Rural Workers Protest at Jindal Steel Plant in Jharkhand
Hundreds of rural workers and farmers took out a protest march at village Kurse on 17 August 2017 under the banners of the All India Kisan Mahasabha and the Jharkhand Gramin Mazdoor Sabha, Bhurkunda. They marched for 4 km raising slogans on the issues of crop compensation, guarantee of villagers’ health, education, employment and safety through JSL CSR funds (5% of the profits), and minimum wages for unorganized workers. The march was stopped by the police at the Main Gate, where a protest meeting was then held in the face of the JSPL’s obstinate attitude and refusal to accept the protesters’ memorandum.
Steel Plant A Havoc for Villagers’ Lives
The leaders addressing the meeting said that the flow of rain water has been blocked by the OB dump, construction of compound wall, and wrongly constructed road and small culverts from the Ghorghora river at Bhandra to Kurse. This has resulted in complete destruction of the paddy crop in village Kurse, Ghorghora Tola, Bhandra, Gegda, Kusiyara, Balkudra and other villages due to the monsoon rains in 2017. Fields have been eroded and sand, mud, and stones have been deposited in fields, wells and ponds. This has caused property loss worth crores to hundreds of families and thousands of persons in this area. Many rural poor and adivasi farmers dependent on agriculture are faced with starvation. After the meeting, under public pressure, the Manager accepted the memorandum from the farmers. The main demands of the memorandum are: Rs 500 per decimal of land to the affected farmers; mud, sand and stones clogging the fields and water sources should be removed; bridges, culverts, and compound walls should be constructed in a proper scientific way in order to avoid repetition of such a calamity.
The protesters issued a warning to the Jindal Company that if their demands are not considered seriously and a speedy solution found, an even bigger protest would be held in the coming days and the Jindal dispatch-transporting would be paralyzed.
Second Phase of Kisan Mukti Yatra
National Vice President of All India Kisan Mahasabha Prem Singh Gehlawat held a Press Conference at the State Office in Karnal on 20 August 2017. He stated that a second Kisan Mukti Yatra would be held, also under the banner of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti. The second lag of Kisan Mukti Yatra will start from martyr Pahlu Khan’s village in Nooh (Mewat), traverse through Rewari, Bhiwani, Jind, Narwana, Hissar, Fatehabad, Mansa (Punjab). Later, four more such Yatras will be undertaken in various parts of the country and lakhs of farmers will converge at the Ramleela grounds in Delhi on 20 November during the Winter Session of Parliament, where they will hold a parallel Parliament.
The aim of this Yatra is to free the farmers from the burden of loans and to get a purchase price one and a half times of the crop outlay.
Protests in Bihar Against Srijan Scam
For 10 years – beginning during the Rabri Devi regime in 2003, and spanning several Nitish-led regimes, the Srijan Mahila Sahyog Samiti Ltd – an NGO – calmly managed to siphon off an estimated Rs 1000 crore worth of public funds into its own coffers. This amazingly blatant scam – whereby authorities like DMs themselves ordered the Bhagalpur district administration’s welfare scheme funds to be deposited in the Srijan bank account – was made possible by the proximity of its founder, the late Smt. Manorama Devi, to powerful politicians like Sushil Kumar Modi and Giriraj Singh.
Sanjit Kumar, a chartered accountant based in Godda, Jharkhand, had flagged the scam in 2013 and warned Governments at Bihar and the Centre about it – to no avail, in spite of an RBI notice to the registrar of cooperative societies advising a probe. He had pointed out that Srijan had no authority to act like a bank, ithout permission from the RBI. An Indian Express investigation found the scam directly affected the lives of people. One of the key men to be arrested, Mahesh Mandal, has died – ostensibly of cancer and kidney disease – but his death has raised the spectre of Vyapam. According to the Bhagalpur SIT, two politicians – former state vice president of BJP Kisan Morcha Bipin Sharma and RLSP district president Deepak Verma – had a direct role in the scam. It was Bipin Sharma who introduced Manorama Devi to top politicians including Sushil Modi who was Bihar finance minister for a large part of the scam duration.
The CPI(ML) held a Bhagalpur Bandh on 19 August and statewide protests demanding the resignation of Sushil Modi, and pointing out the hollowness of Nitish Kumar’s ‘zero tolerance for corruption’ claims.
August Kranti March in Patna
AISA and RYA organized a ‘Sankalp March’ on 12 August 2017 in memory of the 7 students killed in the August Kranti. The march began from Patna College raising slogans resolving to fulfill the dreams of the 7 martyred students.
The meeting was presided over by Ramji Yadav. Addressing the meeting AISA State President Com. Mukhtar said that 9 August is a historic day in the fight for India’s freedom in 1942 when the decisive struggle was began to throw out imperialist forces from the country. Today those who govern our country are themselves on their knees in front of forces like America and Israel. Fascist attacks, divisive and violent thoughts and deeds are today being given government protection and an undeclared emergency has been imposed on the country. In such a situation, students and youth must remember the spirit of the 1942 movement and join the campaign for the right to education and employment, against the politics of hatred and violence. RYA District Secretary Manish Singh also addressed the meeting.
Left Parties Demonstrate against Gorakhpur Killings
Left parties organized demonstrations on 24 August 2017 at District headquarters across the State of Uttar Pradesh to protest against the killing of a large number of children at the Government BRD Medical College Hospital on 10-11 August due to cutting off supply of oxygen. The Yogi government was held responsible for these deaths and the resignation of the Chief Minister was demanded in the memorandum sent to the Governor of the State through the District Collectors. Apart from this the following demands were also included in the memorandum: punish the other persons guilty of criminal negligence; Rs 25 lakh each to the families of the victims as compensation; end cuts on Medical College funds and increase allotment of funds; improve the dismal conditions of health services; free vaccination in areas affected by encephalitis; arrangements for comprehensive and proper treatment of encephalitis patients.
In the capital city Lucknow, the CPI (ML) took out a protest march from Parivartan Chowk in Hazratganj, raising slogans against the Modi-Yogi governments, which culminated in a meeting at GPO. The meeting rejected the enquiry report submitted by the Chief Secretary of the State Government as covering up facts and protecting the chief culprits. Apart from Lucknow, the Left parties held protests at Kanpur, Allahabad, Moradabad, Mau, Maharajganj, Sonbhadra, Kheeri, Jalaun, Banda, Kushinagar and other districts.