Thursday, February 23, 2012

ML Update 09 / 2012

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 15, No. 09, 21 – 27 FEBRUARY 2012

Punish All Responsible for the West Bengal Government's Patriarchal Offensive on a Rape Complainant

The response of the West Bengal Government to a recent complaint of gang rape in the state capital, is yet another instance that has underlined the deeply patriarchal biases embedded in institutions of power and in the state machinery.

A woman reported that she had been gang-raped at gun-point in a moving car in Kolkata. She further stated that when she sought to file a complaint, she was subjected to humiliation and sexually suggestive remarks at the hands of the police. As this incident came to the light of the public, the West Bengal Police establishment and senior leaders of the Cabinet including even the Chief Minister herself, branded the rape complaint as false.

The Police Commissioner of Kolkata, RK Pachnanda, and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, both said the rape complaint was fabricated and 'staged' to malign the Government. The Chief Minister's media adviser said that the police was looking into the rape complainant's family background, cheating cases against her father, etc. Supposed 'holes' and 'inconsistencies' in the complainant's version were leaked selectively by police to the media. In other words, the complainant herself was treated as though she were a suspect whose innocence was on trial!

Meanwhile, a close aide of the Chief Minister, Minister Madan Mitra, resorted to the age-old patriarchal strategy to discredit rape complainants: insinuating that the complainant was of questionable moral character, since she was separated from her husband and visited nightclubs. Speaking to a TV channel, Mitra said, "Why did a woman with kids at home, who is separated from her husband, go to a nightclub? For all you know, she may still be drinking at a club."

Moral judgements on a woman's personal life, and all sorts of details about her family background, were invoked in order to discredit her complaint of rape – in violation of the well-established principle, oft upheld by the Supreme Court, that irrelevant details about the rape complainant's personal life and 'character' cannot be used to undermine rape complaints.

Eventually, the rape complaint was vindicated, with the Kolkata police arresting three of the accused. The medical evidence clearly showed injuries consistent with the assault described by the complainant. Also, it emerged that so-called 'inconsistencies' and 'falsehoods' in the complainant's statement had a perfectly logical explanation.

The kind of attitudes displayed by the West Bengal police and government are, unfortunately, all too common when it comes to rape complaints, and this is undoubtedly one of the factors contributing to the rise in sexual violence on women. Recently, a DGP of Andhra Pradesh blamed women for 'provoking' rape by wearing fashionable clothes. His remarks were soon echoed by many in responsible positions in other states, too. According to such patriarchal discourse, rape is not rape, when it happens to women who do not conform to prescribed norms of behaviour. And the credibility of any rape complainant can be undermined by questioning her clothes, her behaviour, or her morality. And Governments, realising that rape cases and police insensitivity reflect badly on their regime, are often quick to stoke patriarchal 'doubts' about the rape complainant's character and credibility. Not long ago, Bihar's Deputy Chief Minister, eager to cover up allegations of rape against an MLA of his party, questioned Rupam Pathak's character on TV channels. The Delhi Police chief, responding to charges of police insensitivity in cases relating to violence against women, said that women who ventured out without a (male) guardian at 2 am, have only themselves to blame for rape.

In West Bengal itself, the statements made by Mamata Banerjee and Madan Mitra echo the remarks made by their predecessors in similar circumstances. Responding to the mass rape at Birati in 1990, a leader of the ruling CPIM's women's organisation had referred to the questionable moral antecedents of the victims. In the Dhantala mass rape case of 2003, the West Bengal Women's Commission had dismissed the rape charges as 'concocted lies.' In another instance of rape of a woman CPI(M) supporter in Cooch Behar in 2003, allegedly by CPIM activists, the then State Secretary of the CPIM had deemed the charge to be 'concocted', and had questioned the 'character and lifestyle' of the complainant. In the case of the rape and murder of Tapasi Malik in Singur, too, senior CPIM leaders had made patriarchal insinuations about Tapasi and her family, in order to defend their own cadre who were accused.

This trend of branding rape complainants as liars by invoking their 'character' is rampant in society. But when those in positions of power and responsibility do so, it is even more serious and condemnable. If such persons go unpunished, it can only encourage this trend, and embolden perpetrators of violence on women.

The West Bengal Chief Minister owes a public apology to the rape complainant, for the shameful way in which the latter was branded a liar by the Government, and by the CM personally. The Chief Minister should also relinquish the Home portfolio that she now holds, as a penalty for the way in which she sought to malign a rape complainant, and bias the police proceedings. For his highly offensive remarks, Madan Mitra must be removed from his position in the Cabinet. The charges of sexual harassment against police personnel must be speedily investigated and sternly punished. The Kolkata Police Commissioner must be dismissed for his irresponsible statements that were a great injustice to the rape complainant. It may be remembered that, following his public pronouncements justifying the honour crimes of industrialist Ashok Todi towards Rizwan-ur Rehman, the then Police Commissioner had to lose his post. This time, too, the current Police    Commissioner must go.

WB: CPI(ML)'s 9th State Conference

The 9th State Conference of West Bengal State Committee was held from 18th to 20th February 2012 at Ashokenagar, 24 North Parganas, in which 349 delegates and 31 observers and guests from all over the State participated. The delegate session was preceded by a lively cultural programme and a discussion on the present situation of West Bengal which was addressed by Nabarun Bhattacharya, eminent poet, and Party's General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya. Comrade Dipankar highlighted the specific features under TMC rule, exposed the opportunism of CPI(M)'s left democratic alternative and clarified CPI(ML)'s position on this question. He emphasised on the need of building a fighting left democratic unity and building new areas of peasant struggle. Before the delegate session, the red flag was hoisted by veteran Party leader Comrade Sankar Mitra. Central Committee members, district secretaries, leaders of different mass organisations offered floral tributes and all the delegates and observers observed a minute's silence in memory of the martyrs.

The delegate session started after Comrade Partho Ghosh, the outgoing State Secretary placed the draft document before the house. Altogether 97 delegates took part in the deliberation and various suggestions enriched the debate discussion. Comrade V Shankar (CCM) from Karnataka was the central observer, and veteran Politburo member Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya also addressed this session. The leader of CPRM- Comrade Taramani Rai and leader of Marxbadi Manch were also present.

This conference was marked by a vibrant presence of the students, fighting peasants, workers, and all the delegates were of the opinion that the situation is impregnated with new possibilities. The conference resolved to take up the challenges to expand and strengthen the Party. The TMC-led Govt is fast losing its credibility and the real character of this Govt is gradually being exposed.

After debate and discussion, the final draft was accepted unanimously and 39-member new State Committee was elected, in which 10 new members were elected. Comrade Partha Ghosh was reelected as the State Secretary.  The conference resolved to protest against the rape incident which took place in the heart of Kolkata and expose the role of the CM who denied this shameful incident on the pretext of a conspiracy against her Govt. The conference also resolved to make success the all India general strike on 28 February all over the state.

Hosiery Workers' Struggle

Hosiery workers of Sobhabazar area in Kolkata are fighting back a decades old system of inadequate overtime wages and lack of basic workplace amenities. According to existing labour laws they should be getting 8 hours' equivalent of wages for 4 hours overtime. But whereas they are bound to work overtime almost everyday, they get a pittance overtime wage of Rs. 45/day (their minimum wage stands at Rs 164/day).

CPI(ML) Liberation's AICCTU-led Kolkata Hosiery Workers' Union has waged a struggle demanding (1) proper overtime wages and (2) revision of minimum wages, which have remained stagnant for the last 13 years. Hosiery workers of this region have to work amidst extra-economic coercion. They don't have ID cards, they lack proper sanitation facilities and they don't even have an attendance registrar. 3rd January 2012 onwards, they have started the movement, skipping overtime work. On 17th January, 3rd February and 7th February, they took out massive processions reiterating their demands. On 19th January and 8th February, workers participated in a huge mass meeting where representatives from workers and All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) voiced the workers' demands. Throughout this period the workers repeatedly attempted to have a dialogue with the factory owners' association which the latter bluntly refused.

The movement was peaceful and democratic from start till 9th February. But on the night of 9th February, factory owners sent in TMC goons to break the resolve of the workers. Workers retaliated with a massive industrial strike on the next day. They gheraoed Shyampukur and Jorabagan Police stations demanding immediate intervention by law enforcement agencies.

They rallied through the entire area, where some of the workers were beaten up. But the resolve of the workers stands undaunted and they are certain about their victory. Student activists from All India Students' Association (AISA) also joined the rallies in solidarity with the workers.

Panchayat Polls in Odisha

In the recent panchayat elections in Odisha, corporate houses, which are plundering the state's precious resources with the collusion of the Government, came to bail out the Naveen Patnaik Government, which was facing problems in the wake of outcry against corporate plunder and atrocities, of which the Pipili gang rape was the most recent instance. To top it all, the liquor tragedy, with its death toll reaching 38 till date, too took place. However, Naveen Patnaik's face-saving measures, combined with the money power backing of corporate houses, aided by the lack of credibility of Congress and BJP, managed to secure a majority of the zila parishad seats.

Though CPI(ML) Liberation could not retain three zila parishad seats, we won seven sarpanch seats, three samiti member seats, and more than 100 ward member seats in Raigada, Koraput, Puri, Kendujhar, and Kendrapada.

Reports from Madhya Pradesh

Bhind: A public meeting was held on 17th February in Bhind town centring on women's oppression, State Govt's (led by BJP) corruption and the upcoming countrywide trade unions' strike on 28th February. The 28th February strike was the main issue discussed. The meeting decided to consistently against corruption in the State and a planned propaganda campaign was decided for the 28th February strike. The organisers of the meeting were CPI(ML), AISA, AICCTU and AIPWA. The speakers at the meeting were Comrades Prabhat Kumar (Party's Central Committee member), veteran communist and Party leader Devendra Singh Chauhan and AIPWA's National Secretary Suraj Rekha Tripathi.

Gwalior: Conference of municipality employees' welfare front was held on 18th February at Bara in Gwalior that was also attended by CPI(ML) Central Committee member Comrade Prabhat Kumar besides trade union leader Comrade Ashok Khan and Comrade Haji Usman. The Conference also elected new office bearers and gave a call for making the 28th February strike successful. The Conference discussed more on the issues of sanitation workers. The workers in the conference have decided to campaign till 27th for the strike on the 28th and that they will hold a dharna at Bara on 28th wearing black badges. More than 70 delegates participated in the conference.

Make the Call by Central Trade Unions for Nationwide General Strike on 28 February

a Grand Success

Strengthen the Struggle against Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation

Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)

All India Central Council of Trade Unions



Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail:, website:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

ML Update 08 / 2012

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  15        No. 08                                                                14 - 20 FEB 2012


Karnataka's Porn Scandal:

Shame on BJP's Hypocrisy and Insult to Women 


The recent 'porngate' scandal in Karnataka, in which three BJP Ministers were caught by a TV channel, viewing a porn clip inside the Assembly, has exposed the BJP's bankruptcy and moral double standards thoroughly. The Ministers in question have had to resign, but such damage control measures are far from adequate.

The BJP and its sister organizations in the Sangh brigade are notorious for imposing 'dress codes' on women, and assaulting women who defy these codes. In BJP-ruled Karnataka, the Government has defended and protected saffron goons who have attacked women for visiting pubs, or sitting in public with male friends. Around this time every year, there are reports of Sangh goons attacking couples who celebrate Valentine's Day. Now, the world has seen how these self-proclaimed custodians of morality and self-appointed 'protectors of Indian womanhood,' while away their time inside the Assembly, watching clips of sexual violence on women.

One of the ex-Ministers caught in the act, has claimed that, in the context of a debate in the Assembly over a controversial party, they were watching a video of such a party held in a foreign country, in which a woman is gang-raped by the men she was dancing with. In other words, the clip being watched was not just a sex video, it was a video of a gang-rape! The BJP MLA's bizarre 'defence' only underlines how much of pornography involves content that is violent and exploitative towards women. Newspapers have reported that this clip of sexual violence was shared and watched by several more BJP MLAs, before the TV cameras caught two of them on camera.

One of the MLAs caught viewing the clip, was the Women and Child Development Minister CC Patil, who, just a few weeks ago, said that women 'invited' rape by dressing indecently. A Minister holding the portfolio for women's welfare, spends his time in the Assembly watching a gang-rape video with his male colleagues – and then brazenly justifies rape by blaming it on women's 'indecency'! There could be no better proof for the fact that those who seek to police women's dress and conduct have much in common with those who perpetrate sexual violence on women.

Although the BJP, in a hasty damage control exercise, has had to get the three Ministers to resign, the MLAs and the party too remain unrepentant. The BJP has refused to expel the MLAs. The Goa Chief Minister from the BJP has said that the MLAs were 'only watching' and not 'doing anything.' The Jharkhand Assembly Speaker, also from the BJP, has said there is nothing wrong in watching videos in Assembly, and he would have taken no action on such MLAs if the incident had taken place in his Assembly! 

The contrast between BJP's moral sermonising and moral policing of women, and the conduct of its elected representatives in Assembly, is especially glaring. But violence and exploitation of women by elected representatives is common in other parties too. Former Uttarakhand CM from Congress, ND Tiwari, is accused of granting licenses for petrol pumps etc in exchange for sexual favours. In Rajasthan, Congress Minister Mahipal Maderna and MLA Malkhan Singh, are implicated in the murder of a dalit nurse, Bhanwari Devi, with whom they had sexual relations, in exchange for waiving her transfer to a remote area. A series of MLAs of the ruling BSP in Uttar Pradesh are implicated in rape, kidnapping, and murder of women. Former BJP MLA from Purnea Raj Kishore Kesri was implicated in the long-term rape and harassment of Rupam Pathak in Bihar. Between 2007 and 2010, several other BJP MLAs in Karnataka, too, have been implicated in violence towards women, including rape, blackmail, and murder.   

The resignation from Ministerial posts is far from enough. The Assembly membership of all the BJP MLAs who shared and viewed the gang-rape video inside the Karnataka Assembly must be terminated. They have violated every norm of public conduct and women's rights and dignity, and no longer have any right to call themselves people's representatives.       


Congress' Crocodile Tears for Fake Encounters

Yet again, Congress leaders are attempting to exploit public anger against fake encounters of minorities for votes – while their Government continues to defend the same fake encounters. After Digvijay Singh, it was Salman Khursheed's turn. Addressing an election meeting at Azamgarh, Khursheed claimed that Sonia Gandhi broke down and shed tears when shown photographs of the Batla House killings, and asked him to take up the matter with the Prime Minister.

NHRC norms require that every 'encounter' be treated as a murder unless proved by a judicial probe to have been in self-defence. Yet, in spite of a host of unanswered questions regarding the Batla House killings, no probe was allowed. The very agencies that carried out the 'encounter', have given themselves a clean chit, and the Home Minister in Congress' Central Government repeatedly assures that the 'encounter' was 'genuine.'

Why, in spite of Sonia's tears, did the Home Ministry and UPA Government refuse to allow any impartial probe into the Batla House 'encounter'? Khursheed explained to his Azamgarh audience that though the Congress sincerely wished to probe the killings, they dropped their plans to do so, fearing an impact on the 2009 parliamentary elections! In other words, Khursheed is saying that for the Congress, justice for victims of fake encounters can be, and in fact was, sacrificed for fear of jeopardising electoral prospects!     

The minority youth of Azamgarh have borne the brunt of the worst witch-hunt and communal profiling in the wake of the Batla House killings. Azamgarh has been branded 'atankgarh' (bastion of terror), and Muslim youth from the area have found their safety, dignity, and job prospects badly affected by state-sponsored prejudice. When the very same Congress whose Government has prevented any probe that might establish inconvenient truths about Batla House, and whose investigative agencies are spearheading the witch-hunt of Muslim youth in a host of cases, claims to shed tears for the Batla House victims on the eve of elections, it adds insult to injury.


AIPWA 6th National Conference Held at Vijaywada

The 6th National Conference of All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) took place on 8-9 February at Vijaywada. The entire city was decorated with colourful posters and flags. The women, from around 20 states, marched in a spirited rally from the railway station to Thomalapalli Kalakshetram (renamed Panchadi Nirmala Hall, while Vijaywada was renamed Snehalata Nagar after the martyrs of the Srikakulam movement). Throughout the rally, women raised slogans in Tamil, Hindi, Kannada, Bengali, Assamese, Nepali, Hindi, Telugu and other languages, demanding women's rights and equality. Cultural teams of the Andhra Pradesh Jansanskritika Mandali and of women of the Lambada tribe of Andhra Pradesh, danced in front of the procession, and were spontaneously joined by many women comrades from various states.  


Inaugural Session

On reaching the Thomalapalli Kalakshetram, veteran AIPWA leader Comrade Meera hoisted the AIPWA flag, and AIPWA's National and State-level leaders paid floral tribute to the martyrs' memorial, after which a minute's silence for the martyrs was observed.

The inaugural session began with a revolutionary song performed by the Andhra Pradesh Jansanskritika Mandali. AIPWA leaders and guests were seated on the dais – including AIPWA President Srilata Swaminathan, General Secretary Meena Tiwari, Sanjila Ghising, General Secretary of the Democratic Revolutionary Women's Front (DRWF) of Darjeeling, Durga Bhawani, State Vice President of NFIW, Challapalli Vijaya, State President of the Stree Vimukti Sangathan, AIPWA Vice Presidents Saroj Chaubey and Pratima Engheepi, National Secretaries Nagmani, Chaitali Sen, Shashi Yadav, Sunita, and AIPWA leaders from all states.

The Conference was inaugurated by AIPWA National President Srilata Swaminathan. In her inaugural address, Comrade Srilata said that governments and the powerful sections of society are only giving women discrimination, violence, and insults. But women are determined to resist all this, and will fight and win jobs, freedom, and dignity. She spoke of the many forms of discrimination and violence being faced by women in India, and of AIPWA's struggles against the same.

Addressing the gathered women, Comrade Nagamani, State Secretary of AIPWA in Andhra Pradesh, spoke of women's struggles against exploitative MFIs, against rapes and acid attacks in the state. She said women from all over the country had rejected and protested the shameful statement by Andhra Pradesh DGP Dinesh Reddy, that women 'invited' rape by 'provocative' clothes.

Comrade Durga Bhawani, State Vice President of NFIW, and Challapalli Vijaya, State President of the Stree Vimukti Sangathan addressed the inaugural session, expressing good wishes for the Conference, and calling for united struggles by women and women's groups against the many challenges faced by the women's movement.

Comrade Sanjila Ghising of the DRWF spoke of the dual struggle of the women from Darjeeling: for their national identity, as well as for women's rights. After her speech, comrades of the DRWF felicitated all the AIPWA leaders and guests by draping scarves representing the Gorkha cultural tradition.

Comrade Meena Tiwari, National General Secretary of AIPWA, gave the concluding address at the Inaugural session. She said that the women marching on Vijaywada's streets, were raising slogans in different languages – but their spirit was the same: they were determined to resist oppression and win women's rights. She said that the Prime Minister and President had recently said that India's scores on sex ratio, maternal mortality, and other social indicators of women's well-being are a 'national shame.' But, she said, these leaders had no right to call the situation of women a national shame, because their own policies are responsible above all for this shameful state of affairs.

Not only the market, but even the Government, she said, were treating women like cheap labour and objects of exploitation. Not only is their labour inside the home unpaid, even their work outside in Government schemes, remains shamefully underpaid. She said, "History is witness that whatever rights women have achieved have only been through women's own struggles. We'll carry forward that legacy, and fight and win jobs, freedom, and dignity for women."

The Inaugural session was conducted by AIPWA National Secretary Kavita Krishnan.


Delegate Session

The delegate session of the 6th National Conference continued in the evening of 8 February as well as on 9th February. 425 women delegates from 17 states discussed their experiences of struggles, and to plan how to confront the challenges facing the women's movement today. A presidium comprising Comrades Saroj Chaubey, Gauri De, Gunni Oran, Bhadrawati, Jasbir Kaur, Mona Lisa Tissopi, Thenmozhi, Gandhimati, T Aruna and Kavita Krishnan conducted the Conference.

Solidarity Messages from the South Asia Solidarity Group (London) and Working Women Alliance of Bangladesh (Bangladesh Sramajibi Nari Moitree) were read out at the Conference.

Women workers in ASHA, anganwadi, and mid-day meal schemes in Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Assam and other states shared their experiences of how they work in crucial health and education schemes of the central government, yet they are paid only a pittance of honorarium and no regular salary, with no job security. It was decided that AIPWA would intensify its efforts to organise these lakhs of women workers to secure their rightful place as government employees.

Women delegates discussed their experiences of struggles against many instances of atrocities against women by police officers and powerful people, including MLAs. They noted that in many cases of rape and harassment, we saw that the perpetrators get open protection of police stations and MLAs. It is difficult even to lodge an FIR, and even if one succeeds in lodging an FIR, the accused are not arrested.

Women from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Punjab discussed the phenomenon of 'honour' killings. In these states, 'khap panchayats' have harassed and even killed couples who marry by choice, breaking caste traditions. Women from other states said that in fact, this phenomenon is spreading across the country. If women marry by choice, they are either forced to marry someone else, or killed. The Conference stressed that is needed to resist such assaults on women's right to decide about their own life.

Women discussed the struggles of women who are members of SHGs and exploited by Micro finance institutions. They demanded a ban on MFIs and easy government bank loans for women.

The Conference stressed the need to struggle for women's right to dignified and secure jobs, which are crucial for women's self-reliance. The Conference also condemned the Law Ministry's proposal to dilute and dowry harassment law (Section 498 A).    

The Conference elected a 95-member National Council, which in turn elected a 31-member National Executive. Comrades Srilata Swaminathan and Meena Tiwari were re-elected National President and Secretary, while Comrades Saroj Chaubey, Tahira Hasan, Kumudini Pati, Rati Rao, Medha Thatte, Mukta Manohar, Bharti S Kumar, Pratima Engheepi, Susheela Tigga, Anju Borkataky, Premlata Pandey and Sudha Choudhury were elected Vice Presidents, and Comrades Sunita, Anjali, Shashi Yadav, Chaitali Sen, R Nagamani, and Kavita Krishnan were elected National Secretaries.

The Conference passed resolutions demanding cancellation of the Assembly membership of the BJP MLAs of Karnataka Assembly who were caught watching a gang-rape video inside the Assembly; demanding that the Andhra Pradesh DGP who blamed women for provoking rape, be made to quit; condemning the Norway government's decision to separate two children of Indian origin from their parents on flimsy grounds; rejecting the Government's food security bill as a farce, and demanding a genuine food security bill that would truly address the widespread malnutrition and hunger, especially of women and children; expressing protest against the gang rape and murderous assault of a dalit girl by goons of the ruling BJD in Odisha, and condemning the Odisha Women's Commission report that denied the gang rape took place; expressing solidarity with the struggle for a separate Gorkhaland and Telangana; and condemning the violence on anti-nuclear protestors including a large number of women at Koodankulam, and demanded scrapping of the Koodankulam project.

Comrade T Aruna delivered a vote of thanks to all those who helped to make the Conference a success. CPI(ML)'s Andhra Pradesh Secretary, Comrade Murthy, expressed good wishes for the AIPWA Conference and confidence that AIPWA would grow stronger in the days to come.

Delegates at the Conference responded to a call for funds for the forthcoming 9th Party Congress of the CPI(ML), and contributed to a collection in the Conference hall itself.

All the volunteers from Andhra Pradesh and other states were warmly felicitated and thanked for their immense efforts in making the Conference a success.   


Cultural Evening

On the evening of 8 February, a cultural evening was organised, in which women from almost all the states participated with great enthusiasm, expressing the progressive and struggling cultural aspect of the women's movement very well. The artists depicted their local struggles through folk dances and songs, as well as in individual compositions and poetry. The music and dance expressed struggles against the corporate plunder of land and resources, repression on people's resistance, women's resistance against inequality and violence, and their struggle for dignity and rights. 

In the morning, Lambada women dressed in their traditional costume, and comrades of the Andhra Pradesh Jan Sanskritika Mandali dressed in red with red flags aloft, had led the Rally, while women from many states spontaneously joined them in dancing.

The cultural evening began with a graceful Bihu dance by Assam AIPWA comrades. Comrade Nagamani of Kakinada along with her team members, presented rousing songs that had the audience clapping to the beat, and also performed a musical play. Tamilnadu's AIPWA comrades presented a song and dance, and Jharkhand's women's cultural team, Prerna, presented a traditional 'jhoomar' dance. Narender Kaur and Kiran of Punjab, Sunetra Sengupta of West Bengal, Kusum Verma of Varanasi recited poetry related to women's lives and struggles. The team of Karbi Anglong women comrades presented progressive and revolutionary Karbi songs. Many women comrades sang individual songs –in Kudukh and Santhali languages, in Tamil, Assamese, Kannada and in many of the languages of Bihar. Comrade Meera Chaturvedi of West Bengal sang several songs in Bhojpuri, Bengali, Nepali, and, when requested by the audience, in Assamese too.

In response to 'Why this Kolaveri,' ('kolaveri' means 'killer rage' in Tamil), Comrade Srilata Swaminathan sang a spirited 'We want Kolaveri,' on the women's movement and AIPWA's struggles. 

The cultural evening was conducted by AIPWA National Executive member Uma Gupta. The number of women participants in the cultural evening kept growing longer, and eventually, the programme had to be regretfully concluded, though the songs and dances continued even at the places where the delegates were staying! What was remarkable was that the participants ranged from 20-year-old Lakhimani from Jharkhand to 70-year-old Lakhrani Kunwar from Bihar.  

An important part of the cultural aspect of the Conference was a painting exhibition on the theme, "Women's oppression, Women's Resistance," by two young artists, Anupam Roy and Bablu Paul, and a poster exhibition by Kusum Verma from Varanasi. The exhibition of posters and paintings began on the first day, and continued till the end of the Conference. The paintings, prepared over a period of two months of painstaking and tireless efforts by the artists, were appreciated by several intellectuals as well as by the delegates from various states.      


Protest March at Garhwa Against State Repression

On 13 February, a massive and spirited protest march took place against the ongoing state repression and witch-hunt of ordinary villagers and CPI(ML) activists in the name of combating Maoists. Defying rain, and heavy intimidatory police deployment, thousands of men and women participated in the march and mass meeting.

Marching with red flags aloft, protestors demanded the release of CPI(ML) comrades Ramdas Minz (elected mukhiya of Badgad village), and Fida Husain, and an end to the harassment and repression of villagers and CPI(ML) activists in Garhwa and the rest of Jharkhand in the name of combating Maoists. Comrades Ramdas Minz and Fida Husain had been arrested in the course of a struggle on a local issue, and were subsequently tortured and booked for collusion in a land mine blast conducted by the Maoists. While both were taken into police custody on 21 January itself, their arrest has been shown on 23 January and they were produced in court on 24 January.

CPI(ML)'s Comrade Sita Paswan's family has not yet been provided with the seizure list of items confiscated during the police raid, though the police has claimed that false currency was found during the raid.

Recently, facts came to light regarding the brutal killing of a deaf and mute cattle herder, Lucas Minz, by CRPF personal in Latehar district of Jharkhand. The incident reportedly took place on January 31, 2012, during the joint operation by the CRPF and District Police, who claimed to be conducting an operation against Maoists. Lucas Minz, who was herding cattle near Koel River, was reportedly shot dead when, being mute, he failed to respond to queries by CRPF and Police Jawans. Having shot him dead, the security forces buried him in the sands. His family hunted in vain for him, and only on 6 February, villagers found the body and identified it. But the police then threatened the villagers and Minz's family with dire consequences, and forced them to bury the body again. Only on February 12, did the family, assisted by CPI(ML)'s Latehar comrades, forced the police to file an FIR against the brutal killing. In another incident on January 1, a driver named Rajendra Yadav was also branded a 'Maoist' and gunned down by police. The CPI(ML)'s protest march on 13 February demanded justice for Lucas Minz and Rajendra Yadav, and severe punishment for their killers.    

Marching at the head of the procession were Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary of CPI(ML), Comrade Janardan, State Secretary of the party in Jharkhand, Rajaram Singh, Central Committee member of CPI(ML), Vinod Singh, CPI(ML) MLA in the Jharkhand Assembly, Sushma Mehta, Zila Parishad Chairperson, Rahina Begum, pramukh of Danda panchayat, Comrades Sogra Bibi, and Kishore Kumar. The mass meeting was presided over by Comrade Kalicharan Mehta. Comrade Ravindra Rai conducted the proceedings. The chief speaker at the meeting was Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, and other speakers included Comrade Vinod Singh, Comrade Rajaram Singh, Comrade Rahina Begum, Comrade Sogra Bibi, Comrade Kanhai Singh of Latehar, and Suneeta Kerketta, wife of Comrade Ramdas Minz.    

Jharkhand CM Arjun Munda had visited Garhwa on February 12 and was in Garhwa till the morning of February 13. The protestors raised spirited slogans against Munda, and demanded that the CM answer for the killing of Lucas Minz and arrests of innocent villagers and CPI(ML) activists.

Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication,
R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22518248, e-mail:, website:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

ML Update 07 / 2012

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 15, No. 07, 07 – 13 FEBRUARY 2012

Malevolent Mamata and the Dance of Death in West Bengal

Safar Molla, an enterprising marginal farmer of Kaltikuri village in Bardhaman district, had lost his father at an early age and had been maintaining the family since then against heavy odds. Thanks to spiralling input prices including irrigation costs, he had to take loans and leave some bills unpaid, expecting a bumper paddy crop that would allow him to pay back. And a bumper harvest it indeed was! But he could not be happy. The market price was clearly lower than his cultivation costs. With no help from the government forthcoming, there was no way he could pay the bills and save his and his family's honour. On 18 November he consumed some of the pesticide he had bought to protect his well-cared crops. He was only 17. Before and after him some 30 peasants, including a few sharecroppers, committed suicide since the middle of October last year under similar circumstances.

Vikram Singh of Kolkata Tramways Corporation was one among the many workers of five public transport corporations in West Bengal who were not receiving their salaries and other dues like retirement benefits for the past four months because the state government suddenly stopped subsidising these units. Surviving on borrowed money, Vikram was perhaps expecting some relief from the new, avowedly pro-peasant government. What he got instead was the transport minister's statement that workers won't be paid unless and until they pull their corporations out of the red and that the workforce will be downsized. Hearing this in a news broadcast, the 28-year-old worker immediately hanged himself, leaving behind his pregnant wife and a girl child.

The tragic stories of Safar, Vikram and others like them typify the plight of peasants and workers in post-"change" Bengal. In the case of starving transport workers, the blatantly irresponsible policy of the state government is directly to blame. As for the distressed peasants who are helpless victims of a deep agrarian crisis generated by successive governments at state and central levels, the TMC-led government has betrayed a total lack of political will to help them out. It has failed to make adequate arrangements for state procurement of paddy at minimum support price, leaving the peasants to the mercy of private rice mill owners and their agents. The latter are forcing the farmers into distress sale of their crop at prices much lower than the MSP, which itself is way below actual production costs. Mamata Banerjee claims she is not in a position to help, because the MSP is determined by the Central Government. But why can't she pressure that government, as she claims to have successfully done in some other cases, to properly determine the MSP? Alternatively, why doesn't she add bonus, as state governments have often done, to the MSP to save the cultivators? She pleads a severe funds crunch, but why doesn't she use the available money on saving human lives rather than on beach festivals, doling out favours to youth clubs and increasing the salaries and daily allowances of ministers and MLAs?

Lacking proper answers to such pertinent questions, Ms Banerjee has fallen back on a shameless denial mode. Instead of taking prompt action to save lives, including the lives of babies who are dying in horrifying numbers in state-run hospitals, she blames the media, the opposition parties and even her coalition partner Congress for blowing things out of proportion. She claims, for example, that barring one incident, the peasants who committed suicides did so for purely personal reasons unrelated to debt burden or non-availability of remunerative prices!

Matching its criminal negligence in protecting human life, the government has stepped up attacks on people's right to protest and get organised. The labour minister has announced that police personnel and government employees would no longer be allowed to form trade unions or hold rallies against the government. Meanwhile, public transport corporations have initiated the process of laying off the so-called irregular/temporary/ contract workers who have been serving their concerns for years on end.

But such attacks have only prompted the workers and employees to close their ranks and fight back. In a momentous move, 'temporary' workers in the Balurghat depot (North Dinajpur district) of North Bengal State Transport Corporation have formed a joint struggle platform comprising CITU-led and INTUC-led unions and struck work with full support of permanent workers, paralysing bus services in large parts of the district. In many places jute, potato and paddy growers have voiced their protest by destroying their crops which cannot be sold even at cost prices.

To be sure, this is only the beginning. The new government is fast exposing itself. The hour has arrived, perhaps sooner than many expected, for genuine left and democratic forces to unite and unfurl the banner of resistance against the autocratic ways of this anti-worker, anti-peasant government.


CPI(ML) Statement on SC Verdict on 2G Scam

New Delhi, 2 February, 2012

The CPI(ML) welcomes the Supreme Court verdict on the 2G scam, in which the Court has ordered cancellation of 122 licenses issued in 2008 and penalized corporations that benefited from corruption.

The verdict is also a decisive blow to the UPA Government which had consistently been denying the 2G scam entirely. In particular, the present Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal had, on record, repeatedly claimed 'zero loss' in the 2G allocations, and had rubbished any demand for cancellation of licenses. The SC verdict has exposed such propaganda by the UPA Government to be deliberately misleading and false attempts to cover up the scam.

The entire UPA Government, including the Prime Minister and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram and the present Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal, are collectively responsible, not only for the massive scam, but for covering up corruption and attempting to protect the corrupt. The CPI(ML) demands that the UPA Government immediately resign.

Central Committee, CPI(ML)


Make the Call by Central Trade Unions for Nationwide General Strike on 28 February a Grand Success

Strengthen the Struggle against Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation

The call for All-India general strike on 28 February 2012 is being received warmly among the working people. AICCTU has organised convention in several states and the efforts are intensifying for campaign and mobilisation at the district and industrial area level for the strike. The fighting potential of the workers against extreme injustice and traitorous UPA-2 and the state governments of different colours is being reflected in militant struggles and angry outbursts here and there. The February 28 strike will be the last warning to the Manmohan Singh Govt against its betrayal of the nation and especially the working class.

The incident at Yanam in Puducherry is on similar pattern to the incidents of Noida, Badanagar (WB), Ghaziabad, Pricol in Coimbatore where intense violations of labour laws and denial of very basic rights of workers coupled with violent aggression on workers using the paid goons and police and administration has resulted in corporate officials also facing the wrath of workers. On 2nd February a successful bandh of Puducherry and road blockades was organised (on the initiative of CPI(ML) and AICCTU) on the call of all Left parties. On 5 February a team of AICCTU was due to visit Yanam.

7th Tamil Nadu State Conference of AICCTU

Resolve to Make the All-India Strike a Grand Success

AICCTU held its 7th state conference at Colochel, Kanyakumari on 28th and 29th January 2012 at Comrade Singaravelar Hall and the Dias was named Comrade Srinivasa Rao.

The Conference began on 28th January with hoisting of the Flag by Comrade Thenmozhi, State Vice President. This was followed by the leaders paying floral tribute at the martyrs' column. Immediately after the open session of the Conference started which was conducted by AICCTU State General Secretary Comrade NK Natarajan. The open session was also addressed by trade union leaders of Left parties and fraternal organisations. Comrade SS Thiagarajan, State General secretary of AITUC in his address, recalled the Pricol incident where false charges were framed against leaders of the union including Comrade S Kumarasamy and AITUC stood with AICCTU in that hour of challenge. Now in Yanam of Puducherry workers' struggle for wage rise in a ceramic factory led by AITUC has met the same fate. Forces that branded AICCTU as terrorist organization, can readily brand AITUC the same after Yanam incident. Comrade Sukumaran, State Secretary of CITU referred to the demand raised by AICCTU for Trade Union Recognition Act in line with West Bengal Amendment, and said CITU will also strive with AICCTU in achieving this demand. State President of AIUTUC, Comrade Anavarathan also spoke. Comrade Rajiv Dimri, National Secretary of AICCTU and Comrade Balasundaram, State Secretary of CPI(ML) were on the dias.

Comrade Balasubramaniam, all-India Secretary of AICCTU, after his brief speech inaugurated the poster exhibition on "History of capitalism and of struggles against it". This colourful exhibition enthused all visitors including leaders, delegates and general workers. Comrade S Kumarasamy, National President of AICCTU delivered the concluding speech of open session. All guests were presented with mementos.

On 28th evening a public meeting was held, where hundreds of workers from different parts and industrial sectors participated. Meeting was presided over by Comrade Antony Muthu. Meeting was also addressed by Mr SP Udhayakumar, Convenor, Peoples' movement against Nuclear Energy which is spearheading anti-nuclear plant movement with the participation of tens of thousands of local people in and around Koodankulam among other leaders of AICCTU. Public meeting was also addressed by Comrade Bharathi, State President of All India Students' Association (AISA), Comrade Janaki Raman, State General Secretary of All India Agricultural Labourers' Association (AIALA) and Comrade Thenmozhi of AIPWA.

On 29th, delegate session began with greetings message from Comrade Bharadwaj, Karnataka State leader of AICCTU who also participated along with com Kalaivanan. Comrade John Kerimeli and Comrade Venugopal of Kerala also attended the two day session. While addressing the delegates Comrade Rajiv Dimri, National Secretary of AICCTU and central observer, congratulated TN comrades not only for wider expansion of AICCTU in various sectors like powerloom, beedi and construction but also for the new initiative taken by TN AICCTU in campaigning for Trade Union Recognition Act, Implementation of Factories act under section 85(1) in powerloom sector, amendments in standing order with regard to apprentices/trainees and also for the implementation of Migrant Labour Act with TN rules.

After passing the draft document unanimously, conference elected 128 state council members that in turn elected 52 executive committee members and 23 office bearers which includes com NK Natarajan, President, Comrade Jawahar, Honorary President and Comrade T Sankarapandian, General secretary. Comrade S Kumarasamy addressed the gathering stressing the importance of mobilizing large number of workers in the February 28 strike. He called for immediate convening of district bodies and make all out effort for resounding success of the strike. At Pricol also there is a stalemate in negotiations and Pricol union has already served a strike notice and it will commence from February 9, 2012. He called upon the delegates and affiliated unions to extend all their support and solidarity for the successful strike of the Pricol workers.

Resolutions passed in the conference: -

1.      When the government is in support of corporate loot and plunder of natural resources, when there is an increased attack on the livelihoods and democratic rights of the workers, when the Supreme Court of India declares the sanctity of private property, the February 28 all India strike is called by Central Trade unions and conference resolves to make the strike a resounding success.

2.      Conference demands from the State Legislature to pass a resolution to permanently closedown Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant.

3.      Conference declares its solidarity with the ongoing strike by thousands of workers in powerloom sector in Kumarapalayam area led by AICCTU demanding 100 percent increase in wages.

4.      It resolved to extend full support and solidarity for hunger fast and subsequent strike called by Pricol union.

5.      Conference strongly condemned the death under police custody of Regency Ceramic factory trade union leader Comrade Murali Mohan at Yanam area of Puducherry, demanding immediate arrest of those responsible for his murder. It also condemned the police firing on agitating workers.

6.      It demanded the state government to roll back the increased prices of milk and bus fare. It also urged the state government to give up the proposed increase in power tariff.

Joint TU State Convention at Bangalore

A joint State Convention of all trade unions was held at Bangalore on 30 January 2012 to highlight the issues of February 28 all-India strike and to mobilize workers and cadres in making the strike successful.

Comrade Shankar, VP of AICCTU paid tributes to the workers murdered at Yenam, Andhra part of Puducherry and called upon workers to make the strike successful. He also said that trade unions have major role in imbibing more militant character to struggles in view of rising onslaught of capital on workers. He also said that outbursts like Noida and Pricol cannot be ruled out if necessary protection is not provided to workers against rampant exploitation by the capital. He called upon workers to rise against UPA government at the centre and the state BJP government for their anti-worker, anti-people, pro-ruling class policies.

All India president of CITU AK Padmanabhan, National Secretary of AITUC Sachdeva, National President of TUCC Shivshankar, AIUTUC leader Radha Krishnan were among other all India leaders that addressed the convention.

Comrade Bharadwaj, State President also addressed the convention while Appanna, State Secretary was part of the joint presidium.

Joint Convention in Rajasthan

The Rajasthan State level joint TU's took a decision to prepare for the all India Strike call for 28th February by holding seminars and other programmes in all the five divisions of Rajasthan. On 30th January the Ajmer division held a meeting under the leadership of AICCTU which was organised by Com Bhavari Devi and at which all major centrally recognised TUs were present.

In Jaipur a Conference was held on 3rd February, at which central leaders of all the main TUs were present. Comrades Gurudas Dasgupta of AITUC and Tapan Sen of CITU along with Dr. Reddy of INTUC and BM Rai of BMS were also present. AICCTU was represented by Comrade Srilata. In her speech she made clear the demands that the TUs had placed before the Finance Minister in January that they wanted addressed in the Union Budget. As she was the only leader present who represented the unorganised sector she primarily laid stress on the demands of that sector such as NREGA being extended to towns and cities, the central fund of 4% for the unorganised sector, 10.000/- minimum wage, stopping the practice of contractorisation etc.

Comrade Anand was the main organiser in Jaipur for the TU conference on behalf of AICCTU. Comrade Mahesh Chaumal, State General Secretary of Rajasthan Construction Workers Union also addressed the gathering and stressed the active participation of AICCTU in the coming national strike programme. Comrade Suresh Lohar was a member of the Presidium at this joint TU Conference

Demonstration by RYA against Kulak-Police High Handedness

In Kattumannarkudi of Cuddalore district a militant demonstration was held by Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) on 25th January against Kulak-Police high handedness. In the back drop of panchayat election results in October, some heated verbal exchanges took place in Rajasoodamani village of Mela Radampur Panchayat between the two contending parties. With the ulterior motive of suppressing one dalit section of the village an AIADMK kulak belonging to Vanniar caste employed the police. The police without any provocation assaulted the youth and women of the village. A police Sub-Inspector also got injured in the protest and reaction that followed the police excesses. The police slapped several false cases against the youths including district committee member of CPI(ML).

Taking advantage of the situation, as the men implicated in false cases were not present in the village, the panchayat President and his men, led by the AIADMK kulak forced the women and children out of the village. Everyday they harassed the women and children in various ways. Police refused even to receive the complaints and acted against the victims only. When CPI(ML) and AIALA leaders on behalf of the victims went to the police station to lodge a complaint they were threatened by the henchmen of the Kulak. Party District Secretary Ammaiyappan was also roughed up inside the police station. Complaints were lodged with DGP and DSP by CPI(ML) State Secretary personally. A team of leaders led by State Secretary prevailed over the Thasildar to take steps to rehabilitate the people back in the village. The peace meeting convened by the Thasildar was also foiled by the AIADMK kulak. Even after the people got bail the panchayat President and their men made every effort to prevent their entry into the village.

Along with State Secretary, Balasundaram, State Committee members Ammaiyappan, Ilangovan, village women, children and the youth got bail. They put pressure on the Tehsildar and DSP to provide protection to the affected people. Protesting the kulak-police high handedness a protest demonstration was held. Around 130 students, youth and women assembled for the militant demonstration. RYA district leaders Rajasankar, Dhanavel, CPI(ML) leaders Ammaiyappan, Ilangovan and Party State Secretary Balasundaram addressed the demonstration. The demonstration also condemned Government's inaction and arbitrariness in the distribution of relief to the Thane victims. In the face of the demonstration the administration was forced to take immediate steps to speed up the relief distribution. This has evoked good response among the rural and urban poor.


Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail:, website:

Thursday, February 2, 2012

ML UPDATE 6 / 2012

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  15            No. 06                                                              31 JAN - 6 FEB 2012


Stop Making Muslim Youth Pawns of the

Cynical Game Between Competing Investigative Agencies


The recent case of Naqee Ahmad from Darbhanga, Bihar, is a reminder of how Muslim youth are becoming pawns in the cynical and cruel game played by competing anti-terror agencies. This young man, till recently an informer helping the Delhi Police Special Cell with their investigations in blast cases, turned overnight into one of the main accused by the Maharashtra ATS in the 13/7 Mumbai blast case.

As facts unravelled, it was revealed that the two investigative agencies had been having a tug-of-war over Naqee for some weeks. A letter by Naqee's uncle revealed that the Maharashtra ATS had confined Naqee's brothers under house arrest in their own factory in Mumbai, on the pretext of 'protection' from the Delhi police!

After the Maharashtra ATS announced that it had 'cracked' the case and arrested Naqee, the Delhi Police Special Cell and Home Ministry floundered for a while. But instead of defending their informer, they chose to 'congratulate' the ATS for solving the case. The Delhi Police and Home Ministry obviously felt that it was better to maintain mutual solidarity and sacrifice the hapless informer rather than risk exposing the tactics of false framing that all investigative agencies, after all, employ!

As the credibility of the anti-terror investigations came under a cloud, the ATS chief hastened to assure that there was no 'rivalry' between the agencies. However, he 'emphatically' stated that competition between investigative agencies was not only natural but in fact desirable – "Tell me which police officer does not want to detect this kind of blast case." Unfortunately, what remains unacknowledged is that in the cynical competition to 'crack' blast cases and win medals, innocent Muslim youth end up being framed. The framing of Naqee came to light because of the tussle between two agencies over him. Now, when the Home Ministry assures better 'cooperation' and 'sharing of information' between agencies in future, does it mean that agencies must take care to frame individuals who are not already ear-marked by other agencies?

In the race for 'gallantry' medals, truth and justice are victims. In 2008, the CBI told a court how the Special Cell of Delhi Police had framed Md. Qamar and Irshad Ali as terrorists, whereas they were proven to be police informers. The officer responsible for the frame-up was a recipient of the President's gallantry award. On Republic Day this year, another police officer, Ankit Garg, responsible for heinous custodial sexual violence on an adivasi woman in Chhattisgarh (a medical examination ordered by the Supreme Court found stones shoved inside her private parts) received a gallantry award. 

Recently, the Supreme Court has ordered a probe into the long series of encounters which took place between 2002 and 2006 in Gujarat. The apex Court observed that whenever a fake encounter is alleged, the Gujarat Government "initially stoutly denies it" but admits it "when the matter is scratched even slightly" and the facts come to light. Surely this is an observation that holds true beyond Gujarat. Virtually every terror case or encounter anywhere in the country, which has actually been subjected to a searching and impartial probe, has proven to be 'fake.'

In fact, the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court and NHRC stipulate that every encounter must be presumed a murder till proven otherwise. Yet, in most cases, there is no probe. In the infamous Batla House case, the Central Government has resolutely resisted any impartial probe. Only when the Congress cynically eyes votes in Azamgarh and UP do its leaders term Batla House to be a fake encounter!  

After Azamgarh, investigative agencies are now painting upper Bihar as the next site for witch-hunt of Muslim youth. Meanwhile, Raj Thackeray and his ilk have found an ideal opportunity to combine their campaign of regional chauvinism with their communal fascism. In the wake of Naqee's arrest, Raj Thackeray declared that migrants were responsible for terror in Mumbai, and ridding the city of migrants was the way to free it of terror attacks.   

It is urgent that we challenge and resist the politics of false framing and fake encounters which are claiming innocent Muslim youth as its fodder. Investigative officers responsible for such frame-ups and fake encounters must be severely punished. Shameful and heinous crimes cannot be covered up with 'gallantry' medals, without an outcry from democratic forces in society.  

Hunger Fast by AIKMS Against Land Grab in TN

A 136 km stretch of the Ulundurpet-Salem 4-laning project under the BOT model, estimated at Rs 941 core, was awarded to Reliance (RIL). For this project, 460 acre land was acquired by the NHAI from 5000 peasants and farmers, at a very meagre compensation. Flouting all norms and rules, the roadways authority, in connivance with the State government officials, and Revenue and Highways departments, grabbed lands worth several hundred crores. People were cheated by undervaluing the land, and getting thumb impressions or signatures on blank forms. Those who bribed the officials with hefty sums were awarded hefty compensations, while those unable to bribe the officials got a raw deal. Those who refused to bribe faced nightmarish experiences. Even after the project stands completed and opened to traffic, poor peasants, hut dwellers and farmers are yet to get the compensation they were promised.

Affected peasants approached our party. On December 14 2011, peasants and farmers attended a meeting convened by AIKMS at Kallakurichi, where it was decided to go for series of struggles. As decided at the meeting, a hunger fast and demonstration, from morning to evening, was held on January 23 in Kallakurchi in front of the Taluk office. Peasants, small shop owners, farmers and other including women participated in the fasting. The demands are: Rs 10 lakh must be given with 3 years interest per cent of land; jobs must be provided for the very poor families; the Government must order an enquiry to investigate the malpractices; and the erring officials must be severely punished. If the demands were not met within 15 days, the protestors would gherao the collector's office.

The hunger fast was led by Comrade Gopalakirshnan, convener of the struggle committee. K Periyasamy, advocate on behalf of the committee, introduced the protest. AIALA National Vice-President Balasundaram, State President TKS Janardhanan, CPIML's Villupuram district secretary Venkatesan, CPIML's Cuddalore district Secretary Ammaiyappan, SCM and Party in-charge for the Salem district Chandramohan, and others addressed the demonstration. Several peasants who were affected by the project narrated their experiences. At the end the leaders submitted a memorandum to the Tahsildar.

Resolutions were passed, condemning the lethargic attitude of the administration in carrying out rehabilitation and reconstruction work affected by the Thane Cyclone. The fast also demanded immediate arrest of the policemen who raped Irula adivasi women near Tirukkovilur.

Rice Mill Workers' Protest in Karatagi, Karnataka

Hundreds of rice mill workers marched on the streets of Karatagi, Koppal district on 18 January, carrying AICCTU flags. They demanded better wages and better service conditions, and enforcement of the Factories Act, including introduction of legally mandatory attendance and wage registers. Interestingly, the Koppal district Rice Mill Owners Association leaders were forced to come to the negotiating table in front of District Commissioner only a week back, and agreed to introduce attendance and wage registers. The state of implementation of legally mandated labour laws is so pathetic that the district administration had to issue an order for the same! An agreement was also signed between AICCTU and Rice Mill Owners Association, for giving minimum wages, PF and other service condition related matters that are legally mandatory.

 The AICCTU unit among the rice mill workers was formed by the latter when owners beat up one of the trade union leaders and then slapped an attempt-to-murder case on workers' leaders in connivance with the local police. The incident was a triggering point, and workers and the union got disillusioned with the owners, and decided to affiliate their union with AICCTU. 

The area has never seen a fighting union for decades. No other established unions could make an entry for this long. We have broken the tradition and have unfurled the red banner in the fortress of rice mill owners.

The rally was flagged off after the inauguration of office in the main Bazaar by Comrade Shankar, Vice President of AICCTU. The rally was led by Com. Virupakshappa, AICCTU taluk president and Com. Bharadwaj, State President. Mallappa Meti, President of the newly affiliated union, presided over the public meeting that followed. Com.Vittappa Gorentli, Syed Ashmuddin, lawyer, Basavaraj Silavendar, district leader of AITUC and Peer Pasha of a magazine, Labour Line, and Basavangouda, NCM of AICCTU addressed the gathering. Com. Shankar called upon workers to fight the brutalities and blatant exploitation of the rice mill owners in the region.

State Party School in Mysore

The state unit of the party organized a first ever 4-day long party school in Karnataka to facilitate the development of new cadres and leaders. The party in Karnataka is yet to come to grips with the art of party building, in spite of relatively better expertise in developing mass struggles and mass organisations. The school was aimed at overcoming this lacuna by developing a fresh batch of leaders equipped with Marxist ideology.

On the first day, Professor Lakshminarayana lucidly explained 'basic Marxism' while Doctor Lakshminarayana, State Convener of IIMS dealt with the subject 'class struggle and the state'. On the second day, Com. Ayyappa Hugar, editor of 'Varga Samara' magazine spoke on 'Mao and his teachings'. The discussion that followed was very lively. Dr. Lakshmi made a 'comparative study of political parties, class base and their politics'. The third day began with discussion, led by Comrade Shankar, on party programme and the strategy of Indian revolution. A panel of teachers, including PA Kumar and AIPWA Vice-President Rati Rao, organized discussion on questions of women, nationality, caste, religion and neo-liberalism. The fourth day was the session on 'Socio-economic, political situation of Karnataka and our strategic perspective'.

Screening of radical films and discussions were organized on all three evenings. Com. Bharadwaj, party state leading team member presided over the 4-day school while Javaraiah, another SLTM, conducted the proceedings. Comrade Venugopalan, the party's Kerala SLTM who joined the school, made the concluding remarks.

Left Parties' Delegation Visits Workers Injured in Police Firing at Yanam

The struggle of workers of the Regency Ceramic Company at Yanam district of Puducherry state highlights yet another instance of the abysmal state of workers' rights and labour laws in the country.

Over a long period of time, the workers have been agitating for proper payment of wages in the company. Among the 1200 workers, only 400 were regularized from the contract. All the other 800 workers were contract employees. Among these 800, many of them were working for more than 5 years and were not regularized. There was united agitation by all the workers for proper payment, for the betterment of working conditions, and for regularization of the relatively senior workers at least. Worst of all, even the permanent employees were not being paid properly and consistently.

There are no labour laws implemented at the work place. The workers were not allowed to form a union to address their issues. Even the registered union was cancelled by the management, which has also used tactics of 'divide and rule' to weaken the workers' struggle. The workers began a strike in protest against the management's attitude. Instead of hearing the workers' grievances, the management has deployed police force to crush the agitation. And the police have obliged with brutal violence against workers. 

The police arrested the workers' leader Murali Mohan. On the way to the police station, he was beaten up so badly in the van that he lost his life. The workers followed the vehicle to the police station, and protested to demand the immediate release of Murali Mohan. The police claimed that Murali Mohan died of a heart attack. Once the workers realised the truth, they began a serious agitation in front of the police station against the custodial killing.

The CI then gave orders for firing, directly, without resorting to lathicharge or teargas to disperse the protestors. 9 workers were hospitalised with bullet injuries from the police firing, and the condition of 5 is still critical.

The angered workers then attacked the Vice Chairman of the company, and he died after being beaten up by them. Factory property and vehicles were also burnt by workers in their fury. 

Our fact finding delegation found that no damage occurred to the machinery. Among the 11 machines, 3 were stopped by the management themselves for repair. The remaining 8 machines were in perfect working condition. The only damage was to the outside property and vehicles. But the management is trying to hike the estimation of damages heavily, using these exaggerated estimates to book cases against the workers.

Major ruling class parties of Puducherry have tried to play down the serious underlying issues of violation of workers' rights and labour laws, and custodial killing.

A joint meeting of 11 Left parties from Andhra Pradesh, held on 28/01/12, held the management responsible for the incident, and demanded a judicial enquiry. A decision was taken by all left parties to send a delegation to Yanam on Sunday (29/01/12).

Comrade Satyanarayana (District secretary of CPI(ML) in East Godavari), Comrade Narasaraju (State committee member), and Comrade Nageswara Rao (state president of AICCTU) represented CPIML (Liberation) in the delegation of Left parties. The delegation attended the cremation of Murali Mohan and met the District Collector to submit their report and demands. 

The demands raised by the delegation include:

1.       25 lacs ex gratia to Murali Mohan's family

2.       Job to his family

3.       5 lacs ex gratia to each of the persons injured and hospitalised

4.       Judicial enquiry into the incident by a judge

5.       Cases must be booked against SI and CI under sections 302 and SC/ST atrocities

6.       The functioning of the factory must be started immediately considering the problems of workers problems.

7.       In case of refusal by management to start the factory, the government must take the responsibility and run the factory, allowing the workers to form unions

8.       The labour laws must be implemented strictly and the workers grievances must be solved.

Domestic Women Workers' Union Conference in Delhi

The Gharelu Mahila Kamgar Union (domestic women workers' union) affiliated to AICCTU held its first conference at Mayur Vihar Extension, Delhi. The Conference began with an introductory speech by Comrade Shyam Kishor, Delhi Secretary of AICCTU, in which he outlined the issues of struggle and said that all over the country, wherever women domestic workers had organised themselves and struggled, they had forced governments and employers to recognise their rights.

Women workers narrated their experiences at the Conference, in which a considerable number of domestic workers had gathered.

Phula Devi said that "we work in the big apartments and homes of the well-off, where we receive neither minimum wages nor respect. We are not even allowed to use the toilet and are sometimes even denied a drink of water."    

Pushpa Devi said, "I'm from Bihar and my husband is no more. As a rule, domestic workers in Delhi are migrants, coming to Delhi in search of work. But we are denied identity cards and ration cards, and struggle to survive. We do all the house work in hundreds of homes – sweeping, mopping, washing vessels and clothes and even shoes, caring for kids and cooking – but we are underpaid and overworked. Even when we are asked to do extra work, we are not paid for it. We must demand that the Government regulate proper hours and terms of our work and ensure minimum wages."

Susheela said, "We women work at 'Ashiana' and other apartment blocks in the area, but we ourselves have no stable homes. Prices, house rent, water and electricity bills keep rising, but our employers see no need to raise our wages. All of us, whether we come from Bihar, Bengal, Odisha or UP, must unite struggle for our rights."

Meena talked of how the women are on the go from 6 am onwards even in cold weather – and even if they are five minutes late they get a scolding. If they take leave for a child's sickness, too, they are in danger of losing their job, and there is always some other woman desperate enough to take the job at a lower wage. Women workers needed to unite to make sure that no one worked for less than an accepted minimum wage.   

Gharelu Mahila Kamgar Union leader Shyamli spoke of the experience of creating the union in NOIDA in the NCR region, and the need to strengthen the AICCTU and CPI(ML). She said, "Women are enslaved – at birth to their father, then to their husband, then in old age to the son – and when we seek to stand on our own feet at the workplace, there too we find ourselves enslaved. We need to say, we'll not tolerate such slavery anymore!"  

Comrades Anjana and Renu also spoke at length about the issues that needed to be raised.

As the concluding speaker, AICCTU State President Gautam spoke of the ILO Convention on Domestic Labour, which obligated countries to protect the rights of domestic labourers, the bulk of whom were migrants and women. He called to draw large numbers of women workers into the union and intensify the struggle to force the Government to pass a law protecting domestic workers' rights.

The Conference was conducted by AIPWA Secretary Kavita Krishnan. At the end, the Conference elected a 15-member committee including Comrades Pushpa Devi as President, Vimla as VP, Anjana as Secretary, and Meena, Meena Devi, Nema, Rohini, Savitri, Sushila, Phula Devi, Renu, Geeta, Premvati, Maya and Meena Ojha as members.

The Conference passed a charter of demands to be presented to the Delhi government, including a law for Domestic Workers, minimum wages, regulated work, hours of work, and mandatory holidays, payment of full salary in case of being sacked, toilet and drinking water facilities at the workplace and social security for domestic workers.

Comrade Sanjay Sharma, Delhi State Secretary of CPI(ML) was also present at the Conference. 

Garhwa Update

Among those CPI(ML) activists of Badgad village arrested on January 21, Budlal Kerketta and Mahfuz Ansari, were missing from custody since January 25. Following intense protests, they have been released on January 29. They had been taken to Chhattisgarh and tortured severely. The others arrested - mukhiya Ramdas Minz and Fida Husain - are said to be in jail, but their families are not being allowed to meet them.  

The security guard of the elected Chairperson of the Zila panchayat is still a hostage of the Maoists. Some efforts at mediation are reportedly underway but there is no headway yet. The wife and mother of the security guard attempted self-immolation outside the thana in Garhwa on January 28, accusing the police of inaction.

The police are still peddling the theory that the villagers and comrades doing the road blockade on January 21 had laid a trap in collusion with Maoists. The police men's association has in fact petitioned that CPI(ML) leader and Zila Panchayat chairperson Sushma Mehta too be charged as a conspirator in the blast. The Maoists, by timing their blast to coincide with the mass protest, have facilitated the repressive drive by police, allowing them to brand each and every mass protest on the most innocuous of issues as 'Maoist-inspired' or 'Maoist-instigated'.

The CPI(ML)'s protests in the region and in Jharkhand are on, in the face of all odds, demanding that the arrested villagers be released, those responsible for custodial torture and the appalling rights violations be punished, an end to the repression of mass movements in the name of curbing Maoists, and steps to secure the safe and speedy release of the hostage guard. 


Comrade Govindarajan, aged 78, former state secretary of the party in Karnataka, breathed his last on 27 January 2012. He suffered multiple haemorrhages on the morning of 21 January, that could not be arrested, and was in the Intensive Care Unit of a private hospital since then.

Com. Govindarajan upheld the red flag and stood firm in the most difficult times for the party in the state. He played a major role in getting the party's first trade union in the state, Karnataka General Labour Union, registered and also played a key role in the second phase of our trade union work in Bangalore.

He also spent 22 days in jail for supplying medicines to the women activists including AIPWA activists who protested against Beauty Pageant in Bangalore in 1996.

When the party office was raided for opposing police brutalities on the virtual uprising by garment workers in Peenya in 2001 on the issue of PF settlement, he was also arrested along with Com. Shankar.

He also played a big role in publishing our first Kannada magazine "Kannada Liberation" in its initial years. A large number of workers also benefited from his legal knowledge, acquired through practice of struggles. The working class work initiated in Peenya by our party under his leadership in the beginning of 2000 sowed the seeds for the party's development in Karnataka today.

Red Salute to Com. Govindarajan!