06 June 2012

Tribute : Remembering Saadat Hasan Manto (1912-1955)

Saadat Hasan Manto died in Lahore in 1955. He was forty-three years old. The life of one of our greatest short-story writers had been prematurely truncated. I was eleven years old at the time. I never met him. I wish I had. One can visualize him easily enough. In later photographs the melancholy is visible. He appears exhausted as if his heart were entrenched with sadness. In these his face displays all the consequences of a ravaged liver. But there are others. Here his eyes sparkle with intelligence, the impudence almost bursting through the thick glass of his 1940’s spectacles, mocking the custodians of morality, the practitioners of confessional politics or the commissariat of the Progressive Writers. ‘Do your worst’, he appears to be telling them. ‘I don’t care. I will write to please myself. Not you.’ Manto’s battles with the literary establishment of his time became a central feature of his biography. Charged with obscenity and brought to trial on a number of occasions he remained defiant and unapologetic. It was the Partition of India in 1947 along religious lines that formed his own attitudes and those of his numerous detractors. The episodes associated with the senseless carnage that accompanied the withdrawal of the British from India loom large in Manto’s short stories. The horrors of 1947 were well known, but few liked to talk about them. A...

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Voters’ Anti-Austerity Mood in France and Germany

Recent election outcomes in national and state elections in France and Germany indicate that the resentment against austerity measures has made itself felt politically. In France the victorious François Hollande of the Socialist Party made promises that appealed to French voters beginning to feel the heat from austerity measures – he said earning over €1 million would be taxed at a rate of 75%, that he would hire 60,000 teachers, reduce electricity prices for those with lower incomes, etc. Hollande’s election is a significant victory for the Left for the first time in seventeen years. But what lies before Hollande is the job of attaining that delicate balance between fuelling actual change with a socialist vision, and addressing the legacy of problems left behind by Sarkozy in the course of the unfolding economic crisis. There are also crucial issues on which Hollande will have to take a stand, such as the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, a matter on which he is likely to face a great deal of pressure from the US, the pact to curb deficit, and the question of Islamophobia in France. Considering the issue of opinion across Europe on questions of austerity and bailouts to governments to maintain the systemic status quo, the drubbing received by Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) is also important. In elections in two states in Germany – Schleswig Holstein and...

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‘It’s a war between people and capitalism’

Since the elections on 6 May failed to produce a government, Greece has been in the spotlight all over Europe. While the mainstream media and political establishment focus with considerable alarm on the effects of Greece potentially defaulting on its debts, with the country epitomizing the crisis and instability which is currently making the future of the single currency Eurozone highly uncertain, it is getting increasingly impossible to ignore the real message of the Greek elections. Far from being contradictory or confused, this message is in fact a very clear one – that people are refusing to carry on accepting the neoliberal ‘austerity’ measures imposed by corporate capitalist interests and are increasingly backing left forces which offer genuine alternatives. The most significant result in the 6 May elections was the groundswell of support for the Coalition of the Radical Left, Syriza, which came second with 17% of the vote on a platform of tearing up the Memorandum of Understanding between the Greek government and the so-called ‘Troika’ (team of three) of the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. The two Memorandums or bailout packages signed in the last two years have demanded massive cuts in public spending, wage cuts and privatization in return for loans amounting to 240 billion Euros, and have wreaked social and economic destruction across the country. More than 70% of...

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Songs That Won’t Be Silenced

Anand Patwardhan’s new documentary Jai Bhim Comrade is an epic that tells the tale of dalit oppression, resistance, politics, and cultural expression;a tale of great ugliness, and also of great beauty and power. Patwardhan took 14 years to make this film: beginning with the July 1997 police firing on the Ramabai Colony that claimed thelives of 10 dalits who were among those protesting the desecration of an Ambedkar statue. He followed the protracted struggle for justice, through the enquiry commission and the trial, right up to the conviction of the police officer responsiblewho is whisked away to hospital, does not spend a day in jail, instead gets bail within a week, followed by a subsequent promotion. Soon after the film’s release, came the news of the BathaniTola acquittal, reminding us that the process of ‘justice’ for the poor and oppressed remains as fraught with bias and injustice as ever. One aspect of the Ramabai Colony massacre story is the political betrayal and opportunism by the RPI leadership. The Shiv Sena-BJP was in power at the time of the massacre. But gradually the Dalit movement’s leaders sell-out. Towering figures of the Dalit Panthers movement like Namdeo Dhasal are shown sharing a platform with Bal Thackeray as he spews the worst communal venom against minorities and advocates extermination: “They say these encounters are fake… This species must be exterminated …the courts...

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Updates

AILC Leaders Address May Day Rally at Darjeeling Darjeeling witnessed an impressive rally of the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists (CPRM) on May Day. Thousands marched with red flags aflutter, with leaders of the CPRM and All India Left Coordination at the forefront. The rally was marked by the large and enthusiastic presence of youth and women. The rally was presided over by Comrade LN Lama. The rally was the first major public gathering in Darjeeling since the GTA agreement, and the growing unrest against the State Government’s failure to honour the agreement and take it forward was palpable. Speakers at the rally included CPRM Chairman RB Rai, CPRM General Secretary Taramani Rai, CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, CPM Punjab Secretary Mangat Ram Pasla, Left Coordination Committee Kerala Secretary Comrade Kumaran Kutty, and Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) Secretary Bhimrao Bansode. CPI(ML) PB member Comrade Kartik Pal, as well as CC member Abhijit Mazumdar and West Bengal State Committee member Basudev Bose participated in the Rally. On 30 April, an AILC Convention was held at Darjeeling, which adopted a political resolution, the full text of which is reproduced below. Resolution adopted at the AILC Convention (Darjeeling, 30 April 2012) The convention of fighting Left forces being held in Darjeeling on 30 April 2012 welcomes the growing countrywide unity of Left forces under the banner of the All India Left Coordination...

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Update : First Uttarakhand CPI(ML) Conference

The first State conference of CPI(ML) in Uttarakhand was held at Haldwani on 13-14 May. The Conference site was named in memory of late party leader Comrade Dipak Bose who had initiated the work of building the CPI(ML) as an organised party in Uttarakhand. The Conference venue was decorated with red flags and portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Mao, as well as Charu Mazumdar, Vinod Mishra, and Nagbhushan Patnaik, and leaders of the communist movement and freedom struggle Comrades Chandra Singh Garhwali and Nagendra Saklani, as well as departed leaders of the CPI(ML) in Uttarakhand including Comrades Dipak Bose, Hayat Singh Hazara, KR Kapoor, Gopal singh Karki, Kala Bhandari, Yogesh Pandey, and Vasudha Sharma. The Conference began with hoisting of the party flag by veteran leader Comrade Bahadur Singh Jangi. On the first day, an open session was held with a seminar on the ‘Challenges of building a Corruption- and Mafia-Free Uttarakhand, and the Left’. Addressing the seminar, Comrade Dipankar said that corruption and corporate loot marked all three new states that were formed in 2000 – Uttarakhand, as well as Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. People were being displaced and environment devastated, and people’s struggles were facing repression. Referring to Hillary Clinton’s recent visit, he said that imperialist forces were attempting to meddle in India’s economic and foreign policy as well as its internal politics and affairs. He spoke...

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UPDATE : Land Struggle in Purnea

On the occasion of CPI(ML)’s 4th Purnea District Conference, a rally was held at the district headquarters on 15 March with the slogan – “Plant Flags on All Government, Sikmi (sharecropping) and Bhoodan Land; Integrate All Poor People With the Struggle for Land and Livelihood!” The rally acted as a warning for the district administration, and the Purnea DM called an emergency meeting of all concerned officers of the district’s 14 blocks, and gave orders that all land disputes, especially those relating to Section 48-D and E, be resolved at the earliest; 3 decimals of land be allocated to all landless households and the latter be given possession of the allocated land. Yet, the pressure of the local feudal forces on the administration ensured that the orders were not implemented. In Purnea, most farming is done by sharecroppers. But landlords in collusion with the district administration and with the help of stay orders from the High Court, have been evicting peasants from land that the latter have been cultivating for years, and even destroying standing crops in the peasants’ fields. According to the legal provisions for Sikmi Bataidars (sikmi sharecroppers), if the latter cultivate a piece of land continuously for 12 years, they get occupancy rights for that land. However, landlords and administration are falsely propagating that after the sikmi sharecropper’s death, the Sikmi right to occupancy lapses, and...

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CPI(M) In the Dock

The brutal killing of Comrade TP Chandrashekharan, Secretary of the Idathupaksha Ekopana Samithi (Left Coordination Committee, LCC) Kerala on the night of 4 May, has shocked democratic people in Kerala and all over the country. The circumstances of the murder raise disturbing questions about the CPI(M)’s complicity with the worst form of political violence. Comrade TP Chandrashekharan had been a state-level SFI leader and formerCPI(M) Area Secretary of Onchiyam, one of the historicbirthplaces of the Left movement in Kerala.He left the CPI(M) in 2008, and in order touphold and defend the fighting Left movement, joined other likeminded comrades in forming the Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP). The Left Coordination Committee (LCC) was then formed along with RMP and other Left groups that had broken away from the CPI(M). The LCC Kerala is one of the founding constituents of the All India Left Coordination (AILC) that also includes the CPI(ML), CPM Punjab, Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) of Maharashtra, and Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists (CPRM). Comrade Chandrashekharan was hacked to death with sharp instruments, and his face so badly disfigured that only his body could be identified. Assailants threw bombs to keep people away from the spot.The horrific brutality of the killing was greeted with widespread outrage and condemnation in Kerala and outside. Among the large number of public figures who paid final homage to Comrade Chandrashekharan at Kozhikode and Vadakara,...

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Cover Feature : Public Hearing for Justice and Democracy

Several thousands of people, including working people, rural poor, intellectuals and writers participated in a Jan Sunwai at Patna. Participants deposed on their experiences of struggles for justice in the Bathani Tola case, the Rupam Pathak case, the Aurangabad police lathicharge, and several political killings. Bathani massacre survivor Nayeemuddin Ansari deposed at the hearing, recounting his long quest for justice since 1996. He said that the Bihar HC verdict was a rude shock, and that he and other survivors would appeal the verdict in the Supreme Court, since if the judiciary is serious about justice, it cannot let a cold-blooded massacre of 21 innocents go unpunished. AIKM leader Sudama Prasad noted that all accused had been acquitted not only in the Bathani Tola case but also in the Khagdi-Bigha and Jahir-Bigha massacre cases; and while Dharma Singh, the main accused in the Bathe massacre, had been sentenced to death, he continues to be a contractor protected by the BJP-JD(U). He spoke of the facts in the Amausi case, where 10 musahars including Bodhan Sada have been sentenced to death and 16 to life, without any credible evidence. CPI(ML)’s Aurangabad district secretary Anwar Husain deposed at length about the facts indicating the involving Goh’s JD(U) MLA in the murder of Chhotu Mukhiya, and in conspiring with the DM and SP for the police assault on protestors against the murder. Naval...

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Cover Feature : Nyay Yatra: Demanding Justice

Highlighting the instances of gross injustice in Nitish’s rule and calling the bluff of Nitish’s slogan of ‘Nyay ke saath Vikas’ (Justice with Development), the CPI(ML) held an intensive Nyay Yatra (Journey for Justice) in Bihar. In Shahabad, the Nyay Yatra began by garlanding the memorial to the Bathani Tola martyrs. It was flagged off by CPI(ML)’s Standing Committee member and former MLA Comrade Arun Singh. This contingent covered the Bhojpur-Rohtas-Bhabhua-Buxar districts, holding street-corner meetings, foot-marches and intensive mass contact, highlighting the injustice done to the Bathani Tola victims by the acquittal of Ranveer Sena killers and the bail for Brahmeshwar Singh, and the murder of Bhaiyyaram Yadav. This leg of the Yatra was led by State Committee member Sudama Prasad Singh, Rohtas Secretary Jawahar Singh, former MLA Chandradeep Singh, Comrade Qayamuddin and other leaders. The Nyay Yatra in the Magadh zone was led by Standing Committee member and Arwal District Secretary Mahanand, Aurangabad District Secretary Anwar Husain, Gaya District Secretary Niranjan Kumar, AIPWA leader Rita Barnwal, RYA leader Ravindra Yadav, AIALA leader Upendra Paswan and others. The Yatra began by paying homage at the memorial to the martyrs of Laxmanpur Bathe and was flagged off by PB member Comrade Ramjatan Sharma. This leg of the Yatra covered Kaler, Arwal, Kurtha, and Obra, Hasanpura, Pachrukhiya in Aurangabad and Gaya-Jehanabad, highlighting the Aurangabad police assault on protestors and arrest of...

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Cover Feature : Left Parties’ Convention in Bihar Against Rising Injustice, Crime, and Repression

On 14th May, five Left parties – the CPI(ML), CPI, CPI(M), Forward Bloc, and SUCI(C) – held a joint Convention in Patna against the rising instances of injustice, crime, and state repression. The Convention was addressed by CPI(ML) Politburo member Comrade Ramji Rai; State Secretary Kunal; Central Committee member Comrade Rameshwar Prasad; CPI(M) State Secretary Comrade Vijaykant Thakur; State Secretariat member Arun Mishra; CPI State Secretary Comrade Badrinayaran Lal; State Secretariat members Jitendranath, Arjun Prasad Singh, Gaznafar Nawab; Comrade Vakeel Thakur from Forward Bloc and SUCI(C) State Secretary Comrade Arun Singh. Apart from these Left leaders, intellectuals including Prof. Naval Kishore Choudhury, and Prof. Bharti S Kumar (Head of the History Department at Patna University), also addressed the Convention. Social activist Rupesh and Prof. Santosh Kumar also participated in the Convention. The presidium of the Conference comprised CPI(ML) CCM KD Yadav, CPI(M) State Secretariat member Sargandhar Paswan, Vijay Narayan Mishra of CPI, America Mehto of Forward Bloc, and Shivlal Prasad of SUCI(C). The feudal and communal character of the Nitish Government behind the corporatized media-managed facade stands exposed, the Left leaders felt, even as they planned for united Left initiatives and agitations. The Convention called for joint dharnas and demonstrations of all Left parties at district HQs on 15 June. The political resolutions were placed by CPI(ML)’s Bihar State Committee member Abhyuday. CPI(M)’s Ajay Kumar Singh thanked the gathering...

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COVER FEATURE : Rising Injustice, Crime and Repression in Nitish’s Bihar

With every fresh, glaring instance of feudal criminality and mockery of justice, the Nitish Government’s slogan of ‘development with justice’ is being exposed. The latest instance is the severe repression on CPI(ML) Central Committee member and former MLA Comrade Rajaram Singh and other activists leading the struggle against the murder of a young panchayat mukhiya (head) in Aurangabad district of Bihar. On 29 March, 32-year-old Chhotu Kushwaha, an RJD-supported panchayat mukhiya, was murdered. The facts indicate that the murder was executed by a criminal gang led by ex-Ranveer Sena leader Sushil Pandey (also an accused in the Laxmanpur Bathe massacre), who is known to be close to the JD(U) MLA from the Goh constituency, Ranvijay Sharma, who also has criminal antecedents and is behind bars. What is even more notable is that the local police and administration are directly implicated in the murder. The young mukhiya had been raising his voice against the grab of gairmazarua (common land meant for redistribution among landless) by powerful landowners, one of whom is related to the local BDO. The mukhiya was murdered when returning from a visit to the BDO’s office, from where he had left, accompanied by a police constable. The CPI(ML) had played a leading role in the resistance to the murder. A struggle front against the murder, of which the CPI(ML) is a leading constituent, is demanding a CBI...

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Document : Ambedkar Cartoon Debate: A Perspective

(A note issued by the All India Students’ Association (AISA) and Left and Democratic Teachers’ Forum (LDTF)) A raging controversy has erupted over a 1949 cartoon of Ambedkar and Nehru in a NCERT political science textbook, leading to an uproar in Parliament, and an announcement by the HRD Minister that the textbook would be withdrawn from circulation till the cartoon was removed. We strongly condemn the attack by a mob on the Pune office of Suhas Palshikar, one of the authors of the textbook. Political leaders should stop orchestrating such violence, that smack of the right-wing assaults on dissenting voices. Debate on educational content is welcome, but cannot be dealt with through physical attacks. There is an urgent need to view the matter at hand in the light of reasoned debate. The note below is our stand on, and contribution to, this debate. On the one hand presence of the 1949 cartoon by noted cartoonist Shankar in the NCERT textbook, is being described as offensive to Dr. Ambedkar, and as part of a political conspiracy to denigrate Ambedkar. On the other hand, the makers of the textbook have resigned in protest against what they hold to be the infringement on academic freedom, and there has been an outcry against censorship. We hold that there is a need to go beyond these two polarized and black-and-white positions, and consider the...

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People With No Country?

Around 2000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, from 623 families from the northern Rakhine state in Myanmar have been in India for the past two years, forced to wander from one place to another in search of shelter and survival. They had been in Delhi since 9 April, to take up the matter of their refugee status with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). JNUSU took up the matter of their shelter, relief, and right to humanitarian treatment as refugees. After several relocations, these refugees were staying on the open grounds of a mosque in Sultangarhi near Vasant Kunj, where they faced eviction by police as well as communal threats. In their camp, there was neither proper shelter, nor water, sanitation or medical facilities. Children were severely malnourished, and two women delivered babies under the open sky, open to sun and rain. JNUSU and JNU students had been arranging drinking water, medical camps, and other relief measures, and on 10 May had held a demonstration along with the Myanmarese refugees at the UNHCR office. The UNHCR, following a dialogue with the JNU Students’ Union on 10 May, gave a date of 15 May for consideration of their petition. But the Delhi Police kept trying to evict them from Delhi even before they could get a hearing at the UNHCR. Since 12 May night JNU Students’ Union members were...

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The Long Road To (In)Justice

The recent Apex Court judgment on the Pathribal killings in J&K, and the Doom Dooma killings of Assam, has come as a disappointment for many who hoped that it would provide cause to enforce greater accountability among the armed forces. Activist Groups from Amnesty International to the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons have termed the ruling ‘disappointing’ and ‘a setback for justice’. On 20th March, 2000, over a dozen gunmen dressed in army fatigues launched an attack on Chittisinghpora in the Anantnag District leading to the killing of 36 Sikhs. Five day later, from Pathribal in the same district, five innocent civilians were picked up and killed in an encounter staged by the 7th Rashtriya Rifles of the Indian army. Following this encounter, L.K. Advani, then Union Home Minister, announced to the nation that the ‘militants’ responsible for the Chittisinghpora massacre had been nabbed and killed. But the families of the men who had been picked up, averred their innocence while mourning their deaths. Following protests, the investigation of the case was handed over to the CBI. The CBI enquiry established that the Pathribal killings constituted a ‘fake encounter’. Subsequently, a chargesheet was filed before the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Srinagar implicating soldiers of the 7th Rashtriya Rifles. In 2006, the army was offered an option: either its personnel should face court martial or they should be tried...

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