The 7th Bihar State Conference was held successfully on 19 September 2017, at Srilata Swaminathan Hall, Kaushalya Devi Dais, at the Town Hall Siwan. The main slogans of the Conference were ‘No To Hate and Violence, We Want Dignity and Equality For All’ and ‘Sangh Brigade Beware – We Won’t Tolerate Atrocities On Women!’
The Conference began with the hoisting of the AIPWA flag by senior AIPWA leader Dhela Devi. The Conference was conducted by a 9-member Presidium led by State President Saroj Choubey. On the dais were senior AIPWA leader Kamli Devi, Rekha Devi of Araria whose husband Comrade Kamleshwari Rishidev was killed by feudal goons, Dika Kumari’s mother Kusmi Devi, among others. After the flag hoisting, tributes were paid to the martyrs and departed comrades. The open session was conducted by Shashi Yadav. Guests were greeted with shawls.
Inaugurating the Conference, AIPWA General Secretary Meena Tiwari said that not only was the country being engulfed in a climate of hatred, the PM was celebrating his birthday by submerging hundreds of villages in the name of the Sardar Sarovar Project. Rohingya Muslims are being threatened with deportation instead of offered refuge as they flee genocide. Fearless journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh was killed just as other voices of dissent against the RSS and Government were killed. Not only that, such killings are being celebrated online by abusive trolls whom the PM himself follows, and activists including AIPWA Secretary Kavita Krishnan, AISA leader Shehla Rashid, journalist Sagarika Ghose and writer Arundhati Roy are receiving death threats. Muslims are being killed and Dalits attacked in the name of cow-protection. A child like Junaid is killed on a train, Muslim families are scared of traveling by train. The RSS was banned after Sardar Patel held them responsible for the climate of hatred responsible for Gandhi’s murder. Today, the RSS instead of being banned is running the Government.
In this climate, Nitish Kumar has betrayed the Bihar mandate and is enforcing the BJP agenda. He is quiet on the Srijan Scam that looted development funds. Women and the poor are being humiliated in the name of Swacch Bharat, the poor are being devastated in the name of the draconian prohibition law. Meena Tiwari stressed the need to campaign among women to counter rumours about ‘hair cutting’, superstitions, backward customs and spread rational thinking instead.
The chief guest at the Conference was AISA National President Sucheta De who recalled Comrade Chandu, the AISA leader martyred at Siwan. She spoke of the verdicts given by campus after campus against the RSS student wing ABVP. She called for resistance against attempts by khaps, RSS outfits and others to enforce patriarchal diktats on women. She especially condemned the Kerala HC’s verdict ordering 24-year-old Hadiya to her father’s custody after she converted to Islam and married a Muslim man. She hailed the triple talaq verdict as a victory for the Muslim women’s movement. She called for support for women’s ongoing struggles to assert their rights to study, speak, and take decisions independently, as well as get recognized as Government employees in AHSA, anganwadi, mid-day meal jobs.
JNUSU’s ex General Secretary Chintu Kumari said that Modi is giving a slogan of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ but educated and assertive ‘daughters’ are being abused, insulted, threatened and even killed. Rapist babas like Ram Rahim are getting protection from the Government – she hailed the two women who courageously exposed Ram Rahim and secured justice in the face of all odds. Dalit schoolgirls like Dika Kumari, as well as schoolchildren and women students everywhere are in danger of violence in their own institutions all over the country.
Geeta Mandal, observer for the Conference, spoke of the extreme exploitation faced by women workers all over the country, and hailed the struggles of adivasi women against land grab. Senior leader Meera di reminisced about how the AIPWA movement had come a long way, and had even in the initial days begun strong movement against feudal-casteist and patriarchal practices and oppression. Today, she said, there is a need to draw on that experience to confront the fascist attacks on women’s rights today.
Kisan Mahasabha leader and former MLA Amar Yadav, RYA leader Yogendra Yadav and AISA leader Jaishankar Prasad also greeted the Conference.
Comrade Shashi Yadav presented the work report in the Conference, which was passed after being discussed and amended by the delegates. A 15-point resolution was also adopted by the Conference.
369 delegates from 23 districts of Bihar participated in the Conference, including a large number of mid-day meal, AHSA, anganwadi workers, and other rural women labourers. The delegates elected a 115-member State Council, a 35-member State Executive and re-elected Comrades Saroj Choubey as President and Shashi Yadav as Secretary. Damayanti Sinha, Savitra Devi, Indu Singh were elected Vice Presidents, and Anita Sinha, Sohila Gupta and Rita Barnwal were elected Joint Secretaries.
The Conference ended with singing of ‘We Shall Overcome’.