A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 16, No. 14, 26 MARCH – 01 APRIL 2013
Shadow of Sexism and Misogyny Over Anti-Rape Bill
Only 200 out of 545 MPs remained in the house. The top leadership of the Congress party and the UPA coalition stayed away from the house. And the debate in the Lok Sabha – marked by open sexism, misogyny, and misinformation – could not have presented a greater contrast with the sober and painstaking process of learning from activists on the ground as well as international best practices, undertaken by the Justice Verma Committee.
In shameless instances of rape culture, BJP MP Bhola Singh blamed westernization for rape; Shailendra Kumar of the SP blamed revealing clothes worn by film stars for rape; JD(U) MP Sharad Yadav declared that stalking was a form of courtship; SP leader Mulayam Singh said that if better laws against sexual violence were passed, coeducational schools would have to be shut down; and Laloo Yadav displayed homophobia and declared that Parliament should have challenged the Delhi HC verdict decriminalizing homosexuality.
Can we dismiss these sexist voices as deplorable aberrations that we can ignore? Not so, because these are the voices and opinions that managed to influence the Bill: getting the age of consent raised to 18, the first offence of stalking made a bailable and non-cognisable offense; reducing the proposed punishment for acid-throwing; making sure that only women could be victims of rape (rather than all persons as proposed by the women's groups). With even the Law Minister of the country subscribing to the bogey of 'false complaints,' it is hardly surprising that this notion prevailed, leading to dilution of the law against stalking. Acid attacks, murders and rapes are often preceded by stalking; making stalking bailable will mean that when a woman files a complaint against the stalker, he will not be arrested immediately and will remain at large to carry out his threats of acid attacks or murder.
And even in the process of drafting the Bill, it is patriarchal forces that ensured the rejection of Justice Verma's recommendations that the marital rape exemption be deleted, the principle of command responsibility in case of rapes by armed forces or police be recognized, AFSPA amended and reviewed, and molestation no longer described as 'outraging a woman's modesty.'
The situation was such that the struggle, instead of being free to concentrate on expanding protections for women, was forced to fight to keep the legislation from doing damage to existing protections! The ordinance, for instance, had made the accused in the rape law gender neutral, allowing women to be accused by men of rape; it had introduced 'punishment for false complaints' into the sexual assault laws; and raised the age of consent to 18. It is thanks to the vociferous protests and efforts of the ongoing movement that the Bill approved by Cabinet corrected these extremely harmful provisions, but very soon, the age of consent was again raised to 18 in the Bill passed by the Lok Sabha.
The debate over age of consent was a classic case of misleading and mischievous propaganda by patriarchal forces. The age of consent had been 16 for the past 3 decades since 1983. The Government, without any serious consultation or debate, first raised this to 18 in the Prevention of Child Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) a few months back and the ordinance a month ago, overruling the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee. It was not only the women's movement that objected to this change: at least two court judgements in the past few months appealed for age of consent to be retained at 16, with judges pleading that they were having to convict young boys for rape, even when the girl declared in court that it was a consensual relationship. And when the women's groups prevailed on the Government to keep age of consent at 16 in the Bill, a huge media storm was manufactured over the supposed 'lowering of the age of consent to 16,' which was deliberately interpreted as 'license for teen sex.' Eventually, this campaign of misinformation and moral policing carried the day, and the age of consent was raised to 18.
So, whatever is positive and progressive in the new legislation was achieved by the movement in spite of the patriarchal forces of the Government and Parliament. These include: jail-time of 6 months to 2 years for police officers who fail to file FIRs (or are otherwise derelict in their duty) in sexual violence cases; prior sanction provision will not extend to police officers, MPs and MLAs accused of rape; and sexual violence during communal or sectarian violence or by a person in uniform will carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment; stalking, voyeurism, disrobing and acid-attacks have been codified as crimes. We may recall that not long before December 16th last year, the Home Ministry had rejected most such recommendations made by the women's groups, and the Government's ordinance too had avoided incorporating many of these provisions. It is clear, therefore, that it is only the pressure of the movement that forced an obviously reluctant Government and Parliament to enact some of the long-pending amendments into the rape/sexual violence laws.
The people's movement against sexual violence will continue and grow. We will not rest till we change the offensive laws that legitimize marital rape, protect rapists in Army uniform, criminalise homosexual relationships, and preach feminine 'modesty', allow those charge-sheeted for rape to contest elections, and fail to allow for severe punishment for rapists of dalit women!
23 March: Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdeo's Martyrdom Day
Statewide Protest Day in Bihar against State Govt's Design to Demolish Dr. Nirmal's Statue in DMCH
As part of Statewide protest day, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's effigy was burnt at most district headquarters in Bihar against the vicious intention of demolishing the statue of martyred Dr. Nirmal inside the premises of Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital.
Patna: People marched in procession from Radio Station to Bhagat Singh Chowk and garlanded the Bhagat Singh's Statue. After that the assembled people took a pledge to build a Statewide movement against the attempts to demolish Dr. Nirmal's Statue. (Please see the previous issue, #13, for a brief biography of Dr. Nirmal and his martyrdom)
Apart from Patna, similar protests took place in Bhokpur, Buxar, Arwal, Siwan, Gopalganj, Bhagalpur, Jahanabad, Gaya, Purnia, Patna City among others. Demonstrations and meetings were also held in Patna Rural, Dhanarua, Masaurhi, Punpun, Dulhinbazar, Fatuha, Bihta and Paliganj. In Patna, the protest was led by Town Secretary Comrade Santosh Sahar, RYA's State Secretary Navin Kumar, SCM Kamlesh Sharma, Hirawal's Santosh Jha, apart from several others.
Dr. Nirmal, who sacrificed his life for the cause for which Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdeo kissed the gallows, is being labeled a criminal by the BJP and those in the Govt in Bihar. On the other hand clearing all doubt about its actual pro-feudal-communal character- quite a lot of the accused in the massacres of dalits, minorities and poor people have walked out of jail and are free now. However, the people of Darbhanga have announced their intentions and took resolve for protecting the statue of Dr. Nirmal even at the cost of their lives. The police that arrived on the DMCH campus to demolish the statue have already been pushed back once forcefully by the people led by progressive doctors at the DMCH. The protest meetings everywhere took resolve to protect the statue of Dr. Nirmal, who sacrificed his life for realizing and keeping alive the dreams of Bhagat Singh, for liberation of millions of oppressed workers, peasants, dalits and minorities, for keeping the Red flag fluttering.
The people also pledged to give a fitting reply to the evil designs of BJP and Nitish Govt. CPI(ML) leaders demanded for sacking of Ashwini Kumar Chaubey, the Health Minister in Nitish Govt, and to unconditionally withdraw all false cases filed against the doctors. A district level demonstration was held in Arrah on these demands.
RYA Commemorated Martyrdom Day as Pledge Day: Inquilabi Naujawan Sabha (RYA) organised youth marches at various places in Delhi to commemorate Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh' martyrdom day on 23 March 2013. Hundreds of youth took pledge to fight for an India free of corruption and corporate loot, for equal education opportunities and dignified employment.
A Sankalp March was held in Narela from Ramdev Chawk to Lampur Morh where more than 300 youth led by RYA National General Secretary Ravi Rai along with Dharmvir Khatri, Bishan Singh, Uma Gupta and AISA activist Anmol took part. They pledged to intensify struggle to carry forward the martyrs' dream of an equitable and democratic India.
Asmita theater group and Sangwari presented revolutionary songs on the occasion while local school children performed a play. CPI(ML) District Secretary Surendra Panchal addressed the mass meeting at conclusion of the march.
A march was also organised by the youth in Wazirpur industrial area which was attended by workers of the area and students from Delhi University. In Viswas Nagar of East Delhi RYA held a march where youth among construction workers took part led by Aslam Khan and Gulab.
Uttarakhand: 23 March, martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdeo was commemorated in Pithoragarh by paying tributes to the martyrs and underlining the Party's role and the tasks and responsibilities of its members in furthering the political legacy of the martyrs. The meeting took pledge to transform Bhagat Singh's dream of a socialist India into a reality. Students and youth were present at the meeting in good number. Comrade Jagat Martoliya falicitated the proceedings and was the main speaker.
Statewide Demos in UP demanding the Arrest of Raja Bhaiya
CPI(ML) organised Statewide demonstration on 6th march in Uttar Pradesh demanding the immediate arrest of ex-Cabinet Minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh (Raja Bhaiya) for allegedly masterminding the killing of Kunda C.O. Zia-ul-Haque. The latter was widely recognized as an honest police officer. He had clamped down on illegal mining under his administered area, had issued the list of crimes (history-sheet) of Raja Bhaiya and was investigating an incident of attack and arson against the minority community in Asthaan village near Kunda. The incident took place last year when Akhilesh Govt was assuming power.
Dalit families Attacked in Dadri Again
Dalit families again faced a brutal attack conspired by upper caste goons in Ramgarh village of Dadri (Gautam Buddha Nagar district), Greater Noida on 24 March. One of the youths still in ICU while many others are severely injured including comrade Bhuvanesh whose fingers have been chopped off. Many have head injuries. Bhuvanesh's brother Tikaram's both legs were amputated in an attack in last July by the same people. This has happened just after ten days when youth held a protest procession in front of DM, GB Nagar to criticise the inaction by the district and UP state administration for earlier attacks. They had also demanded protection for the future. But the SP-led UP Govt. has never shown any interest in protecting the dalit families of this hamlet, while the BSP local leaders play hand in gloves with same SP goons, opposing dalit families for raising their voices for land and dignity!
Ironically attempt to murder charges have been imposed on the dalit victims who themselves are seriously injured when a section of dalits backed by Gujjars (aligned with SP) attacked their houses and they tried to protect themselves and their families. The same pradhan from the Gujjar community who led the attacks on the dalits in March last year, has this time got some of his own supporters and aides among the dalit community to conduct a fresh attack.
The dynamics of these serial attacks is directly linked with the phenomenon of increased oppression of dalit castes with the land acquisition by corporates in this village who have mentored local domineering castes and goons as their henchmen to help in acquisitions.
All the incidents occurred earlier were reported to the UP Govt., NHRC and National Commission of SCs/STs. Sadly nothing substantial happened which could have stopped the serial attacks. This explicitly explains the tacit nexus of caste oppression with land grabbers and the administration.
Now what is intriguing is the fact that now instead of directly leading the attacks, the upper caste goons have been organising goons and co-conspirators from among the dalits who too have stakes in land grabs and acquisitions. One more intriguing aspect is that for the piece of panchayat land reserved for dalit families and which was grabbed by village pradhan and his henchmen, the administration have instead of taking any criminal action against the grabbers, forwarded the matter to revenue court on the recommendation of the SDM. This is clearly done to delay the matters, hence protect the grabbers, as it takes decades to resolve a dispute in revenue matters! By that time dalit families are rendered defenceless, in order to teach them a lesson for asking for their share of land and justice.
When the government, corporates, land grabbers and caste oppressors all are united against a miniscule population of Ramgarh Chamrawli, we must strive for a much wider unity and struggle by democratic forces to win over justice due to them.
Hundreds of Innocent Workers in NOIDA Continues to Face the Brunt of Attacks by UP Govt. Post-Successful All India General Strike
Comrade Shyamkishore Yadav, AICCTU Delhi State Secretary, was picked up along with sixteen other comrades by the NOIDA police in presence of DM and a posse of many administrative officials in the morning of 21 February, the second day of All India General Strike. He was not even properly aware of the incidents took place a day earlier at phase-2 in Noida as he was busy in organising workers at adjoining areas of Delhi among street vendors and domestic workers. Another 150 workers were also randomly arrested by the police in two days of the successful strike which had expressed working class solidarity and anger against the anti-people policies against the UPA Govt.
All the arrested workers and their leaders took part in peaceful strike or were not present at all on the spot, but they are arrested by UP administration to appease the industrialists lobby in an attempt to demoralise the working class who came to streets spontaneously and resolutely. They are still in jail even after more than a month. Nearly 17 criminal sections of IPC including attempt to murder, 307, have been imposed on them. The judiciary has denied them bail which is their due right, and has in fact allowed a fresh FIR to be admitted in the case, forget about quashing the false cases or taking action against the erring officials. Even High Court was approached and it only issued an order to 'hear' the case in sessions. And when the Sessions court complied with the order, a 'hearing' took place only to defer it to another date and then again to one another date. Later the district court said that the matter will again be heard in an ADJ court. What is so complicated in the eyes of judiciary is beyond anybody's comprehension: in the absence of any credible evidence of the involvement of those arrested, there is no reason why they should be denied bail!
It is crystal clear that hundreds of innocents workers are being victimised by the state at the behest of capitalists lobby which does not want wokers to stand for their due rights or for democratic struggle going on in the country. An emergency-like state is prevailing in Noida and even distribution of pamphlets is considered as crime. Many activists of Bigul Mazdoor Dasta were illegally detained by police for more than 48 hours when distributing pamphlets in support of the arrested workers. AICCTU held out protests in Delhi and Lucknow in and gave a memorandum to the UP Govt. Many Central Trade Union leaders met with district level officials but to no avail and repressive measures continue. While the workers are still fighting for their cause, it has posed greater challenge before the central trade union centres to intervene effectively in order to teach the anti-workers UP administration and corporate lobbies a befitting lesson.
Another Victim of a Witch-hunt?
The revelation that the man arrested by Delhi Police Special Cell as a Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist planning a terror strike on Holi, is actually a surrendered Kashmiri militant who entered India along with his wife and child as part of the J&K Government's rehabilitation policy, once again raises serious questions about investigative practices in terrorism cases. This case is the latest in a growing list of instances that suggest that police fabricate arrests and encounters in order to claim awards and project success in counter-terror operations.
Framing former informers or surrendered militants in terror cases is not a new practice for the Delhi Police Special Cell. Not long ago, a CBI investigation revealed that two men claimed by the Special Cell as terrorists, were actually IB informers who had been framed.
Recently, a Kashmiri cricketer was arrested at Bangalore airport on charges of having a bag that had been used to carry explosives – a charge that proved to be completely false.
One of the Special Cell officers involved in the latest case, has been named by the NHRC as responsible for a 2006 fake encounter in Sonia Vihar, Delhi. The report of the magisterial probe ordered into that encounter is yet to be made public. The question is: why is an officer accused by the NHRC of a fake encounter not suspended pending the magisterial enquiry? Why is the magisterial enquiry report not public yet?
There is an attempt to project the issue as one of 'lack of coordination' between the investigative agencies of various States. But the question is not one of poor coordination or inefficiency on part of the police. The whole episode smacks of an attempt to frame an innocent man as a terrorist, in order to claim to have averted a major terror strike. Surrendered militants and informers seem to be helpless and hapless fodder for such acts of framing. Such framing and poor faith with surrendered militants and informers can, obviously, never bring us nearer to cracking real terrorist plots.
Such witch-hunt of innocents, and impunity enjoyed by police and Army officers who conduct fake encounters and fabricated cases, are symptoms of the prevailing climate of gross injustice. Such injustice can only increase the alienation of the Muslim minority and the Kashmiri people.
It is imperative that a time-bound probe establish the truth about the arrest of the surrendered militant, and that prompt punishment follow for all police officers found to have been derelict in their duty and indulged in any fabrication.
On the UN Resolution on Sri Lanka
The US-sponsored resolution passed at the UNHRC in Geneva is a token gesture rather than one intended to ensure truth and justice in the matter of genocide of Tamil people by the Sri Lankan military. Fresh evidence of the extent of this cold blooded massacre – including the custodial killing of the young son of the LTTE chief – have spurred a student movement in Tamil Nadu demanding a credible international investigation into the genocide.
The role of the Indian Government has been unprincipled and shameful. The Indian Government first took pains to ensure the dilution of the resolution – and then, when DMK walked out of the UPA alliance, the Government made a show of conciliating it by attempting to push for somewhat tougher amendments to the resolution.
The DMK and AIADMK are competing to show who is more committed to the cause of justice for the Tamils. But these parties and the TN Government have taken no measures to address the situation of the refugee camps for Tamils inside Tamilnadu itself. These camps are virtual open prisons, devoid of basic facilities and rights, but the apathy and neglect of Tamilnadu's ruling parties and Government could not be more glaring.
CPI(ML) stands in support of the ongoing student movement in Tamilnadu. No credible investigation into the genocide of Tamils, or genuine attempts at truth and reconciliation can be expected from the Sri Lankan regime. A credible, time-bound, and thoroughgoing international investigation to establish the truth and ensure justice against the perpetrators is the prerequisite for any lasting peace, reconciliation, and political solution.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.cpiml.org