A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 16, No. 8, 12 – 18 FEBRUARY 2013
The Politics of the Execution of Afzal Guru
When in his recent address at the Jaipur 'Chintan Shivir' of the Congress Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said that he had got investigation reports that the RSS and the BJP were promoting 'Hindu terrorism' through their training camps and a slanging match ensued between the Congress and the RSS-BJP on the issue, little could one suspect that the Congress was actually getting ready to give in to one of the BJP's most strident demands – the clamour for hanging Afzal Guru convicted in the 13/12 Parliament House attack case. The secretive hanging took place in Delhi's Tihar jail in the early morning of 9 February. The government did not care to inform Afzal's family; his wife Tabassum had petitioned the President in 2006 seeking clemency and her right to know if and when her petition had been rejected was simply not honoured. There was also no question of Afzal being allowed to say a final farewell to his dear and near ones.
The BJP is understandably in a gleeful mood that one of its key demands had been met, however 'belatedly'. 'Der aaye, durust aaye' (better late than never), tweeted Narendra Modi. The Congress claims the execution proves its no-nonsense 'zero tolerance' stand on issues of terrorism. The dominant media, especially the big TV channels, are celebrating the two 'back-to-back' executions of Ajmal and Afzal, a media equivalent of the sweet distributing jingoistic celebration on the street. The CPI(M) too has chosen to join the chorus with Sitaram Yechuri describing it as a case of the law completing its due course in 11 years! Among political parties the lone voice of sanity has come from the CPI(ML) which described the execution as a travesty of justice and democracy and an act of appeasement of the communal-fascist brigade.
It is impossible to see the execution in a narrow legal framework and miss the political context and content that stare all of us in the face. It is well known that Afzal did not have a lawyer of his choice to represent him in the trial court and yet the courts passed adverse remarks against the police about the quality of investigation and evidence. When the Supreme Court upheld the capital punishment awarded by the trial court, it could not do so on strictly legal grounds – the evidence against Afzal had been only of a very weak circumstantial kind – and had to invoke the strange and dangerous argument that considering the enormity of the crime (the attack on Parliament), the collective conscience of the society will be satisfied only if capital punishment is awarded to the convict.
More crucially, Afzal has been hanged not just because the Supreme Court upheld the death penalty awarded to him by the trial court but because President Pranab Mukherjee rejected the petition for clemency lying with the President's office since 2006. And the information of rejection by the President was kept absolutely secret to prevent Afzal from seeking a possible judicial stay on the ground of the delay in the process of disposal of his petition, a ground upheld by the Madras High Court in staying the execution of the three convicts who have been awarded death penalty in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The Congress had earlier said the Afzal petition would be taken up after petitions from earlier dates had been disposed. Why was the queue suddenly jumped, and the execution carried out in such tearing hurry and shrouded in such supreme secrecy?
The fact that it was a political decision to hang Afzal Guru on the eve of the budget session with the 2014 Lok Sabha elections not too far away – the BJP says the Congress is in fact planning to hold it in advance – is clear to anybody who cares for facts and the truth that comes out of them. The government is only too aware of the political message this execution has sent out to Kashmir. This is why curfew was clamped down in Kashmir and newspapers stopped from being printed or uploaded online. Even chief minister Omar Abdullah, currently the closest ally of the Congress in Kashmir, has voiced his concern about the medium and long-term impact of this incident on the Kashmiri psyche. He has gone on record saying that the new generations of Kashmiris who may not identify with Maqbool Butt – the Kashmiri leader who was hanged and buried in Tihar jail on 11 February, 1984 after having spent years in jails in both India and Pakistan – will surely identify with Afzal Guru. He has also said that Kashmiris will consider this a case of selective execution unless the government also executes the people convicted in the cases of assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh.
Omar and Manmohan Singh know it very well that even if the government were now to show parity in execution, the alienation of the average Kashmiri has been deepened immeasurably once again by this one single execution. Refusal to hand over the mortal remains to the family in the fear that Kashmiris will get another rallying point and turning Tihar jail into a graveyard for Kashmiris can only add to this deep sense of alienation, not lessen it. It is also no secret how soon after the hanging of Afzal Guru SAR Geelani (the Delhi University lecturer who had been arrested along with Afzal Guru as a 'mastermind' in the same 13/12 Parliament attack case and sentenced to death by the trial court before being acquitted by the Delhi High Court) and the journalist Iftikhar Geelani (jailed earlier on charges that proved later to be fabricated) were detained by the police, and mourners in Jantar Mantar including Kashmiri students and noted human rights activist Gautam Navlakha were allowed to be manhandled by a bunch of Bajrang Dal goons in full view of the Delhi Police.
Only those can afford to ignore the implications for Kashmir who imagine Kashmir only as a piece of barren land devoid of its real people and their real pains. And what about the implications for the millions of people who are fighting for justice and democracy in the rest of India? When the state as executioner becomes synonymous with good governance and the communal fascist forces celebrate the execution as victory, what portents do we have for the future of democracy in India? For all of us who have a stake in democracy and who have a dream of a better tomorrow, the hanging of Afzal Guru and the political trajectory underlying and unleashed by it can only be a serious wake-up call. The battle for justice will have to be waged with greater determination and strength. The fascist forces who feel so elated and emboldened will have to be resisted and stopped.
Hanging of Afzal Guru:
Travesty of Justice and Democracy
(Statement issued by CPI(ML), New Delhi, 9 February 2013)
The hanging of Afzal Guru at the crack of dawn on 9 February, done in an extremely secretive manner without even informing his family, will be recognised by every justice-loving person as a case of justice being hanged to appease the communal fascist forces who want to make Narendra Modi India's Prime Minister.
It is well known that Afzal was a surrendered Kashmiri militant who had given himself up to the BSF in 1993 and had since been working in the shadow of the Special Task Force of the Kashmir police, and was implicated in the December 13, 2001 Parliament attack case. He had no lawyer to represent him when the trial court convicted him without any direct evidence and yet the Supreme Court upheld the death penalty in the name of satisfying 'the collective conscience of society' even as the High Court and the Supreme Court passed adverse remarks on the shoddy nature of investigation and dubious quality of evidence produced by the police.
Nobody has ever been hanged in this country for the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom, for all the anti-Muslim violence including the horrific Mumbai and Surat riots of 1992 and the 2002 Gujarat genocide, or for the massacres of dalits, adivasis and other oppressed sections by private armies or the state. Far from satisfying the 'collective conscience' of the Indian society, the hanging of Afzal Guru only exposes the double standards of justice.
Faced with growing popular opposition and resistance on every front, the Congress party and the UPA government are desperately trying to appease the BJP and the communal-fascist brigade. The democratic movement in the country will reject and resist this Congress-BJP collusion and intensify the battle for justice and democratic rights for the common people of India.
Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary, CPI(ML) Liberation
Protest Against Afzal Guru's Execution
On 9 February at 8 am, news of the stealthy and shameful execution of Afzal Guru came in. The PUDR called for a silent protest demonstration at Jantar Mantar. CPI(ML) Central Committee member Kavita Krishnan, Comrade Girija Pathak of CPI(ML) central headquarters, and AISA and RYA activists joined the demonstration. A small band of Bajrang Dal goons were at Jantar Mantar 'celebrating' the execution. When some Kashmiri young men and women raised placards of mourning and outrage, they were attacked by the Bajrang Dal men, who collected some other men from around Jantar Mantar by whipping up hatred against 'anti-nationals.' The police stood as mute spectators as the mob grew in aggression, and allowed the saffron goons to inflict violence on the peaceful protesters, including young Kashmiri women and men. A human rights activist's face was blackened. The police, instead of arresting the saffron mobsters, arrested several of the peaceful demonstrators, especially the Kashmiri youth, and took them to Mandir Marg police station. However they were released later on the intervention of human rights lawyers.
Massive Protest against Modi's Visit to DU
Hundreds of students and teachers of Delhi University and other campuses in Delhi held a spirited protest on 6th February against Narendra Modi's visit to Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) in Delhi University. All India Students' Association (AISA) along with other student groups joined the protest. Students and teachers expressed shock and anger at the politically motivated use of academic space to whitewash the image of the mastermind of Gujarat carnage for his future political ambitions. AISA leaders said that the justice loving students, teachers and people of Delhi will never forgive and forget Modi's real character, while the victims of the Gujarat massacre are still crying for justice. Democratic minded people will continue to foil Modi's farcical image building exercises, in Delhi and elsewhere.
One participant in the protest said, "In the barbaric Delhi gang-rape case, we held the Sheila Govt responsible even though the Govt did not actually mastermind the brutal rape. In Gujarat 2002, equally barbaric rapes and killings took place. The rapists and killers (like Babu Bajrangi who ripped Kauser Bano's foetus out with a sword) proudly boasted that 'Narendrabhai' was the one who made all that carnage possible. Can we, then, fail to hold Modi responsible for those horrific rapes and killings?"
Protesters recalled the custodial rape and murder of Kauser Bi, wife of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, in which Guj Home Minister Amit Shah, a close associate of Modi, is accused. Modi might me masquerading inside SRCC as though the 2002 carnage were a thing of the past, but his supporters outside were proving otherwise. Women protesters were also subjected to sexist abuse by police personnel, and ABVP goons openly threatened protesting women with rape, brandishing iron rods ripped from police barricades and saying, "We'll thrust this in your body and repeat Gujarat unless you shut up."
The Delhi Police water-cannoned and lathi charged the protestors and on top of which the police let goons from the ABVP beat up the peaceful protestors. Several protestors, including the JNUSU Joint Secretary Piyush Raj, AISA activists Shafi and Chintu and SFI activist Kopal were beaten up and arrested by the police and were detained at Maurice Nagar police station. Following the protests 12 people, including 8 AISA activists and one DU teacher, have been named in an FIR by the police.
Later the Maurice Nagar thana was gheraoed by the protesters demanding action against those police officials who did this lathi charge on peaceful protestors. AISA also demanded that the ABVP goons who indulged in open violence be identified and punished. The police refused to register FIRs against police officers and personnel, however, complaints were registered.
AISA played a leading role in the spirited protests outside SRCC at Delhi University where Narendra Modi had been invited to speak. The police caught AISA activists and other protesting stduents and handed them over to ABVP goons to be beaten up. In spite of the repression, the large number of protesters who gathered at very short notice to protest killer Modi's entry into DU, showed the determination of students to resist communal fascists.
AISA-RYA Protest against Rajapakse's Visit
When Sri Lanka President Rajapakse visited Bodhgaya in what he claimed was a 'spiritual' journey to a place of peace associated with the Buddha, apostle of peace, he was greeted with protests reminding that his hands were stained with the blood of Tamil people. AISA and RYA showed protest placards to Rajapakse at Bodhgaya visit at a short distance from where he stood. They demanded he be tried for crimes against humanity. Eight cadres, belonging to All India Students Association (AISA) and Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA), were detained, while Nandkishore Singh and Mahendra Singh of Aurangabad district were arrested when they tried to raise slogans against Rajapakse. Protests were also held at Patna.
Protest against Posco Land Acquisition
A joint protest was organized at Bhubaneswar by four political parties CPI(ML)Liberation, SUCI(Communist), CPI(ML), and CPI(ML)New Democracy, on 4th February at Odisha Vidhan Sabha against forcible land acquisition in Jagatsinghpur district by the Odisha government. Around 55 betel vines were destroyed by the district administration and 7 children and 25 women were beaten-up by the police.
The protest meeting was addressed by Comrades Yudhistir Mohapatra and Radhakant sethi from CPI(ML)Liberation, Comrade Sivram from CPI(ML), Comrade Purna Behera from SUCI and Comrade BC Sarangi from CPI(ML)ND. Around 300 activists from the four parties participated and raised slogans against Posco and BJD Govt's anti people policy, demanding immediate withdrawal of police force from Gobindpur.
On 6 February a four member team comprising Mahendra Parida (CPIML Liberation), Sivram, Udhab Jena (SUCI-C) and Pratap (CPIML-ND) went to Posco site to express solidarity with the people of Govindpur. There the team led a march of 1000 people to protest police presence at land acquisition site. After intense protest by people the administration came for discussion and three demands was raised by leaders – withdraw police force, register case against IDCO officers who beat 7 children seriously and no flag march inside villages. The demands were met partially as the police force was withdrawn and destruction of betel vines was stopped.
On 25th February 2013 all four parties have called for a day long dharna in front of Odisha State Assembly to demand halt in forcible land acquisition in the State.
Demonstration against Rape in Tiruvallore Dist
In Tiruvallore district a dalit girl, 15, was raped and sexually assaulted repeatedly for the past six months by a local businessman, 53, with the help of another woman in the area. The issue came to light when the mother of the victim suspected pregnancy. Her complaints to the police were not taken seriously as the culprit has influence in the local police station. When the mother approached our Party, CPI(ML) and AIPWA filed an FIR in the same police station. After our intervention the culprit and the woman who helped him have now been arrested.
On February 2, the Party and AIPWA organized a demonstration in which more than 300 people participated. Local people also joined the demonstration. Leaders of local women self-help groups attended the demonstration. Following demands were raised in the demonstration: the culprits should not be given bail, he must get fitting punishment, adequate compensation for the victim, and implementation of Verma Committee recommendations.
Tiruvallore District Party Secretary Com. S Janakiraman, RYA State Convenor Com. Bharathi, AISA State President Com. Malarvizhi, AIPWA State Vice-presidents Com. Kuppabai and Com. Devaki addressed the demonstration.
Peasants Register Splendid Victory in Paddy Procurement Movement
Peasants in Bhojpur led by All India Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM) registered splendid victory in the paddy-sale movement. The movement's demand was that the paddy be procured in cash from all peasants including the share-croppers without the need for any document or paper on the lines of Punjab, procurement period be reduced to two months (15 Nov – 15 Jan) from the existing five months, CBI enquiry into the paddy-procurement scam, finishing the nexus of middle men-beuracrats-politicians that virtually rule the paddy procurement centres, and toning up the irrigation system in the district. Large peasant demonstrations along with tractors filled with paddy were held at Jagdishpur sub-divisional HQ, Piro, Charpokhri, Gadahani, Agiaon, Sahaar, Tarari, Udwantnagar, Sandesh and Koilwar blocks pressing for immediate purchase of paddy from the peasants and share-croppers. The demonstrations were victorious in forcing the administration to spot buying their paddy in cash.
As is known, that the minister in the Nitish Govt had declared that the Govt will purchase paddy and wheat directly from the fields and farms of thepeasants in cash, which turned out to be a an empty promise. On 7 November 2012 the Govt laid new conditions on criteria for procurement that included cumbersome paperwork, basically to compel the needy peasants to distress-selling their paddy to the middle-men (850-900 per quintal) who would sell it to Govt at the official price of 1250-1280, making windfall profit in the process. The movement forced the administration to follow the Punjab process. About 3300 quintals of paddy were purchased by the peasants and share-croppers on 21 January, the day when the movement culminated in large demonstrations at the block offices/purchase centres. The target of the Govt for Bhojpur was for 1 lakh and 11 thousand metric tonnes out of 30 lakh for whole of Bihar.
Prior to 21 January mobilisation, two-weeks of intense campaign, village level meetings, nukkad meetings and block-level cadre conventions were held from 7-17 january. Ten thousand leaflets were distributed. On 21 December 2012 a district level cadre convention was organised at Charpokhri by AIKM. A Kisan Panchayat was organised at Arrah on 5 January in front of District Magistrate Office to send the demands of Peasants to the Chief Minister through the DM. However, no official showed up. The programme ended with the calls to make the 21 January demonstration really militant.
On 21 January, when the numerous tractors and other vehicles loaded with paddy, along with several hundred peasants and share-croppers started to roll into the Sub-Divisional headquarters, the rolling-in continued for two hours. All the while, slogans that could be heard far away were being raised on microphones. There were forty tractors besides numerous other vehicles. There were peasants beating drums. A lot of people had gathered already at the arena just to see whether the peasants are able to compel the administration to purchase their paddy or they are forced instead to return empty-handed. There was also a lot of press presence.
The administration agreed to purchase the paddy but only after the cumbersome paper work, which was vehemently rejected by the AIKM leaders. Late in the afternoon the administration yielded and declared that they were buying all the paddy without any paper. When the announcement was made, the leaders of JD(U), BJP, RJD and Congress tried to pressurise the administration not to yield to the peasants' demands and that they be dealt with force, however, they had to face embarrassment publicly. More or less similar militant demonstrations took place at other blocks where peasants and share-croppers after initially facing resistance from administration were successful in selling their paddy at the Govt rate without any need to produce documents. This all happened due to strong determination of the movement and gradually built confidence of the peasants in our organisation. (for detailed report see Lokyuddha)
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: email@example.com, website: www.cpiml.org