Thursday, November 5, 2015

ML Update | No. 45 | 2015

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 45, 03 ­– 09 NOVEMBER 2015

Accusations of 'Ideological Intolerance' and 'Ideological Terrorism'

Modi Government's Offensive On Dissenting Voices

he past month has been witness to an unstoppable tide of dissent against intolerance and bigotry patronized by the Modi Government in India. Hundreds of writers, followed by artists, scientists, filmmakers, sociologists, historians and actors have returned awards or otherwise expressed concern at the growing climate of intolerance and violence in the country. In addition, even members of the ruling establishment, including the President of India and the RBI Governor have also expressed similar concerns. The global investment ratings company, Moody's Analytics, also warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi that his failure to "rein in" the intolerance and sectarian violence promoted by members of his party would harm India "domestic and global credibility."

In the face of this all-out loss of credibility for the Modi Government, the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has responded by accusing all the dissenting voices of being "Congress and Left thinkers and activists" who are displaying "ideological intolerance" towards Modi. The Prime Minister, he said, was in fact the biggest victim of this "intolerance." Some days later, the Jharkhand CM from the BJP added that writers returning awards were in fact guilty of "ideological terrorism."

Such a response to dissent, only confirms the accusations of authoritarian arrogance that the Modi Government is facing. Dissent and criticism are crucial for any democracy – and dissent by definition "speaks truth to power." For the party wielding power to claim to be a victim of "intolerance" is laughable. It implies that only possible place the Modi Government envisages for citizens is of cheerleaders. Anyone who does not join the cheering chorus but speaks up in dissent is accused of "intolerance."

Worse, dissenters are accused of being "terrorists" and "Pakistanis." Those who stand up for the right to eat beef or question the killing of Muslims or writers, or criticize Modi in any way are advised by BJP Ministers like Giriraj Singh to "go to Pakistan." The BJP President Amit Shah, in speeches in the Bihar elections, claims that BJP's defeat will be greeted by firecrackers and celebrations in "Pakistan." Such statements slyly use "Pakistan" and "terrorist" as shorthand for Indian Muslims and those who speak up for the rights of Indian Muslims. Citizenship and patriotism are redefined as approval of the BJP and RSS agenda of Hindu Rashtra and corporate appeasement, and every citizen who votes against the BJP, or any activist who agitate against land grab laws or other pro-corporate policies, or stand up for civil liberties, freedom of expression and dignity of minorities can be branded as a "terrorist."

These allegations of "intolerance" and "terrorism" are of course an admission of failure by the BJP: failure to turn the tide of public opinion in their favour in spite of holding all the power. But they are also dangerous – because branding dissenters as terrorists is a ploy to justify cracking down on them.

Jaitley's claim that the "national situation is absolutely peaceful...The country is not intolerant," and wave away incidents like the Dadri lynching as an aberration are belied by facts. Dadri-style lynchings of Muslims on the pretext of 'cow slaughter' happening thick and fast, accompanied by open threats of violence and murder by BJP MPs, Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states and Sangh Parivar leaders against "those who promote beef or eat beef." One BJP leader in Karnataka has threatened to behead the Chief Minister if he dares to keep his word and eat beef.

The very statements of no less than the Prime Minister in the Bihar elections confirm rather than allay the apprehensions of growing intolerance and Hindu-Muslim polarization. Modi has tried to inject communalism into caste-based reservations, by claiming that he will "stake his life" before he allowed Muslims to benefit from such reservations.

It would befit a Prime Minister to say that he would "stake his life" to make sure that no Muslim man is lynched for his supposed diet, and no Professor or a rationalist is murdered in his home for his views, or Dalit children burned alive. Instead the Prime Minister has staked the life of peace, tolerance and democracy in India, to seek votes in the Bihar elections and to allow the Sangh Parivar to push India towards the goal of a Hindu Nation.

But no matter how much the BJP and Modi may issue threats and abuse dissenters, the growing sense of anger, disillusionment and dissent against the Modi Government is unmistakable. The writers, scientists, and other intellectuals have shown the way – and this wave of protest in defence of democratic values is fast growing stronger. 

 Occupy UGC Movement Gains Strength and Spreads Across Cities and States
he #OccupyUGC movement begin on 21 October 2015, following the shocking decision taken by a UGC committee (constituted for enhancement of non NET fellowship) to scrap the non NET fellowship being currently provided to researchers pursuing M. Phil. and Ph.D. in Central Universities. In the memorandum submitted to the UGC by JNUSU (including representatives from AISF and AISA), it was demanded that the decision to scrap non NET fellowship be immediately revoked; the scholarship amount be increased from 5000 to 8000 for M.Phil. and from 8000 to 12,000 for Ph.D.; that the fellowship also be extended to research scholars in all State Universities; and that government of India refuse to sign on the WTO agreement in December this year. However, despite several protests and the refusal of the students to leave the UGC premises, the UGC authorities have refused to address the demands of the students. The Union Minister for MHRD too has refused to meet the protesting students (only choosing to speak BJP's own student wing ABVP and instructing it to confuse and demobilise student movement). Further, the committee formed by the MHRD as a result of the pressure exerted by the OccupyUGC movement, far from addressing the demands of the students, aims to further restrict the scope of the fellowships by subjecting them to various merit and income based conditions. The students have outrightly rejected such diversionary tactics of the government to not address the real issue.

After a brutal lathi charge afflicted on protesting students on 27 October, where several common students and student activists including several from AISA, the students have remained undeterred. Not only have they refused to end the movement, they have courageously continued to occupy the UGC and turn into a site of day and night protest. In the last week, several eminent scholars and teachers have gathered at ITO to express solidarity with the students. Members of JNUTA, DUTA, AUTA, faculty members from Jamia, IIT, former members of UGC like Prof. Yogendra Yadav, have regularly been joining the protesting students in an expression of solidarity. Several teachers like Prof. Janaki Nair, Dr. Naveen Gaur, Prof. Hargopal have been conducting open classes at the barricades on topics ranging from 'Feminism and the Democratisation of Higher Education' to 'Science Research in Times of Fund Cuts. The open classes are being accompanied by regular performances by various cultural groups like Sangwari, Swar, Janrang and others. Movie screenings have also been organised at the site of protest. The arrival of winters has failed to dampen the zeal of students, as lighting fire on the streets near ITO, they continue to OccupyUGC.

The last week has not just witness the movement intensify at the UGC office but also the spread of the movement across the country. The movement has spread to colleges and universities across the country like Hyderabad, NEHU Shillong, Sikkim, Gujarat, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Wardha, Allahabad, Pondicherry, Chandigarh, Sagar, Rohtak and elsewhere. Regional offices of the UGC across are being bombarded by students. Over the past two weeks, the OccupyUGC movement has received inspiring solidarity from #FeesMustFall movement of South Africa, FTII and also various other progressive sections. However, as in case of Delhi, the spread of movement in other places too have been met by brutal crackdowns. On 2 November 2015, an occupy UGC call was given by AISA, USDF, PERIODS, RADICAL, SFI, AISF, AISB, PSU and AIDSO. As the protest began, the students were mercilessly beaten up the state police and several students including AISA activists like Com. Abhishek and Com. Ipsita were brutally beaten up. 26 activists were arrested and taken to a police station whose location was not disclosed to them. Unfortunately for the state and central governments keen to sell out education, as was witnessed in Delhi, the state crackdown failed to deter the students who are continuing their protest in even larger numbers.

As the December deadline approaches for signing the WTO agreement which will confirm the status of education as a tradable commodity, the OccupyUGC movement that is gaining strength with every passing day has shown the firm resolve of the student community in India that will not allow access to higher education and opportunity for knowledge creation to be converted into privileges for some and denied to others. CPI (ML) salutes the student movement and expresses solidarity with them. 

First AIPF Conference in Tamil Nadu

The All India People's Forum held its first Tamil Nadu State Conference at Tirunelveli on 11.10.2015. The Conference began with a Presidential address by Comrade G Ramesh. In the run up to the Conference, activists of the various AIPF constituent groups campaigned vigorously in various parts of Tamil Nadu. There was enthusiastic participation from working people, and intellectuals and activists from all over Tamil Nadu. A large number of women from the anti-nuclear Koodankulam movement participated.
The Conference was inaugurated by CPI(ML) Politburo member Kavita Krishnan, who spoke about the Modi Government that was at the same time selling out India, and dividing India too. Both the corporates and the RSS are trying to make hay while the Modi sun shines. There were several inspiring instances of anti-corporate and anti-communal resistance. And the AIPF had emerged out of a felt need for uniting various streams of fighting forces.

Vasanthi Devi, former Vice Chancellor of Manonamanian Sundaranar University, said that Hindutva politics was founded on Brahminical patriarchy, and stressed the need to draw on the resources of Ambedkar and Periyar to combat it. S Balamurugan of the PUCL spoke about the challenge of resisting the all-round attack on activists, movements and freedom of speech. Prof. Murali, former Principal of a Madurai College, spoke about the moves to make education a tradable commodity under the WTO, and the moves afoot to discipline and morally police college students in order to produce campuses compliant with the WTO regime.

Leader of the anti-Koodankulam PMANE, Dr SP Udayakumar said that the AIPF Conference was the beginning and not an end in itself. He stressed the need for mutual unity and solidarity. He spoke of the experience of the Koodankulam women activists who had not been silenced or scared by killing, arrest, or sedition charges. He spoke on the dangers of nuclear energy. Com. Deebak of December 3 Movement, a Disability Rights Alliance, spoke very inspiringly about the rights of the disabled and the need for all platforms of people's movements to be sensitive to those rights.

Others who spoke included A Simson, writer Samsudeen Heera, scientist Dr Lal Mohan, omrade KM Sherif of Tamilnadu People's Democratic Party, Comrade Kathiravan of Athi Tamilar Katchi, Comrade Arivalagan of Dalit Research Centre, and Comrade Sujatha Modi of NTUI, Comrade Bharathi of Democratic Advocate's Association, Comrade Thirumalaisami of TTSF, Comrade RR Srinivasan of Kanchanai Film Society, Comrade Mukilan of Makkal Sananayaga Kudiarasu Katchi,Comrade Pandiarajan of AISA, Comrade Abdulrahman of Satta Panjayathu Iyakkam, Comrade Jawahar of AICCTU, Comrade A Chandramohan and Mangaiyarselvan, AIPF NCCM members, and Com Balasundaram Tamil Nadu State Secretary CPI(ML). Comrade S Kumarasamy, PB member of CPI(ML) also attended the Conference. A State-level Council, Campaign Committee and Advisory Committee were elected from the Conference.

Effigy Burning of the State Govt by All India Kisan Mahasabha in Bindukhatta

On 23 October 2015, the All India Kisan Mahasabha burnt the effigy of the state Congress government at Car Road in Bindukhatta to protest against the government's move to hand over 350 naali land in Dwarson (Almora) to the corporate and against the repression and crackdown unleashed on the protestors.

Addressing the protestors after the effigy burning, the area secretary of CPI (ML), Com. Lalit Matiyali said that during the time of the previous BJP government led by Khanduri, this 350 naali of barren land not owned by anyone, was recovered after ceiling. However, the control over the land was kept in the hands of the state government. At that time the CPI (ML) had demanded that the authority to manage and distribute this land recovered after ceiling from Dwarson and other areas be handed over to the Gram Panchayats, else the state government would hand it over to the land mafias and the corporate. Today when the Congress government has handed this land to the Jindals, the concerns of the CPI (ML) have been proved right. The Congress and the BJP have been conspiring to sell the entire land of the state to the corporate at throw away prices. He also added that despite massive protests by the people, it was extremely shameful that the Chief Minister still decided to go for the inaugural function of Jindal Group's International School.

Com. Matiyali appealed to all the democratic forces to raise their voice against such anti-people policies of the state government. Com. Gopal Singh, district committee member of the All India Kissan Mahasabha said that the state government is only keen to protect the interests of the land mafia and the corporate, when it also had the option of giving this land to those who had been affected by the calamities. He added that the crackdown on the protestors and their arrest by the state police only exposes how the state government has turned dictatorial. The dictatorship of the Congress government had also come to light during the lathi charge unleashed on protestors who had earlier gathered to protest against the inauguration of Bindukhatta municipality and it had been proved once again.

 AIARLA Viluppuram District Conference Held

AIARLA district conference of Viluppuram district of Tamil Nadu was held at Ulundurpet town in a Hall named after Com. Ammaiappan. A four Member presidium comprising of Comrades Kaliyamurthy, Babu, Dakchinamurthy and Kannammal conducted the proceedings. Com. Venkatesan, state Deputy General secretary of AIARLA and Com. Balasundaram, state secretary of CPI (ML) addressed the delegates. Several resolutions were passed in the conference, which included among others, the demands to- (i) disperse the arrears of MGNREGA wages, (ii) withdraw the cases booked against the workers protesting for this demand, (iii) evict occupiers from Panjami land and redistribute it to Dalits, (iv) stop the loot of natural resources, (v) Implementation of Forest act in Kalvarayan hill areas, (vi) take steps to release tribal prisoners languishing in Andhra jails, (vii) establish rural based industries, (viii) provide house site pattas and houses to the rural poor, (ix) provide potable water , and (x) establishing primary health centres and schools with increased teacher strength, proper kitchen etc. 

Hunger Strike by Inmates of J.P. Central Jail Demanding Release;

CPI (ML) Dharna in Support


In support of the hunger strike started by the inmates of the J.P. central jail in Hazaribagh district, CPI (ML) and AIPF staged a dharna in front of the deputy district magistrate on 17 October 2015. The protest event was conducted by Sudhir Yadav and several AIPF and CPI (ML) leaders addressed the participants. The leaders handed over a memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister through the dharna and demanded that the inmates' demands be met and the hunger strike be brought to an end.

The leaders who addressed the dharna shared that 56 inmates who had completely their sentence in the Jai Prakash Central Jail, had sat on a nine day, demanding that they be released now. In their support, nearly 650 other convicts who were still serving their sentence too had come forward. Several women inmates along with their children to had joined the hunger strike in solidarity. The hunger strike started on 6 October and continued till 15 October, during which health of several hunger strikers got deteriorated. With several hundred inmates joining the strike in solidarity, the work of the jail had come to a standstill. Printing press, powerloom, handloom, agriculture, kitchen, tailoring and several other works involving participation of the inmates remained shut. This added to the difficulties of the jail administration. The inmates demanded to know why those who had completed their sentences were not being released. Was the government waiting for their death?

CPI (ML) leaders pointed that at the time of sentencing the date on which the sentence would be over was fixed. There was no legal provision for keeping inmates locked up after their sentence was over. The fact that despite there being no such provision, inmates were languishing in jails exposed the weakness in the legal system. At present, nearly 6000 innocent poor tribals were languishing in jails of Jharkhand but the state government had no concern for them. The AIPF has been running a continuing campaign against such negligence by the state. CPI (ML) leaders demanded that besides immediate release of inmates who had completed their sentence, the jail manual be implemented properly and completely and also that there be quick execution of cases involving innocent under trials.

On 17 October, CPI (ML) and AIPF also organised a march in Ranchi from party office (Com. Mahendra Singh Bhawan) to Alberta Ekka Chowk, followed by a sabha. The combined pressure built by the movements inside and outside the jail forced Chief Minister Raghuvar Das to visit the jail and get the inmates to break their fast by assuring them that their demand would be met.

AIPF Protest Convention in Delhi on 'Politics of Fear & Hate unleashed by RSS-BJP'

AIPF organised a protest convention against the reign of terror of the RSS-BJP combine on 29 October at the Gandhi Peace Foundation in New Delhi. The speakers included Manglesh Dabral, Asgar Wajahat, Prof. Shamsul Islam, Cultural activist Kapil Sharma, AIPF leader Com. Girija Pathak and CPI (ML) activist, Com. Aslam Khan, among others. The cultural group Sangwari also sang songs of protest during the convention.

While addressing the audience, the speakers focussed on how the atmosphere of hate and fear was being created by the RSS-BJP and their associated groups. The current times have seen the attacks unleashed by the reactionary forces become more organized and brutal. From the genocide in Muzzafarnagar just prior to General Elections in 2014 to the cold blooded murders of Com. Govind Pansare and Prof. M.M. Kalburgi and the continued attacks on minorities and dalits taking place throughout the country, are clear indicators of this well thought out majoritarian ploy to instill fear in the minds of minorities and Dalits by spreading hatred. The social political fallout of the growing failure of the Modi government in fulfilling its election time promises to people is being sought to be covered up by stoking the communal card and spreading the politics of fear, hatred and violence. In response to this onslaught, people have been protesting throughout the country and for the first time since independence, India has seen so many writers, intellectuals, academics, scientists and artists return their awards and give up their posts to announce very clearly their principled opposition to the present onslaughts. The speakers also expressed their solidarity with all those who had taken a stand to voice their protest against such onslaughts by returning their awards.

Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail:, website:

Saturday, October 31, 2015

ML Update | No. 44 | 2015

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  18 | No. 44 | 27 OCT - 2 NOV 2015

Students Occupy UGC To Protest Cutbacks in Fellowships

In a historic action, students of various Universities occupied the premises of the University Grants Commission in protest against the UGC's move to scrap all non-NET fellowships for research scholars. The protests continue even after the students were evicted from the UGC premises and severely caned by police, several students were severely injured while dozens were taken to police custody. The Modi Government, rather than speak to protesting students, have instead chosen to rain batons on defenceless students.

Ironically, it was a Committee appointed to address the students' demand to increase the paltry fellowship in keeping with steep inflation rising costs of higher education and living which announced the scrapping of the fellowship, effectively excluding the vast majority of scholars from pursuing research.

The massive wave of protests – intensifying in Delhi and spreading now to Universities all over the country and supported by teachers' unions and intellectuals – by students comes in the wake of other significant protests by students and intellectuals. First, there was the successful resistance by the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle in IIT Madras against an attempt at muzzling dissent, followed by the ongoing FTII students' protests against attempts to impose a saffronized and ill-qualified management. Then, there has been an upsurge of dissent and protest by writers and intellectuals against the Government's patronage for forces involved in intimidation and murders of minorities and dissenting voices. The Occupy UGC protests are another powerful chapter in these growing voices of protest against the Modi Government's destructive attitude towards creative arts, research and institutions of education.

The move to scrap the fellowships and restrict fellowships only to those scholars who clear the National Eligibility Test (NET) was correctly diagnosed by students as a move tailored to fit the Modi Government's plans to accept the WTO grouping of higher education under GATS as a "tradable service". The UPA Government had already made an "offer" to this effect in 2005 and in the WTO Ministerial talks due in December, the Modi Government plans to seal this "offer" and accept "binding commitments" to make India's higher education a tradable service. It is well known that if India indeed accepts these "binding commitments" under WTO-GATS, the Indian Government would be "bound" to cut subsidies in public-funded higher education, since such subsidies would be seen by WTO as a violation of its "commitments" to provide a "non-discriminatory" "level playing field" for domestic and international traders in education. Scrapping or restricting the non-NET fellowships in higher education is a move very much in keeping with the plans to comply with the WTO-GATS "binding commitments."

The students of Delhi University, JNU, Jamia Millia Islamia, and Ambedkar  University have shown remarkable resilience and farsightedness, braving both cane-charges and detention by the police and abusive violence by the RSS-BJP student wing ABVP.

The attempts by the ABVP and the Modi Government's HRD Ministry to spread disinformation and break students' unity have also been recognised and rejected.

The HRD Ministry tried to diffuse the protests by "assuring" that the fellowships would not be scrapped. But the students rightly recognised that the statement implied only that students already receiving fellowships would continue to do so - but in future, students would only get fellowships based on 'merit' or 'economic' criteria. Moreover the HRD Ministry made this 'assurance' by a tweet, without any discussion with protesting students. Rather they did so only after talks with ABVP leaders - as though the whole issue could be settled within the cozy confines of the 'Sangh family.'

Rejecting such 'assurances', the Occupy UGC movement continues to fight for the rights of existing as well as future research scholars and higher education itself. Students have joined the protests at the UGC from Aligarh Muslim University, Mahatma Gandhi International Hindi University, Punjab University Chandigarh and MD University Rohtak. Also protests are being organized in various Universities of the country like Central University Gujarat, Allahabad University, NEHU Shillong, University of Hyderabad, EFLU Hyderabad and Aligarh Muslim University and in Kolkata. Students from across the country are also planning to come to Delhi and join the Occupy UGC Protests .

The protesting students in India can take heart and inspiration from the spirited countrywide shutdown of universities achieved by the ongoing struggles of South African students against fee hikes and privatisation/outsourcing of University services. The resonances between the struggles of Indian and South African students against policies of privatisation is a significant counterpoint to the dominant State-led narrative on the ongoing third India-Africa Summit in Delhi.

More power to the students whose protests are striving to defend not only their rights but the inclusive and democratic character of higher education and the country's autonomy.

 CPI(ML) Protests Burning Alive of Dalit Children and Increasing Anti-Dalit Violence in Haryana

On 20 October 2015, two dalit children, one aged three years and the other all of nine months, were burnt alive when as some upper caste Rajputs set their home on fire. Their parents too suffered injuries and the mother was admitted to hospital in a critical condition. Soon after this horrific incident, on 22 October 2015, the CPI (ML) Team comprising of CPI (ML) Haryana in charge, Com. Prem Singh, CPI (ML) activist Aslam Khan, National Secretary of RYA, Com. Omprasad, AICCTU activist Com. Abhishek and journalist Raziv Raaz, visited the Sunped Village where this gruesome incident had occurred. The team met the villagers and family members of Jitendra, the father of the two children who were burnt alive, and spoke at length with them. The team is of the opinion that the Haryana Government. must take responsibility for this barbaric attack as Jitendra's Family was under Police Protection when the attack happened. The team will release a detailed report very soon.

CPI (ML) also held a protest outside Haryana Bhawan on 24 October 2015. The protestors not only expressed anger over the burning alive of the two children and the failure of the government to protect them, despite the awareness that the life of the family was in threat, but also over increasing atrocities against Dalits in Haryana. Soon after this gruesome incidence of violence against Dalits that had taken place on 20 October, On 23 October 2015, yet another incident of violence against Dalits was reported. A 15-year-old Dalit boy, who had been charged with theft of a pigeon, was found dead under mysterious circumstances in Haryana's Gohana town today. The boy of the family alleged torture by the police, however, even before the post-mortem report was out, the Haryana Chief Minister went on record backing police claims that the boy had committed suicide. CPI (ML) leaders addressing the protestors pointed out how such incidents of violence against Dalits had been increasing in Haryana. They also pointed out that not only had the BJP government in Haryana failed to protect the Dalits in the state, the statements being issued by the Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar and ministers like V.K. Singh had further exposed BJP's real intentions.

The protestors demanded that the Minister of State for External Affairs V. K. Singh be sacked for his insensitive and shocking remarks comparing deceased Dalit children to dogs and the burning alive of humans to pelting stones at dogs.

Activists from AICCTU and AISA also joined the protest.


A Massive Student Movement to Withdraw Non-NET Fellowships Spread Countrywide Despite Continuing Repression

In a meeting held on 7 October 2015 with enhancement of non NET fellowship as one of the agendas, the University Grants Commission (UGC) shockingly decided to completely withdraw the UGC non-NET Rs 5000/8000 fellowships. As soon as the news about this anti-student decision came to public, the National leadership of AISA condemned the move and called for a massive protest. In a press statement released by AISA, Com. Ashutosh, Delhi State Secretray, AISA said, "If this fellowship is discontinued, it will be impossible for a vast majority of the country's students to engage in research and knowledge creation". The statement also pointed out that – "The recent decision by UGC is another step in BJP-led central government's series of moves to cut budgetary allocation in education and restructure higher education to make it inaccessible and destroy its quality. This must also be seen in the context of the impending negotiations of the GoI with WTO to commit Indian higher education as a tradable service in the upcoming Xth Ministerial Conference in Nairobi this December".

 In Jawaharlal Nehru University, the JNUSU immediately gave a call for a protest at UGC office on 21 October afternoon to demand an immediate withdrawal of this decision. On 21 October, students from JNU, JMI, DU and AUD gathered in huge numbers outside the UGC office to register their protest however the UGC chairperson refused to meet the students. Instead, the protesting students were beaten and several of them were injured. Delhi AISA leader and former JNUSU Vice President Com. Anant Prakash Narayan and DU AISA activist Yashaswini were among those who sustained severe injuries. JNUSU office bearers from AISF and AISA submitted their demands to the UGC officials demanding- revocation of the withdrawal of the non NET fellowship, enhancement of the current fellowship amounts of Rs. 5000 for M.Phil and Rs. 8000 for PhD and extension of non NET fellowship to all state and Central Universities. By evening when the UGC chairperson continued to deny meeting the student delegation, the students from across universities began an #OccupyUGC movement and decided to not leave the premised till the decision was withdrawn.

It is to be noted that JNUSU office bearer from ABVP was not a part of the JNUSU delegation that submitted the memorandum. Instead the ABVP tried its best to demobilise the student community first by claiming that their demands had been met by the MHRD in an exclusive meeting between the minister of MHRD and the ABVP activists, and when the agitating students refused to end the OccupyUGC movement till an official circular to this effect was released by the MHRD and the UGC, the ABVP goons reached the UGC office at night to threaten the common students. However, the students continued to occupy the UGC office on two successive nights, singing protest songs and painting slogans against sale of education in the UGC premises.

On 23 Morning, after having been subjected to ABVP lumpensim the entire night, as the students were waiting for more students to join them, scared by the student might, the Delhi Police detained the protesting students who had been up all night in UGC office and took them, not to the nearest station, but Bhalsava police station on the outskirts of Delhi. However, much to the disappointment of UGC authorities and Central Government, the news of detention only encouraged more and more students in Delhi and outside to join the movement. As students gathered to block the ITO, a brutal lathi charge of students followed.

In the last couple of days, protests against UGC have been held in North-Eastern Hill University (Shillong), Aligarh Muslim University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad Central University and many others. Students have carried protest marches in Wardha, Mumbai and elsewhere. AISA activists organised protest in Allahabad and also an effigy burning Minister of MHRD, Smriti Irani.

Beginning on 26 October, a joint call for ReOccupyUGC was issued and this time students from across the country have joined. While students from universities like Mahatma Gandhi International Hindi University, Punjab University, Aligarh Muslim University, MD University, Rohtak have arrived in Delhi to join the OccupyUGC call, several others have been holding protest demonstrations in their own universities and cities.

Once again, just prior to the ReOccupyUGC call, the MHRD and the ABVP tried to confuse the student community and demobilise them by issuing confusing circulars. However their farce was again seen through by the student community. Soon after the MHRD circular was released, AISA immediately released a press statement pointing out the several flaws and problems in the circular. Terming the MHRD circular as fraud, it was pointed out how the MHRD was trying to introduce economic and merit criteria in the award of fellowships, which as per students' demand must extended to all researchers. Rejecting the attempts to restrict the scope of the fellowship, the movement continues and the students have vowed to strengthen it till their demands are met. Since 26 October, the students in much more numbers have once again occupied the UGC office and the slogans that had since then be wiped out have been repainted.

On 27 October, the protesting students were lathi charged yet again and several had to be rushed to G.B. Pant hospital. Several students have been detained and taken to police station even as several hundred more continued to join.

The message of this historic student movement, where for the very first time in history of India have the students occupied the office of the most important educational body in the country, is clear- Education is Not for Sale!! CPI (ML) salutes the revolutionary zeal of the students and expresses solidarity with the movement.

Democratic Advocates' Association's day long fast demanding Democracy in Judiciary

Recently, 14 advocates who had been protesting to demand that Tamil be made an official language of High court of Madras were  suspended from practicing by the Bar council of India. In another case, contempt proceedings were initiated against Madurai Bar association President and Secretary for criticising judgements and leading protests aimed at exposing corruption in Judiciary. In light of these events, the Democratic Advocates Association organised a day long fast in Chennai demanding democracy in Judiciary and pressing for the following specific demands- (i) to revoke suspension orders of advocates, (ii) declaring Tamil as official language in High court of Madras in the interest of common people and (iii) for filling up of vacant posts of Judges in High court. The protest event was presided over by Com. Bharathi, state organiser of DAA. Com A. S. Kumar, state committee member CPI (ML ) inaugurated the event. More than hundred advocates participated from various parts of Tamil Nadu. The protest was also attended by Advocate Senthamil Selvan who had been recently released from prison in the struggle for Tamil as official language of High court. Com Vidya Sagar and Com. Jawahar on behalf of AIPF, Com Seetha of AISA, Com. Rajaguru of RYA, Advocate Gini Immanuel , Vice President of Madras High court Advocates' Association, Comrades Sivakumar and Pradhaban of AILU , Advocate Athiyaman along with DAA activists  and also scores of advocates from other left and democratic streams took part.


CPI(ML) March in Gurdaspur District in View of Increasing Tensions in Punjab

In view of the increasing tensions in Punjab and the rising communal tensions, a march was organised by the CPI (ML) in Gurudaspur district appealing that for calm and restoration of peace. The several hundreds who joined the march also condemned the increasing atrocities against Dalits in Haryana and condemned the state and central government ministers who instead of taking initiatives for peace, had only been fanning communal and casteist sentiments and adding to the existing tensions. Com. Gurmeet Singh Bakhutpur addressed the march.

 Demonstration against the Death of Two Workers by Asphyxiation

Two contract labours of Madurai Corporation died due to asphyxiation when forced to enter into underground drainage. They had not been provided with any protective equipment by the contractor and corporation officials. The Workers' right movement affiliated to AICCTU unit of Coimbatore organised a demonstration before the taluk office demanding the arrest of Contractor and Corporation officers, and also a compensation of Rs.25 lac for the families of the victims. The protestors also demanded-  (i) Government employment (other than scavenging work) be provided to one of the family members of deceased, (ii) strict implementation of 'The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavenging and their Rehabilitation Act 2013'   and (iii) 3 cent House site pattas within corporation limits. Com S. Kumarasamy, Politburo Member of CPI(ML), state committee members Comrades N. K. Natarajan and Venkatachalam, District secretary of CPI(ML) Com. Balasubramanian, AICCTU District General Secretary Com. Damodharan addressed the protestors. Hundreds of workers including sanitary workers of Coimbatore corporation took part. They have also decided to observe strike on 26th October on the same demands.

 United Left Protest in Haryana against Hike in Electricity Tariffs

CPI (ML), CPI (M), CPI and SUCI (C) held a joint protest at Shakti Bhawan, Panchkula, Haryana against the hike in electricity tariff. Thousands of people joined the protest. The changes in the slab system, increase in rate of electricity and the increased surcharge in the fuel rates had been effected in April 2015 as a result of which there has been a considerable increase in the electricity bills of people. Despite some changes in slab system made by the Electricity Regulatory Commission, there is no respite for those consuming under 500 units of electricity as they would get a relief of a mere 50 to 70 rupees. As a result of this there is a considerable anger among the rural and urban poor, workers, peasants, small shopkeepers and small artisans.

The leaders pointed out that since 1997, when the electricity board was broken down to five corporations, the situation had only got worsened. A memorandum consisting of the following demands was also submitted which included the demands to- (i) Withdraw the increase in the electricity rates and fuel surcharge and reinstate the old slab system; (ii) Cancel the arrears of the new rates effected from April; (iii) Revoke the decision to give 23 sub divisions on contract; (iv) revoke the condition to not give tubewell connections to farmers with land only upto 2 acres; (iv) review the decision to form corporations in order to put an end to the process of privatisation and contractualization; (v) reduce administrative expenditures and put an end to massive corruption in the corporations; (vi) stop the theft of electricity in big industries and commercial enterprises; among others.

Com. Prem Singh Gehlawat, Com. Kanwaljeet, Com. Mahendra Chopra were among those who participated.

 AIPF Demonstration in Puducherry

In view of the unabated activities by some communal groups leading to insults, attacks and horrible murders of progressive intellectuals, Dalits and minorities, on 23rd October 2015 at Puducherry, AIPF held a massive demonstration near Periyar Square, against silencing of progressive thoughts, hate campaign, intolerance, killings and imposition of food code. The protest demonstration was led by Prof. M. L. Thangappa, the Advisory panel member of AIPF. Com. S. Balasubramanian, State Secretary (CPIML), Com. Liqat Ali, AIPF advisory panel member, and R. Murugnandham, K. Mohanasundaram, National council members, S. Thamilmani, Friends of Earth movement also participated in the demonstration and addressed the protestors.

Com. S. Balasubramanian strongly condemned the silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over these continued attacks and demanded stern action against the culprits. He also demanded withdrawal of beef ban in some states which had created undue advantage for Hindu communal forces. A large number of activists, workers took part in the demonstration.


CPI(ML) Salutes the Historic #FeeMustFall Movement in Africa

CPI (ML) salutes the historic #FeeMustFall movement that has been launched by students in South Africa against the 10-15 percent fee hike that will be come to effect in 2016. Expressing their anger towards attempt to exclude a large section of students from the ambit of education, students have managed to mobilize thousands of students from across different province in the country through a social media campaign to turn out on the streets and resist fee hike. From Europe to North America to Asia and elsewhere, the students are now coming out on streets and protesting the universal sale of education. In times when WTO is compelling countries to convert higher education into a tradable service good, the students across countries are coming out in protest.

CPI(ML) expresses solidarity with #FeeMustFall movement in Africa, #OccupyUGC movement in India and all such student movements across the globe against privatization and marketization of education.


TKS Janarthanan

Comrade TKS Janarthanan, CPI(ML) State Committee member and Vice President of All India Agricultural and Rural Labour Association (AIARLA) passed away around 10.35 pm on 27 October 2015. We express our condolences and pledge to carry forward on the path where he had been our comrade in arms since 1970s.

Red Salute to Comrade TKS Janardhanan !

Thursday, October 15, 2015

ML Update | No. 42 | 2015

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  18 | No. 42 | 13 -19 OCT 2015

Writers And Artists Speak Truth To Power In India

Writers and artists in India are making a powerful statement against the Modi Government's patronage of assaults on dissent and pluralism, by returning prestigious awards and resigning from posts in cultural institutions. These gestures of protest come in the wake of the horrific lynching to death of a Muslim man in Dadri on the allegation that he ate beef, and the murders of noted Kannada writer Prof MM Kalburgi, rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and communist Govind Pansare. They are protesting against the fact that India's ruling Government and party are stoking hate to create an India where a person can be killed for what they eat, write, speak or believe.  

Hindi writer Uday Prakash was among the first to return his Sahitya Akademi award, followed by Nayantara Sehgal, Ashok Vajpeyi, and Rahman Abbas. Since then, the spate of protests by writers and artists continues unabated. Kerala writer Sara Joseph; Hindi poets Manglesh Dabral and Rajesh Joshi; four Punjabi writers – Gurbachan Singh Bhullar, Ajmer Singh Aulakh, Atamjit Singh, Waryam Sandhu; Kashmiri writer and poet Ghulam Nabi Khayal; noted Gujarat-based literary critic Professor Ganesh Devy; six Kannada writers – Veeranna Madiwalar, T. Satish Javare Gowda, Sangamesh Menasinakai, Hanumanth Haligeri, Shridevi V Aloor and Chidanand Sali and Aman Sethi, winner of a 'Yuva Puraskar' award for young writers, are among those who returned Sahitya Akademi awards, while dancer Maya Krishna Rao returned her Sangeet Natak Akademi award. Writer Shashi Deshpande, poet K Satchidanandan, Kannada writer Aravind Malagatti have quit Sahitya Akademi posts in protest. Carnatic singer TM Krishna has written an open letter to the Prime Minister calling the bluff of his non-response to the Dadri lynching. Novelist Salman Rushdie has expressed support for India's writers and expressed concern about the future of freedom of expression in India.  

The writers and artists are protesting not only against the lynchings and murders by Hindu-majoritarian outfits emboldened by the Modi Government; they are also protesting against the explicit rationalization, even celebration and stoking of such acts by Ministers of the Modi Government and elected representatives of the ruling BJP, and the tacit, implicit support of the Prime Minister himself for such acts of violence and the accompanying hate-speech. They are also protesting against the fact that the 'autonomous' cultural Akademis are silent on the killing of writers and the attacks on pluralism led by the Culture Minister of the Modi Government.  

The Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma commended the Dadri lynch mob for not having raped the victim's daughter) and described the lynching as an 'accident', and had earlier called for 'cleansing' of cultural and educational institutions of 'foreign influence' (read dissent and plurality). Responding to the writers' protests, he taunted them, saying 'Let them stop writing, then we will see.' In a blatant espousal of impunity and injustice that has now become the hallmark for the Modi Government, Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptullah has said that Dadri is now past and India needs to look to the future.

Meanwhile the Prime Minister has remained totally silent on the serial murders of rationalists and writers, even in the wake of evidence that the suspected killers are from Hindu-majoritarian groups that Modi himself has approved of and endorsed. On the Dadri lynching, the Prime Minister remained silent for long. And when he eventually spoke at an election rally, he refrained from any mention, let alone outright, unequivocal condemnation of the lynching. What was needed from any democratic leader was a simple, forthright affirmation of the right of every Indian to eat, speak, write or believe without fear of being killed for it. What was needed was a clear condemnation of his camp followers who sought to rationalize the lynchings and murders. Instead, Modi merely said that Hindus and Muslims should decide whether they wished to fight themselves or fight poverty. He appealed to people not to listen to hate-speech – but significantly refused to ask his own Ministers and BJP MPs and MLAs to refrain from uttering hate-speech! And in other election speeches in Bihar, Modi himself used 'beef' as an excuse to stoke divisive politics. His words were quickly echoed by Bihar BJP leader Sushil Modi, who said Bihar's voters must "choose between beef-eaters and those who would ban beef." The very politics that killed Akhlaque in Dadri, is being used by the PM and the BJP in the hope of garnering votes in Bihar.

Modi Minister and BJP leader from Bihar Giriraj Singh has gone even further in venomous and sexist hate-speech; saying that the difference between mutton and beef is like that between a wife and a sister. The BJP seems unaware that such statements reveal that to them, women are like meat – items for consumption.

What must be stressed is that the 'beef ban' and 'meat ban' agenda of the BJP is merely a pretext, a cynical alibi for anti-Muslim hatred. It has emerged that BJP MLA Sangeet Som who made vicious provocative speeches on beef and meat in Dadri, is himself an owner of a company that exports meat and buffalo meat!

At a time when the Modi Government and BJP-RSS leaders are openly trying to turn India into a Hindu Nation with no room for plurality and dissent, it is heartening to see the courage of the writers and artists speaking truth to power. More strength to their pen and their voices!  

Left Initiatives in Midst of Communal Tensions in Ranchi

The Sangh Parivar has once again been trying to disrupt the communal harmony in Ranchi. On 25 September 2015, during a brief period of power cut at night between 9.30 pm to 10 pm, an incident involving throwing of prohibited meat pieces in two temples located in Shivpuri area took place. An uproar followed once the power was restored at 10.30 pm. While it remains unknown as to who threw the meat pieces and who informed the rest about this occurrence, at about 11 pm a massive mobilization of Hindu groups took place to block the roads. According to the sources, however, the pieces of prohibited meat that had been found had been pasted with light colour clothing on animal skin.

Within no time, the gathered group set on fire an egg-selling shop and a hut like club belonging to people from minority sections. They started demanded a ban on sale of prohibited meat in Manitola. People belonging to both Hindu and Muslim religions reside on the Patthar road in Manitola. Soon the communal tension escalated to a level that deafening silence and turning off lights began to mark Muslim mohallas. VHP and Bajrang dal goons begin to incite people by provocative speeches even as the state administration continued to watch in silence.

Incidents of communal violence begin to take place in presence of police forces which had gathered to watch in silence. On 26 September, a popular news daily in Ranchi carried a provocative story that further accelerated the communal tension in Ranchi. On 26 September itself, goons belonging to RSS and VHP tried to further vitiate the atmosphere.

On the same day, on the initiative of CPI (ML) state secretary, Com. Janardan Prasad an urgent meeting of left forces including CPI, CPI (M), CPI (ML), MCC, Forward Block, besides others, was called. Following the decision taken during the meeting, immediately a team of left leaders met the district authorities and demanded arrest of the goons who had been trying to create communal tensions in the state.

On 27 September 2015, a massive peace march was carried out in Ranchi under a united left banner. A fact finding team comprising of representatives from the left parties was also sent to Doranda. Another meeting of left parties took place on 28 September and from 29 September to 1 October 2015, pamphlets appealing for peace were distributed. A team also met the Governor to hand over a memorandum.

On 2 October 2015, on the eve of Gandhi Jayanti, another massive peace march was organized by the left parties. The initiatives taken by the left played a crucial role in foiling the attempts of Sangh Parivar to engineer major communal violence in Jharkhand and influence the Bihar elections through such attempts at communal polarizations.

NHPC Contract Workers' Struggle in Uttarakhand

On 15 September, a contract worker, working in National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) met with an accident while returning from work and died. He was also a member of the NHPC contract workers' union (affiliated to AICCTU). Since the accident had taken place while returning from work, the union decided that the NHPC pay compensation to the deceased worker's family and his dependent also be given a job. It was further decided that each Union member should deposit one day's salary with the Union towards financial aid for the family.
On 21 September, however, it came to light that the Union President, Com. Uday Singh had been removed from work. The workers at Power House spontaneously left their duties and by the afternoon workers in the project's residential colony, dam site and at the project headquarters had also left their duties. On 22 September a decision was taken to go on an indefinite strike till the reinstatement of the Union President and compensation paid to the family of the deceased worker.  The strike went on for six days during which the NHPC management did not call the workers for talks but tried to break the strike in connivance with officials from permanent workers' unions BMC and INTUC.  Contract workers were denied NHPC bus services. NHPC cut the water and electricity connections in the Nigalpani housing colony and put the blame on the contract workers. The management also gave a complaint against the union officers in the Dharchula kotwali. At night attacks were made upon union members living in the colony and their tin sheds were stoned, after which a complaint was immediately registered with the police the following day. However, soon the momentum of the struggle and support received from various places forced the NHPC management to enter into dialogue with the contract workers' union, district AICCTU leaders, trade union coordination committee members, CPI (ML) district leaders and others. The pressure built finally resulted in the management of NHPC agreeing to reinstate Union President Uday Singh and to take all necessary steps to assure compensation to the family of the deceased. 
On fulfillment of their demands, the contract workers gathered at the Dharchula headquarters and after a gap of 1½ years the Dharchula tehsil was once again covered with red flags.
Parties Continue Protests in Uttar Pradesh against Dadri Incident
On 28 September, Mohd. Akhlaq, a 50 year old resident of Bisahada village in Dadri was dragged out of his home and lynched to death, and his son critically injured, on a conspiratorially-manipulated allegation that he and his family had stored and eaten beef. Soon after the incident, CPI (ML) sent its fact finding team and released the report and a strong condemnation of the incident. Thereafter, several protests have been collectively held by the left forces against the increase in spate of communal lynchings, hate mongering and communal violence in Uttar Pradesh.

CPI (ML), CPI (M), and CPI jointly held dharnas and demonstrations on 5 October 2015 at various district headquarters in Uttar Pradesh to protest against the murder of Mohd. Akhlaq in Dadri (Greater Noida). In the capital city of Lucknow, the three parties staged a dharna at GPO Park in Hazratganj.  CPI (ML) activists took out a march up in Gazipur. In Allahabad, CPI (ML) and CPI (M) took out a march, held a meeting at the Collectorate and submitted a memorandum to the District Magistrate. The three parties also jointly burnt PM Narendra Modi's effigy at Mau. SUCI (C) joined the three parties at Moradabad in a protest at the District Sessions Court. Protests were also held at Mathura, Jalaun and several other districts and memorandums were sent through the DMs.

It may be noted that most of the accused arrested so far in the Dadri incident are sons and relations of local BJP leaders. The BJP is defending the accused to the hilt, and is ceaselessly engaged in spreading poison against the minorities. Akhilesh Yadav government has once again failed to provide security to the minorities in the state.

Joint protests have also been held in various other parts of the country including Delhi.

Fourth State Conference of Jharkhand Gramin Mazdoor Sabha (JHAMAS)

On the occasion of Com. Ibnul Hassan Basru's Memorial Day the Jharkhand Gramin Mazdoor Sabha (JHAMAS) organized its 4th State conference on 29 September 2015 at the Com. Arun Pandey auditorium in Mirzaganj (Ibnul Hasan Basru Nagar) in Jamua block of Giridih district.

Prior to the conference thousands of rural workers led by CPI (ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya, Comrades Janardan Prasad, Manoj Bhakt, former MLA Vinod Singh, sitting Dhanwar MLA Rajkumar Yadav, Parmeshwar Mahto, Usman Ansari, and others took out a 5 km march from Jamua chowk, culminating at the conference venue.

The opening session of the conference started with songs presented by cultural teams from Bengal and Jharkhand. Inaugurating the conference, Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya said that Ibnul Hassan Basru had dedicated his whole life to carrying forward the struggles of the rural workers of Jamua and nearby areas, and he always emphasized the need to strengthen the CPI (ML) for the freedom of rural workers. Referring to the current scenario, he added that the BJP government is working in the interests of capitalists and big multinational companies, and prices are skyrocketing in this regime. The common people were not being benefited in any way. He called for a concerted struggle and emphasized the need to build the rural workers into a force to reckon with.

Com. Rajkumar Yadav and Com. Vinod Singh highlighted the anti-people policies of the BJP governments in the state and at the centre which included rampant loot of resources, huge cuts in food security, price rise, cuts in MNREGA, weakening of CNT and SPT acts, policies facilitating land grab of the poor and increased state oppression. Jharkhand State Secretary, Com. Janardan Prasad said that the rural poor under the banner of Jhamas would play a decisive role in the forthcoming panchayat elections and in fighting for the political claims of the rural poor.

The delegate session was conducted by a board chaired by eight members and attended by 300 delegates. Currently Jhamas is active in 14 districts where 1 lakh family memberships were targeted, out of which 41,000 memberships have so far been achieved. At the conclusion of the conference a 70 member State Council and 21 member National Executive were constituted with Com. Parmeshwar Mahto as General Secretary and Com. Devki Nandan Bediya as President.

The following responsibilities were undertaken by the Conference: 1. To fight against forcible land acquisition- to oppose any tampering with SPT-CNT Act and ensure implementation of 5th schedule; to fight for distribution of ceiling, gairmajrua, unutilized government land, agricultural, and housing land among the poor; 2. To ensure passing of food security bill and guarantee of 50 kg grains, 5 liters kerosene, and other necessities at affordable prices for the poor; to oppose scams in ration-kerosene distribution; 3. To demand housing; house construction funds in proportion to rising prices and housing for all the poor who do not come in the BPL list; 4. To fight for 200 days' work under MNREGA; fixing minimum wage at Rs 300; ensure weekly payments, and fight attempts to link this with Adhar card 5. Guarantee of free health and education through health centres in every village; appointment of doctors in each health centre; to fight for improvement in quality of primary education; 6. Guarantee of clean drinking water, roads, and other basic amenities in every tola; 7. To fight for social security pension for the aged and helpless even without BPL.

The conference resolved to take up the struggle for these issues by developing them as the focus of the struggle of the rural poor.

Public Hearing organized by AIPWA in Kolkata

The incidents of sexual violence have increased in the past few years and most of the accused continue to roam free. Far from showing a resolve to address the increase in sexual violence, the government has more often been found to engage with blatant victim blaming. Time and again, the people of Bengal have been made to witness threats of sexual violence by those in power. It in this context that AIPWA organized a public hearing against violence on women and for demanding justice on 29 September in Dharmatala Y-channel . The survivors of Kadambagachi [near Barasat, N24parganas], Jagacha [Howrah], Hoogly, Bidhan Sarani[Kolkata]and from several other places of Bengal took part in the public hearing.  The face of women's movement like Mousumi and Toompa from Kamduni, Pramila Ray from Sutia(sister of the slain school teacher Barun Biswas') and Aminul's family members were also present in the hearing. The women's movement activists like Soma Marik and Ratnaboli Ray, advocates like Rangta Munshi, Chandranath Banerjee, Ajanta Sarkar, Sharmila Dey, Nisha Biswas, and Dr Debasish Dutta were present as judges. AIPWA general secretary was also present during the hearing. The survivors shared their pain and agony and the form of violence they faced. They also described the problems they faced while lodging complaint in the police stations and while trying to get proper treatment in hospitals.

Rama Karmakar from Hoogly shared how during the court procedures when she clearly said that she had been raped by her brother-in-law, the public prosecutor advised her to compromise. Expressing her anguish she asked as to when will the courts focus on delivering justice rather than suggesting survivors to compromise.

Parboti, from N24parganas informed that though her daughter was killed by her in-laws, the culprits got bail. The women of Kadambagachi vividly described how she was tortured, her dress was torn apart making and how the culprits tried to insert bamboo stick into her vagina till she got senseless. All these were done by her in-laws in full public view on a road. Shockingly, the hospital denied her medical examination and also misguided her that if she does these medical tests she would face physical problems.

The director of transgender organizations 'Kolkata Rishta' , Dr Santosh Giri mentioned that not only women , transgender people also face sexual violence, however no discussion takes place on the subject and there are no demands for justice. Aditi, an organizer with Anjali [organization working for the rights of people having mental problems] said that nobody thinks about the people with mental problems. She pointed out that several of them were subjected to torture in government hospitals and even sexually harassed. Swati Chatterjee who deals with the acid attack cases said that if hospitals seriously follow medico-legal directives, the way to achieve justice would be smoother but most of the hospitals are not aware of the directives. The girl student of Bidhan Sarani Rape Case confirmed that the hospital did not follow health directives while doing her examination.

The representatives from domestic workers, mid-day meal workers, ASHA workers and construction workers also shared that sexual harassment often took place at their workplaces and they were regularly deprived of their proper wages .The stage of the public hearing became a stage of protest.

Toompa and Mousumi of Kamduni movement raised their voice of protest while saying that they were marked as Maoists as they protested against the rape cases and added the WB CM Mamta Banerjee had failed to keep her promise that she had made in front of the villagers.

The activists also strongly condemned the recent incident in Bakura Khayerberi Gram Panchayat where a class 12 student was killed in a salisi sabha [kangaroo court ] organized by Trinamool Congress for having an affair.    

Towards the end of the hearing and protest, state AIPWA secretary Com. Chaitali Sen assured that this demand for justice would be turned into a powerful movement and to ensure swift action, a gherao of CM's office would be called.          

Victory for tea workers in North Bengal

The tea garden workers in North Bengal had been fighting for their bonus since a prolonged period. Several rounds of talks were held between the trade union leaders, including members of the Terai Sangrami Cha Shramik Union (Affiliated to AICCTU). After nearly five rounds of fierce debates between the trade union leaders and the tea garden owners, on 7 October 2015, the owners were forced to agree on paying twenty percent bonus to the tea workers. This is an important victory for the workers' towards getting an increased bonus packet calculating the increased daily wages since 1 April 2014. Com. Basudeb Basu represented the Terai Sangrami Cha Shramik union at the last bipartite talk that was held at Bengal Chamber of Commerce, in Kolkata on 7 October.

Comrade Nagbhushan Memorial Day

The 18th Nagbhushan Memorial Day was commemorated on 9th October as "Smruti Divas" at Nagbhushan Bhawan in Bhubaneshwar. Many left leaders and intellectuals of different streams spoke on "Necessity of left unity in the present political juncture" on this occasion. Prominent among them were Kshitish Biswal, Radha Kanta Sethi and Ashok Pradhan from CPI(ML), CPI state secretary Dibakar Nayak, CPI(M) state secretariat member Dushmant Das, SUCI(C) leader Raghunath Das and Forward Bloc State convener Purna Padhi, Prof. Birendra Naik, senior journalist Rabi Das, Samadrusti editor Sudhir Pattanaik and many others. Com. Yudhisthir Mohapatra chaired the programme. Comrades paid tribute to the great revolutionary.

At Gunupur, Comrades Phanibhushan Pattanaik, Tirupati Gomango, James Sabar, Anasim Sabar and many others led a procession from Union office in memory of comrade Nagbhushan Patnaik and garlanded his statue. This was followed by a mass meeting.


Com. Virendra Kumar Singh

CPI(ML) Supaul district committee member and Khet Mazdoor Sabha district President Com. Virendra Kumar Singh passed away due to a heart attack at 2 AM on 12 July 2015. On hearing the news of his death a pall of gloom descended on district party workers and well-wishers in his village Rajeshwari. Com. Virendra had plunged into student politics while he was a student at Patna Law College. He was arrested during the emergency and after his release in 1977, he became a member of the CPI(M) dedicating himself to people's struggles. Fighting against the personality-based and bureaucratic tendencies in the CPI(M), he finally left the party in 1994 and became a member of the CPI(ML), taking active part in the people's struggles initiated by the party.

Workers in large numbers took part in his funeral procession and the condolence meeting chaired by Com. Achhe Lal Mehta.

Red Salute to Com. Virendra Kumar Singh!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

ML Update | No. 40 | 2015

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  18 | No. 40 | 29 SEP - 5 OCT 2015

Modi's US Visit – 
And Unanswered Questions 
About 'Digital India' and Democratic India  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has used his visit to the USA and especially Silicon Valley to sell India as an investment destination for digital services, in particular the Government's 'Digital India' programme. Beyond the hype and hard-sell of Modi's interaction with top CEOs, several urgent questions remain unanswered.  

Some of those questions were posed by protesters at Silicon Valley itself during the PM's visit. Under the banner of Alliance for Justice and Accountability, protesters raised their voices against growing communal, caste and gender violence in India, systematic erosion of environmental safeguards, and above all, the crackdown on freedom of expression and civil liberties, and the purging of diversity and dissent from academic and cultural institutions in the name of 'cleansing' foreign (read non-Hindutva) influences. The protesters also included LGBT groups that demanded that the Prime Minister break his silence on India's shameful Section 377 law that criminalizes homosexuality. Leading academicians from various US universities had also written an open letter raising many of these concerns. It must also be noted that Modi, on his visit to Ireland, chose to use Irish soil to take a dig at India's secular ethos and concerns.  

Ironically, at the venue, Modi supporters from the Hindutva camp confirmed many of the concerns being raised about the crackdown on dissent by abusing, intimidating and roughing up the protesters. It is indeed significant that while Modi poses with CEOs of social media and Internet-related service companies, the social media in India have become spaces where dissenting voices, especially voices criticizing the Prime Minister, his party, his organization the RSS or his Government are subjected to an organized campaign of intimidation and abuse by a virtual army of Modi supporters. In India, the police under Governments ruled by parties of most hues have been quick to arrest and harass dissenting voices on social media. Section 66A was the legal instrument for such arrests and harassment; it has now been outlawed by the Supreme Court but not before the Modi Government defended it in Court.        

The Modi Government has also, in recent times, been forced to retreat on several policy moves to undermine privacy and freedom of users of the internet and social media. The Department of Telecommunication and IT Ministry of the Modi Government had to backtrack on a proposal to introduce a draft encryption policy requiring users to preserve every WhatsApp, SMS or email message for 90 days and make these available to security agencies on demand, or else face a jail term. Similarly, the Government had to make a U-Turn on a misguided attempt to ban porn sites on the internet. And earlier, the DoT tried to undermine net neutrality in collusion with some Indian telecom corporations, but was forced to retreat.      

Modi's meeting with Facebook CEO Zuckerberg also raises the spectre of a threat to net neutrality. Zuckerberg's project is already under fire for its proposal to undermine net neutrality (i.e a free internet) by carving up the net into different saleable 'segments' or 'packages.' This project is being defended in the name of internet access for the poor: but the hidden agenda is to restrict the existing free access to the internet by compromising net neutrality.

In the name of providing important Wi-Fi in railway stations and broadband services in rural India, PM Modi has rolled out the red carpet to Google and Microsoft. But the question is, why can't such basic infrastructure be provided by Indian companies? Why allow MNC penetration in what is a potentially strategic area? More importantly, why is the Modi Government itself lagging behind drastically in implementing the National Optic Fiber Network plan to lay down the fibre optic cables required to ensure broadband access to 250,000 villages? The deadline for this plan has been delayed and extended several times even in the tenure of Modi himself. The 'Digital India' promise can only remain a mirage unless the Government delivers on such infrastructure.  

Another issue on which Modi's Silicon Valley visit was silent is the condition of the IT sector in India. This sector is today primarily one of brain drain, with Indian IT workers overworked and underpaid in exploitative and repressive conditions.

Modi's US visit throws up other areas of concern too. On Modi's past visit to the US and US President Obama's visit to India, there have been shadowy talks concerning pharmaceutical patents and nuclear liability. Both are areas which have grave implications for India's poor and common citizens. Yet the details of such discussions and agreements lack transparency and Indian citizens are kept in the dark.  

At home in India, Modi's graph is declining with his Government increasingly surrounded by questions about steeply rising prices, the control exerted by the RSS and corporations over the Government, meat bans, saffronization, the worrying spectacle of emboldened Hindutva terror groups that are assassinating secular and rationalist activists and intellectuals, and the Government's own harassment of activists and dissenting voices. Modi's 'development' rhetoric too is being questioned, since the promised 'good days' are yet to arrive for the poor and deprived while the corporations and MNCs bask in the Modi sun. The carefully scripted optics of Modi's foreign tours cannot get rid of these questions that are growing louder and demanding answers.

Declare Jharkhand Drought Affected Region

Even as entire Jharkhand has been severely affected by the drought, the BJP government headed by Raghuvar Das has so far shown no steps towards addressing those affected by the drought. As starvation, unemployment and forced migration continues to increase, the government apathy shows no signs of ending.   In view of the severe drought conditions affecting the entire state of the Jharkhand, CPI(ML) organized a series of protests in several districts across Jharkhand demanding that Jharkhand be declared a drought area.

On 19 September, the CPI(ML)'s Ranchi city committee organized a march, followed by a meeting to protest against Jharkhand not being declared a drought area and giving a call to observe a state-wide protest day against the increase in petrol prices. During the entire march, slogans were raised demanding- "Declare Jharkhand a drought area", "Start relief work", "Guarantee 200 days' work under MNREGA", "Roll back increase in petrol price" and "Pass employment guarantee law for urban poor". Addressing the meeting, Bhuvaneshwar Kewat, district secretary, said that despite continuous fall in prices of crude oil in the international market, the people of Jharkhand have received no relief; rather, they are burdened with increased petrol price and spiraling cost of living. The government is oppressing the people with more and higher taxes. People from villages across the State are being forced to migrate because of the government's failure to declare Jharkhand drought-affected despite continuous drought conditions and failure of maize and paddy crops.

Protests were also organized in other districts including- Garhwa,  Palamu, Latehar, Lohardaga, Gumla, Giridih, Ramgarh, Dhanbad, and Jamtara under CPI(ML) and AIPF banners.  In Dhanbad, about 100 farmers sat in dharna at fertilizer factory gate on 21 September, protesting the management's illegal takeover of farmers' lands, and demanding long pending compensation for land by the factory. In several districts memorandums were submitted to the Chief Minister through the local DMs.

CPI(ML) leaders warned that if the state of apathy continued, the agitation would be strengthened in days to come.

Five CPI(ML) leaders in Punjab Sentenced for Leading Anti-Land-Grab Struggle

On 19 September, the Fatehabad court sentenced five CPI(ML) leaders from Punjab, Sukhdarshan Singh Natt, Ruldu Singh, Gurjant Singh, Jasbir Kaur and Rajvinder Rana for three years in jail for their role in anti-land grab struggle in Punjab. In 2011, a series of 'kurkis' took place in Mansa district, by the money lenders whereby they grabbed the land of poor peasants against their pending debts. During one such incident, a moneylender fired at the peasant union activists who were resisting the land grab and a peasant leader Pirthi Singh was killed in the firing. The police refused to arrest the money lender, who had fired, for almost a month owing to considerable political pressure. It were only relentless protests by peasant organizations and CPI(ML) that the administration was forced to arrest the murderer eventually. When the murderer was brought to the court, amidst continued protest and raising of slogans against the delay in arrest, and some angry peasants and protesters manhandled the hated killer inside the court premises. The police took even this as an opportunity to act in favour of the usurer, land-grabber and murderer and revengefully slapped serious false criminal cases against CPI(ML) and other peasant leaders!

The five leaders have now been granted bail in order to appeal in the higher court.

The conviction of leaders of anti-land grab movement comes at a time when the government of the day is pushing hard the policy of land grab and displacement and brutally oppressing dissenting voices. CPI(ML)'s struggle against anti-poor, anti-peasant measures of the government will continue undeterred

Candle March against the Move to Make Bindukhatta a Municipality.

Hundreds of Bindukhatta residents came out on the streets once again on 23 September under the banner of the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha, for the campaign "Harish Rawat Sarkar, Jawab Do" and raising slogans against making Bindukhatta a municipality.

A meeting was held at Car Road, Bindukhatta in the evening. Addressing the meeting, Kisan Mahasabha State President Com. Purushottam Sharma said that the government has betrayed the people of Bindukhatta by making it a municipality. The people of Bindukhatta voted MLA Durgapal to a one-sided victory so that he could fulfill his election promise to make Bindukhatta a revenue village and give ownership rights to the farmers who had settled on lands here. But the MLA, by making this a municipality, has made full plans to enable the land mafia to loot the people's lands. Bindukhatta was made a municipality, waiving all laws, as it was not legally possible. As a result, the government has not even been able to file a reply in the ongoing case in the High Court. He pointed out that MLA Durgapal and his workers had been spreading misinformation among the people that it was not possible to make Bindukhatta a revenue village under the Forest Act. However, the Congress government is unable to explain as to how it is possible to make it a municipality if making it a revenue village was not permissible since the process for transfer of land revenue is the same in both cases. However, in view of the existence of a municipality, transfer of land in Bindukhatta will mean that the land will be considered "nazul" land whose owner will be the municipality. In order to get ownership rights to the land that they are settled in, the farmers will have to pay 25% of the circle rate and double the revenue amount, into the government account. Therefore, in order to get ownership rights, most of the villagers will have to sell their lands to the land mafia at throwaway prices. On the other hand, if Bindukhatta was to become a revenue village, it would be directly beneficial to the villagers as there is a provision for making up to 3 ¼ acres of land in the villagers' names without fees.

Purushottam Sharma further added that even if the government wishes to make it into a municipality, they must either first give the ownership rights of the lands to the farmers otherwise the municipality order should be revoked without delay.

Addressing the meeting, CPI (ML) district Secretary Kailash Pandey said that the State government is the government of the mafia. Under the Congress rule, only the land mafia and mining mafia are being strengthened. The land mafia has its eye on the lands of Bindukhatta, which is why the government wants to make it into a municipality. The people have been long agitating against this move but the local MLA, instead of replying to the High Court and listening to the people's demands, is trying to obstruct panchayats by sending goons to disrupt Kisan Mahasabha Panchayats. He further said that the fact that people have once again taken to the streets in hundreds after 1 April to protest against the municipality proves that however much the MLA and the Congress try to threaten, frighten, tempt and mislead the people, they will not be fooled and will not rest till they get ownership rights to their lands.

Convention in Support of Left Candidates in Bihar Elections

A convention of writers, cultural activists, and intellectuals was held on 13 September 2015 at the Madhyamik Shikshak Bhawan in Patna on the topic, 'Left Alternative in Bihar'. It was co-organized by Pragatisheel Lekhak Sangh (Progressive Writer's Association), Janvadi Lekhak Sangh, Janvadi Sanskritik Morcha, and Paigham Cultural Society. Addressing the convention, Chief Editor of Samkaleen Janmat, Ramji Rai said that the seeds of fascism, communalism, violence and brutality are present inside the neoliberal policies on which the governments of this country are running. The Modi government is implementing this policy even more aggressively. Even otherwise, there has always been a fascist tendency in the Indian ruling echelons. Narendra Modi is a product of a continuum. This is the reason the Left did not consider Modi's becoming the Prime Minister an ordinary phenomenon. Neither Lalu, nor Nitish, nor the SP, nor the BSP have the capacity to fight fascism. Time has placed this historic responsibility of fighting fascism on the shoulders of the Left, and it is this responsibility which has made possible the present unity among the Left parties. The seeds of a strong united Left in the future are present in this current unity.

Pragatisheel Lekhak Sangh national committee member and critic Khagendra Thakur said that the Left has played a historic role through its struggles in passing the Land reform act, Sharecroppers' Act, and other pro-people laws. The unity of the Left parties is a historic event which has filled Left activists with a new energy and enthusiasm. He appealed to litterateurs to write on political subjects also. He expressed the belief that they would also write articles in support of the Left.

Addressing the convention, Janvadi Lekhak Sangh Bihar State President Prof. Neeraj Singh said that this moment of Left unity has been long awaited. Writers in this country have always been predominantly fromthe Left, and the lack of unity among the Left parties has been a matter of concern to them more than to anyone else. That is why they always found themselves in a dilemma during elections. However, this time there is no dilemma. Writers are full of hope and enthusiasm with the unity among Left parties.

AISA protests against draconian UGC guidelines

Students from JNU, Jamia Millia Islamia, Ambedkar University and Delhi University staged a massive protest outside the UGC office under the banner of AISA, against the 'Guidelines on Safety of Students on and off Campuses of Higher Educational Institutions' issued on April 16th 2015'. The students express tremendous anger over the fact that in the name of security, UGC was trying to convert campuses into jails. The protest against this circular has also sparked off protests against moral policing in several campuses. Addressing the protestors, the National President of AISA, Sucheta De said that it is evident that the sole purpose of this circular is to curb students' voices and open doors for moral policing.  Students across universities and states ranging from engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu to Lovely University in Punjab have also conveyed their criticisms on the basis of their experiences. 

Prior to organising the protest outside the UGC, a massive signature campaign had also been launched to inform and warn students, youth and other progressive-democratic sections about the contents and implications of this circular. The signature campaign had received massive response from the students across the universities and in several campuses protests against this circular had already started. 

Comrade Sucheta pointed out how one after another anti-student policies were being undemocratically imposed by  UGC and MHRD and whenever students organized themselves and came out to protest, they were being labelled as anti-nationals. At a time when there major lacks in campuses in terms of - infrastructure, regular teachers proper implementation of provisions to ensure social justice, and basic infrastructural and educational tools to challenge patriarchal mindsets, it is outrageous that the UGC and the MHRD spend their time and resources to come out with such regressive measures.

The UGC circular includes guidelines such as construction of high walls with barbed wires surrounding girls' hostel that cannot be crossed, installation of CCTV cameras, presence of police forces and metal detectors on campuses, use of digital technology and biometrics to keep track of students' movements, regular parent-teachers' meeting, issuing conduct codes to students, monitoring of students' mobile phones, among others.

A delegation of students also met the UGC authorities. Sandeep Saurav, National General Secretary of AISA, who was a part of the delegation later informed the students that the UGC was bent on providing justification for the draconian guidelines citing a few incidents. However, considering that the UGC did not bother to consult any representatives from among the student and teacher communities, showed that they were least serious about the issues they claimed to be concerned about.

AISA Delhi unit President, Anmol Ratan asked if the UGC did not consider students studying in universities as citizens deserving of freedom, dignity and right to choose. Several guidelines included in the UGC circular contribute to the culture of victim blaming.

AISA leaders declared that the students' agitation against such draconian dictates will intensify in days to come. A government that is committed towards 'sell out' and marketization of higher education and towards curbing of democratic spaces in campuses by silencing dissent, will not be allowed to trample upon our freedom, dignity and choices!

Viren Dangwal

CPIML dips its flag in salute to noted Hindi poet Viren Dangwal who passed away in the morning of 28 September 2015, finally succumbing to a long battle with cancer. Viren Dangwal infused a fresh energy into progressive poetry, using a lucid idiom accessible to every common person. Always disarmingly humble and warm, Viren Dangwal associated himself with the Jan Sanskrit Manch and other progressive cultural platforms. His passing away is a tragic loss for all of us.

Red Salute to Comrade Viren Dangwal !

Lalan Thakur

Com. Lalan Thakur passed away on 7 September 2015 after a prolonged illness at the age of 70. He hailed from Patna. Com. Lalan was associated with the Party immediately after the spring rising of Naxalbari. He, along with other comrades, used to paint slogans on walls at night. He played a significant role in establishing the Party's base in Patna's Jakkanpur Mohalla at a time when the struggle had started in Jakkanpur against feudal domination. Com. Lalan was also arrested during this time and lodged in Ward No. 2 where all the prisoners associated with the Naxal movement were kept and not allowed to meet other prisoners. Com. Lalan played a significant role in initiating study, discussion and debates on political books and literature.

On coming out of jail, he was put to organizational work by the Party. After staying at Ranchi for a time, he came to Patna and worked in the Irrigation department first on a casual basis, and later as a regular employee. He continued to be associated with Party work. Very few people knew that he was a government employee, as he was active in all the Party programmes. Despite his transfer to Dehri, he stayed for the most part in Patna and made it clear to the authorities that his first priority was Party work.

Com. Lalan remained dedicated to the Party and continued to maintain contact with the Party base in the mohalla. During the several ups and downs seen by the Party,  saw he remained a firm and a strong pillar for the Party. Red salute to Com. Lalan Thakur!