting ended with the exchange of warm wishes for the struggles of working class in both the countries and with a promise of maintaining closer relation in the future from both sides.