02 February 2011

CPI(ML) Condoles the Passing of Veteran Civil Liberties Fighter K G Kannabiran

At a time when civil liberties and people’s movements are under unprecedented attack, the loss of K G Kannabiran will be deeply felt. For the past more than 40 years, K G Kannabiran was a fearless and tireless voice challenging state repression and struggling to defend and expand democratic rights. His personal role in visiting scores of encounter sites in Andhra Pradesh and challenging the police’s impunity to commit fake encounters was remarkable, and in the process he braved threats to his own life and family. As a civil liberties lawyer, President of the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee from 1978 to 1994 and National President of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties since 1994, he served on the Tarkunde Committee and the Bhargava Commission, which had been constituted to inquire into encounters by the police. Right till the end of his life he never ceased to raise his voice against assaults on life, liberty and freedom of expression by the state, in particular the growing trend of communal witch-hunt in the name of curbing terrorism. He was scathingly critical of judges who advanced sympathetic arguments condoning caste atrocities like ‘honour’ killings. He also helped found the Concerned Citizens’ Tribunal that investigated the communal genocide in Gujarat in 2002. Commenting on the genocide and the rights of minorities, he wrote, “The Muslims of Gujarat do not need compassion and...

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Salman Taseer Remembered

(Excerpted from the London Review of Books, Vol. 33 No. 2, 20 January 2011) Mumtaz Hussain Qadri smiled as he surrendered to his colleagues after shooting Salman Taseer, the governor of the Punjab, dead. Many in Pakistan seemed to support his actions; others wondered how he’d managed to get a job as a state bodyguard in the carefully screened Elite Force. Geo TV, the country’s most popular channel, reported, and the report has since been confirmed, that ‘Qadri had been kicked out of Special Branch after being declared a security risk,’ that he ‘had requested that he not be fired on but arrested alive if he managed to kill Taseer’ and that ‘many in Elite Force knew of his plans to kill Salman Taseer.’ Qadri is on his way to becoming a national hero. On his first appearance in court, he was showered with flowers by admiring Islamabad lawyers who have offered to defend him free of charge. On his way back to prison, the police allowed him to address his supporters and wave to the TV cameras. The funeral of his victim was sparsely attended: a couple of thousand mourners at most. A frightened President Zardari and numerous other politicians didn’t show up. A group of mullahs had declared that anyone attending the funeral would be regarded as guilty of blasphemy. No mullah (that includes those on the...

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The Modern Occupation

[Two years have passed since Israel’s aggression on Gaza, and siege and blockade continues there. Shashwat Sinha recounts the history of Palestine’s occupation and dispossession and reflects on Israel’s strategic place in US interests. The article will be continued and concluded in the forthcoming issue.] The Middle-East is burning; indeed, peace has been a chimera for the region for decades.  War, violence, impoverishment, lack of any semblance of justice has become routinised in the daily lives of the people in the Middle-East.  The core issue that has cast its shadow over peace in the region is the Israel-Palestine ‘conflict’ which involves Arab population living in Palestine, Israel and neighbouring countries.  The ‘conflict’ is a euphemism for land grab by Israelis that started mainly in 1967 and has continued till date. Palestinians, having lost virtually all their land to Israel, are forced now to live on segregated isolated dots of land, overwhelmed from all sides by Israeli territories.  The kind of aggression, occupation and mass-murder that Israel has perpetrated in the region is matched and preceded only by land grab and genocide that occurred in the Americas after Columbus landed on its shores. It is déjà vu in human history, where, now in today’s modern world, several centuries later, a similar story of dehumanization and dispossession of an entire indigenous population is being repeated—with the US now as its major sponsor. ...

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Updates

Fisherfolk Resist Mafia in Odisha On 20 January, 10,000 fisherpeople in 1000 boats entered Chilika under the banner of the Chilika Matsyajibi Mahasangh and demolished 15,000 acres of prawn gherries belonging to the powerful prawn mafias. The prawn mafia’s nexus with local leaders of all ruling parties, financers, corrupt bureaucrats and police enjoys protection and patronage of the Naveen Patnaik Government. This is why, though prawn culture is strictly prohibited in Chilika, as it comes under costal regulatory zone (CRZ) and in spite of Orissa High Court and Supreme Court verdicts banning prawn culture in Chilika, as well as directives of Orissa Bidhan Sabha House Committee, it continues to flourish. Violating all the laws, directives and verdicts, the prawn mafia has spread its prawn culture gherries across the entire Chilika, looting the best of the prawn and becoming crorepatis. On the other hand, 2,70,000 poor traditional fisherpeople of 141 villages in and around Chilika, who are fully dependent on Chilika for their livelihood, are now starving, fenced out of their livelihood by the zero-net prawn gherries (fencings). The fisherpeople have repeatedly approached the Naveen Patnaik Government, demanding demolition of the prawn gherries as per law; implementation of the ban on prawn culture in Chilika. When the government failed to heed their demands, they decided to defend their livelihood and demolish the prawn gherries themselves – a measure that is...

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Jharkhand Panchayat Elections

After a gap of 32 years, the three-tier Panchayat elections were finally concluded Jharkhand, generating tremendous enthusiasm and participation at the grassroots with more than 70% polling and significant participation of women and youth. It also saw the enthusiastic participation of the backward classes and especially the tribal people in the scheduled regions. The election took place in November-December last year in 5 segments, the last segment of which concluded on 24 December 2011 and all the results were declared by 30 December 2011. CPI (ML) actively intervened and participated in this important political struggle as a fighting communist force in Jharkhand. We registered victories in 20 Zila Parishad seats, 139 seats in the Panchayat Samitis (constituted at the block levels) along with 135 directly elected posts of Mukhiyas and more than 800 wards in the panchayats. In the Zila Parishads, we won 9 seats in Giridih, 5 in Gumla, 2 in Koderma and 1 each in Latehar, Ramgarh, Hazaribagh and Dhanbad. In Giridih district, besides the 9 seats, we also registered wins in 66 Panchayat committee member posts and 45 mukhiya posts. Similarly in Garhwa, besides the 5 seats in the Zila parishad, we registered wins in 20 Panchayat committee member posts and 18 mukhiya posts. In terms of the Legislative Assembly segments, we won 3 Zila Parishad seats in the Bagodar Assembly region, 4 seats in Rajdhanwar...

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Rapists Protected

[In the past couple of months, several recent cases – at Purnea, Banda, Mansa – emerged where powerful and well-connected rapists were protected by the police and authorities, with the women who were struggling for justice being jailed, slandered or pushed to take desperate measures. In all three cases, CPI(ML) and AIPWA have played an active role in the struggle. In each of these cases, the women have proved that they are not ‘victims’ alone – with their courageous struggle for justice in the face of all odds, they have raised unavoidable questions about the character of the governments that are protecting their rapists.] Rupam Pathak Calls the Bluff of Nitish Govt’s ‘Empowerment’ What makes an ordinary woman, a 35-year-old schoolteacher of Bihar take a knife and stab a ruling party MLA in broad daylight? Even as member of his party, the BJP, beat her up brutally, the Deputy CM of Bihar, Sushil Kumar Modi, was quick to declare that Rupam Pathak was a blackmailer, while the departed BJP MLA from Purnea, Raj Kishor Kesri, was a man of pure character and a hero of the 1974 movement. Why was the Deputy CM of a state in such a hurry to attack the character of a woman, instead of waiting for enquiries to take place? While the Bihar Government was busy painting Pathak as a murderess and the NDA...

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Explosion of Protest

[A team of the All India Left Coordination (AILC) comprising LNP(L) leaders Comrades Bhalchandra Kelkar, Medha Thatte, Prakash Jadhav, Bhanudas Zanzale from Pune, LNP(L) Secretary Bhimrao Bansode, and other LNP(L) leaders Balasaheb Surude, Comrade Vijay Kulkarni , Rajendra Bawake, Vasant More and Comrade Kasbe, Kavita Krishnan, CC member of CPI(ML) Liberation and Radhika Krishnan, environmental researcher and Ph.D student at the Centre of Science Policy in JNU from Delhi visited Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, where people are protesting against the proposed Jaitapur Atomic Power Plant. The Konkan Vinashkari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti facilitated the visit, and the team was accompanied by local reporter and movement activist Prashant Hirchekar. A Report of the visit follows.] Introduction “The Areva atomic project is an atom bomb for us!” says Hamida, a widow with 6 children who depends on fishing to feed her family. “We’ll die but we won’t allow the project to come up,” says Nooresha, wife of a fisherman. These two are among a milling mass of hundreds of women, at a public meeting in Sakhri Nate, a picturesque fishing village which will be affected by the atomic power project at Jaitapur in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. We, a 12-member team of CPI(ML) Liberation and Lal Nishan Party Leninist activists, are visiting the area to find out why the farmers and fisherfolk here are fiercely resisting the project. The anger of these women is...

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Justice and Democracy on Trial

[The Raipur Sessions Court verdict condemning Dr. Binayak Sen to life imprisonment under a range of draconian laws including ‘sedition,’ has been met with an outpouring of protest all over the country. Binayak Sen come to represent all those thousands of people today who are routinely framed in false cases on fabricated evidence, tortured in police custody and convicted in political judgements. While Binayak still awaits justice and freedom, however, it is true that finally, after so many years of struggle, he stands vindicated for his social commitment and courage in the court of public opinion. In that people’s court, it the Chhattisgarh Government, the Central Government and the Indian judiciary that stand in the dock and are being asked to answer for their appeasement of corporates and crimes against democracy. In a recent speech to IPS probationers, the Prime Minister laid stress on the fact that if “naxalism in the Central India parts where the bulk of India’s mineral wealth lies” is not controlled, “we have to say goodbye to our country’s ambitions to sustain growth rate of 10-11% per cent per annum.” Clearly the Prime Minister is equating mass movements of adivasis and peasants against land grab and mining loot by corporations with ‘naxalism.’ Obliquely admitting that such land grab and loot are crucial to India’s ‘growth rate,’ the Prime Minister is calling for the continued and...

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No Lessons Learnt from Nandigram

The CPI(M) in West Bengal has blood on its hands once again. In a horrific massacre in Netai village, Lalgarh, at least 7 people including 2 women have been shot dead by the CPI(M)’s private armed brigade (harmad vahini) while they were protesting against the harmad vahini’s attempt to force young men from their village to join the armed brigade. This is not the first time the CPI(M) and WB Government have attacked and massacred villagers who resist corporate land grab and state repression. The attack by CPI(M) cadres on the people of Singur and the firing by police accompanied by CPI(M) cadres in Nandigram shocked the entire country. Progressive voices and intellectuals across the country were appalled that a Left government could thus assault the poor. The people of West Bengal taught the CPI(M) a severe lesson in severe electoral setbacks in the erstwhile CPI(M) bastion. Far from any introspection or course-correction, the CPI(M) Govt then indulged in severe repression at Lalgarh, sparking off a remarkable people’s resistance there. The region became an arena for Operation Green Hunt sponsored by the Central Government and the West Bengal State Government together. The latest attack by the harmad vahini bears a disturbing resemblance to the Salwa Judum modus operandi in another Green Hunt arena – BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh. Salwa Judum brigades have forced thousands of villagers into camps in Chhattisgarh, terrorizing...

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‘Expert’ Route to Backtrack on Telangana?

Far from resolving the vexed Telangana question, the Srikrishna Committee report had further complicated it. The various options seem to have been invoked by it with the singular aim of delegitimizing the Telangana demand and preventing the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. In the first place, the SKC, for all its elaborate documentation, seems to have avoided facing facts about the historically deep-rooted sense of betrayed promises and confirmed apprehensions of the people of Telangana. History of Belied Promises The SKC does recognise that the States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) headed by Justice Fazal Ali had observed in its report that “One of the principal causes of opposition to Vishalandhra also seems to be the apprehension felt by the educationally-backward people of Telangana that they may be swamped and exploited by the more advanced people of the coastal area. In the Telangana district outside the city of Hyderabad education is woefully backward……the real fear of the people of Telangana is that if they join Andhra they will be unequally placed in relation to the people of Andhra and in this partnership the major partner will derive all the advantages immediately while Telangana itself may be converted into a colony by the enterprising coastal Andhra….” The SRC had accordingly recommended that “After taking all these factors into consideration we have come to the conclusions that it will be in the interests of...

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Saffron Terror and Witch-hunt of Minorities

Between 2006 and 2009, a series of terrorist blasts occurred (Malegaon, September 2006; Samjhauta Express, February 2007; Mecca Masjid, May 2007; Ajmer Sharif, October 2007; Modasa, September, 2008 Malegaon, September 2008; Goa December 2009), claiming hundreds of innocent lives. Every time, immediately after the blast, one or the other Muslim outfit would confidently be declared responsible by investigative agencies. The names LeT, HUJI, Indian Mujahideen, SIMI – all rolled smoothly off the tongues of police officers. Muslim masterminds were named, wholesale arrests made, custodial confessions and narco-confessions and revelations obtained. Anyone questioning this narrative, and challenging both the ethicality and scientific validity of custodial confessions and narco-analysis would be shrilly branded as anti-national. Slowly, reluctantly, other evidence, initially ignored and ridiculed, began to trickle in and become difficult to ignore, beginning with the Maharashtra ATS investigation headed by Karkare, and now the confession of Swami Aseemanand has connected the dots. It’s official now. All those blasts named above were in fact perpetrated by saffron terror outfits. It should be stressed that Aseemanand’s confession is a class apart from the torture-tainted custodial confessions routinely obtained by police in such cases; he made the confession in front of a magistrate in December 2010 and reiterated it again in January 2011 in court, and as such it is admissible as evidence and is highly credible. Further, the evidence of saffron terror does...

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The lingering inflation tide

As if rampant corruption were not enough, a shocking price spike has caught the government unawares. Coming at the head of persistent inflation that has already completed more than two years with no respite in sight, it has been termed “a new risk” for the economy by the Reserve Bank of India. It is the onion again which has seen the steepest rise in prices (rising from around Rs 12 per kg in December, 2009 to Rs 15-20 in the middle of 2010 and to Rs 40 or above by the year-end) but basically we are witnessing a food inflation in general, now hovering near 20 per cent. This will be evident from a comparative analysis of the rates of inflation for major food products for the years 2007 and 2010 (January). This rate increased from 6.27% to 17.89% in the case of food grains; from 6.27% to 13.69% in the case of cereals; from 2.14% to 45.62% in the case of pulses; from 6.08% to 12.87% in dairy products ; from 6.38% to 30.71% in eggs, fish and meat; and so on.  Naturally the hardest hit is the rural and urban poor, whose consumption kitty comprises mostly of food items. To make matters worse for them, these wage earners are mostly from the unorganised sector and they get no dearness allowance like those in the organised sector. The government wants us to believe that inflation in our country is persisting because of high...

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Intensify Resistance Against Corruption and Price Rise

Swamped by allegations of corruption of massive proportions on many fronts, the Congress and UPA Government has decided to brazen it out with a campaign of cover up and creating confusion to scuttle any credible and timely probe and punishment. Defying repeated strictures by the Supreme Court against the wisdom of appointing the tainted P J Thomas as CVC, the UPA Government has arrogantly defended his appointment. This, in spite of the fact that the Supreme Court has now cleared the way for initiating proceedings against Thomas and others in the palmolein scandal. Most audacious of all has been the newly appointed telecom minister Kapil Sibal’s conjuring act where he has tried to rubbish the CAG’s estimation of the 2G scam amount and deny that there was any scam at all. Sibal’s glib arguments show that the UPA Government is committed to deceiving the public and defending the scamster companies and UPA Ministers. By denying the loot of the country’s spectrum resources, the UPA Government is insulting the intelligence of the common people. Even as the scams of today were unfolding, the Bofors scam, long relegated to history, was resurrected by the findings of the IT appellate tribunal that kickbacks were in fact made to middlemen in the Bofors gun deal – something the Congress government of the day had vehemently denied. As in the case of the Bofors...

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