08 August 2015

Obituary : Comrade Arun Pandey

Comrade Arun Pandey, member of Sariya Block Committee of CPI(ML) and a local leader of long standing, was brutally murdered by BJP-backed criminals in early morning on July 2 when he was on his way to adivasi villages in his local panchayat Koeridih. The news of his murder spread like wildfire in the district and people came out on the streets in large numbers. Thousands joined his funeral the next day and on 13 July, life came to a standstill in the district in response to the CPI(ML)’s call for a shutdown to demand immediate arrest of his killers. Only one person has been arrested till date and the local BJP MLA is trying his best to protect the rest, claiming they are all BJP activists. The battle for justice continues. Comrade Arun is fondly remembered by Giridih comrades as a Party organiser with close ties with the masses, as an ever reliable and hardworking comrade, as a resolute and tireless campaigner who always stood by the people against all odds. He was in his late 40s and is survived by his parents, three brothers and wife Asha and two sons and a daughter. CPI(ML) Central Committee condemns his assassination in the strongest possible terms, pays homage to his inspiring memory and calls upon the entire Party to carry forward his mission and fulfil his dreams. Protests Against Comrade...

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Hanging Yakub Memon Will Not Serve The Interests Of Justice

The CPI(ML) Liberation urges the President of India to accept the mercy petition of Yakub Memon, in the interests of justice. Hanging Yakub Memon will not provide justice for the victims, and punish the real perpetrators of the heinous bomb blasts of 1993 that killed 257 people. Yakub Memon and his family could have lived their life in exile, but instead they chose to return to India to stand trial and assist the process of justice in India. As the only witness available in 1993 blast case, Yakub Memon willingly provided the Indian authorities with vital information. By hanging Memon, India would send a message that those accused of crimes should opt for exile rather than submission to trial and cooperation with justice, since the latter will be rewarded with death. The evidence that exists against Yakub Memon (the statement of an approver and retracted confessions of co-accused) suggests at best a peripheral role in the Mumbai blast conspiracy. Hanging Yakub Memon for crimes committed by his family members even as death sentences issued against his co-accused have been commuted will be grossly disproportionate and vindictive. Yakub Memon has already spent 21 years in jail including several years of solitary confinement. Indeed, the case of Yakub Memon is a powerful argument to persuade India to scrap the death penalty like most democracies in the world have already done. The...

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Greece: Betraying People’s Referendum, Syriza Capitulates to Troika’s Memorandum

During World War II, Greece was subjected to occupation by Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Seventy years later, Germany, at the helm of a bullying Europe, is again out to colonise Greece by crushing it under a debilitating debt burden and a cruel, crippling regime of austerity. And this devastating economic blow has been delivered with a brutal political punch. The Syriza government headed by Alexis Tsipras which was voted to power in January with a powerful anti-austerity mandate, reinforced most decisively with a 61% OXI vote in the July 5 referendum rejecting the bailout conditionalities of the Troika (the IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission), has now been made complicit in subjecting Greece to this utter humiliation and untold misery. Various lies are being dished out to explain the present turn of events in Greece. The loudest and most brazen lies are coming from the Troika which attribute the Greek debt to profligate public spending by successive Greek governments and camouflage the brutal blows of austerity as a package of rescue and recovery. The Truth Committee on Public Debt – an independent committee of experts from 11 countries set up by the President of the Greek Parliament – shattered this propaganda in its preliminary report released on 17 June 2015. The preliminary report has shown that public spending in Greece has been lower than that in other Eurozone countries...

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Obituary : Remembering Praful Bidwai

We mourn the sudden demise of renowned journalist, noted columnist, anti-nuclear activist and Left political commentator Praful Bidwai. Known to speak truth to the powers that be, he always wrote and spoke what he truly believed in, without fearing the consequences. His particular efforts towards ensuring a world that was free of war and nuclear weapons and energy were reflected in his tireless activism in the anti-nuclear movements, as well as in his writings. He wrote extensively on this subject and also founded the Coalition of Nuclear Disarmament and Peace in 2000. A powerful voice for the left in India, he was also consistent in his efforts to fight promotion of prejudice, superstitions and non-scientific thinking in education. Co-awarded the International Peace Bureau’s Sean MacBride Peace Prize along with Prof. Achin Vinayak, he was committed to a vision of secular, democratic and an egalitarian India. The demise of Praful Bidwai is a huge loss for the democratic movement in India as people’s movement has lost a consistent champion and friend. As a tribute to Praful, we reproduce excerpts from some of his writings. Four years after Fukushima, India is flogging a nuclear dead horse (From Daily News and Analysis, 19 March 2015) It’s a telling comment on the state of the Indian media that most of it blacked out the fourth anniversary of the still-continuing Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, which...

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Update : Mukti Chai

Cultural protest meet in Kolkata demands release of all political prisoners Exactly two months after Chhatradhar Mahato, leader of the Lalgarh adivasi movement, was given life sentence by a sessions court along with five others, Cinema of Resistance, a constituent of the All India People’s Forum, organised a cultural protest meet at Muktangan Rangalaya, in Kolkata, on 11th July. The meet was in continuation with a string of street corners, rallies, conventions, signature campaigns being organized by civil liberties organizations and radical left groups throughout Bengal as resistance to the draconian and unjust judgement. The idea was to unite all voices of dissent from the country and to use cinema and other mediums of cultural protest to join with those voices to give a resounding shout out. The evening of protest started with a screening of ‘Prisoners of Conscience’, Anand Patwardhan’s 1978 documentary on Emergency and the subsequent movement to release political prisoners. As Dr. Binayak Sen pointed out later in the evening, that film was also impressively prescient, and warned us about things that are happening today, nearly fifty years after the film was made. Ranjit Sur, from the Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR), addressed the 150-strong audience on the absurdity of legal proceedings that are going on in Bengal’s sessions courts. For example, Chhatradhar Mahato and five others were arrested in 2009 but they...

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Mid-Day Meal and ASHA Workers Struggles

Three Day Hunger Strike of Bihar Mid-day Meal Workers There are about 2,28,000 rasoiyas (mid-day meal cooks) working to prepare midday meals in government schools in Bihar, most of them women. They, specially the women, responded very well to the attempts by the CPI-ML to organize them, and on 17 March they submitted a memo of 17 demands to the Chief Minister, the main demands being government employee status and increase of honorarium to 15,000 per month. On 17 May they organized a conference in Patna and formed the Bihar Rajya Vidyalaya Rasoiya Sangh affiliated to AICCTU. When the government failed to meet any of their demands they decided to further strengthen their agitation. The teachers’ agitation of May-June in Bihar forced the government to bow down to the extent of giving a wage scale, albeit very low. This was an inspiration to the rasoiyas and they decided to stage a relay hunger strike and dharna on 8-9-10 July in front of the CM. A massive rally marched from Gandhi Maidan on 8 July led by AIPWA General Secretary Meena Tiwari, Rasoiya Sangh State President Saroj Chaubey, State Secretary Sohila Gupta, Anita Sinha and others. AICCTU State Secretaries RN Thakur, Ranvijay Kumar and Rambali Prasad also participated in the march. Addressing the rally, the speakers said that women workers play the biggest role in implementing all the welfare schemes...

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Update : Atali: Another Laboratory For Communal Forces

(Excerpt from a report by an AIPF team that visited Atali village in Haryana) In the three-wheeler on the way to Atali, the subject of communal violence is met with silence, and then loud recriminations against politics and parties. An elderly Haryanvi woman says “The police is pampering the Muslims (baithe baithe rotiyan khila rahi hai) and imprisoning our children in jails. All the young men of the village have run away out of fear of the police, which is why I have come at this early hour from the village to Ballabhgarh for medicines.” Other passengers also started blaming political leaders and cursing Muslims. A gentleman from Sirsa interjected that the Hindus were also at fault, as everything belonging to the Muslims has been burnt and destroyed. As we reached Atali, RAF, Haryana police and CRPF personnel were visible everywhere. The Incident On 25 May last there was communal violence, on the pretext of a ‘dispute’ over a mosque, resulting in many Muslim homes, vehicles and fuel stores being burnt. Atali is a Hindu (Jat) majority village and all the Muslim families, fearing for their lives, took shelter in the Ballabhgarh thana for many days. The Muslims eventually returned to the village. But the same story was repeated on 1 July, this time on the pretext of a rumour that women singing kirtans in the temple next to...

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Update : All India People’s Forum

Since the founding conference of the AIPF in Delhi in March, there have been many initiatives and efforts on a range of issues. Here is a quick update. Land Rights Labour Rights Campaign At the AIPF Jan Sansad on 16th March, a 100-day campaign from 23 March-30 June on Land Rights and Labour Rights was declared. Soon after, on 23 March, the occasion of Bhagat Singh’s Martyrdom Day, 1200 young workers held a rally in Sriperumbudur on the concluding day of the State Conference of Revolutionary youth Association, an AIPF constituent. Speaking at this rally, AIPF campaign committee members S P Udayakumar, A Marx, Mangayarselvan as well as Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary, CPI (ML) launched the 100 Day Campaign for Land and Labour Rights. On 3rd April, agricultural workers held an impressive and colourful rally in Bhubaneshwar, preceding the National Conference of the All India Association of Rural and Agricultural Workers. On 4th May, a massive “Workers’ and Farmers’ Rights” march took place in Patna, preceding the National Conference of the AICCTU. AIARLA and AICCTU, as AIPF constituents, planned their rallies to reflect the issues of the AIPF campaign. When repression was unleashed on adivasis in Sonbhadra, UP, who were protesting against the Kanhar Dam, a vigorous protest was held under the banner of the AIPF, bringing together the AIUFWP, the CPI(ML), All India Kisan Mahasabha and other...

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Update : Left Parties’ Nationwide Protests Against Corrupt Modi Government

Left parties- CPI (ML), CPI, CPI (M), Forward Block, RSP and SUCI (C) held protest marches and meetings in several cities, state capitals and the national capital, Delhi on 20 July 2015, to protest against the shielding of scamsters, murder and terror accused by the Modi government even as it launched a vindictive witch hunt of activists. The blatant attempts by the BJP government to shield the accused in the Lalit Gate, Vyapam Scam and Vyapam murders and several other scams surfacing in states where there are BJP governments such as in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand. In Delhi, along with the six aforementioned parties, CGPI also participated in the protests. Among those who addressed the protestors were Com. Kavita Krishnan, PB member CPI (ML), Com. D. Raja from CPI, Com. Sitaram Yechury, General Secretary CPI (M), Com. Abani Roy from RSP, Com. Debabrata Biswas from Forward Block, Com. Satyavan from SUCI (C) and Com. Prakash Rao from CGPI. Com. Brinda Karat, PB member CPI (M) also participated in the march that started from Mandi House and culminated in a public meeting in Jantar Mantar during which the effigies of scam tainted ministers were also burnt. The left leaders who spoke in the public meeting, raised the issue of the BJP governments at the centre and the state who were using every possible trick to shield the...

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Updates : Protest Against Demolition of Workers’ Homes in Chandigarh

Dhanas is a small colony situated in the Union territory of Chandigarh and it also houses several workers living and working in the city. Since last few years there have been concerted efforts to demolish the houses of the poor in Dhanas. CPI(ML) has been waging a determined struggle to safeguard the interests of the poor residing in Dhanas and has successfully managed to stall several such attempts to displace the people living there. While no legal notice was served to the people, it came to the notice of CPI(ML) and Inquilabi Naujawaan Sabha (RYA) activists through various newspapers and administrative personnel that a demolition drive was being planned on 30 June. It may be noted that this is a month of incessant rains. Also, the colony also houses several Muslim families who were observing Ramzaan fasts. The very plan to carry out demolition at such a time reeks of insensitivity. In light of the impending threat on the shelter of several hundreds of people, CPI(ML) and RYA activists decided to take immediate steps to ensure that people were not forced out of their homes. They decided to call for a dharna outside the DC’s office. However, not only did the DC refuse to meet the protestors, a lathi charge was ordered on the people and tear gas used to try and to disperse them. However, hundreds of people...

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Interview : “Left must come up as an alternative to take Bihar forward”

[Interview by Hindustan Times, Patna edition, with Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary , CPI (ML)] Bihar assembly election is being labeled as India’s biggest election after 2014 parliamentary polls. Where does ML stand in the poll arena and what will be the main issues of your poll campaign in the coming Bihar assembly polls? Bihar elections are always big events in Indian politics. Our job in the elections is to stand with the people and make sure they can vote on the basis of their own issues and their own choice. Land, livelihood, shelter, dignified and secure employment, social security, health and education remain the basic concerns for the overwhelming majority of people. New direction and new politics for a better Bihar will be the central theme of our election campaign. The BJP and Janata camps want the elections to be reduced to Modi-centric and Nitish-centric spectacles, our job is to advance the struggle and assertion of the people. The left has seen a steady erosion in its base as an alternative with only 1 MLA in Bihar legislature from 2010 onwards. What are the reasons for it? In 2010, we were cornered by the extended social reach of the overarching BJP-JDU alliance. We had campaigned vigorously for the implementation of the report of the Land Reform Commission, but feudal reaction managed to mislead and scare away not only...

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The Sangh Attempts to Subvert Education

For the RSS and its outfits to brand the Jawaharlal Nehru University, known for its Left student movement and noted Leftist academicians, as ‘anti-India’ and ‘anti-Hindu’ was pretty common. But now the RSS has shown its utter frustration at its lack of acceptance among students of other institutions as well, by branding the FTII students as ‘anti-Hindu’ and IITs and IIMs too as ‘anti-India/anti-Hindu’! An article in the RSS mouthpiece, Organiser, declared that after Gajendra Chauhan’s appointment as FTII Chairman, “anti-Hindu fringe elements did what they are best at. They started protesting…” The article also declared that “only a mentally challenged will challenge Chauhan’s credentials,” and further branded Raj Kumar Hirani, Girish Karnad, Mahesh Bhatt and all other noted filmmakers and actors as ‘anti-Hindu’. Another article in the Organiser branded IITs and IIMs as hotbeds of “anti India and anti-Hindu activities.” This piece attacked noted nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar who resigned as Chairman of the board of governors, IIT Bombay, and IIM Ahmedabad chairman A.M. Naik, both of whom had criticized the HRD Ministry of the Modi Government. Kakodkar had criticised the HRD Ministry for adopting a selection process for IIT directors which was “too casual” and like “running a lottery.” The Organiser article asked why he had not criticized the ‘Kiss of Love’ protests against moral policing by IIT Bombay faculty and students. It also accused faculty members...

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Fresh Data on Inequality and Deprivation in India

The Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) survey, carried out in 640 districts, was slated to provide fresh figures to update our understanding of India’s social and economic realities. The Central Government is however controlling the public’s access to the survey, allowing information to trickle out in small portions measured out by the Government. It is highly unfortunate that the caste census data has been suppressed by the Government for the time being. The caste census data and in fact all the findings of the survey should be made public, and the flow of information on the findings should not be controlled by the Government to suit its political and pragmatic considerations. The SECC data on the rural households is an eye-opener about the extent of poverty, deprivation and inequality in rural India, even after the tall claims of transformation and poverty alleviation by Governments, especially the promises of the past two decades of liberalization policies. The SECC parameters for measuring deprivation also need to be critiqued, however, and the Government must not be allowed to use this data to further slash welfare measures in the name of ‘targeting.’ Stark Poverty and Acute Deprivation The survey confirms that the vast majority of rural Indians live in acute deprivation. Wages are abysmally low in rural India. In 75% of rural households, the highest-earning member earns less than Rs 5,000 in...

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Why Is the PM Silent on Scams and Murderous Cover-Ups?

Corruption is once again turning out to be a great leveller in the Indian Political League of ruling class parties. Only a year ago Narendra Modi had stormed his way to power riding on the wave of anger against corruption. Repatriation of black money and transparent governance had figured high on his list of promises. The promise of repatriation of black money has already been buried by Amit Shah with his candid confession that the whole thing was meant to be just poll rhetoric to garner votes. Yet on the first anniversary of the Modi government’s ascent to power, Modi and several other senior BJP ministers and leaders claimed credit for delivering scam-free governance. Now the claim is being washed away by a virtual flood of corruption cases surfacing almost on a daily basis. The shadow cast by the damning disclosures on Lalitgate is getting darker with every passing day. What initially appeared to be a case of impropriety and conflict of interest on the part of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has now been exposed to be an intricate and intimate multidimensional nexus involving Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje and her son Dushyant Singh who is also a BJP MP. The clout enjoyed by Lalit Modi grew through the earlier term of Raje as Rajasthan CM with state property being clandestinely converted into lucrative private property and Lalit...

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CBI Parrot Sings Modi Tune

The CBI was a caged parrot in UPA rule. And in Modi rule, the parrot is not only caged when it comes to cases in which those close to the ruling regime are implicated. The parrot is singing the tune copied from Prime Minister Modi himself, and branding Teesta Setalvad a ‘threat to national security’! The CBI’s declaration that Teesta Setalvad is a threat to national security is a blatant display of the fact that country’s top investigative agency is being used as a tool to punish activists regarded as enemies of Modi, the BJP and the RSS. Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand and their organization Sabrang Communications have consistently campaigned against communal violence since the 1990s. After the communal pogrom of Gujarat in 2002, they, as part of the Citizens for Justice and Peace, did remarkable work to challenge the impunity hitherto enjoyed by powerful political perpetrators of pogroms. They worked to identify and protect witnesses and wage painstaking legal battles – all in the face of relentless intimidation and harassment including a host of false cases. If there have been 120 convictions in the Gujarat 2002 pogrom cases, it is due in very large part to the efforts of Teesta and her comrades. This has naturally earned them the ire of Modi, the BJP and the Gujarat Government which did all they could to subvert justice. What...

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