A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 19, No. 42, 11 – 17 OCTOBER 2016
Resist the Climate of War-Mongering and Hate
The escalating climate of war-mongering and hate in the wake of the Uri attack and the retaliatory strike announced by the Indian Government is a matter of great concern that is fuelling campaigns of communal hate and censorship in India.
The media is bending over backwards when asked to kneel by the Government. There are shameful instances of self-censorship by the media, where criticism of the Government’s lack of transparency when it comes to the surgical strike as well as its blatant attempts to draw political mileage from the strike is being censored by media houses in the name of ‘national interest.’
Amplifying the muscle-flexing by the Modi Government, influential sections of the corporate media is playing dangerous war games, calling upon Indians to boycott of Pakistani cultural artists who fail to publicly condemn their Government. The irony is that Indian cultural figures who have in the past couple of years spoken out against the Indian Government’s intolerance – and those who have spoken up courageously against war-mongering - have been attacked as ‘anti-national’ by the ruling party and Sangh Parivar! Celebrated director MS Sathyu (whose classic Garam Hawa is one of the most powerful films on the Partition) was attacked in Indore recently by an RSS outfit for opposing the call to boycott Pakistani artists and calling for peace between Pakistan and India. It is the height of hypocrisy when Pakistani artists are told they will be boycotted unless they distance themselves from their Government but dissent by Indian artists is branded as ‘anti national’! Bullying Pakistani and Indian artists is not ‘patriotism’ - it is jingoism. In every country in the world, the most courageous citizens have been those who have taken stands for peace in a climate of war-mongering.
The NDA Government is refusing to take any responsibility for its failure to secure its own military bases at Pathankot and Uri. Meanwhile the BJP’s Rajasthan Chief Minister herself organized and attended a ‘Rashtra Raksha Yagna’ – a Brahminical Hindu religious ‘Ritual for National Security’ at the Indo-Pakistan border, conducted by ’21 Brahmins!’ Such a ceremony, while making a mockery of India’s claims to modernity and development, is calculated to propagate the notion of India as a ‘Hindu Nation’ with Brahminical values.
The Government-sponsored jingoism is primarily for domestic political consumption – and the dangerous effects of the prevailing climate of jingoism are already showing. It is Indian Muslims who are the target of anti-Pakistan hate campaigns. Even as calls to boycott Pakistani artists gain ground, one of India’s finest actors, Nawazuddin Siddiqui was prevented by Hindu right wing groups from playing a role in the ‘Ramlila’ (enactment of the Ramayana) performance at Muzaffarnagar. It is significant that the Prime Minister himself has hinted that ‘Vijayadashami’ celebrations this year are ‘special’ – thus using the image of the Hindu festival celebrating the mythical victory of Rama over Ravana, to symbolise the ‘victory’ of India over Pakistan.
An even more chilling instance of the increasing bid of the Sangh Parivar to project India as a ‘Hindu nation’ with Muslims projected as the enemy, took place in Dadri recently. One of the men accused of lynching a Muslim man Akhlaque to death, died in judicial custody while awaiting trial. At his funeral, his body was draped in India’s national flag, as is the custom for the bodies of Indian soldiers, and political leaders gave speeches abusing and threatening Muslims. Clearly, the communal fascist forces are trying to project lynching Muslims as an act of ‘patriotism.’ Even as India’s ruling party draws political mileage from the death of soldiers, it has raised no objection to the use of the national flag to drape the body of a man accused of lynching to death the father of an Indian soldier.
It is unfortunate that the Opposition too is indulging in competitive war-mongering. The Congress is responding to the Modi Government’s claims of surgical strike by pointing out that similar strikes took place during the UPA regime too. A newspaper revealed documents proving that Indian troops carried out a cross-border ‘retaliatory’ strike in 2011 following a raid by Pakistani military. It emerges that in those raids and retaliations, the Geneva Convention and international norms of military engagement were thrown to the winds. Heads of Pakistani and Indian soldiers were chopped off and carried away as ‘trophies’ and later destroyed on orders of top military officials to conceal evidence of these war crimes. It is time for Indian and Pakistani citizens to declare that such atrocities and war crimes cannot be a source of ‘national pride’ for the people of either country. Lasting peace and an end to terror, war-mongering and hatred in the South Asian neighbourhood would be a worthy source of pride.
There is anger in Punjab’s border villages against the irresponsible war-mongering by Indian politicians and media. 15 lakh people of border villages were evacuated in the name of a war-threat. But it emerged later that the Border Security Force had not ordered the evacuation – rather the evacuation ordered by the Akali-BJP Government or India’s Home Ministry appeared motivated by political rather than security considerations. Faced with anger by farmers whose crops were endangered by the evacuation, the Government was forced to reverse the decision to evacuate.
The BJP is already displaying advertisements in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh boasting of the ‘surgical strike.’ The BJP must not be allowed to hide the failures of the Modi Government behind a smokescreen of war-mongering. The Modi Government has failed spectacularly to deliver on its promises to curb price rise, generate employment, make farmers prosperous and secure, or secure military bases. Instead it stands implicated of condoning crimes against minorities and Dalits in the name of protecting cows. Moreover, the Modi Government that is playing politics over soldiers’ deaths, has shamelessly failed to meet the soldiers’ demands for just disability pensions – including equity between jawans and officers and increased coverage when it comes to disability pensions. Instead there are reports that the Government actually slashed disability pensions for soldiers, days after the surgical strike.
Indian people who value democracy must counter state- and media-fuelled jingoism, promote peace and diplomatic dialogue to resolve issues between Pakistan and India and resolutely resist attempts to cloak communal hate-mongering in ‘patriotic’ robes.
Reject Roopanwal Commission Report on Rohith Vemula Institutional Murder
The one-man Roopanwal Commission set up by the former HRD Minister Smriti Irani to enquire into Rohith Vemula’s death has covered up the role of the Hyderabad Central University authorities and Central Government Ministers in victimising Rohith for his political activism. Instead it has chosen to echo the RSS and BJP propaganda, accusing Rohith and his mother Radhika of faking their Dalit status.
The HRD Ministry and Central Government must reject the Roopanwal Report that adds insult to Radhika Vemula’s pain while mocking her quest for justice. The struggle for Justice for Rohith will continue with greater determination, undeterred by smear campaigns for which the Roopanwal Report provides fodder.
National Conference of All India Construction Workers' Federation
The 3rd national conference of AICWF concluded in Ranchi on 29-30 September with a call of struggle for 'Higher Wages and Regular Work.’ The conference venue was named after recently departed leader Comrade Swapan Mukherjee who played a prominent role in the formation of AICWF. The conference began with a massive Workers' Rights Rally and March through prominent parts of the city. Many local construction workers standing on labour chowks spontaneously joined this march.
The rally was addressed by CPI(ML) MLA in Jharkhand Rajkumar Yadav who called upon this contingent of urban workers to strengthen their organisation and to forge a broader unity of urban and rural workers to oust the pro-corporate governments which have launched an all out attack on basic rights of working class. He said that the Modi and Raghuvar Das governments in centre and state are looting the natural resources and human labour for big companies and basic minimum rights of common people are now very much endangered. A bigger, stronger and broader movement against corporate communal fascist regime is the need of the moment. He called upon the AICWF delegates to continue and intensify the fighting spirit which was manifested during the all India General Strike of 2 September recently and force the government to withdraw anti-labour reforms and legislations which are in the offing.
Subhendu Sen, Jharkhand state General Secretary of AICCTU, expressed concern for expanding and strengthening the Construction workers' Federation in view of major onslaught on basic livelihood rights of this highly vulnerable but one of the biggest sections of workers and called for not remaining limited to, and dependent on, construction workers' welfare boards for every solution. He said that even the present scenario of employment, which is generally 15 days a month only without any labour law benefit, is further going to deteriorate with the coming of big corporate capital in the form of placement agencies. Only a bigger and widespread organisation can sustain any further attacks on labour rights, otherwise there is an imminent danger that even statutory welfare boards in states may go under the control of big companies of this sector.
Comrade SK Sharma presented a work report before the conference. Major issues which were discussed among more than 200 delegates, men and women- mainly masons and navvies, and mining and brick-kiln workers, were non-implementation of Construction Workers' Act 1996 in almost every state in its full spirit, more than 60% construction workers all over the country still are completely out of the ambit of this Act, misuse of Welfare Board Cess and deprivation of deserving construction workers from the benefits of this fund (which now amounts to more than Rs. 40,000 crores in all the states), dangerous work conditions without any safety measures, non-registration of construction workers in these welfare boards, and prevailing castiest and communal atmosphere which is adding manifold deprivations to the workers who are already devoid of any kind of social security.
The Open Session of the conference was also addressed by the General Secretary of All India Municipal Workers Federation Shyamlal Prasad, leader of All India Contract and non-Regular Workers Federation Rambali Prasad, Executive President of Coal Mines Workers Union Baijnath Mistry, Centre of Steel Workers' leader JN Singh, Jharkhand State Employees' Federation's Sushila Tigga, Jharkhand Mid-day meal workers' leader Ajit Prajapati and CITU's Jharkhand General Secretary Prakash Viplab.
The conference, attended by representatives from 16 states, concluded with the election of a 47-member National Executive with a 15-members office bearers team. Comrade Balasubramanian from Pondicherry was elected as National President and Comrade SK Sharma from Bihar as General Secretary. The conference gave a call of struggle for equal benefit in all states, guarantee of registration of every construction worker in the welfare boards in states, and common rules and regulations in all states. The conference also resolved for strengthening organisational structures at local, district and state levels.
Besides a demand charter for construction workers, the conference also passed resolutions condemning repression of Aanganwadi workers in Lucknow terming it a direct attack on workers' democracy and demanding action against guilty police officers, another resolution was passed condemning military repression of Kashmiri people in the name of terrorism and jingoist maneuverings and fake nationalism of Modi government.
The conference chalked out a programme and a detailed plan of action and propaganda for local, district and state levels to be culminated in a national level mobilization which will be held during budget session of Parliament in February 2017 in the national capital.
Comrade Janardan Harijan
Comrade Janardan Harijan, State Committee member of CPI(ML)’s Jharkhand Committee, passed away on 8 October. He was 54. He had recently begun working in the Panch Pargana area, determined to expand the party’s presence there.
Comrade JD was born in a coal workers’ family, and when offered a job in BCCL, he passed it on to his brother instead.
Comrade JD had a special bond with forests, mountains, rivers and nature. He played the mouth organ and the flute, and singing songs he himself had composed. At the recently concluded All India Construction Workers’ Federation conference, he had performed a song. One of his favourite songs was about the hills and nature of Jharkhand’s Rajmahal.
Comrade JD had been a CPI(ML) activist since the 1970s. He organized students in and around Sindri. As a party wholetimer since 1980, he worked in the Dhanbad, Bokaro and Ranchi districts, and also for a while in Giridih and Gandey. He contested as an IPF candidate in Bihar’s Aurangabad district, and had also contested elections from Sindri and Chandankyari. He was a leader of anti-feudal struggles in Parasbaniya and also a leader of Sindri’s Dalit workers. He organized against the Congress-sponsored anti-Sikh communal violence in 1984.
Comrade Janardan Harijan is deeply missed and remembered with great affection by his comrades.
Red Salute to Comrade Janardan Harijan!
Raghubar Must Resign For Badkagaon and Gola Massacres!
CPI(ML) teams visited Badkagaon several times since the massacre and have exposed the facts. Agitations are ongoing, demanding justice and accountability from the State Government that is grabbing land from the poor at gunpoint.
On October 1, the 16th day of the ‘Kafan Satyagraha’ (Shroud Satyagraha) by farmers, the police attacked sleeping protesters including women and children at the dharna site at 3 am. The protesters fled in panic, with the police firing in the air and brutally lathi charging the protesters, who fled towards nearby villages of Chirudih, Dandikala, Churchu, Sanbarsha, and Kanki Dandikala. The police entered the villages, continuing to spread terror, breaking down doors and entering homes to beat up people and uttering abusive threats. In the face of this terror, some of the villagers and protesters defended themselves with sticks and stones. At dawn, the police sought to preempt the likelihood of a massive protest, by firing randomly on the people at the CO’s order. Three teenage schoolboys and a tailor were killed in the firing. There are rumours of more deaths but only four bodies could be found. 72 are injured, many severely.
There has been a movement since 2004 in Badkagaon and Hazaribagh district against land grab for the NTPC project. The project involves forcible acquisition of 767 acres of raiyyati land and 30.12 acres of government gair mazarua land. The land has been given to NTPC for a 30 year lease for Rs 70000 per month. The 767 acres of raiyyati land is multi-crop land, which is extremely fertile and supports at least three crops every year. This land is being forcibly acquired, without any consideration for taking consent from farmers, nor for due compensation, or for provision of alternate land or livelihood. Farmers are demanding that forced land grab be stopped – no acquisition without consent; and even where land acquisition takes place, it must be according to the 2012 law.
The Badkagaon and Gola firings are not random excesses by the police. They are part of a concerted plan by the Raghubar and Modi Governments to unleash intensified repression on people’s movements and dilute laws to appease corporations. The movement against land grab in Godda for an Adani power house is growing, and the Badkagaon and Gola firings are intended to have a chilling effect on the movement in Godda and elsewhere in Jharkhand.
In the past months the Raghubar Government has sought to evict thousands of adivasis, dalits and poor people of Jharkhand from Government gair mazurua lands. The Government attempted to impose a new domicile policy, that would dilute the rights of Jharkhandis to land and livelihood. The Raghubar Government has also attempted to pass ordinances to subvert Jharkhand’s tenancy Acts – the Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act, 1908 and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act, 1949. The ordinances proposed to allow diversion of urban and rural lands of ST/SCs and OBCs for commercial use by corporates, real estate brokers and so on. Shamefully, the CM Raghubar Das tried to use communalism to tarnish the protests against this brazen dilution of Jharkhandi people’s rights – he recently declared that protests against the ordinances amending CNT and SPT Acts were sponsored by Christians!
The PMO has also given orders that the civil administration must follow para military orders in Pakri Barwadih (Badkagaon) – a violation of civil liberties and imposition of undeclared Emergency to suppress protests.
In protest against the Badkagaon firing, the CPI(ML) held a protest march and burnt the CM’s effigy on 2 October in Ranchi. On October 3, protests were held in all districts in the State. On the same day, CCM Shubhendu Sen, CPI(ML) MLA Rajkumar Yadav, Dayamani Barla, Xavier Kujur, Pacchu Rana, Baijnath Mistri and others took a fact finding team to Badkagaon and met the victims’ families and injured persons. The CPI(ML) team was joined by CPI and CPI(M) teams that held a press conference jointly after the visit. At the Press Conference, a call was given for Justice Marches to be held all over the State on 5 October against the massacre, with the slogan ‘Give Us Justice Or Give Us Jail,’ and ‘Raghubar Das Must Resign.’
Meanwhile the police and para military continued to unleash terror on villages and violently evict villagers, preventing journalists from covering the violence. Defying the imposition of a ‘ban’ on visits, a CPI(ML) team comprising Shubhendu Sen, Javed Islam and Xavier Kujur once more visited the area along with teams of other Left and Opposition parties. They were prevented from visiting the affected area but sat on a dharna at the spot where they were stopped.
On 5 October, spirited protests were held at district headquarters all over the state demanding resignation of Raghubar Das and warning ‘Appeasement of Corporates and Betrayal of Jharkhandis Won’t Be Allowed!’ On 17 October, Left parties and Opposition parties have planned a Badkagaon March and Sankalp Sabha (Pledge Taking Public Meeting.)
Jharkhand Jan Sanskriti Manch (JSM) held a protest programme on 5 October at Albert Ekka Chowk asking ‘Whose blood was shed?’ and ‘Why are we getting corpses instead of the promised ‘good days’?’ Filmmaker Shriprakash, Shekhar from Samvad, Prof Mithilesh of Pragatisheel Lekhak Sangh, MZ Khan of Janvadi Lekhak Sangh, Xavier Kujur of Jharkhand JSM, Gautam Singh Munda, Soni Tiriya of women’s cultural team Prerna, young social activist Josephina Panna, RYA’s Jagmohan Mahto, Saba Parveen and Navreen of AISA and many others participated in the event, which was conducted by Anil Anshuman of JSM. Posters with lines of poetry were displayed at the event.
Protest Against Anti-Dalit Atrocity in Kakinada
On October 3, the CPI(ML) Liberation and other Left parties encircled the collectorate at Kakinada in protest against the tonsure of a Dalit youth by a TDP MLA Thota Trimurthulu.