Last year, HCU followed by JNU were at the receiving end of a vicious attack by the Central Government, with the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula and the witch-hunt of JNU student activists. The IITs and FTII also were similarly attacked. The offensive was met with a powerful and inspiring resistance that fueled hope in the whole country. This year, once again, campuses are the receiving end of a concerted assault.
As at HCU and JNU last year, the Sangh stormtroopers ABVP, confident of the protective hand of the powers-that-be on their heads, indulge in open violence to silence all progressive voices of dissent. In the latest instance, they attacked students and teachers participating in a seminar on “Culture of Protest” at Ramjas College, Delhi University, with bricks and stones. The pretext for this attack that speakers at the seminar included JNU activists Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid who were among those being pilloried as “anti-national” last year.
Such attacks are not new: the ABVP has similarly disrupted screening of a film on Muzaffarnagar communal violence at Delhi University, and violently prevented women’s rights activist Kavita Krishnan from speaking at Lucknow University and journalist Siddharth Varadarajan from speaking at Allahabad University. The grimmest consequence of ABVP violence on campuses has been the disappearance of JNU student Najeeb following a thrashing by ABVP members.
The capitulation to or cooperation of University administrations with the RSS in crackdowns on dissenting voices is also a growing phenomenon. The Jai Narain Vyas University’s (JNVU) Jodhpur suspended a faculty member Rajshree Ranawat for having invited Professor Nivedita Menon of JNU to deliver a talk which RSS members claimed was “anti-national” and against which they filed a police complaint. Last year, the JNU Administration served a notice to Professor Nivedita Menon advising her that she had violated University rules by speaking at a student demonstration and warning her not to repeat such an act.
Similarly last year the Central University of Haryana (CUH) “reprimanded” two teachers for staging a play based on Mahasweta Devi’s iconic story Draupadi – following the filing of a police complaint by ABVP claiming the play was “anti-national.”
At JNU, throughout last year, traditional spaces of protest have been caged off and declared out of bounds for students, peacefully protesting students have repeatedly been punished, and attempts made to institute surveillance on public meetings.
Together with such systematic and widespread suppression of freedom of expression, the Modi Government’s appointee as JNU Vice Chancellor has also taken steps to virtually dismantle JNU’s widely acclaimed research programmes. Even as JNU has been conferred with the Visitor’s Award for ‘Best Central University,’ the JNU VC is unilaterally imposing a 5th May, 2016 UGC notification as a pretext to dismantle annual admissions to research programmes. The Administration has filed an FIR against protesting students who have peacefully been demanding that the VC at least meet and speak to them. The JNU VC has taken this and other decisions in complete violation of the University’s own decision-making bodies and processes. The Delhi High Court has just stayed this move following a petition by affected students.
The Modi Government and the Sangh Parivar attack India’s Universities because these are spaces that can foster independent thinking and dissent – that is anathema to the communal fascist ideology. The JNU in particular is a target also because its inclusive and socially just admission policy has allowed students from deprived and oppressed backgrounds to access higher education, excel in research and also shine in socially committed activism and student movements.
The movements of students and teachers will not take such attacks lying down, however. A spirited resistance in underway, that will surely defend the freedom and autonomy of India’s Universities.
Following nearly a week long yatras 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 an inspiring song by the Hirawal group was addressed by Party leaders, missing JNU student Najeeb’s mother Fatima Nafees and Dika Kumari’s mother Kusumi Devi, and leaders of Left parties including CPI(M) and CPI.
Addressing the rally CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya said that the country is passing through a bizarre phase. Najeeb, who came to JNU to study, disappears. Dika Kumari is raped and murdered in a hostel in Bihar and the Bihar government with its tall claims of social justice remains silent. Raju Hansda and Vinod Oraon are killed in the name of ‘liquor ban’ while the real culprits, the liquor mafia, continue to thrive. The need of the hour is a united struggle against injustice, and this rally is an initiative to fulfill that need. The country elected the Modi government to power in the hope of “achhe din” and bringing back black money instead the anti-people demonetization has broken the economy and brought dire distress upon the poor. The migrant workers of Bihar have lost their livelihoods and have returned to Bihar but Nitish Kumar, oblivious to their sufferings, sang praises of the demonetization disaster. The state of education in Bihar is abysmal, as exposed by the topper scam and the BSSC scam which are sought to be hushed up through an SIT enquiry as was done in the VYAPAM scam in MP.
Com. Dipankar said that the poor have been stabbed in the back economically as well as politically. Dalits, minorities, farmers, workers and the poor are being brutally oppressed. But the central and state governments are mistaken if they think that the people will remain silent. The CPI(ML) was given a mandate to play the role of a responsible opposition in Bihar and we will fulfill that role by raising these issues in the Assembly and also by organizing the people to fight for their rights.
While addressing the rally, Com. Kunal, Bihar State Secretary said that the Party would hold protests at various District HQs on the issue of a high level enquiry into the BSSC scam and its political protection. The topper scam and now the BSSC scam have exposed the rotten state of education in Bihar for which the Nitish government’s education policy is responsible by giving institutional protection to corruption. He said that the Party would raise the issue in the coming Assembly session and thus fight for justice both inside and outside the Assembly.
Speaking on the abysmal conditions of Kasturba Schools, Com. Kunal and Com. Meena Tiwari said that the government remains a mute spectator to the appalling conditions that are prevailing in Kasturba Schools, proving that it is insensitive, anti-dalit education and anti-women. After the Dika rape and murder in Vaishali and the Neetu murder in Ara, the case of horrific oppression and molestation of girl students has come to light in the Kasturba School at Narhat in Nawada. Mahadalit students who come to study are being molested and the government remains silent. A CPI(ML) team has left for Narhat to enquire into the incident. This matter also would be raised strongly in the coming Assembly session.
Along with the mothers of Najeeb and Dika, family members of martyrs killed by feudal-criminal forces in Araria, Saharsa, Darbhanga, Beguserai, Siwan, many falsely charged TADA prisoners who died in jail, families of the Bathani massacre victims including Naeemuddin Ansari, wife of Bhaiyyaram killed by liquor mafia goons in Rohtas, wives of Com Satish Yadav, Budhram Paswan and Sanjay Chourasiya attended the rally. Kusumi Devi narrated how after her daughter Dika’s murder the government tried to fob her off with a compensation of 4 lakhs but she was firm that she wants not money but justice for Dika. Najeeb’s mother Fatima Devi related how Najeeb disappeared after being brutally beaten by ABVP goons and expressed the hope that the support and solidarity of the people would help in forcing the Central government to take steps to bring back Najeeb.
RYA leader Manoj Manzil; AISA leader Shivprakash; leader of farmers’ movement against Bagmati Dam Jitendra Yadav; honorarium and incentive based workers’ leaders Shashi Yadav, Saroj Chaubey and Comrade Rambali; AIKM leader Comrade Rajaram Singh; AIARLA leaders Comrades Rameshwar Prasad and Dhirendra Jha; AIPWA leader Kavita Krishnan also addressed the rally.
The Adhikar Rally passed the following resolutions:
1. People affected by the note ban should be compensated. All farmers’ loans should be waived. Corporate defaulters’ names should be made public. All poor and working class families should get a compensation of Rs 1 lakh each. The Union budget ignored the plight of the workers especially the unorganized sector; the Bihar budget should prioritize these issues and build pressure on the Central government.
2. The Rally expresses full solidarity with the mothers of Rohith Vemula, Najeeb and Dika and also all those who are victims of social injustice and oppression.
3. The rally condemns the oppression and atrocities in the name of the ‘liquor ban’ and demands action on the liquor mafia which is flourishing and has even established a thriving ‘home delivery’ network. Victimization, jailing and police brutality and killing of the poor in the name of the liquor ban is condemned and a high level enquiry into the police killings of Raju Hansda and Vinod Oraon is demanded.
4. The rally demands guarantee of quality education for all poor, dalit and deprived sections, implementation of RTE in private schools, and reinstatement of constitutional rights to dalits and deprived sections by the State government.
5. The rally demands guarantee of purchase of all farmers’ crops, loan waivers and free electricity to all farmers.
6. The government is denying the poor all land reform rights. Instead, land mafia are being encouraged and the poor, instead of being given 5 decimal homestead land as promised, are being evicted forcibly from ceiling, ancestral, parcha and red and green card lands. The government is in cahoots with the land mafia goons in the killings of dalits including Vakil Kunjra, Hira Paswan, Jagmaya Devi, Satyanarayan Yadav, Kamleshwari Rishidev and others. The rally pledges to fight for land rights of the poor and also expresses solidarity with the land rights struggle in other parts of the country, especially Gujarat.
7. The rally demands an immediate rollback of anti-people labour policies and demands regularization and pay for all honorarium and contract workers (such as ASHA, Anganwadi, Rasoiya and others) as per the Choudhury committee recommendations and implementation of the 7th Pay Commission scales for regular teachers.
8. The rally demands the immediate release and withdrawal of false charges on comrades Satyadev Ram, Amarjeet Kushwaha, all TADA prisoners and all those falsely arrested for political agitations.
9. The rally condemns the attempts of the Modi government and the Sangh to spread communal poison and incite riots and the silence of the Nitish government on these issues; we appeal to the people of Bihar to maintain communal harmony and strengthen the united struggle for people’s claims, participation and development.
10. The constitutional and democratic values in the country are in grave danger and we are in a state of undeclared emergency. This rally calls for the strengthening of the agitation to “Remove Modi, Save Democracy”. In Bihar the Nitish government is unleashing a ‘police raj’ and injustice and atrocities on the people of the State. This rally calls for the end of such injustice and brutality and for the building of a new political alternative in Bihar.
The rally was addressed by several leaders of the CPI(ML) and affiliated mass organisations, as well as by other Left parties including the CPI(M), CPI, Forward Bloc, RSP, and SUCI(C).
The 5th AIPWA Ranchi district conference was held on 12 February 2017 at the Com. Srilata Swaminathan auditorium in Com. Mahendra Singh Bhawan, Ranchi with a resolution of struggle against patriarchal society and Sanghi ideology and a call to strengthen the movement for women’s equality, freedom, rights, and social change for women’s empowerment. The conference, presided over by a 5 member team, started with tributes paid to Com Srilata Swaminathan and all martyrs for the cause of the women’s movement.
Addressing the conference, observer Nita Vediya said that attacks and oppression on women are at a high in the Modi and Raghuvar governments. Poor and lower income working women are most affected by demonetization, skyrocketing prices, and unemployment. The irony of Jharkhand is that under all the governments since its inception women have borne the brunt of oppression and are still struggling on issues such as freedom from fear, safety, employment and migration. Inaugurating the conference, CPI(ML) district secretary Com. Bhuvaneshwar Kewat said that women are the most vulnerable section in Jharkhand. When even the women working in the Chief Minister’s Jan Samvad Centre are not safe, we can imagine the condition of women in the State. The State has become notorious for trafficking of women. Local leaders, police, and agents are in cahoots to exploit women, especially in adivasi areas. The ongoing global investment summit will serve to increase the atrocities on women.
The conference, attended by 50 representatives, elected a 13 member district committee.
Imminent plans: to expand the organization; increasing circulation of “Aadhi Zameen” and forming study circles; expand the work among working women; forming a legal aid cell to help in cases of human rights violation and domestic violence and increasing the outreach of AIPWA among (women) students.
CPI(ML) activists held a dharna in front of the mini Secretariat in Karnal on 16 February against the wrongful action of demolition in Baba Ramdev Colony by the Government. Addressing the dharna, Haryana CPI(ML) leader Prem Singh Gehlawat said that the recent action of the government in demolishing houses and shops in Baba Ramdev Colony is an anti-people and highly condemnable step. He demanded that the government should pay compensation for the houses and shops demolished and give a guarantee of housing to the affected people. He said that if the government wanted to carry out such a step it should have acted against the land mafia who are flourishing under the government’s protection. Instead, the government is demolishing the modest houses and shops built by the common people with their hard-earned money. He stressed that the CPI(ML) would continue to fight for the rights of the common and working people.
Many party leaders and people from different walks of society attended the dharna and expressed their condemnation of the government’s anti-people action. At the conclusion of the dharna a memorandum was submitted to the Chief Minister of Haryana through the Deputy Commissioner, Karnal. The the dharna were conducted by CPI(ML) District Secretary Mahendra Singh Chopra.
The CPI(ML) Sangharsh Yatra in protest against the amendments to the CNT-SPT Act and to demand ownership rights to gair-majrua and forest lands, was held from Ulihatu to Ranchi in front of the Raj Bhavan on 8 February 2017. The Yatra witnessed participation by thousands of people including adivasis, Sadans (non-adivasi original Jharkhnandis), and urban poor. A 7-point charter of demands with 50,000 signatures was submitted to the Governor.
The Sangharsh Sabha held in front of the Raj Bhavan began with tributes and a 2-minute silence for late Com Srilata Swaminathan and the martyrs of Bundu, Gola and Badkagaon police firings. The meeting was addressed by former MLA Vinod Singh and other leaders. The speakers said that the BJP government in the State has perpetrated the most of attacks on adivasis and their land, Tapkara, Koyalkara, Khunti, and Bokaro incidents being some examples. The CNT-SPT Act has been secured after long struggles like the Santhal agitation and the Birsa Ulgulan, and we will not allow the Raghuvar government to snatch away the Jal-Jangal-Jameen (water, land, and forests) of Jharkhand and hand them to corporate houses. The government’s global investment summit is a fresh chapter in the series of land loot. We have seen that the displaced receive lathis instead of employment and compensation. The issues of workers and farmers are missing from Raghuvar-Modi’s “achhe din”. MNREGA wages are far from the State’s minimum wages. The domicile policy of the State government is a cruel joke on the unemployed locals. Scams are rife in recruitment and appointments. The Union budget proposes to give tax benefits to big companies. Those who died due to demonetization must be compensated before toll tax companies are given compensation. The government’s policies are anti-poor, as evident from the increase in holding tax, LPG cylinder prices, electricity, water and other services. By denying receipts to “dakhalkars” (occupants) of gair-majarua land and forest lands, the government is snatching away their ownership rights.
CPI(ML) has strongly condemned the attempts by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to influence the Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections 2017 through communal polarization. Com. Ramji Rai, UP state secretary pointed out that the BJP leaders were raising issues targeting a particular community during their election campaign, inciting religious passions in their speeches and violating the election code of conduct. He also wrote to the CEC drawing the attention of the Election Commission to the following points:
1. The BJP says in its manifesto that it will make an “Anti-Romeo Squad”. Though BJP President Amit Shah says that this is for the protection of girl students in educational institutions Sunil Bharla, one of the national co-conveners of their party, is openly giving the reference of “Love Jehad” in context of the Muzaffarnagar riots and saying that this squad is for protecting Hindu women against Muslim boys.
2. BJP star campaigner Yogi Adityanath is also openly citing the dangers of “Love Jehad” in his campaign speeches and giving this same definition of the “Anti-Romeo Squad”. Going further, he is indulging in spreading communal poison through his election rallies to further polarize the atmosphere in Western Uttar Pradesh which is already in the grip of communal tension. In this attempt he has fanned the issues of the Ram Mandir, rumours of migration from Kairana, closure of slaughter-houses etc. Similarly, on the final day of campaign before the second phase of voting he told lies in his election speech in Jalalabad (Shahjahanpur district) and tried to inflame communal passions.
3. During the campaign by Union Minister Sanjeev Balliyan (on 12 February 2017) threats of a dharna on a particular issue in Bijnor were made in an attempt to create polarization against people from a minority community.
4. Leaders from the BJP and its affiliated organizations have recently tried to circulate CDs of the Muzaffarnagar riots and to glorify the murder of Akhlaq (in Dadri) in order to create communal polarization and gain electoral benefits.
5. The BJP is consistently targeting minorities and trying to create hostility towards them. Their demand to remove the Uttar Pradesh DGP also seems part of this calculated strategy. The manner in which the BJP and their leaders are campaigning with the strategy of mobilization on the basis of religion is not only a violation of the directions of the Supreme Court but also a violation of the election code of conduct.
He further urged the CEC to take required action to ensure that peace, communal harmony, and justice are not vitiated.
On 12 February, the foundation day of All India Progressive Women’s Association was observed at the historic village ‘Boddapadu’ of Palasa mandal of Srikakulam district. Com. Aruna, State President of AIPWA, Andhra Pradesh hosted the AIPWA flag and addressed the members. She criticized the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Chandrababu Naidu for failing to fulfil his election promises to the people. She said that the CM had reduced the AP government to an event management firm, and his own role to an events manager as he was busy organising events one after another in AP while failing to address the everyday concerns of the people of the state. With the active support from Modi government, the AP state government was spending lakhs of rupees on his personal and party advertisements. However, when Anganwadi women workers asked for their rightful wages the government sent the police force to bulldoze their protest. Com. Nagamani, state AIPWA secretary, Com. Vijaya, T. Varalakshmi, Tulasi, Anapurna and Jogiswari participated in the founding day celebration.
The CPI(ML) has condemned the killing of Chandan, a 20-year-old youth in Phulwarisharif who reportedly informed the police of illegal liquor trade. An inquiry team led by MLA Mahboob Alam visited the spot and demanded a high-level enquiry into the incident as the purported reasons for the murder lack credibility. While it is true that liquor is being manufactured in the locality, there is no proof that this was being done in the house where murder took place. That family is engaged in the wood trade and allegations of liquor manufacture do not appear credible. The other reason given for the murder that a cricket ball entered the house also appears flimsy and baseless. Therefore, a proper enquiry must be held into the incident. The team also found that under pretext of this incident the houses of mahadalits, poor and very backward communities settled for years on the banks of the canal have been burnt and destroyed, and this was done in the presence of the police. The people have been forced to flee and the locality wears a deserted look. The Party demands that the government should give these people homestead lands and should rehabilitate the displaced people. The government should also give adequate compensation to Chandan’s family and the families of the poor whose homes have been burnt or destroyed should also be compensated and rehabilitated. 15 homes have been destroyed including those of Devnandan Rajak, Sanjay Rajak, Upendra Rajak, Munarik Sao, Niranjan Devi and Neelam Devi.
A dharna was called by CPI(ML) in Hyderabad to protest against the anti-people policies of the Modi government which have caused a havoc on the lives of people especially the poor and marginalised. The protestors criticised the Modi government’s demonetization whose ill effects on lives and livelihoods refused to subside even after nearly 3 months of the announcement of demonetisation.
Puducherry Unit of AIPWA held an agitation on 14 February demanding closure of liquor shops on National and state highways as per directives. A large number of women assembled in front of the State Excise department office. They raised slogans against Narayanasamy government’s inaction in implementing the Supreme Court Order. The agitators also demanded immediate permanent closure of all arrack shops in entire UT of Puducherry.
The other demands of the agitators were:
Balasubramanian, State Secretary CPI(ML), T. Gowri, State Secretary AIPWA, Motilal, Vice President AICCTU, P. Murugan, Construction workers’ leader, R. Jeyaraj, RYA, D. Govindaraj, AISA, A. Lourdmary, AIPWA addressed the demonstrators.