CPIML Liberation Karnataka

CPIML Liberation Karnataka

ಬುಧವಾರ, ಜನವರಿ 27, 2016

ML Update | No. 05 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.19 | No. 05 | 26 JAN- 1 FEB 2016

Reflections on Republic Day

Republic Day 2016 is no occasion for celebration but one for somber reflection. The suicide of Dalit scholar and scientist Rohith Vemula is a grim reminder of the fact that India continues to live the "life of contradictions" that Dr. Ambedkar warned about 67 years ago: contradictions between formal political equality, and entrenched inequality in our social and economic structures.        

The President's speech on the eve of Republic Day, however, failed even to attempt to reflect on these contradictions. The President chose to quote Dr Radhakrishnan's words, that the "End-product of education should be a free creative man who can battle against historical circumstances and adversities of nature." These words ring hollow and hypocritical as we remember Rohith Vemula's anguish at the fact that as a Dalit, he could never be "treated as a mind" and was never allowed to overcome "the fatal accident of (his) birth."

Education in India is shackled by caste discrimination. Dalit students are still subjected to segregation and untouchability in schools. 23 of out 25 cases of suicides in higher education institutions since 2007 were of Dalits. Drop-out rates of Dalits and others who suffer social and economic deprivations are high, with discrimination masquerading as 'meritocracy', and beneficiaries of reservations being branded "less deserving." As the courageous students who raised slogans against the Prime Minister at the BR Ambedkar University convocation at Lucknow observed, Ekalavyas continue to be oppressed by Dronacharyas even today. How can the President's words announcing "generational change" and proclaiming that "Youth have taken centre stage" have any meaning as long as idealistic and committed youth like Rohith – and those demanding justice for Rohith today – are hounded by those in power?

While protesting students, Dalits, peasants, women and common citizens demanding social and economic justice as well as Constitutional rights and liberties are indeed the best expression of the spirit of the Republic, it is ironic that they are being branded 'anti-national' by those ruling at the Centre. The Padma awards this year chose to reward many of those who had condemned the writers, artists and citizens who had returned awards to protest against State-sponsored bigotry.

It is a matter of concern that the official observance of Republic Day reduces citizens to spectators at a parade of military hardware. But it is even more of a concern that for the past two years, the Modi regime has turned it into a foreign policy event.

This year, for the first time ever, India invited foreign troops to lead the Republic Day parade. The French Army's 35th Infantry Regiment's colonial legacy (in particular, the invasion of Algeria in 1830 which was followed by fierce anti-colonial resistance) and its more recent imperialist legacy of invading Afghanistan in 2001 were highlighted in the Indian and international media, along with its joint counter-terrorism exercises with Indian Army personnel earlier this month. India's Republic Day is a tribute to India's anti-colonial resistance; and this legacy is deeply tarnished by a decision to honour this colonial-imperialist legacy. The question to be asked is, if India would next invite British troops that subjugated and massacred Indian anti-colonial fighters, to lead the Republic Day parade?  

Modi's choice of Republic Day guests – US President Barack Obama last year, and French President Francois Hollande this year – as well as this unprecedented decision to invite French troops to lead the parade, are worrying indications of the level on which India has begun to flaunt her strategic identification with Western imperialist powers and especially with the most aggressive champions of the 'war on terror.'

At the same time, the Modi Government is also aggressively pursuing the 'Make in India' model, suppressing wages, safety measures, labour laws, environmental protections and industrial democracy and selling out India's land and precious resources to woo Indian and foreign corporations. The notorious Rafale Deal as well as the Jaitapur Nuclear project, being pursued by Modi and Hollande, are symbolic of this devastating model. The moribund French company Dassault is being given a fresh breath of life by India's offer to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets at a hugely inflated price. The protests of the peasants and fisher-people of Jaitapur, and pressing concerns of safety, livelihood and environmental protection are being ignored in order to push the French company Areva's reactor, which even French regulators have deemed to have serious design flaws.    

The core values of India's Republic are being eroded rapidly by the Modi Government as it intensifies the assault on freedom to dissent, the rights and dignity of Dalits, women and minorities, and surrenders the interests of India's citizens at the altar of corporate greed. It is the people's movements in the country that are battling brutal repression and injustice to reclaim the republic.

Mahendra Singh Martyrdom Day Observed All Over Jharkhand

Sankalp Sabha held in Bagodar, Call for 'Ghera Dalo' for Food Security & Ration Cards from 9 February

The 11th martyrdom anniversary of people's hero Comrade Mahendra Singh was observed as 'sankalp diwas' (pledge day) all over Jharkhand on 16 January.

People thronged in huge numbers at the Jan Sankalp rally held at bus terminal ground in Bagodar in Giridih district of Jharkhand to remember their beloved leader who had led a fearless struggle against all oppressive forces and embraced martyrdom eleven years ago.

The rally was addressed by CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya. He said that today there is once again a situation similar to the 1975 Emergency days; the promise of 'achhe din' has changed to the reality of 'bure din' (bad days); stoking communal passions and working for the interests of corporate houses is being done in the name of 'development'; minorities are facing increased intolerance and being victimised in the name of terrorism; adivasis are being discriminated against in the name of counter-insurgency; voices of dissent are being ruthlessly crushed. There is not a single deed accomplished by the Modi Government which can be said to be in favour of the poor. Com. Dipankar stressed the need for pledging to fulfill Mahendra Singh's dreams, which is the only way the anti-people policies of the Central and State governments can be resisted and the agenda of the fascists can be given a befitting reply.

He also mentioned the recent incident of Birni block panchayat Chairperson's election where a ruling party candidate was declared elected in spite of the fact that he did not enjoy majority support and expressed confidence in people's struggles which will certainly give a befitting reply to the district administration's blatant act of electoral malpractice.

The meeting was also addressed by former MLA Vinod Singh and Rajdhanwar MLA Rajkumar Yadav. Marxist Coordination Committee's MLA from Nirsa Arup Chatterjee addressed the rally and remembered the legacy of martyred comrades Mahendra Singh and Arup Chatterjee.

Early in the morning, the life size statue of Mahendra Singh at his native village Khambra was garlanded by leaders, who then proceeded to Bagodar town to pay tributes at his statue at Kisan Bhawan.

People also pledged to intensify the movement for food security and BPL ration cards and to resist the ongoing land grab by the corporates, announcing a district-level sit-in (Dera Dalo Ghera Dalo) campaign on 9 February on the issue of food rations.    

On the same day, a Sankalp Sabha was organized at Albert Ekka Chowk in Ranchi which began with party's veteran leader Sukhdev Prasad and social activist Father Stan Swamy paying floral tributes to the martyr. The meeting was addressed by Comrades Shubhendu Sen, Bhuvaneshwar Kewat and many others. They said that successive state governments had ensured that even after 12 years the killers of Mahendra Singh have not been punished.

They also condemned the verdict of double life imprisonment against the 8 Pricol workers in Coimbatore and termed it as a step taken to strike terror in the hearts of the working class. They reiterated the resolve to fight against 'Company Raj' to save 'jal, jangal, jameen' (water, forest and land resources). Filmmaker Meghnath said that when the real heroes of the country fighting for the rights of the oppressed come on the political stage, those in the echelons of power tremble. That is the reason why the governments serving the corrupt corporates are afraid.

The CPI State Secretary KD Singh said that Mahendra Singh will always be remembered in the annals of Left movement as a brave fighter. CPIM State Secretary Gopi Kant Bakshi said that a united Left would carry forward Mahendra Singh's fight.

A march was held in Ramgarh, in which protesters condemned the move to create land banks by snatching gair-mazarua land (commons lands) from the poor only to hand it over to the big corporates. Protesters also demanded land rights for the poor and condemned the ongoing process of exclusion of almost 80% poor from the ambit of the Food Security Act.

Hundreds of activists paid tributes to comrade Mahendra Singh in Hesalong village in Hazaribagh district while a talk was organised in Dhanbad on 'Current Political Challenges and the Path Shown by Comrade Mahendra Singh'. Cadre conventions were organised in various blocks of Deoghar and Jamtara districts and thousands marched in Palmou, Garhwa, Latehar, Gumla and other places. Similar programmes were held in Koderma, Bokaro, Lohardaga and other districts.

'Jabab Chai' Rally at Shahid Minar in Kolkata

Against Mamata Misrule and CPIM's Betrayal

Several processions of peasants, agricultural labourers, workers from jute, tea, construction and other non-formal sectors, students and youth, and others marched to join the  'Jabab chai' (Demand Answers) rally at Shahid Minar in Kolkata on 21 January. They came holding banners and placards from different corners of the state to the Maidan braving a chill in the wind. Women constituted a large segment of the rally.

The meeting began with rousing songs reflecting the rally's mood, by cultural activists Halishahar Sanskritik Sangstha, Chalar Pathe from Bujbuj, Mira Chaturvedi from North Bengal, Raka and Sanjay, Biswarup Basak, Nitish Roy and Ashok Chakravarty. An adivasi team from Bankura also gave a dance performance.

Party General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, State Secretary Partha Ghosh, Politburo members Swadesh Bhattacharya, Kartick Pal, Arindam Sen, and Dhurjoti Bakshi as well as state committee members and mass organization leaders were on the dais.

In his opening address CCM Abhijit Mazumdar spoke briefly on the deplorable situation prevailing in Bengal under Mamata regime with special emphasis on the starvation deaths of tea workers. Partha Ghosh then spoke, exposing the ruling TMC's deliberate plans for unleashing terror on any sort of democratic protests. Peasantry and the working population in Bengal are reeling under severe crisis pertaining to price hike, lack of access to food, deprivation from minimum wages, unemployment, poor people have already been fleeced of their petty reserves by the chit funds run and supported  by the MPs and ministers of Mamata cabinet. He also vehemently criticized the Chief Minister for letting loose lumpens in all sectors and called it a 'Syndicate Raj'. He also stressed the need to resist every attack on democratic rights and the need for a massive left and democratic resistance that would keep away from opportunistic coalitions with the corrupt Congress. He warned that TMC is only an off-shoot of the autocratic Congress and it would be suicidal for CPIM to join hands with them. Comrade Mina Pal spoke of the struggles of working women and working people in West Bengal, and the need to strengthen these. Kartick Pal took on the CPIM for committing shameful criminal deeds in Singur and Nandigram and asked CPIM leaders to accept the responsibility of their wrongdoing and apologise before the masses. That only can pave the way for a consolidated left counter-offensive in the forthcoming assembly election.

As the principal speaker of the rally, Comrade Dipankar said that in 2011 only the 'signboard' of the ruling party in Bengal had changed and the people of Bengal has been suffering the bane of misrule for the last 5 years. In 2014 there had been a change in the Central Government too with BJP coming to power with absolute majority. And an uncanny similarity is being seen in the function of both the governments, with tall promises amounting to nothing. All over the country people's protests are taking on to the streets in large numbers. In Bengal similar protests are also visible. A concerted left resistance is needed now to overthrow the Mamata regime. He expressed his surprise over the CPIM view and insisted that the people of Bengal will never accept a CPIM-Congress unholy alliance that denies the historic legacy of left movements here. The need of the hour is to call for a struggling left unity on the bulwark of mutual faith and respect. The future of leftism depends much on the united struggle, not in opportunistic electioneering. The people of Bengal have already discarded the efforts of the communal-corporate BJP to expand their strength. BJP has no future in Bengal. Our immediate task is to reiterate the urgency and strengthen the unity of the toiling masses to fight out the enemies of the people.

The rally was presided over by State secretariat member Com. Basudeb Basu.

Countrywide Solidarity With Struggle for Justice for Rohith Vemula

(Some of the solidarity actions in which CPIML and its mass organizations have participated in, are summarized below)

After Rohith Vemula's tragic suicide on 17 January, AISA and CPI(ML) have led as well as been part of several joint actions against the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula.

On the day after Rohith's suicide, there was a massive joint protest at the MHRD office in Delhi.  Students were brutally lathi charged where AISA DU activist Sudhanshu Shekhar was badly injured in the head and had to be taken to the hospital. Several others too, including AISA JNU President Shweta Raj, were injured. On 19 January, AISA-RYA called for a National Protest Day on the issue, and subsequently protests were held across the country where the MHRD letters to the administration of University of Hyderabad were released and the role of the MHRD nailed.

Besides Delhi, protests were also held in other parts of the country. AISA unit of the Madurai Kamaraj University held protests in their campus. In Patna, students, youth, cultural activists, Left-democratic activists and citizens took out a protest march which culminated in a meeting attended by CPI (ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar, State Secretary Com. Kunal, CPI (M) leader Com. Arun, as well as Prof. Nawal Kishore Choudhary. Protests and effigy burnings were also held in Jamui, Samastipur and Bhagalpur in Bihar.

On 21 January, responding to the call issued by the Joint Action Committee in Hyderabad, a protest march was held in JNU where the effigy of MHRD Minister Smriti Irani was burnt, and in DU, AISA was a part of a protest march called by Save DU in the Arts Faculty, North Campus. On 23 January students, youth, intellectuals and other progressive sections held a protest in Chandigarh demanding action against Union ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya. CPI (ML) and RYA activists actively participated in the protest.

On 24 January, AISA took the initiative to organise a public meeting in JNU. This meeting, which was addressed by ICSSR chairperson Prof. Sukhdeo Thorat, Prof. Satish Deshpande, journalist Dilip Mandal  and others, was very well attended. The speakers and students also saluted the courage of students who had protested against Modi during the convocation ceremony in BBAU.

On 25 January, AIARLA, AIPWA and CPI(ML) held a protest march at Tuni in Andhra Pradesh and also gave the call for 'Solidarity Day' in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on 28 January.  In Delhi, a massive public meeting was organised by AISA at the DU Arts Faculty on the same day which was addressed by several faculty members and intellectuals in Delhi including DUTA President Nandita Narain, Aditya Nigam, noted journalist Dilip Mandal, artist Shuddhabrata Sengupta, AISA national president Sucheta De, JNUSU VP Shehla Rashid, and the students who protested against Modi at the BBAU convocation ceremony. AISA Bihar unit gave a call for state-wide protests on 25 January. Responding to this call, Patna University observed a strike, and protests were held at Ara, Samastipur and in other parts of the state.

On Republic Day, the AISA-RYA unit of Villupuram, Tamil Nadu, demonstrated demanding the arrest of district authorities, Vice Chancellor and others related to suicide of three girl students in SVS college; they also demanded justice for Rohith. Comrades were arrested and later released in the afternoon.

AISA has been in close touch with the JAC in Hyderabad, and has promised all possible support for the students' struggle there. Apart from the solidarity visit on 20-21 January by a team consisting of CPI (ML) Politburo member Kavita Krishnan and former JNUSU Gen. Sec. Chintu, along with JNUSU VP Shehla, AISA leaders- former JNUSU VP Anant and former JNUSU Joint Secretary Piyush Raj have also gone to Hyderabad to be part of the 'HCU Chalo' call on 25 January.

A Delhi chapter of the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice has been formed, and in solidarity with the ongoing protests in Hyderabad, a massive protest has been called on 27 January 2016.

AICCTU Observes PRICOL Workers' Solidarity Day

On 18 January 2016, AICCTU organized demonstrations in many parts of Tamil Nadu demanding justice for the eight Pricol workers who are languishing in jail with double life sentence. State and District leaders of all central Trade unions including CITU, AITUC, HMS, LPF, INTUC, BMS, MLF, NTUI and other state level unions also took part in the 'Free Pricol Eight' campaign. Campaigners also voiced for the release for Maruti workers who have been condemned to prison without trial for months. Demonstration in Chennai was presided over by Com. Jawahar, state Honorary President AICCTU and inaugurated by Com. Balasundaram, state secretry of CPI(ML). Other speakers who addressed the demonstration were A S Kumar, State Deputy General secretary of AICCTU, A Marx , Human right activist, Geetha of Unorganised workers' federation, Kumarasamy, National president of AICCTU. Activists of Democratic Advocates' Association, AISA, RYA and AIPWA also took part.

Demonstration held in Coimbatore was presided over by Damodharan, state President of AICCTU. Leaders of CITU, LPF, HMS, INTUC, MLF and BMS also took part. Protest demonstrations were also held at Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli and Karur. In Salem AICCTU cadres met workers and distributed pamphlets and booklets during the campaign for seeking justice for pricol workers. Comrades in Tiruvellore organized a poster campaign demanding release of Pricol right. On 17 January massive signature campaign was organized at Vandalur. All central Trade union leaders criticized the unprecedented repression let loose on Pricol workers and expressed their solidarity to take up the struggle for their release.

AICCTU Dharna in Lucknow

AICCTU and its affiliated labour unions held a dharna in front of the Deputy Labour Commissioner's office in Lucknow on 12 January to protest against anti-worker amendments to the Labour Law by the Modi regime and the growing corporate-fascist attacks against the working class. The speakers on this occasion said that the BJP led Modi government, in the interests of corporate houses, is bent upon making ineffective the labour laws won after hard struggles. A calculated move is on to break the spirit of workers by weakening workers' unions and slapping false cases on workers and punishing them. The latest example of this is in the Pricol factory in Tamil Nadu where 8 workers have been sentenced to double life imprisonment because they participated in workers' struggles. Condemning this action severely, the speakers demanded the release of these 8 workers. They also condemned the Central and State governments for failing to alleviate the socio-economic conditions of construction workers. The dharna was addressed by CPI(ML) leader Ramesh Singh Sengar, AICCTU district convener Surendra Prasad, Construction Workers' Union President Naumilal among others. A 9-point charter of demands was submitted to the President through the Deputy Labour Commissioner.

Midday Meal Workers Protest

Before the elections the Bihar government had raised the honorarium of midday meal workers by 25% due to pressure from the district and state level series of agitations. As a result of these struggles, the midday meal workers should have got Rs. 1,250 instead of Rs 1,000 from August 2015 onwards. However, the ground reality is that in most schools honorarium for only three months has been paid in 2015. The government had also announced that in case of death of a midday meal worker, the family of the worker would receive a compensation grant of 4 lakhs; however, as they have no identity cards, on what basis can their families receive this grant?

With the above demands the Fatuha unit of the Bihar State Rasoiya Sangh  staged a protest at the Fatuha block office on 8 January 2016 led by the association's state President Saroj Choube and Joint Secretary Sona Devi. Fatuha unit Joint Secretary Shanti Devi, Treasurer Savitri Devi, Subhadra Devi, Kanchan Devi, and CPI(ML) Fatuha Secretary Shailendra Yadav addressed the protesters. The midday meal workers from Belchhi and Daniyawan also joined the protest.

The rally proceeded from Fatuha railway station, with women shouting slogans such as 'Saadhe barah sau mein dum nahin, 1500 se kam nahin' (Even Rs. 1250 is not enough, No less than 1500), 'give government employee status to midday meal workers', 'pay honorarium arrears immediately', 'pay honorarium into midday meal workers' accounts', 'issue ID cards to midday meal workers', 'issue 4 cotton saris as uniform', and 'give the benefit of insurance'. In spite of being informed, the BDO was missing from his office.

Addressing the meeting, the speakers said that the government extracted the votes of the midday meal worker by making a paltry increase of Rs. 250 in their honorarium, but now that they are coming to the government with their problems the concerned officers are fleeing away from their offices. The midday meal workers are not being paid the money they have earned and therefore, they must strengthen their organization and further sharpen their agitation.

CPI(ML) Protest at Garhani

On 19 January 2016, a protest was held at Garhani block for a 7 point charter of demands which included: (i) giving land entitlements to the landless poor who had settled on the land of an absentee landlord; (ii) entitlements for the poor who were settled on embankment of the pond in Morsiya Ahar;(iii) enquiry into the bhoodan land in Barap-Baligaon and redistribution of the land among the poor; (iv) to conduct the panchayat elections on party basis and revoking the pre-condition of toilets for the panchayat elections; (v) repairing defunct hand pumps in villages, besides other demands. A memorandum was submitted to the Garhani Zonal Officer following the protest.

Kashmiri Flood Victims Yet To Be Rehabilitated

Hundreds of Kashmiri families who were devastated by floods in the Valley are yet to be rehabilitated. Many of them are stationing in Delhi as refugees in very deprived and inhuman conditions. A camp was set up in Shashtri Nagar which is known as national Kashmiri Relief Camp where nearly 350 families are living in tents since last many months. They are still not able to go back to their homes and are surviving on meagre help being occasionaly provided by Delhi government and some independent organisations. A CPI(ML) team comprising of Comrades Prabhat Kumar, Prem Singh Gahlawat and Aslam visited this camp on 22 January and met the inhabitants. They were told by many teenaged and young boys and girls that they want to continue their studies after going back to their homes. Majority of the inhabitants are from Kulgaon district. The Team members also met the members of the Camp Committee and handed them over a sum of Rs. 10000 as contribution and assured them of every possible assistance in future whenever required.

ಶುಕ್ರವಾರ, ಜನವರಿ 22, 2016

ML Update | No. 04 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  19 | No. 04 | 19 - 25 JAN 2016

A Dalit Scholar Killed By A Saffron Witch-hunt

The suicide of Dalit research scholar Rohit Vemula in University of Hyderabad (UoH) is nothing short of institutional murder. It is undeniable that the scientist, scholar and activist Rohit Vemula had been pushed to despair because of the manner in which the Central University had victimized Dalit student activists under pressure from the ABVP and Ministers of the Central Government.

The Ambedkar Students Association of the UoH had held a protest against ABVP's disruption of a screening in Delhi University of a documentary film on Muzaffarnagar communal violence. Subsequently, Rohit Vemula and four other members of the ASA had been falsely charged with having attacked an ABVP leader. A Proctorial enquiry found neither medical evidence nor testimonies of security staff to back up the ABVP leader's claim. Yet, the students were suspended following pressure from a BJP MLC Ramachandra Rao. However, the then Vice Chancellor revoked the suspension and promised a fresh enquiry.

However, the suspension continued and the fresh enquiry was never held – in large part because of the meddling by BJP's Secunderabad MP and Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatraya. Not only that, an official order by the University subjected the 5 Dalit students to what amounted to a social boycott – they were barred from accessing hostels, library, and other common places, and from contesting students' union elections. 

It is on record that Dattatraya wrote to the HRD Minister accusing the ASA of 'casteist, extremist and anti-national' activities. This letter cited an ASA protest against the death penalty for Yakub Memon and falsely claimed that an ABVP leader had been attacked when he protested against this event. In response to this letter, the MHRD sent no less than four letters in a span of three months to the University, demanding that action be taken to curb 'anti-national' activities on the campus. It was in obedience to this witch-hunt that the University reversed a former Vice Chancellor's decision to revoke the suspension of the five students including Rohit.

One of the key culprits responsible for Rohit's death is the systematic misuse of power by the BJP Government at the Centre to harass activists and scholars. The sequence of events in UoH followed the same pattern that has already been seen in the IIT Madras – when the IIT Madras derecognized the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle in response to a letter from the HRD Ministry, which cited anonymous letters accusing the APSC of inciting hatred against the Modi Government. The same MHRD that sends insistent letters seeking action on organizations with dissenting ideologies, remains silent when the ABVP repeatedly indulges in violence and vandalism on campuses. When Central Ministers and the HRD Ministry act as an arm of the ABVP or the RSS and sends letters to Universities branding student activism as 'anti-national' and 'anti-Government', it is nothing short of a witch-hunt.  

There are several other recent instances of similar witch-hunts on campuses. One is BHU's termination of a teaching contract with Dr Sandeep Pandey following a complaint that his teaching was 'against national interest'. Another is the ABVP protest and pressure from Minister of the BJP Government in Rajasthan that forced police in Udaipur to file an FIR against a professor who delivered a lecture at Mohanlal Sukhadia University in Udaipur.             

Another culprit for Rohit's death is the administration of the University of Hyderabad. The University, instead of going by its own investigation that had found the accusations against the ASA members to be false, chose to succumb to political pressure from the Central Government and ruling party. Moreover, the University imposed a blatantly casteist social boycott in addition to the suspension on the Dalit students. Rohit had, weeks before his suicide, written a letter to the Vice Chancellor saying that if the VC could not protect the rights of the Dalit students facing political victimization, it should just provide suicide ropes in every Dalit student's room. Instead of acting with urgency on this bitter and desperate cry for help from Rohit Vemula, the Vice Chancellor chose to ignore it. 

The third and final culprit is the institutional failure of our education and political systems to address the deep-seated hostility and injustice faced by students from Dalit and other deprived backgrounds. In 2013 a fact-finding report had documented 24 student suicides in various colleges in Hyderabad till 2013. The Andhra Pradesh High Court, acting on a PIL into which several college and University teachers of AP had impleaded themselves, had recommended several short- and long-term measures to counter the systemic hostility and caste discrimination faced by such students. But colleges and Universities in Andhra Pradesh largely ignored these recommendations.     

Nor is the problem limited to Andhra Pradesh. In the last four years, it is estimated that 18 Dalit students committed suicide in the country's higher education institutions. In 2007, the Thorat Committee had found evidence of open, blatant caste discrimination and violence against Dalit and adivasi students in AIIMS. Students who battle caste discrimination and arrive at the halls of higher education are humiliated, demoralized, declared academically 'unfit' - and the epidemic of suicides continues while the various corrective recommendations gather dust.   

The saffronization drive of the BJP Government cannot be trivialized as merely a case of political appointments. It is an attack on reason, on academic and political freedom, on struggles for caste and gender equality on campuses, and on dissenting voices among students and teachers. This drive turns deadly when it compounds the systemic discrimination against Dalits in higher education.

Dabholkar, Kalburgi and Pansare were killed by the Sangh Parivar's bullets, and Rohit Vemula was a victim of a saffron witch-hunt by the Sangh Parivar and the Modi Government. His death has exposed, once again, the deep-seated hatred of RSS, ABVP and BJP hold for Dr. Ambedkar and his struggle against the caste system.

All those responsible for Rohit's death must be punished – and the Central Ministers Dattatraya and Irani who led the witch-hunt must not be spared, but must immediately be sacked.

Block Level Protests by CPI(ML) in Koderma

Over 1,000 rural poor under the leadership of block Scretary Com., Munna Yadav and comrades Rajkumar Paswan, Vijay Paswan, Ibrahim Ansari and others staged a forceful protest at the block office in Jaynagar block, Koderma district, Jharkhand on 22 December 2015. Their main demands were: (i) food security, (ii) ending of corruption in ration cards, (iii) immediate distribution of ration cards, BPL, old age pension for women, (iv) 200 days work under NREGA, (v) speedy implementation of occupancy of farmers' lands, and other demands. The protest rally marched through various bazaars and reached the block office where a 10 point charter of demands was submitted to the BDO. Impressed by the forceful slogan chanting during the rally, many people came and stood with the protesters. A special feature of the protest was that every CPI (ML) candidate (winning as well as losing) who had stood in the recent panchayat elections was present with their complete people's support base.

Similarly, on the anniversary of the Markachho firing, (on this date in 2003 three comrades were martyred in the police firing upon the CPI (ML) protest at the Markachho block office) a huge contingent of activists under the leadership of block Secretary Com. M. Chandra staged a dharna protest in front of the Markachho block office. Tributes were paid to the martyred comrades and a charter of demands was submitted to the BDO including the above mentioned demands including demands for making available regular rations under the Antyodaya scheme, 200 days work in a year, Rs 500 minimum wages, and other local demands.

AICCTU Dharna in Kanpur

As part of the state-wide protests against the growing number of incidents of flouting labour laws in Uttar Pradesh, AICCTU organized a one-day dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Labour Commissioner in Kanpur. Addressing the dharna, AICCTU State President Com. Hari Singh said that the State government has been unable to implement labour laws and the factory owners are openly flouting these laws. Illegal lay-offs are being carried out in LML since 2007 and 25% lay-off arrears have not been paid, causing a situation of starvation for the workers. It is the government's responsibility to end illegal lay-offs and ensure employment for the workers. Tanneries are being closed in the name of pollution. It is the responsibility of the State government, in co-ordination with the Centre, to find a solution for pollution so that workers can continue to earn their livelihood.

Addressing the dharna, AICCTU city President Com. Umesh Tiwari said that nowhere in Kanpur are labour laws being followed. Neither are pay-slips being given, nor are workers made members of ESI.  Moreover, they are not even being given gate passes, and if they ask for bonus, they are shown the door out.

Addressing the dharna, CPI (ML) leader Com. Vijay Kumar said that the Modi government is trying to change the labour laws to suit the interests of corporate houses. The 2nd September countrywide strike showed that not only workers but also students, youth, and farmers are gradually standing up against the governments at the Centre and the State. He appealed to the workers to build a pervasive unity in order to fight effectively against capitalist attack on the one hand and communal frenzy on the other.

Addressing the dharna, the AICCTU city Secretary appealed to all workers in Kanpur to form a grand unity and build up the organization. He pointed out and condemned the irregularities and corruption in the construction sector and demanded that registration of workers is done by going to the workers' areas. The dharna was presided over by Com. Anant Ram Vajpayee and conducted by Com. MS Zaidi. Comrades Rana Pratap Singh, Netram, Ajay Singh, Manoj Singh, CPI (ML) media in-charge Com. Asit Kumar Singh, zilla mantri Ram Asre and others also addressed the dharna.

CPI (ML) Rally in Valsad to Demand Land for Displaced Adivasis

On 28 December 2015 a huge rally and meeting demanding allotment of land to displaced adivasis was organized under the leadership of CPI (ML) in Kaprada taluka of Valsad district in Gujarat State bordering Maharashtra. In 1980 work on construction of a dam (namely, Madhuban dam) was started in Kaprada-Dharmapur and Dadra-Haveli taluka of Valsad district under the Daman Ganga Reservoir scheme. Hundreds of adivasis were displaced for the construction of the dam without any alternative arrangements being made for them. 17 villages were submerged in the total submersion area, and apart from this, people from 10 other villages were thrown out of their villages. Till today they have not received any compensation. During these past 35 or more years of displacement hundreds of families from these villages have been struggling for employment and livelihood.

After the construction of the dam this reservoir has been the chief source of water supply to Valsad city, Vapi industrial area, Daman industrial area, Silvasa, GIDC, and Union Territory Dadra-Haveli. But the poor adivasis who were displaced for the construction are the ones who are bearing the brunt of the suffering even today. On the one hand the entire area gets its drinking water and irrigation facilities due to this reservoir; on the other hand, the area where the displaced adivasis are taking shelter is devoid of any civic amenities. Even the small amenities they have been given are limited only to amenities on paper. In many villages job cards have been made under MNREGA but the cards have not been issued to the workers. In village Astal, the administration claims to have made 400 job cards but investigation showed that no one has got any job card. Environmental problems have taken a serious turn in the vicinity of industrial areas; Vapi is counted among the most polluted cities of the country.

The BJP government in Gujarat has adopted a totally insensitive attitude towards all these issues. The poor people of Gujarat are the greatest sufferers from the so-called 'development model' of Gujarat and the adivasis have borne the severest brunt. The CPI (ML) is ceaselessly fighting against this attitude of the BJP. Focusing on these issues, the party organized a huge rally and meeting on 28 December to highlight the problems of the poor and adivasis. The protest meeting was led by party politbureau member Com. Prabhat Kumar, and addressed by Gujarat in-charge Com. Ranjan Ganguly and comrades Laxman Bhai Patanwadia, Amit Patanwadia, Kaprada taluka leader Kamlesh Gurab, Dhakal Bhai, Ganga Bhai, Sushila Ben, Jayanti Ben, and others.

In the memorandum submitted to the Chief Minister through the Collector, the party has demanded that the long overdue rehabilitation of the displaced should be completed soon, adequate compensation should also be given, arrangements should be made in every home for basic civic amenities such as toilets, drinking water, pucca access roads, lighting, etc. They have also demanded the job cards under MNREGA should be handed over to the workers, corruption and scams in MNREGA should be ended, and officers responsible for this should be punished. All workers should be given regular work as per MNREGA rules, and adivasis should be given land as per the Adivasi Forest Rights Act.

Left Parties Protest in Udaipur 

Responding to the state-wide Left parties' call for 'halla bol' protest, the local units of CPI (M), CPI and CPI (ML) held a 'halla-bol' dharna protest on 7 January 2016 in front of the Collectorate. The dharna was to protest against- (i) the anti-people policies of the Centre and the State, (ii) the use of people's hard-earned money for the benefit of corporate interests, and (iii) the failure of the Modi government to honour its promises. AISA, AIPWA, Kachhi Basti Union and other organizations also participated in good numbers in the protest.

Addressing the huge gathering at the protest, district Secretary Com. Chandra Dev Ola said that the people had voted the BJP to power on the issue of development but instead it is protecting the interests of capitalists. The common man has become sorely troubled by rising prices and loot by the government and therefore everyone needs to unite and fight against this and teach the government a lesson. CPI (M) district Secretary Com.  Mohanlal Khokhawat warned the government that until the people of kachhi bastis in Udaipur are not given pattas, they will continue the fight and will not rest till they succeed. He further said that it is the duty of the government to give pattas to common people who have been living on a land for a long period of time. Senior CPI (M) leader Rajesh Singhvi said that the fight for the rights of the people living in kachhi bastis ad other needy people in the district would be further strengthened. CPI-ML district Secretary Com. Lehar Singh Chhajed pointed out the autocratic ways of the Modi and Vasundhara governments and said that these two governments have deactivated all the schemes which had been made for direct benefit of the common people. This government is constantly working against the interests of the people and is making policies to benefit the selfish interests of capitalists.

The chief speaker at the dharna CPI (ML) State Secretary Com. Mahendra Choudhary condemned the Modi government's treachery on the issue of black money and other populist promises. Exposing the 'chaal, charitra, chehra' (gait, character, and face) of the BJP, he said that after promising 'achche din', the BJP has actually played the politics of communal divide in the country. The protest meeting passed a resolution to fight against the government's anti-people policies.

Young comrades at the dharna energized the protesters with songs like 'Le mashaalein chal pade hain log mere gaon ke' and 'Gar ho sake to ab koi shamma jalaiye'. A delegation of Left parties met the administration and informed them about democratic demands such as pattas for people living in Udaipur's kachhi bastis, licenses for thela drivers, and occupancy for dalits and adivasis on their lands. The Collectorate was gheraoed and a symbolic 'road block was done. In the talks with the delegation the administration assured them that the work of giving pattas to the people of the kachhi bastis would be completed in the next 2 months. After consulting the people at the protest, the delegation informed the administration that if this assurance was not implemented within the next 2 months, a prolonged and forceful protest would be launched in the coming days.

CPI(ML) Dharna in Triveniganj

On 30 December 2015, CPI (ML) held a protest demonstration in the Triveniganj subdivision in Supaul district in Bihar. The protest focussed on 11 point charter of demands and was led by CPI (ML) leader, Com. Sita Ram Yadav. Addressing the protest meeting, district secretary Com. Jai Narayan Yadav said that the grand alliance government had given a free reign to the criminals. From block to the state level, corruption was rampant. The poor could are not being able to get any work done without having to pay bribes. CPI (ML) activists protesting against the rampant corruption are being framed in false cases and sent to jail. From entitlement in property matters to public distribution system, there is open illegal extortion that is taking place. Arbitrary amounts are being extorted from farmers in exchange of spurious seeds and fertilizers. Crimes like theft, robbery, murders, kidnapping are on the rise all around. After the protest demonstration, representativ9iies from CPI (ML) handed over a list of 15 point memorandum which included demands for- (i)  ration cards for the poor,  (ii) an end to the illegal extortion in the public distribution system, (iii) compensation to farmers who suffered losses due to the spurious seeds sold to them, (iv) implementation of Dr. Bandopadhyay commission recommendations, (v) provide occupancy to parcha holders of homestead or bhoodan land, (vi) appointment of a female doctor in the referral hospital, (vii) release of CPI (ML) MLA Com. Satyadev Ram along with comrades Amarjeet Kushwaha and Com. Manoj Manzil, who have been framed on false charges for having participated in struggles for defending land rights of the poor, (viii) an end to illegal extortion in child welfare department, along with several other demands.

Activists' Convention in Gwalior

An activists' convention was organized on 3 January 2016 in Gwalior to further teaching, training and agitation on issues of struggle and party organization and expansion. In addition to activists from Gwalior, farmers, trade union activists, youth and women activists from Bhind and Sheopuri also participated in the convention.

Addressing the convention chief speaker and party PB member Com. Prabhat Kumar said that under the incumbent BJP government in MP the people of the State continue to suffer from unemployment, price rise and corruption. There is no relief in sight for the people in spite of the same party being in power at the Centre. No section of society, be it farmers, youth, workers, or women appear to be getting any relief. The Vyapam scam has clearly shown that the echelons of power from the Chief Minister downwards, as well as the bureaucracy, are fully entrenched in the mire of corruption. On the other hand, there is a calculated conspiracy to render constitutional values and principles irrelevant. Com. Prabhat said that progressive, democratic, justice-loving and Left forces have registered protest against this not only in the State but also at the national level, and voices of dissent have been raised from every corner. In this phase the role of a revolutionary communist party like the CPI (ML) is very important. In order to strengthen our role, we must strengthen the party and our people's organizations; to do so it is essential that we interact extensively with workers and farmers and all sections of society, make them aware of the current situation and the necessity to join the struggle. Through such efforts we can strengthen our party and people's organizations in Madhya Pradesh and also strengthen people's struggles.

Prior to the convention, programmes were held in the Gwalior region under the month-long 'Save democracy-Save India' campaign. On 26 October 2015 a campaign was run in minority populated areas Noorganj, Sewa Nagar and other areas against attempts to spread communalism and to maintain peace and harmony and defeat the evil designs of communal forces. In the same series, a ''silent juloos' and human chain were organized on 29 October. On 6 December all Left parties jointly took out a march from Dal Bazaar and held a rally at Phulbagh gate. Between 26 December and 2 January nukkad sabhas were organized at Mama ka Bazaar, Abarpur, Sabji Mandi, Khajanchi Baba ki Dargah, Purashani, Chhoti Madaiyya, Kedarpur, Barauan (all small villages and mohallas near the city) as well as Dal bazaar. The nukkad sabhas placed before the people local issues such as electricity, water, sewers, access roads, etc. as well as state level and national issues.

The convention was also addressed by Central control commission member Com. Devendra Singh Chauhan, district Secretary Com. Vinod Rawat, Com. Anwar Ali, Com. Anita Bai, Dhirendra Bhadoriya, Munni Kushwaha, Naro Bai and others. At the start of the convention condolences were paid to departed senior communist leader A B Bardhan.

ಮಂಗಳವಾರ, ಜನವರಿ 12, 2016

ML Update | No. 03 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  19 | No. 03 | 12 - 18 JAN 2016

Lapses in Pathankot Episode Must Be Probed   

The Pathankot epidode has exposed the incoherence and irresponsibility of the Modi Government when it comes to questions of national security as well as the country's foreign policy. The Government's handling of the episode is symptomatic of the over-centralization and lack of responsibility and accountability that has become a hallmark of the Modi model of governance. The episode raises many questions that demand an answer – if any effective lessons are to be learnt by the country.

In spite of prior intelligence inputs, terrorists were able to breach the perimeter of India's largest Air Force base, and the lives of seven Indian personnel were lost. It is glaringly apparent that the security of the Air Force base, and the borders, are severely compromised by the drug trade in the area, in which BSF and Punjab Police personnel seem complicit.

The role of the SP and his companions who were apparently abducted and then let off by the terrorists after their car was hijacked, is under a cloud of suspicion. But it remains that even after this incident was reported, and it was clear that unauthorized persons had access to an official vehicle, the Punjab Police failed to act with any sense of urgency.  

What is highly questionable is that the entire Pathankot operation was headed by the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister, Ajit Doval. To which Ministry is the NSA accountable and answerable? What executive powers does the NSA enjoy, and where are these defined?

With the National Security Advisor in command, the Army troops stationed at Pathankot were barely involved, and the Air Force Base was left in the hands of the Defence Security Corps (DSC, comprising retired military personnel), some Air Force Garud commandos, and the National Security Guard troopers (who are trained and equipped to respond to hostage crises or other specific and focused operations rather than to protect a vast Air Base).

What was unforgiveable was the fact that, based presumably on inputs from the NSA, the Home Minister chose to tweet prematurely announcing the success of the counter-terror operation. The very next morning, firing continued at the Air Base and more lives of Indian security personnel were lost. Shockingly, the Defence Minister chose to dismiss the loss of lives of five DSC men as 'bad luck.' The fact is that the DSC forces should have been evacuated from the area during the operation.

It is likely that the Pathankot attack was aimed at derailing the peace dialogue that has recently resumed between India and Pakistan. The Indian State tends to suspend dialogue in the wake of waves of jingoism that are whipped up after a terrorist attack – and this very fact provides an incentive for terrorist attacks. The Indian Government must not allow talks to be derailed under any circumstances. The Pakistan Government has set up a probe and made some arrests – the probe must be pursued to its logical conclusion, and those responsible for the attack punished.

It is a matter of concern that the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, instead of introspecting on the lapses in his handling of the Pathankot operation, has gone on to announce, in an interview to a newspaper, that peace talks between India and Pakistan will be suspended until India is satisfied with Pakistan's investigation. How can the National Security Advisor feel emboldened to dabble in diplomacy and speak out of turn on sensitive matters of foreign policy?  

The BJP and Narendra Modi have a track record of shrill jingoism, war-mongering and communalizing of the issue of terrorism, for political purposes. The Pathankot episode has exposed their hypocrisy, and has underlined the fact that those who indulge in communal rhetoric over terrorism and anti-Pakistan jingoism cannot protect the country's interests.

A thorough probe must be ordered into all aspects of the Pathankot episode – identifying and holding accountable all those responsible for compromising security, and for avoidable losses of lives of security personnel.

Peace between India and Pakistan is the best antidote to terrorism, and peace talks must be a priority for the Indian Government, and must not be derailed under any circumstances. 

AIPWA's for Complete Implementation of Liquor Ban in Bihar

When Nitish Kumar first came to power in 2005 with the help of the BJP, his Government implemented the existing liquor policy, doubling the number of liquor licenses issued. As a result, liquor began to be sold in streets, colonies and even ration shops. The liquor shops began to mushroom even in the restricted areas surrounding schools, religious places and residential areas. While the closed sugar mills remain shut, land suited for agriculture was given away to liquor barons like Vijay Mallya to open liquor factories. AIPWA and several other women organisations started campaigns and movements demanding liquor ban. CPI (ML) along with several other left parties has been raising the demand of the complete liquor ban. The liquor is not only engulfing an entire generation of youth, it also aggravating domestic violence against women.

Ten years later, during the 2015 assembly elections, Nitish Kumar declared that if he came to power again he would implement a complete liquor ban. After being re-elected with a complete majority, he declared that a complete liquor ban would be effected from 1 April. However, after the liquor mafia started exerting pressure, the government began talking about a stage-wise ban, with a ban first being effected on illegal and local liquor and only later on foreign liquor.

AIPWA organised a state-wide demonstrations and marches from 28 to 29 December, raising slogans like- "Stop fooling people, implement complete liquor ban", "stop the farce of stage wise liquor ban", "we want employment, not liquor", "stop harassing poor in villages in the name of liquor ban". In several places, the marches were followed by meetings which were addressed AIPWA leaders. 

State-wide Protests by AIARLA in Bihar

Against attacks on Dalits,

Demanding Release of CPI(ML) MLA Com. Satyadev Ram and other leaders

On 5 January 2016, AIARLA held protest demonstrations in front of several district and block headquarters across Bihar on the question of increasing attacks on the Dalits and the poor in the state, and also to demand the release of CPI (ML) MLA from Darauli, Com. Satyadev Ram and other leaders. Leading the protests in Dhanarua in Patna district, the General Secretary of AIARLA, Com. Dhirendra Jha addressed the protestors and said that it was clear from the Bihar election mandate that people of Bihar want justice. However, the Nitish government is trying to frame the leaders leading pro-people agitations on various false charges and putting them in jail. We will not tolerate the incarceration of leaders who are popular among the poor and have been known to raise their voice for them. Leaders like Com. Satyadev Ram, National President of RYA, Com. Amarjeet Kushwaha and the state Joint Secretary of RYA, Com. Manoj Manzil have been put in jail on false charges following their crucial role in the Land rights struggle of the poor and they must be released without any delay. He added that post elections, the attacks on the poor and Dalits have increased and the rate of crimes has also increased. Killings of Puttu Manjhi in Hilsa and the beating to death of Dalits in Atari are just few of such instances. The instances of rapes have also risen in Bihar.

AIARLA also demanded from the newly elected state government- (i) to immediately starts MNREGA in drought affected areas, (ii) add all poor in the list of beneficiaries, (iii) provide adequate and regular pension to the needy old, (iv) provide occupancy to the holders of land papers and handed a memorandum including this demands. Memorandums were also submitted in various district offices. The AIARLA leaders warned that if the government did not initiate immediate action towards this direction, then a gherao of MPs and MLAs will be launched in the entire state. They also added that a movement will be launched for the revocation of the condition according to which having a toilet at home was being made a pre-condition to contest in Panchayat elections. From 19-24 January 2016, a series of protests will be held by the poor for their demands at Panchayat offices throughout the state. AIARLA leaders also said that the protest was also against the life imprisonment of eight union leaders who had participated in the movement in the Pricol factory situated in Coimbatore. They expressed their solidarity with the struggling workers and pledged to continue the struggle.

More than ten thousands of rural poor and agricultural labourers participated in the protests held in 23 districts and the 10 blocks within Patna district itself. 

CPI (ML) activists protest demanding arrest of notorious tea tycoon G.P. Goenka

The closure and non-functioning of tea gardens owned by notorious tea tycoon G.P. Goenka had claimed nearly 360 lives by the end of 2015. The 16 non-functioning tea gardens were once a source of livelihood for nearly 29,680 permanent workers who worked there and the over one lakh dependents who depended on these workers for their sustenance. Lakhs of people, either working in the tea gardens or dependent on the workers' income have been left starving as they continue to remain deprived of wages, rations, and health care facilities. On 6 January 2015, hundreds of CPI (ML) activists led by Com. Abhijit Mazumdar protested in Siliguri demanding the arrest and confiscation of the properties of the notorious corporate tea tycoon G.P. Goenka. They also courted arrest after a brisk scuffle with a posse of state policemen at Siliguri court. The protesters also demanded promulgation of minimum wages, proper implementation of Food Security Act and entitlement of homestead land to the workers' families etc. In 4 other North Bengal districts namely South Dinajpur, North Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri and Coochbehar also National Highways were blocked for 1 hour from 11 a.m. through to 12 p.m. The activists were released later and they will continue the struggle till the demands are met.

Movement of Poor in Begusarai

On 21 December when administrative officials of Begusarai district went to Balia block along with the police force to ensure occupancy for the holders of land papers at Mor Alipur, Masudanpur and Shaahpur, the local goons attacked the poor, in which Bhattu Ram was injured.  The holders of land papers also by way of organised resistance, forced the goons back and forced the officials to do the needful.  The 5 tractors which were on the way to help the holders of land papers plough the land were also stopped on the way and were released after exerting pressure on the administration. The occupancy process was then started. However, despite that occupancy could not be ensured for 134 holders of land papers on 120 acre 68 dismil land. On the second day, when the administration started dilly dallying, the holders of land papers sat on an indefinite dharna in front of the block officials. The protestors were issued threats that cases would be filed against them, however they remained undeterred. CPI (ML)'s district secretary, com. Divakar Kumar, block secretary, Com. Noor Alam, and other local party leaders addressed the dharna and expressed solidarity with the agitators. The people spent the cold night at the site of the protest and when on the following day, the number of protestors increased, the block officials came under pressure and were forced to reach the protest site to talk to the protestors. During the talks, it was demanded that the goons who had obstructed the process of occupancy and beaten up the mahadalits, cases be filed against them and that they be arrested. They also demanded that as per the orders issued in favour of the holders of land papers by the DM court, occupancy be provided to the 134 holders of land papers on 120 acre, 68 dismil land, tractors be provided for ploughing and also that special police force be called to ensure that agricultural activities can be started on the land. The officials assured concrete steps towards this direction. After the talk, Com. Diwakar, AIARLA district president, Com. Rambalak Sahni and party leader Noor Alam ended the dharna. This agitation has had a positive impact on the agricultural labourers and the poor and increased their confidence in the struggles being fought by the party.

On 23 December, a dharna was also held in Manjhaul under the CPI (ML) banner. This dharna was to demand receipt of the occupancy land for the holders of land papers, 3 dismil land for their homes and for the release of jailed leaders, Com. Satyadev Ram, Com. Amarjeet Kushwaha and Com. Manoj Manzil. 

Students Protest against AVAP Event on 'Ramjanambhoomi' in Delhi University

AISA along with other student organizations staged a massive protest on the first day of a 'seminar' organised by Arundhati Vashishtha Anusandhan Peeth (AVAP) on the issue of 'Ramjanmbhoomi'. Around 700 students from different organizations joined together in front of the Arts Faculty which was heavily policed and was almost turned to a police cantonment with armed forces covering the way to the seminar hall. The policemen even used force to keep the students intact inside the barricades. It was shameful that barricading and deployment of the armed forces were done not to protect the defenders of secularism and the University's autonomy but rather to protect the hate mongers sitting inside the conference hall seeking to divide the country and provoke violence in the name of 'Ram Mandir'.

AISA condemned the manner in which DU gave permission for this communally provocative 'seminar,' while on many occasions it has refused permission for seminars or discussions organised by student groups. This is an instance of state power being used to impose communal ideas on academic spaces. A large number of students and teachers had demanded the cancellation of the event, pointing out that a University should not play host to communal politics, and also pointing out that the event was not a 'seminar' in any academic sense.

Sucheta De, National President of AISA said, "this is not only the case with DU but rather we can see a systematic pattern in which the government is destroying the academic institutions. It was couple of months back when we saw that Yogi Adityanath was invited to Allahabad University and then we saw JNU giving invitation to Baba Ramdev for a conference. One may wonder what these non academic people have to do with the academic talks".

"Now with the assembly elections due in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal in the coming year, we can sense a clear conspiracy of polarizing the students on communal lines and this is how they have done it in the past. We will, with all our might, resist any attempt by the Sangh Parivar to saffronize educational institutions and communalise the students."



Com. Kaali Prasad

Com. Kaali Prasad, who was better known among people as KP Bhai, took his last breath on 5pm at his home in Pratapgarh. Com. K.P. Bhai, was born on 4 July 1951 in Pratapgarh. He completed his schooling there and then went to Allahabad for his higher education. The radical left wing student organization, PSO, used to organize regular study circles. It is through them that he came to understand Left ideas. After completing his education, in 1976, K. P. Bhai started his job in A.G. office and continuing his political activism, was elected to the workers' union there. He played a crucial role in the forming of unions in several other areas and departments of the city and formed a coordination of workers of U.P. education board, Indian telephone industry, ITI, Cotton mill, Triveni Sheets and others. He was suspended in 1996 for his role in the workers' struggles but he remained undeterred. He also remained in leadership positions of AICCTU after its formation. He used to implement the party policies and remained active with tremendous enthusiasm. Outside the party also he was respected as a left ideologue and a very powerful speaker among various organisations working among the oppressed sections. He retired from his services in 2011 and after that Pratapgarh became the centre of his party activities. Throughout his life he followed left principles and remained active in the struggles of the workers, peasants and oppressed sections. He played a crucial role in the organising Shaheed Mela in Shivgarh Turi and Pratapgarh.

Red Salute to Com. Kaali Prasad. 

Com. Khursheed Ahmad

Com. Khursheed Ahmad, a resident of Sherghaati in Gaya district, passed away on 24 December 2015. He was 50. He was suffering from cancer. He completed his MA in History from Magadh University. In 1991-92, he got associated with the Indian People's Front (IPF) and began to participate in the various democratic struggles being fought for the problems affecting his area and Gaya. After the IPF, he became directly associated with CPI (ML) and also worked in the Inquilabi Muslim Conference front. Throughout his life, he continued to be a party member.

On 3 January 2016, CPI (ML) and Jan Sanskriti Manch, organised a programme in the memory of Com. Khursheed Ahmad in which several social and political activists, leaders and intellectuals of Gaya city participated. They shared their insights into the works of Com. Khursheed. Leaders of Inquilabi Muslim Conference, Com. Wasi Ahmad, Dr. Hamid, District president of JSM, Com. Ahmad Sageer and several others shared their memories of working with Com. Khursheed. A pledge meeting was also organised in his memory.

Red Salute to Com. Khursheed Ahmad !


ಮಂಗಳವಾರ, ಜನವರಿ 5, 2016

ML Update | No. 02 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  19 | No. 02 | 4 - 11 JAN 2016

Free the PRICOL Eight !

Fight the Double Life Imprisonment for Eight Trade Union Activists !


Pricol 8 Solidarity Campaign

Eight leading activists of Kovai Maavatta Pricol Thozhilalargal Otrumai Sangam (Comrades Gunabalan, Manivannan, Rajendran, Ramamurthy, Sampathkumar, Saravanakumar, Sivakumar, and Velmurugan) have recently been sentenced to double life imprisonment by a Coimbatore trial court in connection with the unfortunate death of an HR executive of Pricol in September 2009. The Pricol Management had in fact charged as many as 27 workers and leaders, including women workers and AICCTU President Com. S Kumarasami with murder and conspiracy, but the rest were acquitted by the court. This is by far the harshest instance of an anti-worker anti-union judgement in recent times where workers and leaders have been framed and convicted without any evidence. The Pricol conviction can be compared to the TADA sentence given in Bihar in 2003 to Comrade Shah Chand and thirteen other activists of the rural poor movement and to the host of recent attacks on trade union rights in Gurgaon, Noida, Mumbai, Pune and other industrial centres. The Pricol workers' movement led by AICCTU has however successfully resisted every offensive of the management and the state and gone from strength to strength uniting the broad masses of factory workers and securing considerable pay increase in successive wage agreements. The present judgement is aimed at crushing the morale of the workers, but the workers are valiantly fighting back against this repressive onslaught.

This issue of ML Update is dedicated to the Pricol 8 Solidarity Campaign that will spread campaign for acquittal of the brave Pricol 8 comrades and take the message among workers in every trade union and all working class localities from 1 January – 15 February 2016. We appeal to all to collect funds to support the Pricol struggle.

Solidarity messages can be sent to Pricol workers through email at pricolworkers@gmail.com or by post to the KOVAI MAAVATTA PRICOL THOZHILALARGAL OTRUMAI SANGAM, 126, ESWARAN KOIL VEEDHI, OPP PRICOL CO-OP STORES, SRKV POST, PERIANAICKEN PALAYAM, COIMBATORE – 641020. Funds can be sent to the CPI(ML) Central Office or AICCTU Central Office.


Eight leading activists of the Kovai Maavatta Pricol Thozhilalargal Otrumai Sangam - Comrades Gunabalan, Manivannan, Rajendran, Ramamurthy, Sampath, Saravanakumar, Sivakumar and Velmurugan - have been sentenced to 'double life imprisonment' in a shocking verdict of the Coimbatore Sessions Court.

'The very severity of the verdict – in a case lacking in any evidence of wrong-doing, let alone murder – suggests that the verdict is not just an ordinary judgement against some accused workers. Rather, it serves as an assault on India's working class movement – in effect, it is like a warning to trade unions and workers all over the country to comply with the current political-economic attack on labour laws and unions – or else be criminalised.'

This is a conviction scripted to favour corporates in a class war – just as much as the acquittals of the Bathani Tola and Laxmanpur Bathe perpetrators were scripted to drive home the point that the blood of the poor and the Dalits does not count, and crimes of the feudal, or the wealthy and powerful, do not count as crimes.

A TADA Court, in a verdict of 2003 had sentenced 14 peasant activists of Jehanabad who had struggled to defend their water-chestnut pond from feudal forces, and had killed no one, to life terms for 'terrorism' under the lapsed TADA law. In 2015, the Coimbatore Sessions Court (situated in the 'Bomb Blast Court' attached to the Coimbatore jail) has indeed sought to teach India's workers that trade unions activism will be treated on par with organized crime or terrorism – and punished with draconian sentences.

In the very dawn of the working class movement in 1886, the Haymarket Eight of Chicago – agitating for an 8-hour working day – were convicted of 'conspiracy' and murder and received draconian sentences. 130 years later, working class activists are again framed and convicted for conspiracy and murder, their guilt decided even before the trial began.            

The tragic death of a PRICOL HR vice-president, Roy J George, on 21 September 2009, has been the pretext to accuse the Union leaders of conspiracy and brand the whole working class movement as terrorists and killers.

In March 2016, the Kovai Maavatta Pricol Thozhilalargal Otrumai Sangam (Coimbatore District Pricol Workers' Unity Union) affiliated to AICCTU will complete ten years of its struggle – a struggle to seek the right of workers to form unions, and to make a corporation abide by labour laws. The Union had succeeded in the face of all odds in forcing the management to recognize the Union and negotiate with it.

Even after the death of Mr George and the subsequent witch-hunt and crackdown, the Pricol struggle is remarkable in that, unlike at Maruti, the Union could not be wiped out. Instead, they have won successful agreements in subsequent years as well, and the Union has grown stronger. The struggle of Pricol workers inspired their counterparts to form unions in Sriperumbudur (called the 'Detroit of Tamilnadu' by TN's rulers). Hyundai workers first dared to tread in the path of Pricol workers – inspiring a sort of contagious formation of trade unions in many factories in Sriperumbudur!  Pricol workers broke the lull in the working class movement of Tamilnadu.

It is the Union's very success that has marked it out for special punishment – the example of Pricol workers had inspired other workers in Tamil Nadu's and India's automobile sector to unionise and struggle, and the corporates hope that the verdict will now serve to demoralize workers and establish Pricol as a warning rather than an inspiration.  

This verdict will have far-reaching implications for the working class movement – and first and foremost for the Maruti workers, who are waiting for the verdict in a similar case, in which a large number of workers have been falsely implicated in the death of an HR Manager.  

The Pricol workers, in an act of remarkable courage and solidarity, remembered the woes of others in their own time of great trouble. They need to support the families of the convicted and jailed colleagues and comrades – but first, they spared a thought for others. On their first salary day after the verdict, they collected Rs 5 lakh for the flood-affected of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.  The Pricol workers have also earlier collected funds to help the families of jailed workers in the Maruti's Manesar factory.

Now, it is the Pricol workers who need our solidarity and support – the solidarity of the working class and democratic movements all over the world.     

The Verdict

In all, 25 workers, Union activists and leaders were accused of a conspiracy to murder Roy George inside the HR chamber, as revenge for the decision to dismiss several workers. Of these, four including AICCTU National President S Kumarasami were accused of having hatched the conspiracy and instigated the workers, while 9, including AICCTU leader M Guruswamy, were accused of having physically beaten George to death with iron rods. It turned out that Guruswamy was not even an employee of Pricol Plant -1 at the time of the incident, and so it was absurd to suggest that he could make it past the company's security into the HR vice-president's chamber to commit murder. It also turned out that his name was inserted in the FIR and complaint. He was therefore acquitted. But the verdict did not ask- if Comrade Guruswamy was so obviously wrongly and brazenly implicated, then should the whole case against the other workers also not be questioned?  

The verdict acquitted all except 8 – including those Union leaders who supposedly conspired to murder and instigated the murder. When the judgment found that the prosecution failed to prove criminal conspiracy, then is it not natural that all the charges based on conspiracy should also fail?

Running unions is not a conspiratorial activity – its success depends on political judgement and leadership, not on murderous plots!  

What was the actual evidence against the eight convicted workers? The verdict tells us that the murder was committed with eight iron rods – so, it is implied, at least eight men needed to be convicted for it! What evidence there is to link these particular eight men with those eight rods is a matter of minor detail – of no consequence as far as this judgement is concerned! So, we find that no bloodstains of Mr George were shown on the rods; no finger prints linked the rods (allegedly the murder weapons) with the convicted men. Further, the prosecution claims there were eight wounds on Mr George's body (corresponding to eight rods), while the doctor who admitted Mr George said there was one wound, while the post mortem report said there were three wounds. There is simply no evidence to establish either the number of rods, or the rods as the murder weapons or the eight workers as the 'killers.'

Moreover, the prosecution case was full of obvious, glaring falsehoods, disproved by their own witnesses or other indisputable facts. For instance, the prosecution, in a written counter to a discharge petition filed by some of the accused, had stated that a CCTV recording not only showed the time and place of the occurrence, but also revealed the identity of some of the accused persons who were not named in the FIR and the overt acts of some of the accused.

When the said CCTV footage was actually produced in court, it showed nothing of the kind. To explain away this simple contradiction in the prosecution's own claims about its own evidence, the judgement chose to rely on a claim by the IO who stated that the CCTV did not function on 21st September. Surely the judgement should have asked, if the IO knew that the CCTV did not function, how come the prosecution claimed the opposite so positively, in writing, earlier? The IO, questioned on the stand, also could not say who exactly told him the CCTV did not function on the said day. The obvious conclusion should have been that the CCTV footage was probably suppressed by the prosecution because it contained something that might have contradicted their case and embarrassed the Pricol management. But the judgement did not draw this inference.

The incident was said to have taken place in the HR vice-president's chamber at 11.40 AM. The IO, however, said he was present outside the chamber between 11.41 am to 11.46 am on the same day, and that no one – neither from the Pricol HR department or the armed reserve police (which had been deployed in Pricol for more than a year) told him about any untoward incident or even about any ambulance being needed to take injured persons to the hospital. This was a key prosecution witness, categorically stating he was present just outside the place of the alleged murder – and yet he saw or heard nothing untoward! He saw no killers fleeing, no unusual activity! Yet, the prosecution did not declare him a hostile witness. Further, there is no evidence that anyone – of the more than 1,000 workers, hundreds of officers, directors or the injured or eye witnesses – made a phone call to the police or summoned the police station that is a mere ten minutes away.

The judgement, for the purpose of explaining the false claims about CCTV footage, held the IO's statement to be reliable rather than the written evidence of the prosecution's own previous claims. The judgement, who relied on the IO's statement when it suited the prosecution case, chose not to do so when the IO's statement was inconvenient and contradictory to the prosecution case. The judgement merely observed that it was "unfortunate" that the investigating officer's evidence was contrary to the prosecution case!

If the IO was present right on the spot, why the delay of several hours in lodging of an FIR (it was lodged at 6.30 pm)? Why the delay in submitting the FIR to the magistrate (it was submitted the next day – an inexplicable and suspicious delay since such delay is commonly associated with false cases).

To explain the delay, the prosecution claims that the injured were admitted to hospital in a staggered way (the deceased who was battling for life was admitted at 1.22 pm and others were admitted at 2.30, 3.00 and around 3.30 pm). But the nurse who accompanied the injured to the hospital has stated that she got them admitted in the hospital and remained there for 15 minutes and returned to the factory in the same ambulance. The ambulance register states that the ambulance left the factory to the hospital at 11.50 am with the injured and returned at 1 pm. This totally contradicts the prosecution's attempts to explain the delay.

When a Salman Khan who crushed pavement dwellers to death or perpetrators of Dalit massacres are acquitted, then even the most unshakeable eyewitness evidence is deemed 'not enough' to convict, and there is zero pressure to hold 'someone' guilty. But in a case where workers and union activists are implicated, what does it matter that the death is not proved to be a murder; neither murder weapons nor killers are proved; and most of the prosecution's claims are contradicted by their own key evidence and witnesses?    

A Short History of the Long Struggle of PRICOL Workers

Pricol Limited is an automobile component manufacturer with units in Coimbatore, Pune, Gurgaon and Uttarakhand. It has overseas units in Indonesia and Brazil.  Pricol group engages in real estate, construction, travel and hospitality sector.

In the Coimbatore units, the overwhelming majority of the workers formed two unions associated with AICCTU in early 2007. The management refused to recognize the unions and negotiate with them. Rather it branded the unions as Maoist and threatened to leave Coimbatore if the workers do not leave the new unions.

Workers went ahead with their struggles. In addition to foisting false cases by the police, the company punished the workers with punitive transfers to Uttarakhand, denial of wage increase, stoppage of increments and incentive, demotion, partial lock out, break in service and dismissals. The company rubbed salt in the wounds by stating that everything will be given back and solved if the workers leave the struggling unions. The workers fought the state-management-police nexus in the streets and courts. Continuous and consistent struggles and a combination of various forms of struggles were carried out. The state government was forced to intervene many times under Section 10(1), 10 (3) and 10 B of Industrial Disputes Act. The workers succeeded to a large extent before the High Court and Supreme Court.  Almost all the criminal cases other than the murder conspiracy case have been dismissed.

During the course of the struggle, the unions were democratised and the workers were politicised. Pricol worker vanguards organised a district committee of Communist Party of India (Marxist - Leninist) in Coimbatore. These workers have extended one hand to the rural and unorganised workers and another hand to democratic struggles. Even during the period of conditional bail, the workers chose to live among rural poor in villages of Kandarvakottai in Pudukkottai district. In this long period of nearly a decade they have participated in more than hundred protests and solidarity campaigns.

Whether it is relief and rehabilitation for Bihar floods, Nepal earthquake or solidarity with the Maruti workers, Pricol workers played an exceptional role. Even in the face of December 3 2015 double life imprisonment for 8 of their coworkers, they mobilised Rs. 5 lakh to help rain and flood affected people of Tamilnadu on December 8 2015.

They worked and contributed for the 8th and 9th Congress of CPI(ML) and they organized the 9th State Conference of Tamilnadu CPI(ML) in Coimbatore. According to the police and the management, the women workers of Pricol led a 17-hours road blockade and they were in the forefront in breaking the siege by the police or in blockading the factory on a particular occasion. On 10.10.10, they organized a family festival with working class content with the participation of thousands of workers and their family members. This festival was a celebration of struggle, sacrifice and social transformation.

Pricol workers reached out to the people of the surrounding areas and they intervened electorally in the local body, assembly and parliament elections. Pricol workers led two Tamilnadu level 'long marches' and were instrumental in bringing to the fore of the working class movement the issues of Rs.20,000 wages per month as minimum wages, housing rights, legislation for recognition of majority unions and to protect the interests of apprentices (LA Bill 47/2008) and for its early notification by the central government. They were in the forefront in organizing All India TU strikes.

In 2011 they won recognition for their union, smashed the siege laid on them and signed two wage agreements with the management in 2012 and 2014. The first agreement in 2012 was for a period of two and a half years and the second one was for a period of four years. Most of the benefits in the 2014 agreement were to take effect from the first year itself. A worker with 25 years of service in Grade 5 was drawing a gross salary of Rs.8,593 in 2007 (pre-recognition). In 2015 (post-recognition) any such worker in Grade 5 with 25 years of service is drawing Rs.24,427. In 2007 (pre-recognition) a worker with 25 years of service was getting terminal benefits amounting to Rs.1.25 lakhs and now the same amounts to Rs.3.55 lakhs in 2015 (post-recognition). In the past decades production and productivity increases were arbitrarily and unilaterally imposed by the management on the workers. But now in the last two agreements production and productivity increase are decided by collective bargaining.

The higher the wages, the lower will be the profits; the lower the wages, the higher will be the profits. This is the crux of global class struggle between wage labour and capital. This found its intensified reflection in Pricol struggle.

In these days of reduction of work force, they were successful in getting more than 230 workers confirmed and in prevailing upon the management to settle the cases of more than 500 workers whom the management claimed were complete strangers.

It will be pertinent to remember the events before the tragic death of Mr. Roy George on September 22, 2009 (which was the basis for the Pricol murder conspiracy case). The Pricol management has been notorious for its record of rampant violation of labour laws, court verdicts and government orders. Far from recognizing the union supported by the overwhelming majority of workers, it had constantly victimized workers for siding with a 'Marxist-Leninist union', hoping to break the union through coercion and intimidation. In the name of facing the recession, it had resorted to harsh wage-cuts, robbing every worker of tens of thousands of rupees.

An indefinite fast by Pricol workers which lasted up to its 15th day found its echo in the Tamilnadu assembly on 29.6.2009. The labor minister while replying to the calling attention motion of various opposition parties, listed the various unfair labor practices of Pricol management and assured the house that the government will not let down the workers. Then on the same date the government issued two GOs under sections 10(1) and 10B of the ID act 1947. Instead of complying with the government order, the management exercised its legal right to challenge the same in the high court. Comrade S Kumarasami was to appear for the workers in that case scheduled to reach around 29.09.2009. It was in this background that the murder conspiracy case was foisted against comrade S Kumarasami and 26 others.

Now from March 5 2016, Pricol workers have decided to hold a year-long commemoration of the beginning of the 10th year of their struggle.

The management is also getting busy with its second round of onslaught against the workers by beginning with the deprivation of bonus for Deepawali 2015. This year they have unilaterally declared only 8.33% as bonus when 35.34% was paid as bonus for the years 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Incidentally this denial of bonus costing the workers a few crores of rupees has come at a time when the trial in the murder conspiracy case was nearing its conclusion.

Pricol workers are now busy in organizing contract workers and sanitation workers in Coimbatore. Now eight of their vanguards are in Coimbatore jail, which housed the Chinniyampalayam worker martyrs who were hanged and which housed VO Chidambaram, the anti-colonial hero. Pricol workers are taking all steps for the release of their eight comrades – hailed as heroes of the struggle and victims of a witch-hunt – at the earliest.

Denial of Industrial Democracy

A year before the death of Mr George at Pricol in Coimbatore, a similar incident had happened in Greater Noida in which the local head of Italian firm Graziano Transmissioni was allegedly beaten to death by a group of sacked employees. It was reported that the Graziano incident was sparked off when goons hired by the management beat up workers who had been summoned on the pretext of talks. A similar incident had also been reported from Gorakhpur. At the Maruti plant in Manesar, too, a similar incident had taken place. At Gurgaon, the killing of a worker by management 'bouncers' during an agitation against sacking of employees who were leading the struggle to unionise, had sparked off a massive strike. A few incidents involving mill managers have also been witnessed occasionally in the jute mills in West Bengal notorious for huge PF defaults and most anarchic and arbitrary labour practices by the mill owners.

Yet instead of recognising the common thread that runs through such cases – absence of industrial democracy, rampant violations of labour laws and complete denial of the right to unionise, miserable working and living conditions of workers, and recurrent violence and victimization by management against vocal workers –  a section of media tends to join the corporate chorus of defaming the organized trade union movement and calling for labour reforms to give still greater freedom to capital to dictate terms to labour.

Show Solidarity With Pricol Workers

 A meeting of all central trade unions in Tamilnadu was held on December 10. The joint press statement by HMS, LPF, AITUC, CITU, AIUTUC, WPTDC, INTUC, BMS and AICCTU termed the sentence as reflecting the antagonism of the capitalist forces toward the working class and it called for the working class of Tamilnadu and India to rise up in solidarity with the jailed Pricol workers.

AICCTU has also sent an appeal to international trade unions and sought their support for the fight of the Pricol workers in getting their coworkers released. There will be a two-month long countrywide solidarity campaign from January 1 to February 15, with mass campaigns amongst workers and Unions to seek support and spread awareness.

Free The Pricol Eight !

Free The Vanguards of India's Working Class Movement !