03 March 2017

Dance of Fascism in Delhi University

Dance of Fascism in Delhi University The events of Delhi University are ominous. ABVP, the stormtroopers of the RSS, rioted for two consecutive days in Delhi University, using bricks, stones and sticks to prevent a seminar from taking place. The Delhi Police colluded with this assault, with its men joining ABVP in assaulting women students and journalists. 3 constables have now been suspended – but this gesture only begs the question about who was giving the orders to Delhi Police to permit a riot on the University campus? Several facts are notable here. The Delhi Police refused to file an FIR against the ABVP cadre that were indulging in open, wanton violence and celebrating by dancing atop a Delhi Police bus. Instead the Delhi Police did a lathi charge on the students peacefully waiting outside the police station for an FIR to be lodged. Rights activists have pointed out that the Supreme Court judgement in Lalita Kumari vs State of UP (2013) has laid down mandatory guidelines for police to register an FIR in case of a cognizable offence. On whose orders did the Police refuse to file an FIR against the many instances of openly recorded violence by cadre of the ruling party’s student outfit? It emerges that the DCP in charge of the Delhi University North Campus is the same Jatin Narwal who, as DCP in charge...

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Trump Presidency – Ominous Early Days

On 20 January this year, Donald Trump was inaugurated as the President of the United States. It has been just one month since the Trump administration took charge. Yet, these tumultuous 30 days have provided us with ample material to anticipate the nature of the days to come. Throughout the long Presidential campaign, and even after Trump’s victory in November last year, there were some who suggested that Trump was essentially more sound byte rather than real bite. Trump’s xenophobic, Islamophobic, racist, misogynist, deeply divisive, rabble-rousing campaign was all rhetoric, we are assured, simply aimed at polarising the American people and winning an election. However, if the past month has some messages for the US, and for the rest of the world, it is this: Trump is dead serious about his toxic agenda. The Trump administration’s star cast, headed by him and directed by Bannon and Miller, has made its intentions pretty much clear in its first month. Trump has signed a slew of ‘executive orders’, clearly aimed at publicly announcing his willingness to implement his pro-business, anti-immigrant agenda. The Dakota Access Pipeline has been declared a “national interest”, and roadblocks in its construction have been removed, despite massive protests from environmentalists and Native Americans whose lands will be affected by the pipeline. Another order attempts to reduce regulations (read transparency and accountability) on corporations – for every one...

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An Inspiring Revolutionary Journey

Comrade Srilata Swaminathan (29.04.1944 – 05.02.2017) Veteran CPIML leader Comrade Srilata Swaminathan passed away in Udaipur (Rajasthan) in the early morning of 5 February. She was 74. Comrade Srilata had suffered a brain stroke on 28th January night and was rushed to a hospital in Udaipur where she breathed her last following a cardiac arrest. Comrade Srilata was born in Chennai on 29 April, 1944. After finishing college she came to Delhi and joined the National School of Drama and subsequently went to London to pursue her interests in theatre. But back in Delhi in 1972, her life took a decisive turn. She joined the CPIML and began organizing farm workers in Mehrauli region of Delhi. She also worked among hotel workers in Delhi. During the Emergency she was imprisoned in Tihar jail for a period of ten months following which she was interned in Chennai. For Comrade Srilata this only meant an opportunity to plunge back into trade union work among Port and Dock workers. After the Emergency was lifted in 1977, Srilata returned to Delhi and shifted base to Rajasthan in 1978 to start working among Adivasis, women and various sections of working people from rural bonded labour and displaced people to trade unions in the mining sector and various industries. For a woman with an elite background and upbringing to adopt rural Rajasthan as her area...

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Other Reports

Insaf Convention At Ranchi The Awami Insaf Manch, Jharkhand organized an Insaf Convention on 30 January 2017 (Gandhiji’s martyrdom day)in Ranchi as an initiative for justice in the cases of atrocities on the minorities, adivasis, and dalits in the State. The Convention was attended by family members of the victims of injustice and more than 300 delegates from various districts of the State including activists from people’s organizations and people from socio-political walks of life. The convention began with tributes to Gandhiji and the victims of injustice and atrocities, after which senior journalist Javed Islam presented the keynote address in which questioned the Modi and Raghuvar governments for condoning incidents of communal violence and not acting against the culprits; he pointed out incidents such as the hanging of 2 innocent people including a 12 year old boy by so-called “gau-rakshaks” in Latehar, the beating to death of Minhaj Ansari and dalit Rupesh Swansi in Jamatada and Bundu police thanas, and other instances of atrocities on minorities and dalits. Addressing the convention Party General Secretary Com Dipankar Bhattacharya said that the challenge facing us today are not just isolated incidents; it is the pervasive atmosphere of hate and communalism being nurtured in the entire country. The convention was also addressed by JNUSU Joint Secretary Mohd Tabrez, who spoke about the movement for Justice for Najeeb and Justice for Rohith Vemula;...

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AIPWA Team Visits Bhangar

On 24th January, an AIPWA Fact Finding team went to Bhangar in West Bengal where villagers are resisting land grab. The village roads were deserted. The brick and tree log barricade were still there in the village, but some of the leaders of the movement told us that they wanted to remove the barricades today as it was an obstacle in their daily work. The AIPWA team visited Sajida Bibi (name changed) who was a victim of the assault on the 17th of January. She shared that the hooligans brutally beat her and threatened to rape her. She showed the bruises on her neck, back, hand and posterior. She said that presently none of the women were staying in the village after the evening as they are afraid of the hooligans. 20 more women confirmed her statement. After talking with her, the team of AIPWA entered the village of Khamarait. This village is under the Trinamool Panchayat and the Panchayat Pradhan is Hakimul Islam, son of Arabul Islam. Villagers informed the team that on the night of the riot, the hooligans in police uniforms broke windows and roofs of houses and also tortured whoever they came across. They beat Panchayat member Saiful’s wife Rabeya Bibi. We asked the villagers, why, if they had not wanted the Power Grid Corporation then, did they give their land. One youth named Sahil...

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Protest Against Global Investors’ Summit

On 16 and 17 February 2017 a global investors’ summit, ‘Momentum Jharkhand’ was organized in Ranchi under the aegis of the Raghubar Das government. This was attended by over 1000 representatives from 219 companies including 62 of the biggest corporate companies from 26 countries. MOUs worth a total of Rs 3.76 cores were signed in 12 sectors— Rs. 1 lakh crore in the steel industry, Rs. 74000 crore in energy, Rs. 51000 crore in production, Rs. 34000 crore in basic infrastructure and Rs. 23000 crore in mining. 7 Union Ministers, 46 State guests, Ambassadors from 4 countries were part of this summit. PM Narendra Modi addressed the summit through video conferencing. It has been agreed through the MOUs to hand out to global investors through land banks lakhs of hectares of agricultural land, gair mazarua government land, and bandobasti land belonging to the adivasis and indigenous people of Jharkhand. There are also reports that this time the land is not going to be given on lease; it will be allotted on a permanent basis and payment will have to be made within 5 years. It was to create a pro-corporate momentum for this summit and facilitate the loot of Jharkhand’s resources that the Raghubar Das government has been working throughout its term, especially in April 2016 when it made pro-corporate amendments to the CNT-SPT Act. The government not only...

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Campuses Under Attack

On February 21 and 22 this year, ABVP unleashed an organized, viciously violent riot in Delhi University, attacking students and teachers with glass bottles, bricks, stones and hockey sticks. ABVP cadre uttered filthy abuse to women, pulling them by the hair, and they attacked several journalists, snatching and smashing cameras and phones. The Delhi Police stood watching, allowing the ABVP to run riot and indulge in repeated, open assaults. Ramjas College of Delhi University’s North Campus had called for seminars on ‘Cultures of Protest’ on 21st and 22nd February 2017. On 21st February, JNU activist Umar Khalid was invited to speak on ‘The War in Adivasi Areas’ in the session on ‘Unveiling the State: Regions in Conflict.’ Before the event began, an ABVP mob gathered outside the college and threatened to unleash violence if the “anti-national” Umar Khalid was to speak. The Delhi Police flatly refused to disperse the mob, and instead told the organizers that they would be responsible for consequences if the talk were to proceed. The College Principal then cancelled permission for Umar Khalid’s talk – and the organizers continued the session with the remaining two speakers on the panel. But the ABVP surrounded the seminal hall, locked participants in, and hurled stones into the room, smashing a window, hitting people outside with hockey sticks and rods. The Police did not detain or arrest a single...

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The Adhikar Yatra Across Bihar

At 10 AM on 11 February 2017 as Com Dipankar Bhattacharya garlanded the statue of Com Vinod Mishra at the Beguserai Party office about 150 local people from the poorer sections raised slogans of “Red salute to all martyrs”, and “Three pillars of social justice—education, employment and land reform”. Com Dipankar joined the group and they marched into the narrow street bearing red flags and raising slogans. The Adhikar Yatra had started. The 7 day Yatra would pass through 13 districts of Bihar and reach the capital Patna on 17 February. After a 1 km long march on the main road and garlanding Dr Ambedkar’s statue the first street meeting was held near Beguserai railway station. Needless to say, this Yatra of hundreds of kilometers could not be completed on foot in 7 days even with continuous day and night walking; therefore, vehicles were also used on four-lane roads, highways etc. A van with a loudspeaker headed the procession disseminating the messages, slogans and announcements of the Adhikar Rally. Songs specially recorded for the Yatra were played intermittently. Adhikar Rally leaflets and appeals from Kusumi Devi, mother of 10th standard student Dika Kumari who was brutally raped and murdered in a Hajipur hostel, were distributed among passers-by. Why start the Adhikar Yatra from Beguserai? Com Dipankar said in the very first meeting that very recently 5 comrades fighting under...

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The Rally For Rights

Following nearly a week long yatras (marches) across the state of Bihar that started from Begusarai on 11 February, the Adhikar Yatra undertaken by CPI(ML) finally culminated in a massive Adhikar Rally at the Veterinary College grounds in Patna on 19 February 2017. The rally saw a massive gathering of people united in their fight for justice, rights, and freedom from oppression. The rally which began with a musical tribute to the martyrs by the cultural team Hirawal was addressed by activists of various movements, survivors of violence and Left leaders. On the dais, along with the mothers of Najeeb Ahmad and Dika Kumari, were survivors and family members of organized violence and state repression – including Jamila Khatun, wife of Comrade Shah Chand who died in custody after being falsely implicated and convicted under the draconian TADA, family members of martyrs killed by feudal-criminal forces in Araria, Saharsa, Darbhanga, Beguserai, Siwan, families of the Bathani massacre victims including Naeemuddin Ansari, wife of Com Bhaiyyaram killed by liquor mafia goons in Rohtas, wives of Com Satish Yadav, Budhram Paswan and Sanjay Chourasiya. Mother of Dika Kumari – agricultural labourer Kusumi Devi – said with great dignity and determination, “Dika is everyone’s daughter, and we will together fight injustice.” RYA leader Comrade Manoj Manzil asked Modi and Nitish to answer what happened to their promises of jobs for youth of...

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Intensify the Fight for Rights

The month-long Adhikar Abhiyan (Campaign for Rights) called by the Bihar State Committee of CPI(ML) culminated in a massive Adhikar Rally in Patna on 19 February. The campaign highlighted three key demands – education, employment and land rights – of the oppressed and deprived people and gave a powerful voice to the deeply felt anger against the demonetization disaster inflicted by the Modi government in the name of curbing black money and the brazen betrayal of the November 2015 people’s mandate by the RJD-JDU-Congress grand alliance government headed by Nitish Kumar. With the Nitish Kumar government effectively reserving the historic Gandhi Maidan, the traditional Patna ground for major political gatherings, for government-sponsored events, the rally had to be held on the Veterinary College ground near the airport, compelling rallyists to march a long way from the railway stations in the city. Yet defying all odds, the rally was clearly one of the biggest assemblies witnessed in Bihar in recent times. The wide-ranging popular participation in the rally reflected not only a renewed appeal of the CPI(ML) as a fighting opposition in the state but also a new churning in Bihari society and Bihar politics. The CPI(ML) has been the only party that has forcefully fought for justice in every recent incident of feudal-criminal violence and the cry for justice resonated loudly in the rally. The killings of five dalit...

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The Malicious Motives and Calamitous Consequences of Note Ban A Preliminary Appraisal

Part II In the middle of a hectic poll campaign in UP, BJP president Amit Shah was asked in a televised interview: what did the common man gain from Note Ban? He replied that it injected sufficient liquidity into the system (meaning the cancelled notes which were deposited in the banks) and that has enabled the government to take up various pro-poor schemes in the budget.The interviewer, for reasons best known to him, did not call Shah’s bluff. He did not say Modi’s lieutenant was just telling a lie and deliberately misleading the nation. The money in the system is perfect legal tender belonging to the depositors – not revenue to the government to be used for the budgeted schemes. Previously the BJP had claimed that the banks and therefore the government would be gifted with a windfall equal to the huge amount of the legalised currency that would not return to the system. And now that almost all those notes – including the alleged black money – have been lawfully deposited into the banks, the shameless second-in-command in the ruling party just shifts the goalposts to the opposite end and declares that the government can spend more precisely because the demonetised currency is back in the system! Well, let us take this as yet another chunaavi jumla (empty election rhetoric) the BJP leaders have made themselves famous for,...

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An Open Letter to the Army Chief

Dear General Bipin Rawat, You have warned Kashmiri civilians that if they fail to cooperate with Army operations, the Army will not hesitate to fire on them. You have added, for good measure, that not only those who pelt stones but even those who raise anti-India slogans or display anti-India flags will be likewise treated as “terrorists.” By doing so, you have admitted that the Indian State is at war with the people of Kashmir. You have admitted that contrary to the claims of the Indian State based on election participation, ordinary Kashmiri civilians are not supportive of the Indian State or Indian Army. Why do Kashmiri youth and women pick up stones, raise anti-India slogans and obstruct Army operations against militants? Is it simply because they are brain-washed by Pakistan? To find an answer, I read about Waqar Ahmad Moharkan (http://kashmirreader.com/2017/02/21/5-months-jail-psa-20-firs-waqar-loved-india/) and what put a stone in his hands and an azaadi slogan on his lips. Waqar, now 24 and facing a slew of cases relating to last year’s uprising, says that he “loved India once” but “the word India now makes me mad…I was living in a dreamland till I met with reality of their brutality.” During a curfew break in the 2008 protests, Waqar went out on his bike to buy milk, and was stopped at a petrol pump by CRPF troopers. “I greeted them politely....

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Hold Fresh Elections in Tamil Nadu

It took 21 years for the Indian Judicial system to pronounce the late Chief Minister of Tamilnadu J Jayalalitha guilty of accumulation of assets disproportionate to her income. Justice delayed (till after Jayalalitha’s death) was justice denied and the people of Tamilnadu suffered all around during this period which saw two full terms with Jayalalitha as Chief Minister. And the people of Tamilnadu now have a coterie of looters at the helm to decide their lives for four more years. The judgement delivered by Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose in the DA case against Jayalalitha, A 1, her confidante Sasikala and two of her close relatives reads “we come to the conclusion that A1to A4 have entered into a conspiracy and in furtherance of the same, A1 who was a public servant at the relevant time had come into possession of assets disproportionate to the known sources of her income during the check period and had got the same dispersed in the names of A2 to A4 and the firms & companies involved to hold these on her behalf with a masked front. Furthermore, the charge of abetment laid against A2 to A4 in the commission of the offence by A1 also stands proved”. A1 in his case is the public servant – clearly Jayalalitha – who is held guilty of corruption. Although she is dead and cannot therefore be...

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Caste Is The Dirty Secret Behind Open Defecation

(Liberation looks at the problem of open defecation and the nature of the Swacch Bharat campaign.) The Swacch Bharat (Clean India) campaign is officially aimed at eradicating open defecation in India, which poses a serious public health problem and is responsible for high rates of child stunting and child death. All over India, this campaign is adopting tactics of coercion and public humiliation, and appeals to concerns for women’s modesty and restricted mobility to promote toilet use. The tactics of public shaming being used include moral policing by vigilante groups set up by the district administration. These vigilantes use whistling or clapping, naming and shaming, as tactics to publicly humiliate open defecators. Groups of women follow men and groups of men follow women when they are on their way to the fields – they grab the lotas (mugs of water) and shout slogans. Rations of those failing to construct a latrine are stopped. Madhya Pradesh enacted a law barring those not having a flush toilet in their homes from contesting in Panchayat elections. Recently, the CPI(ML) and AIPWA protested such public shaming tactics in several Bihar districts. The Swacch Bharat advertisements featuring famous film stars also use shaming tactics. Advertisements featuring Amitabh Bacchan show project toilets as a symbol of ‘modernity’ and ‘progress’, and show children shaming elders for defecating in the open. Public Shaming Is A Casteist Tactic...

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Budget 2017 and Deepening of the Demonetization Disaster

This year the annual budget was tabled on the first and not the customary last day of February. This was also the first time when the railway budget was stripped of its separate existence and appended to the general budget almost as a passing footnote. Most importantly this was a budget presented right on the eve of a crucial round of Assembly elections. In ordinary times, the budget would perhaps have been deferred till the elections were over, but these are extraordinary times with the trappings of an undeclared Emergency, and the budget was considered an essential electoral ingredient for the ruling party. Even the news of the unfortunate demise of Kerala IUML MP E Ahmed was sought to be stopped from becoming public till the budget was presented and when the news eventually became known the traditional obituary courtesy was also sacrificed at the altar of political expediency. For the common people of India, the real point of interest about this year’s budget however lay in the fact that it came in the wake of Modi’s massive demonetization blow. The Prime Minister had himself promised that the fifty days of pain were but a gateway to a new era of gain. Having withstood the pain, the people were looking forward to the budget for the promised gain. The Sanghi rumour brigade which had earlier been agog with the...

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