10 October 2014

Hong Kong Students Strike To Protest Curb in Voting Rights

Thousands of Hong Kong college and university students boycotted classes Monday to protest Beijing’s decision to restrict voting reforms, the start of a weeklong strike that marks the latest phase in the battle for democracy in the southern Chinese city. The strike came as dozens of the city’s tycoons and business leaders paid a rare group visit to Beijing to meet with China’s communist leaders, who want to bolster support from Hong Kong’s pro-establishment billionaire elites for the central government’s policies on the semiautonomous city. Student organizers are dismayed over Beijing’s decision in August to rule out open nominations for candidates under proposed guidelines for the first-ever elections for Hong Kong’s top leader, promised for 2017. Discontent over democratic reform is especially acute among Hong Kong’s young people, who worry about their prospects amid widening inequality they blame on billionaire tycoons whose companies control vast parts of the economy and who have Beijing’s ear. The National People’s Congress, China’s legislature, insists election candidates be vetted by a committee. Many of the tycoons visiting Beijing are part of a similar body that selects Hong Kong’s leaders. Hong Kong’s democracy battle has led to increasing tension and division, with activists threatening to stage a mass “occupation” of the Asian financial hub’s central business district as early as Oct. 1 as part of a civil disobedience campaign to press their demands. China...

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Assam-Nagaland Border Conflict

Report by Women’s Fact-Finding Team On 29th and 30th August, 2014, a women team comprising of Win G, Assam unit and AIPWA, TISS, PAJHRA and others visited affected areas of Assam-Nagaland border in Golaghat district of Assam under sector B and met people in different relief camps and villages. AIPWA, Assam was represented by Junu Borah, whereas Win G represented by Bandita Acharyya from Assam, Ms. Anjuman Ara Begum from Meghalaya, Pragya from Delhi, Barnabas from PAJHRA (Assam), Shilu Jamir from Nagaland, Ms. Halem Haokip from Manipur, Samhita Baruah from TISS, Guwahati. Inter-state boundary conflict is an important issue in North East India. In January 2014 armed group from Arunachal Pradesh gunned downed 15 villagers of Assam in bordering Behali Reserve Forest area. And in the August, 2014 armed group from Nagaland attacked 14 villages of bordering Uriumghat areas of Gologhat district. It may be noted that the incident started with the kidnapping of 2 adivasi boys from the border villages in July 24, 2014 and since then discomfort had been brewing in the area. The land dispute between the Assam and Nagaland has resulted in brutal skirmishes for decades. Before this violence, there were two major incidents in 1979 and 1985. The trouble started when Assamese villagers staged a protest outside a CRPF camp on 11 August, agitating for the release of two school students who have been...

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Kandhamal Awaits Justice

(On 25 August this year, Kandhamal Solidarity Day was observed in Bhubaneshwar and many other places across the country. CPI(ML) PB Member Kavita Krishnan participated in the events at Bhubaneshwar, while CPI(ML)’s Odisha comrades were part of the organizing team for the events.) 6 years ago, the Sangh brigade unleashed orchestrated, widespread communal violence against the (mostly Dalit) Christians of Kandhamal district, Odisha. Homes and churches were vandalised and burnt, people massacred, women raped, and entire populations rendered homeless. Now, after half a dozen years, justice is no closer to being achieved than it was at the time of the violence. In fact, the injustice and violence continues. Survivor of the violence Ajaya Kumar Singh, who is one of the indefatigable organizers of the struggle for justice, has written that more than 3,300 complaints had been filed with the police in 2008, but only 820 odd FIRs were registered, of which charge sheets have been filed in only 518 cases. The remaining cases were treated as false reports. And out of these 518 cases, 247 cases have been disposed off. The rest of the cases are pending before the trial and session’s magistrate’ courts. Only one person convicted in the case of the gang rape of a nun is in jail, while the rest, even the life convicts, are out on bail. But 7 of the extremely poor youth...

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A voice of dissent falls silent

(Excerpt from the tribute to documentary filmmaker Shubhradeep by Anand Patwardhan, TOI Sep 7, 2014) “En Dino Muzaffarnagar by Shubradeep Chakravorty and Meera Chaudhary is going to be recorded in history as the first documentary film banned under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Gagging order came on 30th June. Today we applied in Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) for redressal of our grievances. We will not go down without a fight.” These are the last words posted on Facebook by Shubhradeep Chakravorty, one of India’s bravest documentary filmmakers. Shubhradeep passed away from a brain hemorrhage on August 25, while battling a numbing censorship bureaucracy and the pain of cynical rejection. I first met Shubhradeep in 2002 after he had made his debut film, Godhra Tak. He had been a journalist but the horror of Gujarat turned him into a filmmaker. He focused on the train-burning incident that killed 59 Hindu passengers. The Gujarat government had allowed a public display of the charred bodies and when pogroms against Muslims began, allegedly looked the other way. Word spread that Muslims had poured petrol into the train. Godhra Tak looked at forensic evidence that questioned this theory as well as the systematic demonization of Muslims. With BJP led governments in Gujarat and the Centre proclaiming that “Islamic terror”was breeding in Gujarat, several strange incidents followed. That year “Muslims terrorists” attacked the Akshardham Temple...

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Tribute to Balraj Puri

In the sad demise of Shri Balraj Puri at Jammu India has lost a great champion of human rights and a political analyst of high repute. He was 86. He was participant in momentous political events such like ‘Quit India Movement’ of 1942’ and ‘Quit Kashmir Movement’ of 1946’ in association with Sheikh Abdullah and Pt. Prem Nath Bazaz against Dogra Ruler Maharaja Hari Singh. He did his utmost to prevent outbreak of communal violence or check its spread in Jammu in 1947 and on many occasions thereafter- even at the risk of his life. Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, sought his opinion on Kashmir affairs on crucial occasions. Puri always tried to bridge the gap between Nehru and the Sheikh Abdullah. He rendered great help in the conclusion of Indira-Gandhi-Sheikh Abdullah Accord in 1974. Puri’s activities encompassed various fields– from active social and political to academic and journalistic work of high standard. His friends and associate are writing about his many-faceted work elsewhere. However, I would confine here myself to some aspects of his human right work in which I had the privilege to associate with him on few occasions. Jayprakash Narayan had inaugurated the Citizens For Democracy in April 1974 at Delhi and he became its founding member. I came in touch with him at that time. He was also founding member...

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Creatively Apply the Lessons of the First International In Commemoration of 150th Anniversary of Foundation

The International Working Men’s Association (IWA) — the First International, as it has gone down in history – was a major milestone on the broad road of the world proletariat’s forward march after the Communist League, its first revolutionary platform. The League (1848-52) had boldly upheld and disseminated scientific socialism and proletarian internationalism but did not achieve much in terms of organisational expansion. This aspect was specially taken care of by the IWA (1864-73) which was established “to wield together into one huge army the whole militant working class of Europe and America”, as Engels put it, and in order to achieve that goal it willingly adopted a more accommodating approach towards all existing workers’ (or largely worker-based) organisations irrespective of political leanings. The mighty wave of revolutions which the Manifesto issued by the Communist League heralded and which swept across continental Europe during 1848-49 was defeated by forces of reaction. But it was the workers who gained in experience, militant resolve and elementary class consciousness. Rather than following the democratic and radical bourgeoisie as they did in 1848, they began to come out largely as a class-for-itself since late ‘50s and early ‘60s. This was manifested in numerous strike struggles, emergence of new organisations including co-operative societies and trade unions, and a palpable growth of international fraternity as evidenced by workers’ rallies held in London in support of...

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AICCTU Protests 100 Days of Modi Government

Factory workers, street vendors, DTC workers, construction workers, domestic workers, health and sanitation workers were among those who, under the banner of the AICCTU, held a powerful Dharna at Jantar Mantar on 3 September 2014 to protest a 100 days of the Modi Government’s betrayal of its promises to the people. Protesters raised slogans demanding to know why the promise of ‘acche din’ has turned into the reality of ‘bure din’, and why Modi Sarkar was behaving like UPA-III. At the dharna, AICCTU National Secretary Rajiv Dimri spoke of how Modi’s ‘acche din’ promise has turned sour, especially for workers, who are now witnessing swift roll-back of their rights and unabated price hike. All India Agricultural Labour Association (AIALA) National General Secretary Dhirendra Jha addressed the protesting workers and said, “If good days have come, it is for Ambanis, Adanis, Tatas and Mittals – not the common people of this country.” Comrade Dhirendra said that Modi is making gifts of public sector assets to the corporations, preparing to turn the MNREGA from an enforceable law into a scheme, and undoing environmental provisions to allow corporate grab of forests and land. AICCTU Delhi State Secretary Santosh Rai said, “Modi, the self-proclaimed ‘mazdoor number one’, has gone for an all out attack on rights of working class. In these first three months of ‘good governance’ offered, there is a plethora of...

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Communal and Anti-Dalit Atrocity by the RSS-BJP in Jharkhand

On 8 September around 11 am Munna Das was travelling by motorcycle through Gumhariyatand, Tisri in the Jamua district of Jharkhand. A mob of people on motorcycles came from behind, surrounded him, kicked his motorcycle, and, pointing towards the sacks loaded on the motor cycle, asked, “What is in these?” The motor cycle and sacks fell on the ground, and Munna Das himself fell from the force of the blow. Munna Das replied that the sacks contained hides of buffaloes, bulls, and goats. Some in the mob shouted Gau Mata ki Jai (Long live Cow-Mother) and started hitting him with fisticuffs and kicks. They hit him so badly that his nose began to bleed. Munna Das tried to tell them that he was a Dalit who traded in the skins of dead cattle, and this was his hereditary trade. One of his assailants said, strip him naked and see if he is telling the truth (i.e to check if he is circumcised and therefore a Muslim). Munna Das was forced to strip naked to ‘prove’ he was not a Muslim. A little further ahead, they beat him again, and again stripped him, and threatened him with dire consequences if he went to the police to report the attack. This incident is a classic case of an atrocity against a Dalit man – stripping naked as an act of humiliation...

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Meet the newly elected JNUSU office bearers

President: Ashutosh Kumar Currently a Ph.D student in JNU, Ashutosh came to JNU in 2009 for an MA in International Studies, after completing a BA in political science from the Banaras Hindu University. His family is based in Barh, Bihar and his father is a station master with the Indian railways. Joining AISA has meant for Ashutosh, like for so many other AISA leaders, a way to collectively battle the casteist, feudal and patriarchal society he saw up close. Vice-President: Anant Prakash Narayan Anant, who is from Chandauli, is a trained lawyer and studied law in Banaras before coming to JNU to pursue an M.Phil degree, which he has just completed. Anant joined AISA in BHU, and was involved in working for AISA in Banaras in the very difficult political conditions that Banaras offers. General Secretary: Chintu Chintu is from Ara – the epicentre of CPI(ML)’s anti-feudal struggles in Bhojpur. She comes from a family that has been a part of CPI(ML)’s struggles. Her father Comrade Lalji is a whole-time party activist, and her mother sells bangles door to door for a living. Her younger brother Sandeep is a student in Ara, and also an AISA activist. Her parents sent her to Delhi to study. Her childhood was spent between the hostel of the Kasturba Balika Vidyalaya and the CPI(ML)’s central office in Delhi which was her second home....

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AISA Sweeps JNUSU Asserts Students’ Power in DUSU

Four months after the Lok Sabha elections paved the way for Narendra Modi and the BJP to assume power in Delhi, the national capital saw student union elections in both Delhi University (DU) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). The results of these elections have highlighted the emergence of AISA not just as a significant political force in Delhi, but as the most credible pole for the democratic sentiment amongst students in Delhi against the communal, pro-corporate and rapidly unfolding anti-people agenda of the Modi regime. AISA has swept the JNUSU elections once again this year, winning all the four office bearer posts. In the JNUSU elections, Ashutosh Kumar from the AISA won the post of President by polling 1386 votes and defeating the candidate from the DSF-AISF combine ‘Left and Progressive Front’ (LPF) by 377 votes. On the post of Vice President, AISA’s Anant Prakash Narayan polled 1366 votes and defeated the ABVP candidate by 610 votes. Chintu Kumari from AISA was elected General Secretary after she polled 1605 votes and defeated the ABVP candidate by 814 votes. AISA’s Shafqat Hussain Butt is JNUSU’s newly elected Joint Secretary, who won after polling 1209 votes and defeating the LPF candidate by 240 votes. SFI came 3rd in Gen. Secretary post and 4th in all other office bearers’ posts. In DU, AISA’s vote share has doubled from last’s year, with votes...

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#Hokkolorob – Let There Be Clamour! Jadavpur’s infectious autumn thunder goes viral

One of the slogans churned out of the womb of turbulent Paris in the Maydays of 1968 was ‘Don’t trust anyone over 30’. The student uprising of May ‘68 with its audacity and exaggeration might have failed. Yet the mahamichhil (grand rally) called by students which took command over the heart and pulse of Kolkata on 20th September was a literal, vivid, living embodiment of this slogan. As I stood with a video camera on a spot on the Jawaharlal Nehru Road, with hope to capture the moments and 50,000 faces that made history with each footstep, all I could see was an ocean of people most of who had perhaps not even reached their twenty fifth year, and many of who were walking their very first rally. Those slightly older, those weathered yet young at heart paced alongside them in solidarity. ‘Such a student gathering – so huge, determined and disciplined – I have not seen in my life’, wrote poet Sankha Ghosh, ‘This really moved me. It’s very early to say if this will mark the beginning of a new era but I will reiterate this is one of the biggest student rallies I have seen in my life’. The rally was replete with slogans reflecting basic demands of the movement, but there was a unifying chant, rather a call to action, that instantly bonded with and...

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State Terror At Home Communal Language in Foreign Lands

Rajnath Singh, Home Minister in the Modi Government, in his speech to the Rajasthan Police Academy at Jaipur, reminded cops that while he had been the CM of Uttar Pradesh, he had assured cops that they could ‘tackle and eliminate Maoists’, without any worries about questions asked, since he as CM would shield UP police officers from having to face the NHRC! He assured that now, as Home Minister, he would do the same. He described the questions asked by Human Rights Commissions as ‘harassment’ of the police. If the Home Minister of the country describes ‘human rights’ and civil liberties as a minor inconvenience and obstacle, he is openly calling upon cops to commit murder and massacre. Civil liberties and rights are mandated by the Constitution of India. The Home Minister is showing his open contempt for India’s Constitution, and ironically he does so in the name of ‘protecting the nation’! Police and security forces treat ‘Maoist’ as code for ‘adivasi’ or dalit. Rajnath recounts his days as UP CM as a model, let us recall what that model meant. When Rajnath Singh was UP Chief Minister, on 9th March 2001, UP cops shot dead 16 people, mostly agricultural labourers and 2 schoolboys, all Dalits or adivasis, in Madihan, Bhawanipur, eastern UP. One of the 2 schoolboys was in Class VIII and the other in Class IX. The...

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100 Days of Betrayal and Warning

100 days – mostly hard and bitter, not of the dreamy and sweet kind promised before the elections – have elapsed since Narendra Modi was sworn in as the Prime Minister of India’s first BJP-majority government. The new government may not yet have unveiled any clearly formulated policy agenda, but we already have enough pronouncements and indications to assess which way the government is headed. And when Narendra Modi and the BJP are at the helm of governance, it does not make sense to focus our attention only on the government. The actions of the party and its numerous Sanghi siblings and coalition cousins clearly have no less impact on the overall milieu. Talking of policy initiatives, the new government is pursuing the familiar UPA agenda with greater intensity. Almost the entire economy has now been thrown open to foreign capital, with Narendra Modi dramatically inviting foreign capital to “come, make in India” on the anniversary of India’s independence from colonial rule. From railway to finance and even defence, every sector will now see greater penetration of foreign capital. And in a bid to make a final rupture with the Nehruvian legacy of economic governance, the new government has decided to do away with the Planning Commission. With systematic disinvestment, private corporations will now have a free run on India’s rich resources, cheap labour and growing market. While giving...

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The Scottish Referendum: Raising Questions of Self-determination, Democracy and Social Justice

In the run up to the Scottish referendum, those who supported Scotland leaving the UK (the Yes campaign) were virtually unrepresented in the British media and establishment figures in England poured a torrent of scornful abuse on Scots in general, describing them, for example, as violent and thuggish and as addicted to welfare. Underlying this, however, the ruling class were terrified of a breakup. Quite apart from the collapse of a ‘United Kingdom’ which symbolised Britain’s imperial past (the union with Scotland in 1707 was made possible by the promise of a share in the spoils of empire) and the loss of the British Queen’s favourite estates, they were afraid of losing access to Scotland’s resources – its oil in particular – of the future of Trident, the nuclear submarine based in Scotland, and that an independent Scotland would not toe the US’s warmongering line in foreign policy. But more than anything they were afraid of the strong and broad-based Radical Independence Campaign which had emerged in the context of the referendum, and afraid too that it would only grow stronger if Scotland broke free, and its politics would be replicated in other parts of the UK. To prevent or at least stall this, there was a remarkable campaign of threats and blackmail by corporate and finance capital with the Royal Bank of Scotland vowing to shift its headquarters...

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Kashmir: When Jingoism Threatens to Flood Humanitarian Concerns

Jammu and Kashmir as well as the areas of Kashmir across the LoC have been with the worst floods in living memory. The floods, caused by sudden and extreme rainfall, have claimed some 80,000 across the LoC and 2000 lives in J&K. The region is facing a massive humanitarian crisis, with people stranded without food, potable water and shelter, and thousands having lost their homes, property and means of livelihood. Not long ago, Uttarakhand also suffered a terrible calamity. It seems that Governments refuse to learn the bitter lessons taught by each such calamity. In J&K, as in Uttarakhand, it is apparent that reckless urbanization fueled by a tourism economy, with scant regard for the fragile ecosystem, have contributed in great measure to the scale and magnitude of the disaster. Moreover, in spite of a string of similar disasters, Governments have refused to put in place early warning and evacuation systems that can accurately forewarn populations of an impending calamity and move people to protected areas. Now, even as the floods recede, the threat of a massive quake looms ahead, while the Indian Government even now has made no plans to protect the region’s people in case of quakes. The Supreme Court, overruling the Centre’s plea against the Court’s intervention, ordered the Centre to accelerate rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations for the flood victims, setting up a Unified Agency...

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