Vol. 15 No. 48 20-26 NOV 2012
Protest Israel's US-Backed War on Gaza
Belying Israel's claims, the unequal and one-sided nature of the war can be gauged from the fact that just four Israeli civilians have been killed and 30 injured in Hamas attacks. The sophisticated weapons deployed by Israel are in stark contrast to the primitive rockets used by the Hamas. The assassination of Ahmed Jaabari, the head of the military wing of Hamas, seems to have been aimed at scuttling ongoing truce talks.
Repeating a pattern from four years ago, this attack on Gaza comes after a US Presidential election and before an election in Israel. The motive of reaping an electoral harvest from a war on Palestine is rather obvious. Israeli citizens have reportedly put out ads in papers declaring 'No to the election war.'
The newly re-elected US President Obama has supported Israel's war in the name of its 'right to self-defence,' as has the EU. Yet again, the US and EU have supported Israeli war crimes, reinforcing Israel's sense of impunity.
Israel's latest war on Gaza may also be part of its preparation to launch a war on Iran. By attacking Gaza, it seeks to test the Arab waters, to see the impact of the Arab Spring on countries like Egypt. So far, Egypt's new leadership has behaved much in line with its predecessor, the Mubarak regime. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has recalled Egypt's ambassador to Israel (which Mukarak had also done four years ago), but has avoided breaking off relations with Israel. Reportedly, Morsi called Obama, only to be told by Obama to control Hamas.
A former CIA analyst has revealed how Washington think-tanks, echoing Israeli ideologues, refer lightly to periodic attacks on Palestinians, as 'mowing the lawn.' This kind of racial discourse reveals that Israel's occupation and wars on Palestine ultimately have the genocidal motive of ethnic-cleansing.
The Indian Government, shamefully betraying India's long-term solidarity with Palestine, has chosen to remain neutral and call for peace, without outright condemning Israeli aggression. The Indian people, however, have responded all over the country with solidarity actions for Gaza, demanding an end to Israel's war and a principled stand by the Indian Government.
Israel's war on Gaza is a war on humanity, and Palestine's struggle is a courageous struggle for liberation from colonial occupation. Anti-imperialist forces the world over must protest Israel's war on Gaza, and support the Palestinians' aspirations for freedom.
Shiv Sena Goons Waste No Time in Re-enacting Thackeray's Legacy
Immediately after Bal Thackeray's death in Mumbai following a long illness, Shiv Sena indulged in orchestrated violence and hooliganism after a young Muslim girl in Mumbai made a simple comment on how public life in Mumbai was paralysed during his funeral.
Following Thackeray's death and his funeral conducted with full state honours by the state government, the whole of Mumbai came to a standstill, with several shops shutting down and public transport being severely affected. After this, a 21-year old woman living in Mumbai, Shaheen Dhada, commented through a Facebook post, saying, "With all respect, every day, thousands of people die, but still the world moves on. Just due to one politician died a natural death, everyone just goes bonkers. They should know, we are resilient by force, not by choice. When was the last time, did anyone showed some respect or even a two-minute silence for Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Azad, Sukhdev or any of the people because of whom we are free-living Indians? Respect is earned, given, and definitely not forced. Today, Mumbai shuts down due to fear, not due to respect." One of her friends "liked" the comment. What followed was absurd – and highlighted just how weak our democracy is, and how vulnerable to muscle-flexing by the right-wing.
Shiv Sena has said Thackeray has "left a huge legacy" – and soon after has been showing us what exactly this "legacy" is all about:
• 21-year old Shaheen and her friend Renu were arrested by the Mumbai police (based on a complaint by the Shiv Sena) under 505 (2) for making statements "creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill will". They were remanded to 14-day judicial custody and finally released from custody only after they paid bail.
• Shaheen's uncle, Dr. Abdul Yusuf Dhada, runs a clinic in Palaghar, Mumbai and today Shiv Sena goons ransacked the clinic, broke furniture and other infrastructure in the clinic and forced all the patients to move out. Even though complaints have been filed with the Mumbai Police, no action has been taken on the 40 Shiv Sena goons who orchestrated this violence in full public view.
The attacks by the Shiv Sena, are, of course, in the good old Shiv Sena tradition of intimidation and violence. But these are compounded by the attitude of the Mumbai police – which has obediently carried out the Shiv Sena's diktats and arrested two young women for expressing an opinion on a social networking site!
What is equally shameful is the attitude of the Maharashtra government. Balasaheb Thackeray, who was once disenfranchised by the Election Commission for six years for making communally provocative speeches, who presided over hate- and violence-filled campaigns against poor labourers and workers in Mumbai, was accorded full state honours in his funeral. Even various leaders of the so-called "secular" Congress – including the Prime Minister of the country – have been busy trying to sanitise the actions of Thackeray and the mayhem he wrought over several decades. During the last phase of Thackeray's illness, Digvijaya Singh, propagandist for Congress's 'secularism,' on Friday said Thackeray was a "fighter" all his life and will also "fight" his illness. Of course Digvijaya Singh never mentioned what exactly Thackeray "fought" for all his life!
The corporate media was not to be left behind in this game of creating a halo around Thackeray. Take for instance a report released by the ANI which says, "Social issues such as immigration and communalism were of particular interest to him in the context of national well being and welfare". So, the Mumbai riots of 1992-93, the repeated, organised, vicious assaults on south Indians, workers from UP and Bihar and Muslims in Mumbai have become innocuous sounding "social issues of immigration and communalism" and examples of "national well being and welfare"!
Such statements go way beyond expressing condolences on the death of a well-known political leader. In fact, they effectively help to rewrite history, and make communal hate mongering and orchestrated violence appear as "acceptable" political practice. They give a message to rabid saffron forces that law will never touch majoritarian communal politics – the shriller the better.
AISA condemns the arrest of Shaheen and Renu simply for posting comments on Facebook and the subsequent Sena-orchestrated violence and hooliganism in Mumbai. AISA also condemns the craven role of the Congress government and the Mumbai police in Maharashtra, which has capitulated in service of the Shiv Sena goons. But after all, what better can one expect from the Congress-NCP government which never acted on the Shri Krishna Commission Report that squarely indicts Thackeray for the horrific Mumbai riots of 1992-93, and which more recently agreed to removing Rohinton Mistry's book from the Mumbai Univ. syllabus!
We all need to robustly resist all such shameful assaults on democracy, and speak out against the overdrive of the corporate media, the saffron brigade of RSS, BJP, Shiv Sena, MNS, as well as the slew of Congress leaders and the state machinery to valorise purveyors of communal hate mongering and violence.
Protest at Israeli Embassy Against War on Gaza
On 19 November, hundreds of students, workers, teachers and many others, raised slogans at the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi today, protesting Israel's assault on civilians in Gaza, and US support for this aggression. The protest demonstration had been called by All India Students' Association (AISA), Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA), the JNU Students' Union, All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), Left and Democratic Teachers' Federation (LDTF), and All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA).
Protestors included Prof. Nivedita Menon, Prof. K M Chenoy, Prof. Susan Visvanathan, Prof Mohan Rao, Prof. Ayesha Kidwai of JNU, Prof Ashutosh Kumar of DU, Uma Gupta of LDTF, Santosh Rai of AICCTU, Sandeep Singh, President of AISA, Aslam Khan of RYA, JNUSU President Lenin Kumar, VP Meenakshi and Jt Secretary Piyush, and AISA leaders of JNU (Sucheta De, Om Prasad, Akbar), DU (Anmol) and Jamia Millia Islamia (Farhan).
AICCTU observed "All-India Demand Day of contract workers" on 7th November
On the call of AICCTU "All-India Demand Day of contract workers" was observed on 7th November - Day of "November Revolution"- against the slavery of working class under the contract labour system in today's India by holding demonstrations, rallies, sit-ins (dharnas), etc. at state levels to bring issues of contract labour to the centre of working class movement. All-India Demand Day focused on demands, like Equal pay for same and similar work for contract/temporary workers, regularization of contract workers engaged in permanent/perennial jobs, an amendment to Section 10 of the CLARA to make contract labour permanent whenever contract labour is abolished in any employment, Fixation of national minimum wage as Rs. 15,000/- per month for all contract workers along with all unorganized workers and Pension as Rs. 7,500/- per month both linked with VDA, including the contract workers under PDS and BPL. These programmes called upon the contract workers to make the 20-21 Feb. 2013 all-India General Strike a great success.
The call of "All-India Demand Day of contract workers" was given in the national sit-in (Dharna) of contract workers at Jantar Mantar, Delhi on 11 October 2012.
In different states, the 15-point Charter of Demands of contract workers was propagated and submitted.
In Delhi, followed by a week long campaign, a rally was organized from Millennium Bus Depot to Delhi govt. Secretariat. Hundreds of contract workers mainly from Delhi Transport Corporation participated in the rally apart from security guards and workers of Wazirpur industrial area. The rally was led and addressed by AICCTU GS Swapan Mukherjee, State Secretary Santosh Roy, General Secretary of DTC Workers' Unity Centre Shankaran, Ardhendu Roy and others. A memorandum was also submitted by a 5-member delegation with Labour Minister of Delhi.
In Tamil Nadu, AICCTU organized different kinds of programmes at 4 places in and around Chennai. In Ambattur, Kalyanapuram area , a Public meeting was organized. Pamphlets containing demands were distributed to contract labours of various industries and sectors residing in this locality. About 100 contract workers gathered to attend the meeting. AICCTU leaders Palanivel, Mohan and Munusamy addressed the meeting.
There is a union of permanent employees of Kanji Kamakodi Trust Hospital in Chennai affiliated to AIICCTU. At the initiative of the union, contract employees - mostly women of the hospital were organised and a meeting held. Meeting was addressed among others by Thenmozhi, state Vice President of AICCCTU and also an AIPWA leader and Kuppa Bai.
Meeting was held in Jumbo pack Industry in adjoining Thiruvellore district where AICCTU is the negotiating union for permanent workers. This industry employs more than 700 contract workers. Pamphlets were issued to all contract workers. More than 300 contract workers enthusiastically participated in the meeting addressed by leaders A.S. Kumar, Janakiraman and others.
At Sriperumpudur, workers of striking Hyundai company took the initiative and went for a campaign on charter of demands of contract workers which culminated in a public meeting. More than 100 workers of various MNCs in this area attended the meeting addressed by Rajaguru of Hyundai and AICCTU leader Bhuvana.
Workers of the Ordnance Factory Tiruchi who were already on struggle demanding Deepavli Bonus, participated en-mass at the gate meeting addressed by leaders Desikan, Periasamy and others. Programmes were also organized at Coimbatore.
In Karnataka, AICCTU organized a demonstration at Bangalore. Workers carried placards of 10 point demands charter. The demonstration was led by Somu, district president of AICCTU. Appanna, state secretary came down heavily on the labour department of Karnataka where all rules and regulations under Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act (CLARA) are blatantly violated in issuing licences to the contractors. Puttegowda, district secretary condemned the government for issuing blanket licences without specifying the jobs and number of workers to be employed in each job. He pointed out growing contractualisation of labour force as a fall out of liberalization policy. Demonstrators were also addressed by Narayanaswamy, Mani, Veerakumar of Lafarge, Ethiraj and Durga Prasad of RDC, Anand of TAJSATS, Srinivas of Vinayaka CNC Centre.
Similar demonstration was also organized in front of the Labour Office at Gangavati led by Bharadwaj, state president. He questioned the labour department and the BJP state government for allowing hundreds of rice mills to run without complying to any labour law. The demonstrators also demanded ESI coverage for the district. The demonstration was also addressed by leaders Virupakshappa and Basavangouda, the newly elected state convenor of AICWF.
In Orissa, one day Dharna was held in front of Rajbhavan and memoranda were submitted addressed to the Governor, State Chief minister and Prime Minister of India.
The dharna was addressed by AICCTU leaders of state, N K Mohanty, Radhakant Sethi and Mahendra Parida.
Contract workers from NIRTAR, East Coast Railway and state government participated in this dharna. A delegation met with the Governor.
In Jharkhand, demonstrations and dharnas were held at 6 places, namely Dhanbad, Ranchi, Bokaro, Ramgarh, Koderma and Garwha with participation of around 1000 contract workers.
In Chandigarh, torch-light procession was held with participation of contract workers from hospitals and other institutions including PGI and was led by city president Kanwaljeet and others. In Mumbai, a day long dharna was held at Azad Maidan under the banner of Maharashtra Sarva Shramik Mahasangh (an affiliate of AICCTU) and Maharashtra Rajya Rakshak Agadhi. Hundreds of security guards participated in the dharna. Dharna was addressed by leaders of AICCTU, Uday Bhat, Dattatrya Atyalkar, Dhiraj Rathore, and Shyam Gohil , the state leader of CPI-ML.
In Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, a dharna was held with participation of contract workers of Municipal corporations of Bhilai and Kumhari and Bhilai Steel Plant. Dharna was addressed by J.P Nair, Manoj Kosre, Rupesh Kumar and Tukaram. Memorandum addressing Governor and CM of state were also submitted.
Construction Workers State Convention in Karnataka
AICCTU organised first ever state convention of construction workers at Gangavati on 28 Oct. 2012. The convention was preceded by very good press coverage highlighting demands of construction workers. Construction workers and activists responsible for the work from Koppal, Davanagere, Mysore, Tumkur and Bangalore attended the convention. Com. Shankar called upon workers to fight against big builders and contractors who are responsible for the plight of construction workers. He also said that the union should be alert against the wrong tendencies of reducing it to a mere reformistic organisation centring around welfare board. Com. Balasubramanian, president of AICWF elaborated on the demands of construction workers and called upon them to make success of the all India conference on 26-27 Dec. 2012 at Delhi. Com. Vittappa Gorentli, Basavaraj Silavander, AITUC, E Dhanraj, college lecturer addressed the convention while Appanna, state secretary presided over the convention. AICCTU state president Bharadwaj, CPI(ML) state secretary Ramappa and Javaraiah of AIALA also addressed the convention.
The convention elected a 7-member convening body at state level with Basavangouda and Chandru as convenors.
Condolences for Victims of Stampede During Chhat Puja in Patna
CPI(ML) condoles the tragic deaths of people in a stampede that occurred during the Chhat Puja in Patna.
According to news reports, the death toll is now 22, of which at least 10 are children. The injured are struggling for life in hospitals. The stampede probably occurred following the collapse of a bamboo bridge (chechri bridge) constructed to allow the Chhat devotees to avoid a stretch of muddy water. There are also reports that a power cut or falling of an electrical wire on devotees might have contributed to the panic and stampede.
CPI(ML) stands by the people of Bihar in this hour of grief and unbearable tragedy. CPI(ML) also demands that an independent enquiry panel be set up to investigate the cause of stampede and the state of the response by administration, police, and hospitals, and action be taken against those responsible for negligence. It is essential that this probe be independent of the Government of Bihar.
- CPI(ML) Central Committee