A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol.19 | No. 41 | 4-10 OCT 2016
Raghubar Das Government’s War on Anti-Land-Grab Agitators
In the second such incident in two months, firing by police and paramilitary has killed at least 4 people and severely injured 72 who were agitating against land grab by the NTPC at Badkagaon in Hazaribagh, Jharkhand. The four killed include three young students Pawan Kumar (16), Abhishek Rai (18), Ranjan Ravidas (18) and a tailor Mohammad Mehtab Alam (29). In late August, Jharkhand police fired on anti-land-grab protestors who had assembled for a meeting with the management of the Inland Power Limited (IPL) at Gola in Ramgarh, Jharkhand, killing two persons, Dashrath Mahto and Premchand Nayak. 47 rounds were fired without warning at 300 protestors at Gola – proving that the force used was deliberately deadly and not merely aimed at controlling or dispersing a protesting crowd.
The BJP’s Jharkhand Government headed by Chief Minister Raghubar Das has shamelessly defended the police firing that has claimed 4 young lives. The police and administration are blaming the villagers and claiming that the innocents killed were ‘outsiders.’ And the Modi Government itself has stepped in to defend the killing, with Union Minister Jayant Sinha, who is also the Hazaribagh MP, blaming the protesting villagers for 'provoking' the firing.
Outright police and CRPF terror is being unleashed after the firing on the villages of Chipa Khurd, Dadhi Kala and Kanki Dadhi in Hazaribagh – villages that have been protesting land acquisition for mining projects for the past decade.
Ever since Jharkhand was formed, its rulers have been committed to grabbing land to honour corporate MOUs as well as government projects – spilling the blood of Jharkhand’s villagers who resisted the land grab and asserted their rights over land, forests and water. Jharkhand’s first CM Babulal Marandi – then in the BJP and now founder of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha – presided over the Tapkara police firing on adivasi protestors against land grab. The Congress-JMM Government also has fired on the anti-NTPC protestors at Hazaribagh itself in 2013, killing one person. The Hazaribagh agitation against NTPC faced another firing that injured several people in 2015.
Protests began when NTPC began acquiring 8,000 acres across 28 villages for mining in 2006, paying compensation of a mere Rs 2 lakh per acre. The compensation was increased to Rs 20 lakh an acre but that amount also is far below the standards set by the Land Acquisition Act 2013. Moreover, the consent of the village Gram Sabhas has not been obtained.
The land that the NTPC is seeking to turn into a coal block is some of the most fertile in Jharkhand. Land losers are mostly small farmers, who have been holding ‘coal satyagrahas’ in protest for the past two years, digging coal by hand and selling directly to traders, paying a royalty to the Gram Sabhas. In the past few months, the protesting farmers had been on a ‘kafan satyagraha’ (shroud satyagraha) blocking the mining being conducted on forcibly acquired land.
The recent Singur verdict of the Supreme Court, vindicating the protests against land grab, ought to serve as a warning to the Jharkhand Government and the Modi Government that are unleashing brutal repression on farmers in order to grab fertile agricultural land without the consent of farmers. Villagers stand to lose not only land but livelihood, and diversion of fertile agricultural land should be avoided because this endangers the food security of the country.
Bulldozing democratic processes of Gram Sabhas and grabbing land at gunpoint cannot be the model of ‘development’ in a democratic country. Union Minister Jayant Sinha has accused the protesting villagers of pursuing ‘vinash’ (destruction) instead of ‘vikas’ (development). In fact, it is his Government at the Centre and his party’s Government in Jharkhand which is unleashing destruction in the name of development. The war-mongering at the borders continues even as the Governments wage war against India’s own farmers.
All India Student-Youth March On the 109th Birth Anniversary of Bhagat Singh
Students and youth from all over the country gathered at Delhi today to March from to Parliament Street, resolving to fight to achieve the India of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar’s dreams.
Bhagat Singh’s nephew – intellectual and activist Prof Jagmohan flagged off the March. Students and youth marched from Ambedkar Bhawan to Parliament Street, with colourful banners and placards, raising slogans of ‘Utho Mere Desh’ (Arise My Country) and ‘Naye Bharat Ke Vastey, Bhagat Singh Ambedkar Ke Raste’ (March for a New India in Bhagat Singh’s and Ambedkar’s Footsteps).
A Public Meeting was held at Parliament Street which was addressed by many noted activists and public figures. The Meeting began with revolutionary songs presented by Hirawal, Patna and Comrade Nirmohi. AISA National President Sucheta De greeted the gathering and the guests and conducted the meeting. She spoke about the spate of ‘sedition’ cases against students and victimization of Dalit students, arrests of students and young activists from Bastar to Gujarat to Kashmir, the ugly reality of caste-divided and gender-discriminatory hostels on Indian campuses, and the growing resistance of young people defying all attempts to silence and intimidate. She called for a robust resistance to the war-mongering by the ruling class and for the unity of youth and students across South Asia for against bigotry and jingoism. She said that the movement would struggle relentlessly for enacting a law against caste discrimination on campuses, in Rohith Vemula’s memory.
Prof Jagmohan spoke of Bhagat Singh’s legacy of resisting the colonial rulers and Indian oppressors alike. He said that the dreams of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar inspire today’s youth to struggle for social transformation and against imperialism.
Ram Puniyani, noted activist, spoke about how the RSS’ fascist project in India is intended to turn India into a Brahminical Hindu nation. He contrasted the legacy of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar with that of Savarkar’s betrayal of the freedom struggle and called for all people’s movements to join hands to defeat the fascist forces.
Senior journalist Anil Chamaria said that the oppressed and poor students are being asked to chop off their ‘thumb’ – give up their rights - just as happened with Ekalavya in the myth. It is to prevent this that the Rohith Act is a necessity.
Noted writer and Dalit women’s rights activist Anita Bharti spoke of the right wing offensive on the rights of Dalits, women and minorities and called for unity of the Left and Ambedkarite movements.
Urmila Chauhan, leader of sanitation worker’ union in JNU, spoke of workers’ struggles for their rights and dignity and their unity with the students’ movement.
Among the student and youth activists who spoke were Tripura University AISA activist Koushik Das, a Dalit student who was victimized for taking up struggles of contractual workers and justice for Rohith Vemula; Akash, one among the nine BHU students rusticated for demanding a 24/7 library and implementation of reservations, and resisting gender discrimination; JNUSU President Mohit, Joint Secretary Tabrez; former JNUSU GS Rama Naga; Shivani, the activist elected to the Students’ Union in Garhwal University; Manoj Manzil, RYA President of Bihar who was jailed for his activism on issues of land and education who participated in the Una March; RYA State President of UP Rakesh who participated in the Una March; and activists from Karbi Anglong, Maharashtra, Odisha, Hyderabad, and many other places.
Former RYA President, now All India Kisan Mahasabha General Secretary Rajaram Singh congratulated students for forcing Smriti Irani to quit as HRD Minister.
Addressing the students and youth, CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar said that the people’s movements and progressive traditions of the country will resist and defeat the threat of fascism in India. Bhagat Singh called to resist the brown rulers as well as colonial rulers and Ambedkar said that freedom could not be genuine without equality and fraternity. It isn’t possible to annihilate caste, he said, without fighting for inter-caste marriage and the fullest freedom of women, as well as the unity of peasants and workers. He said that youth all over India are speaking up against the military atrocities and repression in Kashmir and the North East. The Government is indulging in anti-Pakistan war-mongering and hate while it is unable to secure its own military bases in Pathankot and Uri. The fight for the Rohith Act and for campus democracy will definitely be achieved. Students and youth will never allow the Sangh to appropriate Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar.
RYA National General Secretary Om Prasad, AISA National General Secretary Sandeep Saurav, AIPWA Secretary Kavita Krishnan, AIARLA National President Rameshwar Prasad were also present on the dais.
Struggle Against Land Grab by Divi’s Chemical Industries in Andhra Pradesh
People of Thondangi Mandal of East Godavari of AP with the support of Left parties successfully stopped land grab by the government for Divi’s Laboratories Limited – a corporation that manufactures chemical ingredients for pharmaceutical companies. Divi’s wants to set up their unit with an investment of Rs 500 crores investment at Thondangi Mandal of East Godavari. This Mandal is on the sea coast, so the company wants the site to be able to dump hazardous chemical waste into the sea, just as many other industries are doing on the AP sea coast, reducing their expenditure on chemical waste management/treatment. With the full support of the Chandrababu Naidu government, Divi’s want to take 505 acres of land from Thatiyakulapalem, Kothapakala, Pampadipeta and surrounding villages in Thondangi Mandal.
Using the ruling party henchmen, the government was able to coerce villagers into giving ‘consent’ for 60 acres of 505 acres of land but most of the small and marginal farmers remain opposed the government’s move of land grab, which is violating the provisions of the 2013 Act - The Right To Fair Compensation And Transparency In Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation And Resettlement Act. The Chandrababu Government has already been partly successful in violating the 2013 Act in Amaravathi – the state capital region in Krishna district, and has since become a roll model for other Chief Ministers in the country. But the people of Thondangi are resisting the land grab with determination.
The AP state government mobilized a police force of nearly 300 in the area to create fear in the people (the same strategy they used in Amaravathi) and unleashed a lathi charge on the villagers. On September 6, CPI (ML) Liberation leaders Comrades Bugatha Bangaru Raju, Lachababu, Janadha and others reaching the public meeting site at Panmpadipeta, and the police detained them and registered a criminal case against them. People tried to reach the police station to protest the arrests but the police used force to prevent them.
The entire area was declared under Section 144 to prevent Left leaders from meeting people, while ruling party agents were allowed to roam the area with police protection. The CPI (ML) Liberation held a protest dharna on September 12th demanding withdrawal of Section 144. On September 12th, Comrades Bangara Raju, Lachababu, and Janardhan were arrested and instead taking them to the local police, they were taken to the Annavaram Police station accompanied by a heavy police force.
Women comrades of CPI (ML) Liberation travelled to the affected villages holding several small group meetings with women to explain the toxic nature of the chemical industries, and mobilizing women for the protests. CPI(ML) Liberation, New Democracy and Jana Shakti together gave a call for dharnas in front of the Tahsildar offices in the district in solidarity with struggling people of Thondagi from 12th to 19th September. In meantime the High Court of Andhra and Telangana gave a ‘status quo’ order restraining the government from grabbing the land – a victory for the protesting villagers.
Rallies and Protests in Jharkhand
Protests were held all over Jharkhand against the police firing at Badkagaon and Gola. Effigies of the CM Raghubar Das were burnt and on 5 October, a 'Fill the Jails' protest was held with the slogan "Raghubar Das, Killer of Badkagaon and Gola, Must Resign!"
Even before the Badkagaon firing, massive district-level rallies were expressing the growing outrage and anger against the Raghubar Government. On 24 September 2016, CPI(ML) held a People's Assertion Rally in Hazaribagh district. One of the key issues raised at the rally was the police repression unleashed on the villagers protesting land grab for NTPC at Badkagaon. The violence against Muslims by 'Cow protection' goons in Pelawal in Hazaribagh district was also one of the key issues. CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya addressed this rally.
The rally marched from Mission Grounds through the Main Market to culminate in a massive public meeting at School Grounds. Comrade Dipankar, addressing the rally, called for people's assertion against land grab and state repression as well as communal attacks and hate-mongering against minorities. CPI(ML)'s former MLA Vinod Singh also addressed the rally, demanding that the Government come up with a plan to ensure MNREGA implementation, ration cards and provision of regular rations as well as allocation of GM land (which is being grabbed by land mafias) to the poor for agriculture and housing.
On 24 September, a Protest March and a day-long dharna at the block headquarters was held by the party in Gandey block of Giridih district, demanding rations, electricity, water and land allocation. A memorandum was submitted to the block and district authorities with these demands, warning of an intensified struggles if the demands were not met in a month's time.
A huge Janakrosh Rally was held in Garhwa district on 24th September. In Garhwa recently, feudal forces destroyed standing crops ready for harvest in Tiwari Marhatia village. Adivasi villagers began a week-long fast demanding punishment for the guilty, registration of ancestral lands to the adivasis as homestead land and protection for their crops. But far from meeting the demands, the administration looked the other way as feudal forces brutally beat up the villagers. Further, BJP Minister Ramchandra Chandravanshi has with administrative support grabbed forest and Raiyati (government) land and showed a Government teaching institute as a 'new hospital' on paper. In the name of a fresh Government 'survey' of land, Chandravanshi has also managed to loot bhoodan, raiyati and gair mazarua government lands that had been allocated to the poor long ago.
The rally also protested against proposed amendments in the CNT-SPT Acts that protect adivasi land; demanded a stop to the digitization of ration distribution and to the policy of creating 'land banks' to facilitate corporate land grab. The rally culminated in a public meeting at the Town Hall grounds, addressed by CPI(ML) MLA Rajkumar Yadav, CPI(ML) State Secretary Janardan Prasad, and others.
Adhikar Rally on Comrade Ibnul Hasan Basru's Memorial Day
The 7th Memorial Day of Comrade Ibnul Hasan Basru was commemorated in Jamua, Giridih of Jharkhand as Pledge Day in the form of a massive rally to assert the basic rights of people and to remember the struggles for which comrade Basru is still fondly remembered by the common masses in that region. Thousands of people rallied with the slogan 'Loot-Daman ka toro jaal, Le kar niklo Jhanda Lal' (To break the shackles of loot and repression, Let's hold high the Red Flag) in the Adhikar Rally and pledged to take forward comrade Basru's unfinished dreams and fight against the attacks on dalits, adivasis and minorities being unleashed by the current BJP government in Jharkhand.
Manoj Bhakta, Politburo member of CPI(ML) recalled numerous struggles of rural poor since 80s which were led by Comrade Basru, whose indomitable spirit and hard work inspired hundreds to join the communist party. Comrade Manoj remembered how Comrade Basru had gradually built up a strong mass movement against feudal forces and how that all culminated into consolidation of a strong left base against reactionary rightist forces led by BJP in the Jamua assembly constituency. Comrade Basru was elected MLA from the same constituency in 1990. Then he was a CPI member who later joined CPI(ML) in 2002.
Comrade Manoj said that the present BJP government is terrified with the growing people's resistance against anti-people policies and called for further intensification of struggles for livelihood and social security. He added that recent incidents of rapes of tribal girls in Jamua and Bengabad areas, like the Gau Rakshak attacks all over the country, are a result of BJP's policies that encourage violence against adivasis, Dalits, minorities and women. He called for a massive movement against the communal and corporate fascist policies of the BJP which will be a true tribute to the comrades like Ibnul Hasan Basru and Mahendra Singh. The meeting was also addressed by Rajesh Yadav, Ashok Paswan, Vijay Pandey, Usman Ansari and many others.
Comrade Sudha Rani Acharjee passed away on the night of 4th October at Silchar Medical College. She joined the Naxalbari movement as a young woman and was a founder of the CPI(ML) in Cachar district. In the 1980s she joined the All India Kisan Sabha and CPIM.
Comrade Sudha Rani was a dynamic and dedicated leader of people's movements and will be remembered with respect by Left movements.
Red Salute to Comrade Sudha Rani !