09 Septembe 2013

On Cover : Murder Can’t Silence Dr. Narendra Dabholkar’s Fight

Anti-superstition activist and rationalist Dr. Narendra Dabholkar (65) was shot dead on 20th August in Pune, while on his morning walk. The shooters were two youth on a motorcycle. Dr. Dabholkar had been campaigning for an anti-superstition law that would hurt the interests of godmen and conmen who promote and profit from irrational superstitions. Various militant Sangh outfits had issued threats to him for his activism. His murder was followed by protests in Pune, his hometown Satara and other parts of Maharashtra. When the Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan arrived in Satara for Dr Dabholkar’s funeral, he was heckled by activists from Andha Shraddha Nirmoolan Samiti – the Committee for Abolition of Superstition, who demanded that the State pass the Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Bill for which Dr. Dabholkar had been campaigning. The Government has since promised to pass the Bill, but it remains to be seen if it’s an empty promise. Dr Dabholkar was born in a family with a socialist outlook. As a young man he had been active with the ‘Samajwadi Yuvajan Sabha.’ He was a doctor by training, and after practicising medicine for a decade, dedicated himself to social awakening. He worked with socialist leader Baba Adhav on the ‘One Village One Well’ movement in 1983 and in 1989 set up the Maharashtra Andha Shraddha Nirmoolan Samiti. He took the campaign against tantriks, Babas, quacks and...

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On Cover : Public Meeting Demanding Justice at Batla Hous

The AISA and RYA held a public meeting at the Khalilullah Masjid, Batla House, titled ‘Conviction of Shehzad: Question Mark on Justice’. The meeting was well attended by students of Jamia Millia Islamia as well as local residents. Addressing the meeting, Shehzad’s lawyer Satish Tamta outlined the glaring holes in the prosecution case against Shehzad, and in the police version of the Batla House ‘encounter’ generally. He showed how the police had failed entirely to prove Shehzad’s presence in the L-18 flat, his manner of escape, or evidence of him having fired a gun, let alone shot anyone. He expressed concern about the verdict’s observations explaining away the police’s lack of independent witnesses by implying that members of the minority community would not be reliable witnesses. Kavita Krishnan, PB member of CPI(ML), said the verdict had only added fresh questions to the burning questions about the Batla House ‘encounter.’ Challenging the communal campaign that those raising questions about the genuineness of the ‘encounter’ were anti-national, she spoke of the former Karnataka DGP’s observations in the Santosh Hegde commission of enquiry set up by the Supreme Court in the Manipur fake encounter cases. The former cop has said that local people always know when an encounter is fake, and fake arrests and encounters make us less, not more secure as a country. She suggested that a commission of enquiry similar...

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TRIBUTE : Doug Lorimer, 1953-2013

(Doug Lorimer, a leading Australian Left activist, passed away on 21st July. CPI(ML) comrades have warm memories of Comrade Doug Lorimer, who had visited India numerous times, and had stayed at the CPI(ML) office often on those visits. The international Left movement will miss his commitment to Marxist education and his deep interest in the struggles led by the Indian Left. His close friend and long-time comrade, John Percy, pays tribute to him. Red Salute to Comrade Doug Lorimer, on behalf of Liberation and CPI(ML)!) The Australian left has lost one of its outstanding revolutionary comrades. Doug Lorimer, a committed socialist activist for 42 years and a remarkable writer and educator in the ideas of Marxism, died in Sydney on 21 July after a year of deteriorating health. Doug dedicated his whole life to the fight for socialism and the struggle to build a revolutionary party that will be needed to win it. He was a rebel from his high school days, arrested at the Adelaide moratorium protest against the Vietnam War in September 1970. He joined the Socialist Youth Alliance (the youth organisation of the Socialist Workers League, which became the Democratic Socialist Party) in 1971 and the SWL soon after. He was elected as a full member of the National Committee at the SWL third national conference in January 1974. Doug organised many branches of the DSP,...

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Update Reports

Pithoragarh villagers stage hunger strike (From The Hindu, dt 14 August 2013, by C. K. Chandramohan) Starving and irate residents of about 13 villages staged a token hunger strike before the office of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Munsyari, in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand on 13th August to protest against the failure of the Government to provide food and essential supplies to them even after two months of the mid-June deluge and landslips. Hundreds of residents of villages Senar, Pyanti, Kultham, Dilam, Tall Dummar, Jimighat, Dhapa, Ranthi, Gardhaniya, Bhadeli and Patharkhani are living without proper shelter and food with the local administration seemingly failed to provide them rations, tents, medicines and other supplies, said Sita Martolia and others from various flood and landslip ravaged villages. The villagers accused the SDM of carrying out relief works only in villages pointed out by the local Congress MLA Harish Dhami. “We hope the Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna would order the District Magistrate to end this step-motherly treatment to us,” said Jagat Martolia district secretary of the CPI (ML). Describing the recent flash floods as a result of illegal riverbed mining by unscrupulous elements, the villagers accused the MLA of supporting the mining mafia instead of helping the hapless victims. Another villager Ram Singh Ghangaria said the victims would be forced to launch an indefinite fast at the SDM’s office if relief was not sent...

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Update : AISA Holds Historic Referendum in Delhi University

More than 10,000 students of Delhi University participated in a Referendum on the Four Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP) which had been arrogantly imposed in Delhi University, overriding the concerns of teachers, professors, and students alike. The AISA conducted this Referendum on 22nd August, and more than 91% of the participants voted a resounding “NO” to the FYUP. This referendum was historic because for the first time students of stood up to say: “We do have a right to give OUR opinion on OUR University, OUR courses, OUR future….” Today, as the FYUP unfolds, its dismaying impact is obvious to all. The first year students are clueless and frustrated. It has been more than three weeks but still there is no attempt by authorities to listen to their issues and queries. Newspapers have carried extensive reports on the ridiculous content of the foundation courses, the students’ sense of being forced to waste time on courses that yield no knowledge, the chaotic situation of infrastructure, the frustration of teachers and massive downsizing of workload and employment avenues for early career teachers – and also the DU Administration’s enforced silencing of all these questions. The TOI reported recently (15th August) that at a meeting with teachers, the DU VC declared that there could be ‘no further discussion on FYUP’ and that ‘the damage has been done, and nothing can be done about...

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Update : Deceit At the Hospital of Truth

Sanitation Hospital Workers Strike at a Delhi Hospital over Non-Payment of Minimum Wages Sanitation workers of the Satyavadi Raja Harishchandra Hospital, Narela in Outer Delhi have started an indefinite dharna since 8th August, to protest their unjust dismissal when they asked to be paid the statutory minimum wage for unskilled work declared by the Delhi Government, Rs 7254 per month. They were instead being paid nearly half this amount – just Rs 3500 pm. Further, the workers had not received any salary at all for the past 5 months – since March 2013. The dharna is being organized by the workers under the banner of their Union, the All India General Kamgar Union affiliated to the AICCTU.
The Hospital is a 200-bed hospital run by the Delhi Government. Its Chairman is the local MLA of the area, Jaswant Rana of the Congress party. The Medical Superintendent (MS) is Dr. Chandrakant. It is shocking that minimum wage laws and contract labour laws are being blatantly violated in a hospital run by the Delhi Government, whose Chairman is an MLA of the ruling party.

There were 25 safai karamcharis (sanitation workers) employed by the Hospital. Although the work they do is a permanent nature, they are all contract workers. The contractors change from time to time, the workers have remained the same for years. This is a blatant violation of the Contract Labour...

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Update : Niyamgiri Palli Sabhas Say NO to Vedanta

A historic event has occurred thanks to the struggle of the Niyamgiri Dongria Kondh adivasis against the mining MNC Vedanta. 12 villages held a referendum to decide whether or not they wanted Vedanta to mine the Niyamgiri hill range and its forests for bauxite. And the answer has been unequivocal. All 12 villages have said a resounding NO to Vedanta. In 2010, the MoEF cited violations of the Forest Rights Act, Environment Protection Act and Forest Conservation Act to refuse environmental clearance to a joint venture between the Odisha Government’s OMCL and Vedanta’s company Sterlite, eeking to mine bauxite in Niyamgiri for Vedanta’s alumina refinery in Lanjigarh. OMCL appealed to the Supreme Court against MoEF’s decision in 2011. On April 18th this year, the SC ruled that according to the laws in question, the gram sabhas must vote to decide whether or not Vedanta could be allowed to mine in Niyamgiri, and ordered the State and Central Governments to facilitate this. The Supreme Court had upheld the cultural and religious right of the Dongria Kondh adivasis, who worship the Niyamgiri hill as their deity – Niyam Raja. Of the 162 villages dependant on the Niyamgiri hills, 102 of which are Dongria Kondh villages, the state Government scheduled palli sabhas only in 12 villages (7 from Rayagada and 5 from Kalahandi). A reporter for the Down to Earth magazine, Sayantan...

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Update : No Justice For Women Victims Of Violence In Bihar

(This August, AIPWA demanded that the Government ensure, through the Nirbhaya fund and other measures, that every survivor of violence against women, got free medical care, as well as adequate relief and guaranteed rehabilitation. A report on rape survivors by a Bihar AIPWA team brings home the crying need for such rehabilitation.) The Bihar AIPWA team decided to make follow-up visits between June 6 and June 10 to minor girls who were survivors of rapes which had recently been the focus of much discussion and prolonged struggles, following which the government had given assurances that action would be taken. However, it is a matter of shame and anger that in most of these incidents, even 10 months later, the government, its police, and its judiciary have adopted a criminally insensitive attitude. Right To A Fearless And Self-Reliant Life 9 June, 2013. Our team reached Bhutane Turki in Muzaffarpur. Our local comrades took us inside the house where hundreds of neighbouring young women and children had gathered. Khushi (name changed) sat on a cot with her grandmother, looking at us with eyes which were big and swollen. Why swollen? When we asked, we were told that the rapist had poked both his thumbs hard into her eyes before he left her for dead in a field, having attempted to choke her to death, so that even if she survived by...

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Convention Held To Commemorate the Centenary of the Ghadar Movement

With Independence Day approaching, a National Convention was held in Delhi to commemorate the Centenary of a unique chapter in India’s freedom struggle – the Ghadar Movement. The Convention, organised by the All India Left Coordination (AILC) at Mavalankar Hall, was marked by the presence of descendants of the Ghadarites, audio-visual presentations by historians on the Ghadar Movement, and addresses by Left leaders of the CPI(ML) and CPM Punjab on the contemporary relevance of the Ghadar legacy for people’s movements in India today. A cultural group from the Deshbhakt Yadgar Committee, Jalandhar, presented revolutionary songs at the outset. Among those on the stage were renowned and veteran Marxist scholar and political scientist Prof. Randhir Singh, Justice (Retd) Rajinder Sachar, Savitri Sawhney, daughter of Ghadar Party leader Pandurang Khankhoje, and JPS Kohli, grandson of Ghadar Party leader Dr. Mathura Singh. Prof. Chaman Lal made an impressive presentation of the remarkable history of the Ghadar movement, with the help of slides with historic photographs. He showed how a 100 years ago, Indian revolutionaries living as immigrants in North America and Canada formed the Ghadar Party to fight for India’s independence from British rule. The movement intensified in mid-1914 when a ship, the Kamagata Maru, full of Indian immigrants was turned back at Canada, and several of the passengers killed and arrested on its return to India in the clash with the...

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Repression on People’s Movement for Autonomous Statehood in Karbi Anglong

In the wake of the Congress’ decision in favour of a separate Telangana, people’s movements for autonomy and statehood in other parts of the country have asserted themselves. The Government, predictably, is responding with repression. In Darjeeling, the West Bengal Government led by Mamata Banerjee is responding with arrogance and chauvinism, while the Centre continues to deny the long-standing and just demand for Gorkhaland. The Assam Government has unleashed repression on people’s movement activists in Karbi Anglong, especially CPI(ML) activists, as they raise the demand for autonomous statehood. Meanwhile the local unit of the Congress party poses as a supporter of the cause of autonomous statehood, remaining unscathed by repression, even as its governments at Assam and at the Centre reject the demand for autonomous statehood, provision for which already exists in the Constitution under Article 244A! On 1st August, Comrades Laichan Engleng, President, KSA, Binod Rongphar, General Secretary, KSA and Sander Terong, Finance Secretary, KSA were arrested and beaten badly in custody. Subsequently, Comrade Rabi Kumar Phancho, Central Committee Member of the CPI(ML) went to the DC office to submit a memorandum for their release, and was arrested on his way back! Not only that, the CPI(ML) office was raided in the night, and all those present in the office were arrested and jailed, including Comrade Rabi Phangcho’s teenage son Jeebo, who was merely waiting in the hope...

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Reminder of Unfreedom on Independence Day: Atrocity On Dalits In Bihar

For Dalits in India, freedom is still a far cry. The atrocity perpetrated on Dalits in a Bihar dalit hamlet on Independence Day this year brings home this stark reality. A Fact-finding Report by a CPI(ML) team comprising All India Kisan Mahasabha General Secretary Rajaram Singh and Arun Singh, former MLA from the Karakat assembly constituency, follows. The Background Baddi village, in Shivsagar block of Rohtas district, about 15 kilometres from Sasaram, has about 80 Mahadalit (Ravidas) homes, and 100 Rajput homes. A pucca road leads to the village, one fork towards the dalit tola (hamlet) and one towards the Rajput tola. Near the dalit tola, on the roadside, is a two-storey temple dedicated to Sant Ravidas, after whom the community is named.1 In June this year, an idol of Ravidas was installed in the temple; before this, the Dalits used to worship a photograph. The Dalits had collected Rs 1.5 lakh to install a marble idol instead. The Sant Ravidas temple is, undoubtedly, a symbol of the Dalit community and its sense of identity. The Ravidas temple standing at such a prominent place in the village was resented by the powerful upper castes in the village. For quite a while, they had been trying to wrest control of the 6 dismil of gair mazarua land on which the temple stood. And the pretext for doing so was that...

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Keredari Firing In Jharkhand

Hemant Soren Govt Shows Its Repressive Hand [Hardly ten days after the Congress-JMM came to power, the soil of Jharkhand is already soaked with the blood of the forcibly displaced. The guns of the government are trained against Jharkhandis on behalf of the corporate companies and other powers bent on eviction. The firing incident at Pagar village in Keredari block of Hazaribagh district brought back horrific memories of the BJP-AJSU-JDU government when, soon after coming to power, Babulal Marandi spilt the blood of the displaced at Tapkara. We present a report by a high-level fact-finding team of the CPI-ML]. A villager Kesar Mahto (55 years) was killed on the spot and 5 others injured on 23 July 2013 in the police firing in Pagar village of Keredari block in Hazaribagh district. Nanhu Mahto (50), Ramesh Mahto (45) and Rahul Mahto (23) were injured by the bullets of the police. Ramesh Tiwari’s leg was broken in the process of the police beating back the villagers. Kamal Mahto (35) received a crack on the head when petty contractor Pradeep Singh attacked him with a spade. A fact-finding team comprising CPI-ML MLA Com. Vinod Singh, CC member Com. Shubhendu Sen, senior Party leader from Jharkhand Com. Bahadur Oraon, Ramgarh-Hazaribagh district Secretary Com. Bhuneshwar Bediya, and Com. Devkinandan Bediya reached Keredari Chowk at 6 pm and took stock of the situation. Thousands of...

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New Phase of Land Struggle in Bihar

“The land where we are settled is our land; government land is our land” are the slogans which echo everywhere in Bihar today. According to the report of the Bandopadhyay Land Reforms Commission appointed by the Nitish Government, over 21 lakh acres of delimited land in the State have been illegally captured by zamindars, land-thieves, newly rich and land mafia. More than half the agriculture in the State is done on the basis of sharecropping. According to a survey by an NGO, there are 50 lakh families in the State who have no homestead land and about 18 lakh families who have been settled on raiyyati and government lands for decades but have not been given occupation papers for those plots of land. The Bandopadhyay Commission broadly made three recommendations to the government which were very general and very far from radical land reforms: land ceiling to be fixed at 15 acres and government to take control over all ceiling surplus, bhoodan and government lands; sharecroppers to be given identity cards and government and bank facilities; all landless to be allotted 1 acre to 10 katthas of land and land records updated accordingly, and all landless families to be provided 10 decimals of homestead land. Under pressure from the zamindar lobby not only did the government put these recommendations in cold storage, it also totally denied the need for...

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Panchayat Elections in West Bengal TMC Sweep in the Shadow of Terror

The political balance in West Bengal which started changing in favour of the Trinamul Congress (TMC) in the Panchayat Elections, 2008, seems to have completed its circuit in the Panchayat Elections, 2013. The TMC has secured clear majority in 13 Zilla Parishads as against 1 each by the Left Front and the Congress. North Dinajpur and Malda are still hung. In North Dinajpur, Left Front has an edge, while in Malda, the LF and the Congress are evenly poised. The comparative results of 2008 and 2013 panchayat elections so demonstrates the pronounced real change of balance that has taken place in the countryside. The above results show that barring a few districts, TMC has spread its tentacles throughout the state. The Congress had fought the 2008 elections in alliance with the TMC, but this time round it contested independently. It is the CPI(M)/Left Front which has emerged as the biggest loser, losing further ground since the 2011 Assembly elections. The sweeping victory of the TMC has come in the shadow of massive terror and violence. The state Election Commission, the state administration and the central forces—all failed to ensure free and fair exercise of the democratic right of the people to cast their votes. The police and the administration were reduced to mere tools of the ruling party. The terror and violence was particularly pronounced in areas where the...

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UPA Government: Stop Appeasing US Bosses!

With an eye on the Lok Sabha polls, the government is working overtime to appease the American bosses hoping to impress the angry Indian electorate with an American certificate of ‘good conduct and excellent performance’. With the exchange value of the Indian rupee nose-diving to 60 per dollar, India’s import bill is becoming increasingly unmanageable. Short-term compulsions of debt repayment are also exerting great pressure on India’s forex reserves. It was a similar scenario in early 1990s that led the Indian policy establishment to opt for the neoliberal package of liberalization, privatization and globalization. And after twenty-two years as the Indian economy finds itself in a deeper mess, Indian policymakers can think of no other course but to extend still greater concessions to global capital. As elections draw nearer and the shadow of economic crisis grows darker and longer, frantic parleys are on between key architects of the Indian policy establishment and their American counterparts. Just as Chidambaram, Anand Sharma and Montek Singh Ahluwalia returned from their appeasement mission to the US, there came the announcement of an across-the-board hike in FDI limits in a dozen sectors of strategic importance including telecommunications, insurance and defence. This has of course made the US establishment hungry for more, as became glaringly evident from the wish list presented by US Vice-President Joe Biden during his recent visit to India. Biden’s visit was...

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