Wednesday, August 27, 2014

ML Update | No. 35 | 2014

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  17 | No. 35 | 26 AUG - 1 SEP 2014

By-poll Pointers: Early Warning for the Modi Government     

The by-poll results from Bihar, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab, and earlier from Uttarakhand, have come as a veritable blow to the BJP's political ambitions revolving around the Modi government at the Centre. By-polls are of course by-polls and these have all been assembly by-polls at that. Moreover, except Madhya Pradesh and Punjab, the three other states where by-polls have taken place so far are all ruled by non-BJP governments. Political commentators would therefore naturally plead for caution and refuse to jump to any conclusion as to what the by-polls foretell about the forthcoming round of Assembly elections. But viewed together, the by-polls have definitely sent out an unmistakable early warning to the Modi government.

In Uttarakhand, where the BJP had swept the polls in May, all the three by-poll results have gone in favour of the Congress. In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress has wrested one of the three seats that went for by-polls from the BJP. In Punjab, the Congress has retained the Patiala assembly seat despite losing out to AAP in the Lok Sabha elections. In Karnataka, the Congress has claimed the Bellary rural seat by a massive margin while the BJP has managed to retain the seat held earlier by party strongman and former CM Yeddyurappa only by a slender margin of 4,000 votes (the BJP's lead during the Lok Sabha election from this segment was an astounding 70,000). The most stunning and representative results have come from Bihar where the BJP has managed to win just 4 out of 10 seats – a loss of two seats from its 2010 tally and a much bigger drop of five seats compared to the 2014 LS leads. 

The Bihar results are being generally attributed to the coming together of the JDU and the RJD-Congress combine. While the coalition arithmetic has certainly played a big role in the BJP's defeat, we must note that the BJP's vote share has gone down by as much as 8% (45.3% in the LS polls to 37.3% in August). Not all these votes have gone to the RJD-JDU-Congress alliance whose vote share has increased by 4.6%. The united Left bloc of CPI(ML), CPI and CPI(M) has also succeeded in improving its vote share, polling close to 50,000 votes from the 9 seats contested, none of which is  known to be a significant Left stronghold in recent times.

Another round of by-polls is to be held next month in UP and Gujarat before we go for the next big series of Assembly elections in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi. Assembly elections in Bihar are also only little more than a year away. Viewed in this context, the by-poll results clearly mark an early warning against the BJP government at the Centre and the BJP's attempt to enforce its corporate-communal agenda and its unilateral political domination over large parts of the country. There were many takers for Modi's election rhetoric of 'better days' and 'inclusive governance', but today more and more people are expressing their resentment over the post-poll reality of rising prices and escalating communal violence.

It will be most unrealistic to expect the BJP to heed the democratic voice of the people. The BJP only knows how to pay lip-service to democracy in the interest of its ultimate agenda of communal division and corporate tyranny. Communal polarisation played a big part in the BJP's stunning poll victories in UP and the party is working overtime to spread the communal venom in the hope of replicating its UP success across the country. While Modi is busy laying foundation stones and inaugurating projects in poll-bound states, thugs of the Sangh brigade are busy invoking every possible bogey to create chaos and spread communal mischief. It should be noted that even as by-poll results were being announced in Bihar, BJP activists were on a rampage in Ranchi in the name of decrying what they call 'love jihad'.

While serving an early warning to the BJP, the by-poll results have also sent out a message of encouragement for all those who are fighting against the BJP's authoritarian mode of governance and corporate-communal agenda. The Congress or the RJD-JDU-Congress combine may have been the primary electoral beneficiaries of the developing popular mood in the given situation, but the Left must champion the underlying aspirations of the people and emerge as a stronger political force in opposition to both NDA and UPA.


Gana Mancha Enquires Into Rape-Murder of CPI(M) Supporter

A seven-member delegation team from Ganamancha, comprising of representatives from all the constituents of Ganamancha – Amalendu Chowdhury, Chandrasmita Chowdhury and Archana Ghatak of CPI(ML) Liberation, Prasenjit Bose, Subhanil Chowdhury of Left Collective, Ajoy Bakshi of MKP, Bodhisatwa Ray of Radical Socialist and others – visited Sunai village in Contai on 21 August for a fact-finding on the barbaric gang-rape, torture and lynching of a woman who was a CPI(M) supporter and the wife of a CPI(M) activist. The team was joined in Contai by the CPI(ML) Liberation's Purba Medinipur leaders Ashish Maity and Sukchand Mandal. The TMC goons who brazenly perpetrated this heinous crime are henchmen of Dipendu Adhikari, the brother of TMC leader and Tamluk MP Suvendu Adhikari.

When the team announced its decision to visit the village, the police at first tried to dissuade them from going there, citing security reasons (that the police will not be able to provide security to anyone who visits the village)! Despite such attempts the team reached the victim's village around noon. An atmosphere of complete terror and silence loomed large and people were terrorized of political backlash to even talk about the matter. The two women members of the delegation, Chandrasmita Chowdhury and Archana Ghatak, spoke at length with the victim's family and her mother-in-law. The delegation also spoke to the victim's husband in Tamluk town, later during the day.

The victim's family members spoke about the long torture they faced from the TMC henchmen. The husband of the victim, who was a local committee member of the CPI(M), had been forced to flee the village along with their young son ever since the TMC came to power in 2011. The victim had been staying with her in-laws since then. The victim worked as an Integrated Child Development Scheme worker. The woman was under continuous threat for her family's political affiliation. On 15th, her brother-in-law was kidnapped by the TMC goons and the family was asked to pay ransom for his release. The TMC men came to their home and beat up all members of the family including her, the sister-in-law and even the old mother-in-law and asked them to pay a huge sum of money (12 lakhs) as "fine" imposed by the TMC men. This so-called "fine" was nothing but a pretext for what was to follow. The men threatened to expect them again. When the victim refused to pay and fled to a nearby village in fear she was forcefully dragged, gang-raped, brutally tortured, and lynched to death. Her body was found hanging from the ceiling in her house. Liquor bottles, an iron rod (with blood stains), chilli powder and pointed objects like safety-pins (purportedly used for torture) were found lying at the place of crime. The TMC men tried to masquerade the lynching as 'suicide' and the police made the brother-in-law write a coerced statement (supervised by the Tamluk IC himself) to hush-up the brutal rape-murder. Before the truth came to everybody's attention, the victim's husband gave the full statement and a hush-up was no longer possible.

During the 2 days (15th to 17th) of kidnap, threat and torture several phone calls were made to the police. But nobody came to rescue till the woman was dead. After the matter came to media spotlight, the police under pressure have arrested three small fries, but the masterminds named by the victim's husband are at large and continue to roam free. This horrifying incident as well as the continuous assault on democracy in West Bengal's villages continues brazenly even as TMC leaders like the infamous MP Tapas Pal and his likes continue to instigate their local henchmen to rape, murder, arson in order to silence all political opposition. This trend has been continuing in Purba Medinipur for long, and all the left activists of the CPI(M), CPI(ML) Liberation and others have been on the receiving end of such attacks.

A more detailed fact-finding report will be released soon. In the days to come, Ganamancha, CPI(ML) and other democratic forces, AIPWA and other women's organizations will jointly take the struggle forward till justice is achieved for the victim. The struggle for democracy and against TMC terror cannot and will not rest in West Bengal.


Tea garden workers rally for rights

Thousands of workers from tea gardens affiliated to 22 labour unions of north Bengal organised a rally at Siliguri in Darjeeling on Wednesday demanding a minimum wage structure for workers of tea gardens.

The workers who had assembled from nearly 300 tea gardens in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri , Alipurduar and even from smaller tea gardens of Uttar Dinajpur district walked a three-km stretch in Siliguri town. The representatives of the 22 labour unions submitted a memorandum to the Joint Labour Commissioner, North Bengal Zone. The protests took place in the wake of starvation deaths of workers of locked-out and abandoned tea gardens.

The protest was addressed by Abhijit Mazumdar on behalf of AICCTU, among others.

Below is an excerpt from the memorandum to be submitted to the Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.


Reclaiming the rights of the tea workers in West Bengal 

India remains the second largest tea producing country in the global arena. Notwithstanding this deep market penetration of the captains of the industry, the huge working population (more than 4 lacs permanent labourers) engaged in the tea sector in West Bengal are rendered impoverished and malnourished, living on a lower than subsistence wage structure and are being deprived of the statutory entitlements due on them as per The Tea Plantation Labour Act, 1951. Presently 6 tea gardens in the Dooars region are lying closed, the resident workers are dying in hordes (the death toll reached beyond 100 in the last 6 months or so) in absence of basic living amenities like food, medical facilities, potable drinking water, access to alternative employment opportunities and minimal wages, suffering from prolonged malnourishment and starvation. The erstwhile managements of all 6 closed tea gardens and scores of purportedly declared sick gardens, as speculators, amassed huge surplus during market booms without spending a farthing either for labour welfare or the rejuvenation of their plantations, and refusing to shoulder the associated social cost or liabilities. They left their gardens leaving the entire working population to their fate, defaulting even on the amount of money to the tune of crores payable to the workers as PF and gratuity.

The very recent report based on a thorough survey of all 276 organised tea gardens, conducted by West Bengal State Labour Department is full of incriminating evidences against the managements of several closed, sick and even open gardens.

The gravity of the prevailing situation warrants a strong and effective intervention on the part of the Central Government machinery to chart out a viable course for immediate opening and revival of the closed tea gardens in West Bengal.

The Tea Plantation Labour Act, 1951 enshrining the basic rights of the working population is rampantly flouted and in the name of revamping the act the planters are pleading to revisit it towards scaling down further such statutory rights vis-à-vis need-based wages (ascertaining the base on 3 consuming units), subsidized rations, proper housing facilities, supply of fuels, medical and educational facilities for the workers and their wards etc.

TPLA ought to be reinforced with vigour and any violation of any sort must be met with penal actions.

The Tea Board of India, formed under the provisions of Tea Act 1953, must ensure its avowed assistance to the tea sector in terms of replantation, rejuvenation of poor yielding and old aged tea-bushes, modernization of operations, spreading popularity of tea domestically and globally, creation of irrigation facility, drainage and transportation facility, assistance of product diversification, improving labour productivity, skill improvement, upgradation, value addition etc. It must look through and monitor that no measure of such assistance be falsified by the planters and engaged in maximizing profit and siphoning off the surplus by adopting unfair means.


Palestinian statement on murder of Mike Brown and solidarity with Ferguson

(Even as it comes to light that the weapons deployed by the US cops against black anti-racist protesters in the streets of Ferguson, Palestinians have come out with a statement of solidarity with the people of Ferguson. The statement, posted on Electronic Intifada, was endorsed by a large number of Palestinian Citizens and activist groups.)

We the undersigned Palestinian individuals and groups express our solidarity with the family of Michael Brown, a young unarmed black man gunned down by police on August 9th in Ferguson, Missouri. We wish to express our support and solidarity with the people of Ferguson who have taken their struggle to the street, facing a militarized police occupation.

From all factions and sectors of our dislocated society, we send you our commitment to stand with you in your hour of pain and time of struggle against the oppression that continues to target our black brothers and sisters in nearly every aspect of their lives.

We understand your moral outrage. We empathize with your hurt and anger. We understand the impulse to rebel against the infrastructure of a racist capitalist system that systematically pushes you to the margins of humanity.

And we stand with you.

We recognize the disregard and disrespect for black bodies and black life endemic to the supremacist system that rules the land with wanton brutality. Your struggles through the ages have been an inspiration to us as we fight our own battles for basic human dignities. We continue to find inspiration and strength from your struggles through the ages and your revolutionary leaders, like Malcolm X, Huey Newton, Kwame Ture, Angela Davis, Fred Hampton, Bobby Seale and others.

We honor the life of Michael Brown, cut short less than a week before he was due to begin university.  And we honor the far too many more killed in similar circumstances, motivated by racism and contempt for black life: Ezell Ford, John Crawford, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Tarika Wilson, Malcolm Ferguson, Renisha McBride, Amadou Diallo, Yvette Smith, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Kathryn Johnston, Rekia Boyd and too many others to count.

With a Black Power fist in the air, we salute the people of Ferguson and join in your demands for justice.

Birth Centenary of Late CPI GS Chandra Rajeswara Rao

On 11th August, leaders of left parties addressed a mass gathering in Hyderabad to mark the birth anniversary of the Communist leader, late Comrade Chandra Rajeswara Rao (popularly called CR), who had been General Secretary of the Communist Party of India for 28 years.

In the gathering of thousands, there were some 1500 volunteers in red shirts. On the dais were CPI General Secretary Sudhakar Reddy, CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat, senior RSP leader Abani Ray, as well as CPI Secretaries from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, and organisers of the Centenary Celebration Committee.

Speaking on the occasion, Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya recalled Comrade CR's participation in the Indian People's Front Vijayawada Conference in February 1992, and his emphasis on militant peasant struggle and movement-oriented Left unity. All the Left leaders hailed Comrade CR's legacy from the Telangana days and in anti-communal mobilisation and stressed the need for broad unity of Left and democratic forces and joint struggles against the Modi regime and the heightened corporate-communal offensive.

On 10th August, an international seminar on 'Social Movement and the role of the Left' was held as part of Centenary celebrations. Representatives from Cuba and Vietnam, and leaders of Communist Party Bangladesh, and Workers Party of Bangladesh addressed it. It was inaugurated by veteran CPI leader AB Bardhan, and Prabhat Patnaik delivered the keynote address. CPI(ML) Liberation CCM Comrade N Murthy also addressed the seminar.



UR Ananthamurthy

We are saddened to hear of the demise of towering Kannada litterateur UR Ananthamurthy. Born in an orthodox Brahmin household, his first novel Samskara was a powerful critique of the hypocrisies of Brahminism. He was one of the pioneers of the Navya movement in Kannada literature. His literary oeuvre includes five novels, one play, eight short-story collections, three collections of poetry and eight more of essays.

In his writing, and as a public intellectual, he was a scathing critic of communal and casteist bigotry, earning him physical assaults as well as threats and abuse. In spite of this, he remained one of the country's most steadfast voices in defence of secular, democratic values. His public stand against the rise of Narendra Modi who personified the fascist danger for him, made him the target of threats to his safety in the past few days. But he continued to defy the threats, declaring that bullies should not be allowed to turn citizens into cowards.

CPI(ML) salutes the memory of UR Ananthamurthy!      


Comrade Bishuda

Comrade Bishuda (Biswaranjan Das) of Potiram, South Dinajpur district, veteran of the historic Tebhaga peasants struggle, and former member of Party's West Bengal State Committee died breathed his last in Balurghat hospital. He was 94. He was a key leader of Tebhaga movement in Khanpur region of Dinajpur. He joined CPI(ML) Liberation in 1994. Despite his advanced age and physical ailments, his mental involvement and ideological commitment remained unshaken till the end.

Red Salute to Comrade Bishuda!


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

ML Update | No. 34 | 2014

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  17 | No. 34 | 19 - 25 AUG 2014

Modi's Independence Day Speech

Decoding the Reality Behind the Hype and Rhetoric

It is time to parse Modi's Independence Day speech carefully, behind the hype and rhetoric, for signals of what India can actually expect in terms of policies from his Government.

On a range of troubling questions ranging from rape to sex-selective abortion to farmers' suicides to communal violence, the Prime Minister's words, artfully chosen to create an impression of 'inclusive governance', contrasted starkly with the actual actions of his Government, BJP leaders, and the Sangh Parivar. 

His speech waxed eloquent on parental responsibility in checking rapes. It did not for one moment answer why a rape-accused man had been given a place in his own Cabinet. More significantly, as a measure to curb rapes, he called upon parents to "impose as many restrictions on the sons as have been imposed on our daughters." Women protesting rape have, time and again, sought that no restrictions be imposed on them in the name of protecting them from rape. Moreover, the fact is that 'restrictions on sons' are already imposed – by branding their love of a woman from another caste or community as 'rape.' The khap panchayats that kill inter-caste couples and the moral-policing outfits that force couples to tie 'rakhi' to each other do, after, all 'impose patriarchal restrictions' on both women and men.  On the very eve of Independence Day, RSS leader S Gurumurthy declared that Indian women are 'shy not shameless', and the very day after Independence Day, a Goa BJP Minister called for a ban on women wearing bikinis on Goa's beaches. Modi's words did not convey any hint of censure to his camp followers who seek to curb the freedoms of women; he instead legitimized those restrictions by 'balancing' it with talk of 'restrictions on boys.'   

Likewise, Modi's 'appeal' to doctors not to perform sex-selective abortions is lame, coming from the PM. Modi was silent on what his Government plans to do to ensure that the law is upheld and doctors performing such illegal abortions are punished.

Modi rhetorically asked "who has benefited from communalism" and called for a "10-year moratorium on communal violence". But he chose to be silent about the systematic communalization project being undertaken by the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. In UP, it is very apparent "who has benefited from communalism" – none but Modi himself and the BJP. When Modi himself communalized the question of the meat industry by calling it a "pink revolution" involving the slaughter of cattle, was it not communalization? When Amit Shah and the BJP in UP communalize rape, branding the entire Muslim community as rapists and terming even consensual elopements as 'rape', is it not communalization? Is the BJP not creating communal flare-ups over every possible event from kids' quarrels to disputes over loudspeakers? 

Days before Independence Day, the RSS chief had issued a challenge to the very idea of India, by declaring that all residents of Hindustan were Hindus. The textbooks that are now compulsory reading for school kids in Modi's home state, and that the Sangh Parivar promotes for inclusion in national syllabi, have an obscurantist and absurd content, very different from Modi's claim of progress and forward-looking development. Modi's studied silence on the RSS' declarations that India is a Hindu Rashtra, and on Batra's textbooks, give the lie to his claims of "inclusive governance." 

Modi similarly condemned regionalist violence; even as he Shiv Sena, founded on regional chauvinistic violence, shares power with him at the Centre. Modi also condemned casteist violence, even as the Sangh's close links with the Ranveer Sena's Dalit massacres in Bihar are no secret, and the BJP's Tamil Nadu ally PMK is systematically unleashing violence on Dalits.

The 'mask formula' of the Vajpayee days is being recreated, with the PM's 'inclusive talk' serving to mask the free run that the RSS agenda actually gets in the same PM's regime. In the Vajpayee phase, the NDA CMP imposed at least a nominal check on the Sangh agenda, by formally excluding the pet issues of the RSS. This time around, there is no such formal CMP, and the RSS openly holds parleys with the Government. Even as the RSS and BJP are clearly pushing for a greater legitimisation of the Sangh discourse and practice in all areas from education to women's rights to communal violence to foreign policy, Modi seeks to camouflage all this as an agenda of "inclusive governance." 

Modi spoke of the pain of farmers' suicide, only to suggest that bank accounts and insurance of Rs 1 lakh can help families out in a crisis. He failed to confront the fact that the farmers' suicides are caused by the Government's policy of leaving farmers and agriculture at the mercy of corporations and calamities. It has been observed that UPA Government's cosmetic measures of loan waivers failed to curb farmers' suicides, because it was a case of 'mopping the floor while leaving the tap overflowing'. Modi's 'Pradhanmantri Jan-dhan' scheme will be no different, unless the Government reverses the policies that trap farmers' in a debt cycle.

 Modi's talk of 'Model Villages' to promote rural development are eyewash, given that he was silent on the Government-promoted corporate offensive on land and livelihood in rural India. Referring to Maoism, he asked people to shoulder the plough instead of the gun in order to put an end to bloodshed. This disingenuous speech masks the reality. After all, guns are being used by police and paramilitary to kill peasants and adivasis defending their land, and this bloodshed is justified by branding those killed as 'Maoists.' Not only that, the bogey of 'Maoism' is used less against against those armed with guns, and more to silence voices and even songs of dissent. Just a day before Independence Day, the ABVP, student wing of Modi's party, threatened violence at St Xaviers' College Mumbai in order to prevent Dalit singer and activist Sheetal Sathe from speaking at a student festival.                 

Modi issued a rousing invitation to the world's corporations to 'Come Make in India', and he asked India's youth to feel pride that the world would see the 'Made in India' label. It is well known that only countries offering cheap, pliant, exploitable labour – Bangladesh, Taiwan, Mexico, Honduras, China and so on – are favoured destinations for global manufacturing corporations. The countries whose names figure in 'Made in' labels are all known for their super-exploited workforce in sweatshops, and for repressive governments that crack down on workers' right to unionize and protest. Modi's government is already set to roll back or dilute various labour laws to facilitate and intensify the exploitation of cheap labour, and this agenda is what underpins the rhetorical call to 'Make in India'.

It is true that the Planning Commission stands heavily discredited, since people associate it with the absurd poverty benchmarks declared by Montek Ahluwalia. But abolishing the Planning Commission entirely represents the final abdication of the last relic of welfare-oriented mixed economy and a complete switchover to the tyranny of corporate-dominated market economy.

In Modi's speech, there was a marked silence on the promise of 'acche din', which each of his electoral speeches had harped upon. Far from the promised relief, change, and new vision and policies, what Modi's Government, and his I-Day speech are doing is simply to repackage old, unfulfilled schemes as a brand new vision of development. 

The people of India will not be fobbed off with rhetoric any more. They will be looking at the Government's policies and actions on the ground. And attempts to re-package and re-brand price rise, land grab and exploitation of cheap labour by Indian corporations and MNCs as 'development'; as well as the politics of communalism and patriarchy being pursued with the blessings of the Central Government, will not impress them.   

ABVP Prevents Sheetal Sathe From Speaking 

Sheetal Sathe, Dalit singer and activist of the Kabir Kala Manch, had been invited to speak at the Malhar Festival in St. Xaviers' College Mumbai on the eve of Independence Day. The ABVP issued a threat of violent disruption, after which filmmaker Anand Patwardhan gave a talk in her place. Below is an excerpt from the text of Anand's speech on the occasion.  

14th August. Another Sad Day for Democracy

I speak before you today in place of the designated speaker, Sheetal Sathe. It is not that Sheetal Sathe could not come on stage today because she or her baby fell ill. It is not that she had nothing to say. It is not that she was afraid to say what she had to say. And it is not that she did not come because she doubted the sincerity of those who had invited her.

It is precisely because she treasures the love and respect shown to her by the students who had invited her to speak and sing at this year's Malhar festival that Sheetal Sathe has chosen not to allow the organizers of this festival and all the people gathered here to be exposed to the ugly threats of disruption that have been issued against them in case she spoke and sang here today.

Let it be known far and wide who exactly has issued these threats. These threats have not been issued by a court of law or by the police, or by any instrument of the State or national government. Sheetal Sathe is out on bail precisely because an Indian high court ruled that her liberty did not have to be curtailed while she was undergoing trial to establish her innocence. The court has not taken away her freedom of speech or her right to sing. The court has not sought to officially stifle her voice or the voice of the millions of oppressed and stigmatized people that she sings about.

An extra-constitutional body that threatens the very fabric of our secular democracy has issued this threat. There are many such extra-constitutional bodies that are growing in power today. Such bodies have many names and many duties. Some decide what books the people of India should read. Some decide what films we should see. Some decide what speeches and songs we should hear. There are many self-appointed censors, but make no mistake, they belong to one single family with one single ideology and one set of beliefs. These beliefs have been inculcated from a very young and impressionable age. I will not list all these beliefs except to point out that apart from asserting that the aeroplane and rocket science was invented thousands of years ago in the Vedic era of Brahminism which they call the golden era, it includes an abiding faith in the Manusmriti, an ancient Brahminic law code that deprived Dalits and women of their most basic human rights and permitted untold atrocities upon all those who challenged it.

Today this ideology comes before us in a new disguise of nationalism. It is draped in the flag of India – the very tricolour that it loudly denounced at the time of Independence when its followers insisted on hoisting an orange flag of Hindutva instead. They also refused to sing "Jana Gana Mana" demanding that "Vande Mataram" should be the national anthem. Needless to point out that "Vande Mataram" was penned by Bankim Chandra in his 19th century novel Anandmath, a book that vilified India's Muslims.

Apart from nationalism there is another even more seductive disguise that has recently fired the lust of India's elite and middle classes. It is the disguise of "development". This development lust has trumped even the tricolour for it says "So what if the world's oil and water is rapidly depleting? So what if there is pollution, global warming and the threat of tsunami and nuclear disaster? Why should we protect India's air, water, forests, land and ore from the multinationals who wish to grab it?"

They are ready to sell our sovereignty for the short-term gain of a few, as long as they are allowed to make a hologram of the national flag. They then proceed to promote our most primitive, racist and exploitative cultural and economic traditions while making suitable noises about modernity and development.

How do you and I resist? Make no mistake. This is an ideology that brooks no dissent. Today is yet another sad day for India's democracy. It is a day when an extra Constitutional power backed by a ruling political party has issued a threat against a college run for over a century by Christians. Yes, that is the bottom-line. That is what makes St. Xaviers College and in particular, its principled principal, a specially vulnerable target.

Sheetal Sathe and the KKMDC do not wish to jeopardize this festival. But we wish to put on record that we will never be silenced. And we want the public to know who exactly has issued this particular threat. The threat has been issued by the Akhil Bharati Vidyarthi Parishad (APVP) the youth wing of a political party that came to power by telling the people of India that it no longer stands for the divisive, communal and casteist politics that it had been associated with in the past.

You have to understand the real reason why groups like the ABVP hate groups like the KKM. It has nothing to do with nationalism or Naxalism. It is because their visions of India are diametrically opposed. The Kabir Kala Manch believes in a pluralistic India where caste, religion and race is replaced by the recognition that we are all human beings first who deserve justice, peace and true democracy. The ideologues of Hindutva, no matter how big a national flag they wrap around themselves, have always had a completely different agenda.

Anand Patwardhan, 14 August 2014, St Xaviers' College Mumbai

Kisan Mahasabha Observes Nationwide Protest Day on August 9

The Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha observed August 9 as Protest Day all over the country and organized dharnas, marches, and meetings to highlight farmers' demands, especially against dilution of the Land Acquisition Act and approval for field trials for GM crops. Subsequently, the approval for GM field trials has been put on hold, but the Government's intentions to promote corporate interests over farmers' interests is clear.


Many effective programmes were organized by the Kisan Mahasabha in Udaipur, Pratapgarh, Jhunjhunu, Jaipur and Ajmer districts of Rajasthan on August 9 to observe Kranti Diwas, attended by the Party's people's organizations and members in large numbers. 


A huge dharna and meeting of 2500 farmers was led by Puran Mahto and Sitaram Singh at Giridih district HQ. Addressing the farmers Kisan Mahasabha national secretary Com. Rajaram Singh said that the Modi govt move to further benefit the corporate houses through amendment of the Land Acquisition Bill would leave the farmers bereft of all rights and they would lose even what little they had gained through the Land Acquisition Bill of 2013. The proposed amendments would also increase food insecurity throughout the country. The Modi govt is trying to remove provisions in the existing Bill such as mandatory consent of 70% farmers, estimation of social effect, etc. The existing Bill has a compensation rate of only 4 times instead of 6 times the market rate; but the Modi govt, in addition to removing even this, also wants to do away with giving compensation for workers and artisans dependent on the land and with the provision that acquired land if not in use, can be used by farmers. The attempt is also to remove obstacles to acquisition of multi-crop land. Farmers have long demanded that there should be a land conservation Bill instead of a land acquisition Bill. The Modi govt has given the green signal for dangerous field trials of GM seeds without proper research and investigation, which will have far reaching disastrous consequences. The govt allowed field trials of GM rice, wheat, vegetables, brinjal, pulses and oil crops under pressure of MNCs. The Kisan Mahasabha called for an acceleration of protest against the anti-people and anti-nation policies of the govt at a meeting at Ramgarh district, Chandan Kiyari block HQ in Bokaro district, and Garhwa district.


A march was taken out on August 9 at Lalkuan in Nainital district, addressed by Kisan Mahasabha leaders after which an effigy of Modi was burnt. Dharnas and meetings were held at Pithoragarh, Munasyari, Shrinagar, and Garhwal, and memorandums submitted to the President. The dharna protests were attended by farmers in large numbers.


Kisan Mahasabha organized a dharna at Karnal district HQ in which other people also joined the farmers and heard the speeches. The speakers pointed out that due to the proximity of Delhi, land in Haryana is being acquired at an alarming rate by corporate houses. They demanded that there should not be an amendment to the land acquisition Bill; rather, it should be replaced by a land conservation Bill.


Protest Day was observed on August 9 in 3 districts in AP. Acquisition of cultivable land has become a major issue in the State. Dharnas, protests, and meetings well attended by farmers were organized at Kakinada, Karnool, and Krishna district.


20 districts of the State are badly flood-affected, Puri being one of the worst affected. Kisan Mahasabha workers are collecting and sending relief materials to the affected areas. Protests are being organized at different blocks in Puri district to demand proper relief and rehabilitation works. In spite of the floods, over 300 farmers from Puri came to attend the August 9 Protest Day programme in the capital Bhubhaneshwar. After a protest and meeting in front of the CM's house, a memo was submitted to the CM demanding immediate stopping of amendments to the land acquisition Bill, and proper flood relief works.


August 9 was observed as Nationwide Protest Day and the week up to August 14 as Statewide Protest Week. Block level protests were held from Aug 9 to 13 and on Aug 14 protests were held in front of the District Magistrates at Burdwan, Nadiya, Darjeeling, North and South 24 parganas. Several street meetings were held where the speakers unmasked the anti-farmer face of the Modi govt.


A huge rally of farmers and workers was taken out at Pune, where apart from the above demands, it was also demanded that the closed sugar mills be reopened, new wage fixation for workers and unemployment allowance of Rs. 3000 be fixed.


A 14 point memo was submitted to the PM through the SDMs from 14 places in Punjab. The demands included declaring Punjab as drought affected, large scale irrigation facilities, and steps to stop farmer suicides. Dharnas and protests were held at Mansa, Sangrur, Gurdaspur, Barnala, Pathankot, Firozpur, Muksar, and Faridkot.


To mark Aug 9 as Protest day, dharnas, protests, marches and meetings were held at Ghazipur, Gorakhpur, Pilibhit, Phulpur, Bareilly, Mathura, Lakhimpur Khiri, Balliya, Chandauli, Azamgarh, and Kushinagar. Speakers who addressed the meetings, attended by large numbers of farmers as well as other people, pointed out the pro-corporate and anti-farmer character of the Modi govt. Memorandums were submitted to the Prime Minister through the local authorities.


Kisan Mahasabha organized a huge dharna at Kargil Chowk near Gandhi Maidan in Patna on Aug 9. The dharna saw a good participation by lower middle farmers as well as sharecroppers and also other people. A memo was submitted to the PM through the DM demanding that Bihar should be declared drought affected and proper relief, irrigation, and ration arrangements should be made and proper irrigation should be arranged through ahar-pipes from Punpun, Dardha, and Morhar rivers. Dharnas were held and memos submitted from Biddupur block in Vaishali, Mahua, Lalganj, and Bhojpur district HQ in Ara, which were well attended by farmers. Pamphlets were distributed for wider circulation. Protests were held at Buxar district HQ to demand supply of water to the lower areas of the Son canal, and expedition of the Kadwan reservoir project. Dharnas and meetings were also organized at Rohtas district HQ in Sasaram, Aurangabad, and Jehanabad district HQs. Farmers protested at Arwal district HQ and an effigy of PM Narendra Modi was burnt at Arwal crossroads. Protest marches and dharnas were held at Nalanda district HQ in Biharshariff, Begusarai district HQ, Kahalgaon in Bhagalpur district, Purnea, Siwan, Gopalganj, Muzaffarpur, and Patna City. Speakers at the meetings exposed the anti-farmer policies of the Modi govt and said that the struggle woud be accelerated by observing the week from 29 Aug to 4 Sep as a statewide Protest week when protests would be held at various block HQs and demands would be raised for declaring Bihar a drought affected State and making proper arrangements for irrigation, ration and electricity. "Kisan Jagaran Saptah" would be observed from 6 to 12 Oct during whih padyatras would be undertaken from village to village and extensive contact would be made with farmers.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

ML Update | No. 33 | 2014

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  17 | No. 33 | 12 - 18 AUG 2014

BJP Agenda Unfolds:

Communal Politics and Corporate-Dictated Economic Policy 

The BJP's National Council meeting was held last week, sending clear signals about the agenda and ambitions of the BJP and the Modi Government.

The new BJP President Amit Shah outlined the plan to repeat the BJP's spectacular UP success story, ensure BJP victories all over the country, and achieve dominance and hegemony for the BJP's ideology. Enumerating the reasons for the BJP's UP success, Shah cited the BJP's "right approach in social engineering." Meanwhile, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, breaking a two month long silence with his speech at the BJP National Council meet, referred to concerns about communal polarization in UP, as "vote bank politics." The obvious question here, of course, is this: in what way is what Amit Shah hails as "social engineering," different from what Modi calls "vote bank politics'? 

The exact nature of the BJP's "social engineering" can be gauged by the investigative reports by an English daily about communal conflicts in UP. The paper found that there have been more than 600 plus instances of communal tension in UP since the Lok Sabha polls, mostly around the 12 constituencies where by-elections are shortly due.  The paper documented how loudspeakers, kids' bicycles, dhaba bills and runaway lovers have all become pretexts  for flaring up of communal polarisation and potential riots. The paper reported that a vast number of these 'engineered' conflicts have been between Dalits and Muslims. The BJP's 'social engineering' has involved the deliberate efforts to sow the seeds of hatred among Dalits against Muslims, in order to reap a harvest of votes later.  

One of the key tools of this saffron "social engineering" has been to communalize consensual relationships and rape cases alike, to promote the bogey of "love jehad" by Muslim men against Hindu women. Towards this, the RSS launched a vicious campaign to use the Rakshabandhan festival as an occasion to tie Rakhis to lakhs of Hindu men, asking them to pledge to protect their sisters from Muslim men and "love jehad," and the VHP runs a 'helpline' urging Hindus to approach them "if your daughter is being harassed by Muslim boys." The Supreme Court has had to warn against attempts to communalize rape allegations in Western UP that threaten to destroy the secular fabric of the country. 

What is the ideology that Amit Shah for which seeks to achieve unchallenged dominance? The RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has underlined the true nature of that ideology in a recent statement, that the inhabitants of Hindustan are all Hindus. This refrain of the RSS is based on the false suggestion that 'Hindustan' is the land of the followers of the 'Hindu' faith. The fact is that the word 'Hindustan' (and likewise the word 'Hindu' and 'Indian' both) derive from the Persian word for the land and the people around the Sindhu river. These words themselves are testimony to India's composite culture, that the RSS' myth-making cannot erase. Much like the RSS chief, the Goa Deputy Chief Minister also recently declared that "India is a Hindu country. It is Hindustan. All Indians in Hindustan are Hindus," and a Goa minister Dipak Dhavalikar declared, "We should support Modi as he will develop India into a Hindu nation." These statements make it very clear that the "social engineering" of the RSS and BJP involves creating a Hindu "vote bank", in fact a "Hindu nation", one in which people of other faiths will be subordinated and subjected to humiliation and violence. This agenda was outlined long back by the RSS founders, but Indian people have rejected it till now. Under the Modi Government, the RSS and BJP dream of actually achieving that agenda. After Gujarat, UP is the next saffron laboratory, and the BJP hopes to repeat UP on a larger scale all over the country.       

The problem is that the Modi Government was not elected primarily for its communal plank. It rode the dissatisfactions and anger of the people against the Congress regime. And now, the Modi Government is widely perceived as continuing the Congress-UPA's policies of corporate appeasement and ant-people policies. In fact, Amit Shah's speech indicates that even the few rights and entitlements that the people's movements wrested from the UPA Government, such as right to employment (MNREGA) or the Land Acquisition legislation, will now be rolled back. Rubbishing what he called 'entitlement based policies', Shah declared that for the BJP, 'empowerment' came first and 'entitlement' would flow naturally from 'empowerment' and 'good governance.' He specifically said that the Modi Government consider "neither framing of an act nor an agitation by the people" as required to ensure people's rights, which should flow "automatically" from the "right conditions." This corporate- and imperialism-inspired economic and political philosophy was expressed even more blatantly by BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy in a talk recently, where he referred to the poor as "parasites on the state."

The BJP's pro-corporate policies call the bluff of its own election-time pro-poor posturing, and the sinister communal agenda of the RSS and BJP threaten the basic fabric of democracy in India.    

Gana Mancha Convention in Kolkata

Five left political organisations, namely CPI-ML(Liberation), Left Collective, Samajik Nyay Vichar Mancha, Mazdoor Kranti Parishad and Radical Socialist, came together in West Bengal to form a united platform for 'working people's movement for democracy and secularism' (abbreviated as 'Gana Mancha' in Bengali, which loosely translates into People's Platform) through a joint convention held in Kolkata on August 7, 2014. The convention adopted a resolution which will serve as guideline for coordinated action by the five organisations in the upcoming days. The convention was held at Phani Bhushan Mancha, near Bagbazar, in the state capital. The convention called for building mass political struggles against corporate-fascist offensives of the NDA government at the centre and against anti-people policies and undemocratic measures of the TMC government in West Bengal. 

Partha Ghosh, State Secretary of CPI-ML, in his speech rejected the notion peddled by a section of the media, that this platform is being built by some 'disgruntled/dissident CPI-M workers'. He said, this is a platform for struggle, for taking effective action against the anti-people policies of the government. "One after another factories are getting closed, and the owners keep getting away with looting PF and gratuity dues of the workers. Yet the government keeps mum. This platform must take up issues like this", said Comrade Ghosh. He spoke on starvation deaths in the tea-gardens, on how peasants in Singur and Nandigram are yet to get justice, and how the rights of dalits, adivasis and muslims are being trampled upon in the state. Speaking on the threat of corporate communal fascism, he said we must take up the challenge to build the broadest co-ordinated movement to defend both democracy and secularism. "Some in the left camp are still pained about Singur, and sympathize with Tata. They must apologize to the people" he said. Comrade Rezzak Mollah said that we are planting a sapling today which will grow into a big tree in the future. He called out to the youth of the state to build a powerful movement against the oppressive anti-youth policies of the centre and state. Comrade Prasenjit Bose of the Left Collective said the so-called 'Gujrat model' of development followed by the erstwhile ruling left in Bengal produced an environment where a dictatorial party like the TMC could usurp power. Building people's movement in the streets is the need of the hour.

Amitabha Chakravarty of the MKP, and Kunal Chattopadhyay of the Radical Socialist also spoke on the occasion. Comrade Mangat Ram Pasla, General Secretary of CPM Punjab who came to extend solidarity to the convention spoke of building a principled left unity in this critical time in our country. Representatives from other left organisations also extended solidarity to the initiative. Apart from Com. Pasla, Com K K Rema, wife and comrade of slain RMP leader T P Chandrasekharan along with left activists from Tamil Nadu, Maharastra and Kerala were present as guests in the convention.

Struggle Against Repression on Adivasis in Gujarat

In Gujarat's Valsad district, in the Umergaon, Kapdada, Dharmpur, Vapi and Pardi talukas, adivasis with CPI(ML)'s support have been conducting a struggle against loot of their land. The struggle has been resisting grab of adivasi land by land mafia, handover of adivasi land to industrialists by the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation GIDC on various pretexts, and demanding implementation of the Forest Rights Act. In exchange for the land grabbed, the adivasis receive a pittance as compensation. The BJP Government and local Congress leadership work in tandem to facilitate the land grab.    

The terror unleashed against adivasis is enormous here, and CPI(ML) leaders too have faced murderous attacks. CPIP(ML) leader Laxmanbhai Patanwaria was attacked and injured in 2007; Kapila Ben, the CPI(ML) candidate in the Zila Panchayat polls, was attacked in 2010. A delegation led by Laxcmanbhai Patanwaria to the police thana to raise the issue, was also attacked outside the thana – no FIR was lodged by cops. The attacks took place on orders of the local BJP MLA Raman Patkar.  

Agaon on 2 July 2014, goons attacked Laxmanbhai Patanwaria at a bus stop, and soon after, goons surrounded and attacked his house. Because of the tremendous resistance from villagers, the goons had to beat a retreat.

The adivasis have been living on the land for generations, but few have any documents to prove land tenure. Land mafia and GIDC take advantage of this to grab the land. The surrounding area is a chemical industry hub and one of the most polluted areas in the country, and the land is very valuable for corporations.   

On 5 August, the party organized a protest march to the Collectorate demanding:

1.    Survey the forest land under the FRA and distribute the land to adivasis without delay, giving them documents for their land.  

2.    Investigate attacks on CPI(ML) leaders and punish the perpetrators and conspirators. 

3.    Stop the pollution spread by chemical corporations in collution with GIDC, punish companies for poisoning fields and drinking water, making them pay for clean-up and compensation. Close down polluting industries and set up an effective pollution control board. 

4.    Put a stop to police terror against adivasis

5.    Investigate corruption in MNREGA implementation in the whole district and punish the guilty  

The demonstration was led by CPI(ML) PB member Prabhat Kumar, the party's Gujarat in-charge Ranjan Ganguly, State leading team member Laxmanbhai Patanwaria, RYA in-charge Amit Patanwaria, youth leader Kamlesh as well as Kamla Ben and Damayanti Ben. 

Rallies in Rajasthan to Mark Quit India Day

On 9th August 2014, events were organized at Udaipur, Pratapgarh, Jhunjhunu, Jaipur and Ajmer to mark Quit India Day.

In Pratapgarh, 300 party cadres led by CCM Mahendra Chaudhury held a rally in the city. The rally culminated in a public meeting addressed by Mahendra chaudhury, district secretary Shambhu Rawal, Zafar Husain and others, who condemned the Modi Government for selling out people's interests in favour of corporations. After the meeting, a delegation submitted a 21-point set of demands including MNREGA work and proper pay and various civic amenities; roll back of approval for GM crops and proposed amendments to the Land Acquisition Act.

In Udaipur, the Construction Labour Union district secretary Gautam Lal Morila and AIKM leader Chandradeo Ola addressed a mass meeting at the district administration office. A demand charter was submitted addressed to CM and President of India.  

Similar protest events were held at Jhunjhunu, Jaipur and Ajmer district HQs.    

Peasants Asks GM Crops to Quit India

On 9th August, Quit India Day, All India Kisan Mahasabha held nation-wide protests against the Government's move to approve GM seeds and to roll back crucial and hard-won protections in the Land Acquisition Act.

A detailed report of the protests will be carried in the next issue.

At Karnal in Haryana, the AIKM Vice President Comrade Prem Singh Gehlawat addressed the protest gathering of peasants, along with Comrades Mahindra Chopra, Rajendra Phoosgarh, Krishn Saini Asandh, Ishwar Pal, Ramu Uplana, Satyawan Valmiki, Karmvir Mistri, Natthi Kashyap Ladobagdi, Som Prakash, Ram Kumar Pal and Lalit Saini. 

Women's Tribunal In Lucknow Puts State and Central Government in the Dock

The AIPWA held a Women's Tribunal in Lucknow, attended by around 700 women from various districts across the state. The tribunal put the State and Central Governments in the dock over the unabated violence against women in the State.

Survivors of violence, and relatives of victims testified at the Tribunal. One woman from Lakhimpur Kheri spoke of the sexual harassment she faced at the hands of cops, followed by cops jailing her husband on false pretexts.

Another woman spoke of how her 11 year old daughter was raped and hung from a tree in 2011, a case in which the perpetrators are yet to be punished.

A woman from Pilibhit spoke of her daughter being killed for dowry, and the accused openly sharing sweets with cops, ensuring that no FIR was even registered in the case.

Several women from Pilibhit spoke of the harassment of peasant women in the name of the Tiger Reserve. "When we collect firewood and other small forest produce," said Halka Devi, "the forest officers and cops sexually molest us and beat us up. If we complain they say, don't come into the forest if you don't like it. How can we survive without firewood?"

AIPWA activist Saroj from Ghazipur spoke of a series of attacks on women that showed the deep nexus of cops with criminal elements. Jeera Devi was beaten by criminal Sanjay Singh, who was not arrested. Kamrunnissa and her son were beaten up by cops and warned not to complain against criminal elements.

AIPWA activist Anita from Mirzapur and Sarojini from Sitapur testified to more incidents, speaking of the experience of supporting survivors of violence. One woman from Sitapur spoke of how her 14 year old daughter was raped. She identified the rapists but the cops delayed filing a case for 2 days. On the third day they demanded Rs 8000 as a bribe. Rs 4000 was paid, and the FIR lodged, but the family was coerced into saying that no rape had occurred, and the FIR did not mention rape!  AIPWA activists and CPI(ML) took up this case and are in the process of fighting for justice, with the 14 year old survivor very bravely standing firm.

Arti Rai, AIPWA VP, also spoke of the situation in the state, where both SP and BJP, State and Central Governments seem more interested in moral policing than in defending women's rights.

Speakers discussed the experiences of the Badayun and Mohanlalganj rape and murder cases, pointing out that neither UP cops nor CBI seemed interested in justice for the victims. Instead these cases were being sensationalized and distorted. And in Meerut and Muzaffarnagar, rape complaints were being communalized by the RSS and BJP to serve the BJP's political agenda.

The main speaker was Kavita Krishnan, secretary AIPWA, who pointed out that neither state nor central governments were spending on more shelters for women and more courts to ensure speedy trials. Neither was taking action against errant cops or ensuring accountable policing. Rather, the UP Government was busy making atrocious sexist comments to make rapes appear 'normal'. While the Modi Government, to cover up its lack of action on urgent measures, was instead amending the dowry and domestic violence Acts to make it more difficult for women to get justice and protection under these Acts. She slammed the Government's move to amend the Juvenile Justice Act, saying that sending juvenile offenders to jail would only turn them into hardened criminals, and would make women no safer. Further, she pointed out that a large number of 'rape' cases involving juveniles are actually elopement cases, which have been criminalized by the raising of age of consent. Now, if the JJ Act is amended, such innocent young boys who have been affectionate with a girl of same age, might not only be booked for rape but even jailed! Kavita warned of the attempts by RSS and other groups to take away women's freedom to marry by choice, by raising the bogey of love jehad. Such a charged communal atmosphere, she said, will make it difficult for women to choose their own partners from another religion; but also make it difficult for them to complain against rape for fear of communalization.

AIPWA State President Tahira Hasan and Secretary Geeta Pande as well as AIPWA National Executive member Vidya Rajwar, and CPI(ML) CC Member Krishna Adhikari  addressed the gathering.

The event was also addressed by distinguished women's rights activists Prof Rooprekha varma, Nivedita from NFIW, Sudha from Humsafar, Anupama from Save Womnen, Naz from Bahin and Gita Singh from Domestic Workers' organization.      

Red Salute to Comrade Tripti Trivedi

Comrade Tripti Trivedi, health workers' national leader and senior CPI(ML) leader, passed away on 25 July 2014 after a battle with cancer. He was born in Murshidabad district and at a young age was drawn to rationalist ideas and progressive thought. In the late 1960s he joined the Naxalbari movement when he was studying to be a doctor in the RG Kar Medical College. 

Later he worked as a part time party organizer in Jalpaiguri town of North Bengal. He took admission in Jalpaiguri Pharmacology college from where he graduated.

In 1974-76 he began working in the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS), where after some years he felt ht need to form a workers' union. This was easier said than done, but Comrade Tripti worked very hard to form Unions of CGHS all over the country. Through the union – the All India CGHS Employees Union - he helped organize workers to raise various questions of health workers. The Union affiliated itself with the AICCTU. Comrade Tripti helped establish a women's unit of the Union that worked with AIPWA and AICCTU. Eventually Comrade Triti helped establish the Health Workers' Federation nationally. Tripti da retired in 2006 and worked as the party's district secretary in Murshidabad.

Comrade Tripti Da's energy and commitment is an inspiration to us all. Long Live Comrade Tripti Da!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

ML Update | No. 32 | 2014

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  17 | No. 32 | 5 - 11 AUG 2014

Red Salute, Nabarun Da!

​Nabarun Bhattacharya is no more. The revolutionary poet, short story writer and novelist, passed away on 31st July evening in a Calcutta Hospital after his prolonged battle with cancer.

In the world we live in, his iconic poem, 'This Valley of Death Is Not My Country' could be the anguished cry and resolve of any citizen of the world; of the people of America or Israel; Iraq or Syria; Sri Lanka or India... The spirit of that poem lives in the struggles of people: struggles that, in renouncing the 'Nation' that the ruling class equates with violence, cruelty, and devastation, actually expresses a profound love for one's land, one's people and humanity at large.    

Born in 1948 in Baharampur of Murshidabad district, Nabarun was the child of renowned actor-playwright Bijon Bhattacharya and Magsaysay award-winning writer Mahasweta Devi.

Nabarun won the Sahitya Akademi award in 1997 for his novel Herbert, a landmark in modern Bengali literature which synthesizes the lives of contemporary urban marginalized and stylised poetic sensibility into political statements.

Bhattacharya relentlessly wrote about marginalised sections living on the city streets, in slums and dark alleys, using political satire, dark humour, and magic realism to telling effect to highlight oppression and exploitation of our times. He persistently challenged the dominant ideas associated with Bengali literature through his subversive writing style.

Bhattacharya was also a very close witness of the radical left movement of seventies' Bengal, which is evident in his works. But it is not the romantic nostalgia for a radical past, but the turbulent seventies coming back to haunt the apparent peace of the present, which is a very familiar motif in his writings.

A fearless voice against state power, Nabarun always remained, in his own words, "an outsider to the circus of literature". He returned the Bankim Award in 2007 against West Bengal Government's Nandigram carnage. He was also a staunch critic of the Trinamool Congress government that is stifling democratic protests and civil rights.

Nabarunda's writings will always kindle fire, he will live on in our hearts and our struggles. 


In memory of Nabarun Da – and Saroj Dutta's whose martyrdom anniversary was observed on 5th August, below is an excerpt from a translation of 'Ei Mrityu Upatyaka Amar Desh Na'


This Valley of Death is Not My Country

I spit on the father who fears to point at his child's corpse

I spit on the brother and his shameless sanity despite everything

I spit on the teacher, the intellectual, the poet and the clerk

who do not seek to avenge this bloodbath out in the open


Seventeen corpses

lie stretched across the pathway of reckoning

I am losing my senses bit by bit

Seventeen open pairs of eyes look at me in sleep

I scream out

I will turn insane

I will kill myself

I will do whatever I want to do

I will eat the sun, the moon and the stars

I will smash all bridges between the viewer and the viewed

This is the exact time for poetry

Through stenciled manifestos on naked walls

A collage crafted of own blood, tears and bones –

now is the time for poetry

in the torn face of severest pain

right now is the time to hurl poetry

face to face with real terror –

keeping eyes fixed at the blinding headlight of the vans

at the three naught three and whatever else the killers have

It is time to face them with poetry


Through stone-cold lock-up chambers

Shattering the yellow lamps of crime investigation cells

In courthouses run by murderers

In seats of learning that teach lies and spew venoms of hatred

In the state machine churning abuse and terror

In the heartless chest of gunmen who serve that machine –

Let the anger of poetry echo out in fury

Let the poets of the world prepare themselves, like Lorca,

for their strangled corpses to disappear

let them be ready to be stitched up by machine-gun bullets

the hours beckon

the city of poetry must be surrounded by villages of poetry.

this valley of death is not my country

this executioner's theater is not my country

this vast charnel-ground is not my country

this blood-drenched slaughterhouse is not my country

I will snatch my country back

I will pull the fog-kissed white kans flowers, the crimson dusks and the endless rivers

back into my chest

With all my body I shall surround the fireflies, forests burning in ancient hills,

countless crops of hearts, flowers, humans and horses from fairytales

I shall name each star after each martyr

I shall call out to the howling breezes, lights and shadows playing across the fish-eyed lakes of dawn

And Love – banished to places lightyears away ever since I was born:

I shall call it too, to join the carnival of the day of Revolution.


I reject

Days and nights of interrogation with a thousand watts of electricity blazing straight into eyeballs

I reject

Electric needles inside fingernails

I reject

Having to lie naked on chunks of ice

I reject

Being hanged upside down till blood gushes out of nostrils

I reject

Spiked boots pressed on lips, burning iron rods on every inch of skin

I reject

The sudden blast of alcohol on whiplashed back

I reject

Stark electric jolts on the nerves, pieces of rocks shoved inside vaginas, scrotums mangled to pulp

I reject

Being beaten and thrashed to death

I reject

Revolver-muzzles stuck against craniums


Poetry is eternal, irrepressible

Poetry is armed, poetry is free, poetry is fearless

Behold the warriors –

Mayakovsky, Hikmet, Neruda, Aragon, Eluard –

Look at them looking at you from the clouds.

Call out loud.



A Selection of Nabarun's Poems

(translated from Bangla by Avijit Basak)


A bunch of bulletproof poems

A bunch of bulletproof poems

Stand in front of the Firing Squad

With their shirt buttons open, fearless

They stand.


The bleeding lips of a bird

Hang biting the hand of a big metal clock

Harpoon struck whales

Stare at the scene with eyes overturned

Stars watch the blood bathed sea

In their lights from far off days

Stupefaction dissolves

On the leaden pipe the Great Flag

Freezes in fear.


The head of the city spins

Cool air from the slaughterhouse

Runs after the school children

Those lost in love become

Between one kiss and another

Stunned photographs

Stones sweat

The heart of the terror-bomb weakens

Lawyers with black robes walk

Pocketwatch of moon in their dirty pockets


The news just came in

That long before men

Birds and butterflies conquered moon

We just learned

That each pole is affected with destructive melting

Seventy one Noble laureate scientists have confirmed

Men don't watch t.v. after death


When newspapers throughout the world

Publish of us having no future

When all political leaders say

Our last efforts have failed

Inevitable missiles fly

Void swells within fixed deposits

Between fingers burns

The last cigarette of the world


Then, yes, right then


A bunch of bulletproof poems

Stand in front of the Firing Squad

With their shirt buttons open, fearless

They stand.


Life As We Live''

The Philosopher said, Son

Life is indeed like watching

'Sholay' on big screen

A couple of daredevils run

With mouthorgan

Effortlessly, to catch the goon Gabbar

My child, go to sleep in night therefore,

Without fear, and with your eyes see

The garden is graced with gals and madrigals

But thinking of the world whole,

Which was supposed to be changing

A bunch of amateurs,

Fashionably revolutionary leaders

Metamorphosed into professional ministers

By night, and nobody cared

Villagers, oppressed, do not fear, well

Courage is like a soft towel

We can hear that comforting oracle from the stable

And that healthy poison, watertight and pure

Reaches every household for sure.

Apart from these mechanisms

We have kick-thief lawyers

Palm scratching police

And inhuman doctors

Due to whose indifferent cheers

The vat-ground is busy with supplies.

But what would we do with all these boss

WE THE PEOPLE, or ant-ish public

We are just toothless idiots

Slave-waiter class

Busy with frequent sex-tax drives

Feeding on flies

And casting votes with sickly wives

It is far better

To threat cut or chase in car

And very often than not

By different penal parliamentary acts get caught.



I don't party with the homeless

I have a room

I own one.

When lost, torn apart

The homeless me

Find my mouth

Agape in void.

The Living and the Dead

The Coward and the Daring

I know of their different heartbeats.


In the Name of Humanity, Stop the Israeli Slaughter in Gaza: More than 1,800 Killed and almost 10,000 Injured


Press Release Gaza Ministry of Health, Palestine

The Ministry of Health Gaza condemns in the strongest possible terms the Israeli breaking of the humanitarian ceasefire in a murderous attack on the Al-Bakri family home in Al-Shaati refugee camp in west Gaza City, killing an eight-year-old child and injuring 30 other people, mostly women and children.

This attack on a home in one of the most densely populated residential areas on earth only minutes after the commencement of a humanitarian ceasefire can only be seen as a calculated and deliberate attack on civilians.

This attack can only be seen as calculated and cynical disregard for the ceasefire agreement – the same cynical disregard Israelis have evidenced towards each and every agreement they have ever signed, whether ceasefire, international convention, treaty or peace agreement.

This attack in breach of all legal and humanitarian law can only be seen as yet another example of the complete contempt and disdain in which the Israeli authorities hold all standards of civilised behaviour, organisations and instruments of international law, and humanity itself.

This attack comes amid the ongoing massacre in Rafah in which at least 170 have already lost their lives, as the death toll continues to rise.

Since July 7 more than 1,800 Gazans have been killed and almost 10,000 injured, the vast majority of them women, children and the elderly.

Its own actions in the past four weeks have stripped the thin mask of civility from the Israeli face, and revealed its abject savagery to the world.

In the name of humanity, the Ministry of Health Gaza demands that the international community act immediately to end the slaughter of innocents in Gaza, and hold the Israeli war criminals to account.

Witnessing the systematic destruction of Gaza

August 4, 2014

(Interview with Joe Catron is a journalist and activist in Gaza, where he works with Palestinian groups and international solidarity networks. He co-edited The Prisoners' Diaries: Palestinian Voices from the Israeli Gulag, an anthology of accounts from detainees freed in 2011, and blogs at Catron spoke with Tithi Bhattacharya, a Purdue University professor and member of the International Socialist Review editorial board.)


WHAT CAN you tell the world about the morale of people in Gaza now living almost a month under Israeli bombs?

MORALE REMAINS strong, even among those facing the toughest circumstances. Whenever I walk into al-Shifa hospital, I pass through an encampment of displaced people, mostly from Shejaiya to the east, erected on the grounds. I'm always struck by the visible strength and determination of its residents, as well as the paramedics, nurses, doctors, journalists and coffee vendors within the hospital itself.

Nearly all in Gaza are tired of endless bombardment and hope for a cease-fire, of course. But there's a broad consensus that any cease-fire worthy of the name must include an end to Israel's siege, allowing Palestinians to travel, trade, fish, farm and conduct their political affairs without restrictions, by definition. In fact, while I'm not a pollster, I don't personally know of anyone here willing to settle for less.

SINCE THE mainstream media is still deceptive about the impact of Israel's assault, can you talk about the actual extent of the devastation? What do neighborhoods in Gaza now look like?

IT VARIES by area. Some, like my neighborhood by the Gaza seaport on the west coast of Gaza City, have sustained shellings and air strikes, but remain intact with localized damage. Days of saturation bombing have reduced others--like Shejaiya, Khuza'a and Beit Hanoun--to rubble.

I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that Israel has ethnically cleansed large regions of the eastern and northern Gaza Strip adjacent to its separation barrier. After ordering residents to leave their homes, it systematically destroyed them, while shooting anything that moved.

The process has seemed very reminiscent of the Nakba of 1948. Looking at the results, I think it's clearly part of Israel's plan to prevent these areas from becoming fully habitable again for years. And with Israeli forces having ordered evacuations from 44 percent of the Gaza Strip, it's hard to predict how much of it will be recognizable when they finish.

This was a flaw in my analysis when we stayed at Al-Wafa hospital. I thought the Israelis saw the building as a strategic asset because of its size and location, something they would want to seize quickly during any invasion of the city from the east. I didn't realize they actually planned to purge the whole area of Palestinian life.

DURING OPERATION Cast Lead and other Israeli operations, people in Gaza have continued to build a sort of grassroots infrastructure. For instance, we know of underground schools that people ran to continue educating children and youth. Are there similar efforts going on today?

IT'S SUMMER, so the kids might not like the underground school idea! But it's been amazing to watch an entire grassroots infrastructure come together, with very little centralized coordination, to support Palestinians displaced from their neighborhoods. In addition to hundreds camped out at Shifa, thousands more have found shelter in schools, mosques, churches and anywhere else there's room.

As of July 30, the United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that 240,000 had been displaced to these shelters, while 200,000 more were staying with host families. Everyone's resources are stretched thin, but neighbors are doing what they can to help the displaced with food, clothing, etc., when not opening their own doors to house them.

HOW WOULD you assess the military resistance mounted by Hamas? We have read encouraging reports of even elite Israeli forces such as the Golani Briagde facing a military challenge. Is this is the reason why Netanyahu wants to continue the bombing?

GROUND OPERATIONS by Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades and other resistance groups have done a great deal to inspire people and keep spirits high. News of these daring raids, which have killed dozens of Israeli soldiers, have shown that while Israel's troops may be able to push buttons on billion-dollar machines, they aren't so good when it comes to actual fighting.

It's notable that while Israel has massacred more than 1,000 Palestinian civilians, Hamas fighters have repeatedly bypassed civilian settlements across the Green Line to reach military posts. Israel can yell all it likes about its civilians being targeted, but the numbers tell a very different story.

Israel may have anticipated a barrage of rockets. But rather than prolonging its offensive, I suspect the fierce resistance its army has met on the ground is one of the main factors, along with rising global outrage, pushing its leaders to seek a truce. Of course, they hope for a lopsided one--in practice, a unilateral cease-fire by Palestinians--allowing Israel to preserve the siege.

HOW DO people in Gaza feel about the silence of the leaders of the Arab states and the collusion of states like Egypt with Israel and the U.S.?

LIKE MANY political questions, the answer depends very much on whom you ask. I think it's fair to say that there's been broad disappointment with, if not outright hostility toward, the tepid responses of Arab governments. At the same time, many have been gratified by new support from unexpected quarters, like Latin America.

SINCE THE massive demonstrations broke out in the West Bank, there has been some talk in the news media about a third Intifada. Do you think there is such a possibility?

I THINK it's a possibility, but not the only one. In some ways, yearning for a third Intifada foists an unfair burden onto the minority of the Palestinian people who live under direct occupation, facing challenges to mounting a successful resistance that don't exist elsewhere.

For four decades before the first Intifada, although Palestinians obviously resisted within occupied territory, the core of the struggle lay elsewhere--in the refugee camps of the diaspora. With the decline of the Tunis-Oslo paradigm, which roughly characterized the first two Intifadas, as well as the rapid growth of global networks like the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, the next phase of the Palestinian struggle may combine both these models and more.

I can't say that the spark won't be struck in Bil'in. But it could also come from Beirut, or Brooklyn.

THOUGH WORLD leaders and Western governments have turned their back on Gaza and actively aided Israel, there has been an outburst of global protests in solidarity with Palestine. How do people in Gaza see these protests?

THESE EVENTS have encouraged a number of them during difficult times. On Twitter, I've seen nearly as many pictures of solidarity protests in North America and Western Europe tweeted by friends in Gaza as by friends from these regions. While the role of solidarity activism in shifting worldwide public opinion and government policies is crucial, its impact on morale here shouldn't be underestimated.