A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 17 | No. 45 | 4 - 10 NOV 2014
Communal Politics in Delhi
The Delhi Assembly elections are to be held in the next few months. And, even before the official announcement of the elections, communal tensions have been systematically stoked in the city by India's ruling political party in collusion with a pliant Delhi Police.
Delhi is now witnessing the exact same pattern that has already been tried and tested in Western Uttar Pradesh by the BJP under Amit Shah. The CPI(ML) has recently published a booklet with the findings of an in-depth fact-finding into series of communal incidents in Western UP preceding elections there. The pattern revealed that systematically, every small incident (from children quarrelling over fruit trees bordering neighbours' homes, to elopements, to loudspeakers in religious institutions or festivals) was escalated into a communal incident. A 'Hindu-Muslim' twist was given to the most innocuous of incidents. And over and above this, systematic venom was propagated against the Muslim community, branding them as 'rapists', 'threats to our mothers and daughters', and 'terrorists'.
In Delhi, at Trilokpuri, Bawana, Mundka and Nand Nagri, the same pattern is being seen. At Trilokpuri, for instance, a brawl amongst some drunken youth – both Hindu and Muslim – on the night of Diwali, was given a communal colour with the help of rumours. The quarrel itself subsided in the night itself. But a former BJP MLA held a large meeting at his house, following which systematic stone-pelting and violence took place the next day. The police, instead of imposing prohibitory orders and making preventive arrests, allowed the violence to continue for two more days. And while the police has arrested many young men (mostly Muslim, some Hindu, but with little evidence against any), they have yet to touch the former BJP MLA who held the meeting at his house!
In Bawana, the police's role is even more questionable. Here, at the time of Eid, rumours of 'cow slaughter' were stoked, in response to which the police conducted 'raids' of Muslim homes in a slum cluster. The occasion of a Muslim festival was turned into a climate of terror for them, with Hindutva groups indulging openly in distributing posters and leaflets spreading hatred against the festival, with no action from the police. Again, on the eve of Muharram, venom was spread against the impending Taziya procession. Posters and leaflets appeared, branding the Taziya (which is a procession of mourning and self-flagellation) as a 'show of strength' by the minority community. The police, which is directly under the Modi Government in Delhi, did not assure the minority that they could hold their procession safely without threat of violence. Instead, they told the minority community to curtail the route of their Taziya procession if they wanted to be safe. The minority community complied. Yet, a 'mahapanchayat' with thousands of people from the dominant Jat community, was allowed by the police, with the open purpose of preventing the Taziya procession from taking place.
The sitting BJP MLA attended and addressed the mahapanchayat, openly branding the Muslim community as 'them' who are a threat to 'our mothers and daughters', and branding the Taziya procession as a 'show of strength'. He congratulated youth for joining the mahapanchayat, which would not 'allow' the Taziya to follow its usual route. From the dais, speeches were made branding Muslims as 'outsiders' to the nation in which Hindus were 'original inhabitants'. Calls for violence were openly issued from the dais, and announcements were made that participants would be 'secretly' intimated about plans for violence on the day of Muharram. Yet the police booked no cases against those making inflammatory speeches inciting violence. Mahapanchayats were the platforms for mobilizing violence in Muzaffarnagar – yet such a mahapanchayat with the explicit purpose of obstructing a yearly minority religious procession was allowed by the police.
What is the message that India's ruling party, the BJP, and the Delhi Police directly controlled by the Home Ministry of Modi's Government, is giving to the minority? The message seems to be what Golwalkar, the RSS founder, said in his book, We or Our Nationhood Defined, in 1939:
"… the foreign races in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment not even citizen's rights."
It cannot be a coincidence that Modi is the first PM in independent India not to greet the nation on the occasion of Eid, and to address the public on the occasion of Vijayadashami. The message is unmistakeable – that the minority's religious occasions are 'foreign' to the 'nation', and will not be graced with recognition and acceptance by the Prime Minister.
The fact that Muslims' Taziya procession can be curtailed with the approval of the police, in India's national capital under pressure from Hindutva outfits that openly threaten violence if it follows its route, is an alarming symptom of India's shrinking democracy. The Modi Government likes to boast of 'good governance' and 'strong leadership'. No governance and leadership is worth much in a democracy if it is unable to ensure that the minorities can live without fear.
The fact that BJP is seeking to foment communal tensions towards elections in Delhi, actually reveals its insecurity as to the outcome of those elections. It is aware that the people are not impressed with the way in which the Modi Government has broken its promise to bring down prices, bring back black money, ensure justice for women, and has instead unleashed an offensive against the rights of workers. The communal ploys are a desperate attempt to take attention away from these burning questions, by the tactics of divide and rule. Democratic forces are determined to defeat this ploy, and recognise and resist the BJP's communal tactics.
Resisting Communal Hate and Riot Mongering in Delhi
For the past ten days, Delhi has been witnessing well-orchestrated campaigns of hate and communal rumour mongering, leading to large-scale tensions and violence. Immediately after Diwali, vested interests, led by former BJP MLA from Trilokpuri Sunil Vaidya, helped to spread all sorts of wild rumours and fomented tensions and violence in Trilokpuri. Soon after, the occasion of Muharram was used to spread massive tensions and fear amongst the minority community in Bawana. The Delhi Police, controlled by the Modi government's Home Ministry, failed to intervene to control the situation and in fact exacerbated the tensions through arbitrary arrests.
In the midst of this communal riot mongering, AISA, AICCTU and CPI(ML), along with several progressive and democratic forces in Delhi, have been actively intervening in several ways to resist this orchestrated violence and hate mongering. Immediately after the violence in Trilokpuri began, at a time when all sorts of rumours were being spread to escalate communal tensions across Delhi, various teams (including members of AISA, CPI(ML) and JNUSU) visited the area to meet the people and document the facts. These teams highlighted the manner in which common brawls between individuals were deliberately being given a communal colour by vested interests. At a time when the media was completely blocking out the role of the Delhi Police – the lack of adequate action to begin with, the arbitrary arrests of people, the injuries inflicted by the police lathi charge on men and women in Muslim dominated areas, the torture and beatings in police custody of those arrested, and moreover the lack of action against the former BJP MLA Sunil Vaidya and other RSS leaders who had clearly played a role in inciting the violence – these teams highlighted the need to demand accountability from the police and the state machinery.
JNUSU took the initiative to organise a Citizens' Protest against the prejudiced role of the Delhi Police on 1 November 2014. AISA and various left and democratic individuals and organizations, including the Delhi Forum and left student groups such as Democratic Students' Union (DSU) and Democratic Students' Federation (DSF) participated in this demonstration. This protest was anchored by JNUSU President Comrade Ashutosh. A delegation consisting of JNUSU office bearers (JNUSU President Ashutosh, Vice President Anant, General Secretary Chintu, Joint Secretary Shahqat) as well JNUSU councillors Rama Naga and Fayaz met representatives of the Delhi Police and submitted a detailed note demanding strong action against responsible police officers who failed to act in time to stop the violence, immediate action against well-known instigators of the violence such former BJP MLA Sunil Vaidya and RSS leader Ramcharan Gujarati, an end to the arbitrary arrests and chargesheets without evidence and investigation, and provision of proper security, medical and legal aids to those accused persons who are inside Tihar jail. AISA and JNUSU are also actively part of the ongoing initiatives to provide proper legal aid to those arbitrarily arrested and tortured as 'rioters' (around 75-80 per cent of those arrested by the police are Muslims) and to provide medical and legal aid to those injured in the Trilokpuri violence. They have been intervening with the Minority Commission as well as with the Delhi Police to demand action and justice in this milieu of violence and communal hate mongering.
Even as democratic forces were dealing with the situation in Trilokpuri, tensions broke out in Bawana as Muharram approached. Long-standing communal tensions in Bawana (at the outskirts of Delhi) took a vicious inflammatory turn, when a Mahapanchayat was called on 2nd November to provoke hatred against the Taziya (Moharram procession) in Bawana. On hearing of the communal mobilisation in Bawana, JNUSU wrote to the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi demanding immediate action to prevent the Mahapanchayat. On the day of the Mahapanchayat, an AISA team visited Bawana on 2 November, met local people and witnessed the Mahapanchayat and the developments around it. They collected concrete evidence of the horrific communal speeches delivered at the Mahapanchayat by the sitting BJP MLA Gugan Singh Ranga, a sitting councillor from the Congress, and several other leaders from BJP. They also met the residents of the JJ colony in Bawana, who spoke of the atmosphere of fear and intimidation, despite the fact that Muslims had already agreed to limit the route of the Taziya procession within the JJ colony. On the day of Muharram (4 November 2014), AISA and JNUSU teams from DU and JNU went to both Trilokpuri and Bawana to resist all attempts to foment violence and communal tensions during the Taziya procession. Even as those who foment communal tensions roam around free in Delhi, AISA activists were detained by the Delhi Police when they tried to enter Bawana – for several hours they were detained in different police stations in the region and were released only late at night.
Anti-Communal Peace March in Bhojpur
In Sahar (Bhojpur), communal fascist forces systematically tried to perpetrate attacks, looting and riots on the occasion of the idol immersion during the Laxmi puja. CPI(ML) took the initiative to robustly resist all these dubious plans to break Hindu-Muslim unity, and organised a march for peace and goodwill (Shanti Sadbhavana march) to protest attempts to create communal tensions and divisions. The march, led by Politburo member comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya, former MP comrade Rameshwar Prasad, comrades Sudama Prasad, Jawahar Singh and others, traversed the entire area appealing for peace and harmony. Addressing the meeting organized on the occasion, which was also the fourth death anniversary of comrade Ramnaresh Ram, comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya pointed out that feudal-communal forces were together conspiring to break the unity of the poor and the oppressed and in the process undermining Bhojpur's anti-communal, anti-colonial legacy.
The tensions during the Laxmi idol immersion in Bhojpur was not a spur of the moment incident, but a result of systematic planning by local BJP activists including Madhukar Prasad, Shyamal Rai, Vimal Rai, Ashok Sodhi and others. Two or three kiosks belonging to the Muslim community were set afire, after which the DM and SP as well as JD (U) MLA Sunil Pandey and RJD leaders arrived at the Sahar thana. Subsequently, despite their presence in the thana, 28 shops belonging to Muslims were set ablaze. The people of Sahar foiled the attempts to start communal riots all over the area, but the BJP started spreading false rumours that CPI(ML) activists were involved in the attacks. Clearly, the BJP is stooping to any levels in order to break the unity of the poor. CPI(ML) leaders and several teams organized meetings in villages around Sahar against this mischievous rumour and exposing the communal conspiracy. Former MP Rameshwar Prasad, Raju Yadav, Sudama Prasad, Qayamuddin, Chandradeep Singh, Manoj Manzil and other leaders organized meetings at different villages, appealed for peace, and demanded the immediate arrest of all the conspirators. Moreover, Party volunteers were present at all the ghats in Bhojpur on the occasion of Chhath to ensure that the communal intentions of the BJP did not succeed. It was also decided to observe 1-2 November as Anti-communal Day (Sampradayikta Virodhi Diwas) at all the Chatti bazaars.
Jan Sunwai in Darbhanga
A panchayat level 'Jan Sunwai' was organized on 13 October 2014 by the CPI(ML) at village Rupauli, 18 km from Darbhanga town. This panchayat falls under Hanuman Nagar block of Bahadurpur Assembly constituency. A survey had earlier been conducted at 2 booths in this panchayat (booth no. 57 and 60). The people of Rupuali village had been engaged in a movement for flood relief, and for several days a large number of women and children sat in dharna at the Polo maidan near the DM's office. Although there is no Party member in Rupauli village, Party comrades intervened to help organize this movement and make it successful. The Jan Sunwai held at Rupauli village was thus part of this ongoing movement. About 250 women, men, students, and youth participated in this programme which was organized in the community hall complex. After the declaration of the Presidential board and jury, comrade Sunil gave details of the 102 families surveyed in both the booths. The detailed report highlighted several issues – number of adults missing from the voters' lists, status of anganwadis, schools and student scholarships in the area, status of land ownership, housing and healthcare facilities, status of implementation of MNREGA and food security schemes, and status of toilet, electricity and water facilities. After this report was presented, the chairman of the jury Samkaleen Lok Yudh joint editor Pradeep Jha asked the people present to speak on every one of these issues relating to the condition of Rupauli village, and it came to light that the situation on the ground was even worse. The women were most forthright. They pointed out that rations were being cut, and the price of rice and wheat were being raised by Rs 5 and Rs 4 per kg respectively. A few people were getting work for 10-12 days under MNREGA, but even they had got either no payment at all or only partial payment. Students pointed out that the transformer has been burnt out for some months now, but the electricity bills are coming in regularly without fail. Their studies are being affected due to lack of electricity, and so their exam results are not up to their capability. Scholarships in government schools are being given to students selectively. There is no anganwadi and no sub-health centre. The villagers showed that one side of the village was covered with flood waters and their crops have been destroyed. They were angry because no relief had reached them.
Addressing the Jan Sunwai, CPI(ML) Darbhanga district Secretary Vaidyanath Yadav condemned the government's discriminatory attitude and negligence towards flood victims as well as the indifferent attitude towards scams in ration distribution. He called upon the people present to participate in large numbers in the Hanuman Nagar block office gherao on 5 November announced by CPI(ML). Local woman activist Pramila Devi contributed significantly towards making this programme a success. Party district committee member and Khet Mazdoor Sabha district Secretary comrade Jamal, AISA activist Prince Kumar, and comrade Saheb were present in the Jan Sunwai programme.
Release of Booklet on Communal Politics in Uttar Pradesh
On 1 November, the state unit of CPI(ML) released a 32-page booklet on the communal politics in western Uttar Pradesh at a programme organised at the UP Press Club in Lucknow. The UP state committee had set up a 3-member team consisting of CC member comrade Mohd. Salim, AIKM state President Jayprakash Narayan and UP state committee member Ramayan Ram – and this folder is the result of week-long investigation by this CPI(ML) team which went to various parts of western Uttar Pradesh. Titled 'Pashchimi Uttar Pradesh: Sampradayik Fasiwad ki Nayi Prayogshaala – CPI(ML) Jaanch Dal ki Tathyakmak Padtal', this booklet documents the manner in which innocuous differences and brawls between individuals were deliberately given a communal colour with a clear intention to polarise society. It also documents the role of the ruling SP government in failing to control the communal mobilisation and failing to take strong and timely action against the communal fascist forces.
Red Salute to Comrade Shah Chand!
Comrade Shah Chand Mukhiya, beloved popular leader from Jehanabad-Arwal, loved and respected as the "Nelson Mandela of Bihar", passed away on 2 November. A wave of grief enveloped the whole area with the news of his demise. His funeral procession was taken out from his village Bhadasi on 3 November, and a sea of people turned out for one last sight of their beloved leader. Long queues of men and women lined both sides of the road from Bhadasi to Karbala, and more joined in as the procession proceeded. The mourners included Party General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya, Com. Kunal, Com. Ramjatan Sharma, Dhirendra Jha, Amar, Meena Tiwari, Saroj Choube, Anwar Hussain, Rajaram Singh, Raldu Singh, Wasi Ahmad, Suhail, and other leaders. Earlier, Com. Dipankar met Com. Shah Chand's wife Com. Jameela Khatoon and sons, and consoled them with the assurance that every single Party worker stands with them.
Com. Shah Chand was an extremely popular leader of entire Bihar, particularly Jehanabad-Arwal. After passing his Matric from Umairabad, he graduated from BN College, Patna. After higher studies he associated himself with the struggle for social change. In 1977 he became the mukhiya of Bhadasi panchayat for the first time. For his memorable achievements in the panchayat, he got the award of best mukhiya in the whole district. In 2001, when there were elections for mukhiya after a long period in Bihar, he was once again elected by a huge margin of votes. In 2003 while he was still holding the office of mukhiya, he was sentenced to life under TADA.
Shah Chand was born in a zamindar family but his life was dedicated to the poor and he was greatly feared by feudal forces in society. Soon after becoming active in political life he joined IPF in 1985. By then he was convinced that the committed farmers' struggle under CPI(ML) was the only hope for the poor. Feudal forces in the Arwal area were shaken to the core by the forceful rise of the poor. In 1988 the Bhadasi incident took place, after which false cases were slapped at the behest of feudal forces on 13 people including Shah Chand. The draconian act TADA, meant for controlling 'terrorism', was also unfairly slapped on all 14 prisoners. Subsequently, a forceful movement for removing TADA was organised during the Lalu-Rabri regime. CPI(ML) MLAs regularly raised questions regarding TADA in the Assembly, but the Lalu-Rabri government deliberately ignored them. In the 2000 Assembly elections, Shah Chand stood from Arwal as the CPI(ML) candidate. There was a huge mobilisation of the poor in his favour, but because of the double game played by the administration, he lost by a mere 1000 votes to the RJD candidate Akhilesh Singh. But this near victory put the fear into the feudal forces and they left no stone unturned in their attempt to punish him. In 2003 the Supreme Court sentenced him and his 13 comrades to life imprisonment. The sentence was upheld even after 3 appeals, proving that the administrative machinery as well as tyrannical judgements was against those fighting for the rights of the poor. The sentence did not reduce the revolutionary fire in comrade Shah Chand. He carried on peoples' struggles from jail, started organizing prisoners on various issues, and fighting for prisoners' rights.
For the past few months comrade Shah Chand was in very bad health. He had spent 13 years in jail and his release was being demanded so that he could get proper treatment. In this regard, a CPI(ML) delegation met Home Secretary Amir Subhani and later CM Jitan Ram Majhi. But the attitude of the Nitish-Jitan government towards this champion of the poor was no different from that of Lalu Prasad. His release on parole met with administrative obstacles, and in the absence of proper treatment his life could not be saved. The attitude of the Bihar government is the height of insensitivity, exposing the true face of the so-called 'social justice' of Lalu-Nitish.
After comrade Shah Chand's funeral procession, comrade Dipankar and other mourners spoke of his courage and commitment, condemned the role of the government and administration in his death, and pledged that his work for the rights of the poor would be taken forward by the Party and people's struggles. Earlier, a condolence meeting was organized and 2 minutes' silence was observed. Com. Tribhuvan Sharma, Ind Mehta, and others spoke at the meeting. Moreover, all 449 prisoners in Jehanabad jail went on a 24 hour hunger strike to protest the death of Com. Shah Chand Mukhiya. Red Salute to Comrade Shah Chand!