Vol. 20, No. 02

Left Parties To Jointly Fight Assembly Elections in Uttarakhand

Three Left parties—CPI, CPI(M) and CPI(ML) will jointly fight the coming Uttarakhand Assembly elections and will also run the election campaign jointly. The Left parties have declared that they will contest 25 Assembly seats. CPI will field candidates at Gangotri, Rudraprayag, Badrinath, Kotadwar, Dehradun Cantt., Mussoorie, Haridwar and Kashipur. CPI(M) will field candidates at Tharali, Kedarnath, Srinagar, Tehri, Ranipur, Sahaspur, Rajpur, Raipur, Sitarganj, Nankamata and Almora. CPI(ML) will field candidates at Lalkuan, Karnaprayag, Dharchula, Rudrapur and Ranikhet. Left parties will organize people’s conferences across the State in order to build a people’s alternative against the anti-people policies of the BJP and the Congress. These joint Left conferences will be held at Haldwani (13 January), Dehradun (16 January), Haridwar (17 January), Tehri (18 January), Rudraprayag (21 January), and Gopeshwar (22...

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Anti-Demonetization Protests on it’s 50th day

Durg, Chhattisgarh CPI (ML), AICCTU and Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha jointly organized a dharna protest at the Durg Manas Bhavan on 30 December on the completion of 50 days of the disastrous demonetization and submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister through the Durg DM on the travails faced by people due to demonetization. Jansunwai in Darbhanga A people’s hearing on demonetization was held at Laheriyaserai in Darbhanga under the joint banners of the CPI (ML) AIARLA, Kisan Mahasabha, AICCTU, AIPWA, AISA, RYA, and Insaf Manch. At the Jan Sunwai, Sheela, who works as a midwife in the hospital, said that she is finding it very difficult to run her household due to the demonetization distress. Kisan leader Pravin Yadav said that whereas earlier he used to sow crops in 5 bighas, this year he could barely sow crops in 1 bigha; farmers and sharecroppers are severely affected; seeds and fertilizers are unobtainable, paddy is not getting sold, and transport is affected due to lack of diesel. Sonu Yadav, a young man who sells fried snacks at Darbhanga Tower, said that his sales have been reduced to 30% after the demonetization disaster. SBI retired managed Akhilesh Kumar Choudhury said that a 56” chest is a requirement for a soldier, not for a Prime Minister. He pointed out that dishonouring a bank cheque is an offence under Section 301 and 321,...

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Workers Killed In Mine Accident in Jharkhand

On 29 December at 7.10 pm, an open cast Rajmahal mining project in the Lal Matia coal mine of the Eastern Coalfields Ltd in Godda, Jharkhand, caved in, burying alive more than 100 mine workers 300 feet below the ground. At least 18 workers are reported killed and a large number continued to be trapped, feared killed. Just four days ago, this mine had been closed when workers had raised safety concerns. But two days later the CMD RR Mishra came and surveyed the mine and ordered that mining be resumed and the mine work even be expanded. So the project management intensified the mining work. A Director General of Mines Safety officer Rajiv Guha from the ECL’s Kolkata Headquarters visited the mine. He also gave a green signal to the mining work. On the day of the accident also, a worker had warned at 2 pm itself that there were signs that the mine might cave in. But the Project Manager Pramod Kumar Singh just took an hour for a token safety inspection and then ordered the mining work resumed at 4 pm. News reports also state that workers again raised the alarm at 6 pm but to no avail. The mining is outsourced to three companies, of which the main one is the Mahalakshmi Company which is notorious for employing only migrant labour, not local labour, and...

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Construction Workers’ International Meet in Kerala

The 10th Asia Pacific Regional meeting of the Trade Union of International Workers in the Building, Wood Building, Material and Allied Industries (UITBB) was held in Kerala on 10 December 2016. Representatives of construction workers from countries including Japan, Cypress, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia and (through video conferencing) Pakistan attended the meeting, while many more were denied visas to attend by the Modi government. Representatives from the All India Construction Workers’ Federation affiliated to AICCTU and CWFI affiliated to CITU participated in the regional meeting and the executive committee meeting. The meeting focused on 3 main issues: 1. Health, safety and environment of construction and other workers 2. Increasing problems faced by migrant workers 3. Oppression and gender bias against women at the...

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Koderma Thermal Power Plant Workers’ Strike

Contract workers have been agitating since October 2016 for a 14 point charter of demands under the leadership of the Koderma (Banjhodih)Thermal Power Plant committee of the Jharkhand General Mazdoor Union. Over 500 contract workers are working in this plant. All of them are members of the contract workers’ union and have been active in the ongoing agitation. On 26 October and 4 November 2016 notices relating to the hartal were given to the management, after which talks took place on 22 November between the KTPP management and the union. But the management refused to fulfill any of the demands of the workers. Finally, the workers gave formal notice and went on an indefinite strike from 26 December 2016. Chief among their 14 demands are: DVC should implement the 42% increase in minimum wages as fixed by the Government of India; as per the Supreme Court verdict of 26 October 2016 contract workers of Banjhodih Power Plant should get basic salary and other facilities on par with permanent workers of DVC; contract workers doing maintenance work for more than 2 years should be given promotion; workers regularly working at heights should be paid height allowance with arrears; sanitation workers in the plant should be made at par with maintenance workers; contract workers engaged in maintenance work should be given CL/medical leave/night allowance/transport allowance/ESI and other facilities on par with...

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Attack on Mahadalits in Saharsa, Bihar

A settlement of mahadalits and other extremely oppressed castes in Purushottampur village, Sattar Kataiya block, Saharsa district was attacked by BJP-supported dominant caste forces on 25 December in order to grab their land. Chano Ram was killed in the attack and his brother Vakil Ram is battling for life at the PMCH. This attack was carried out under police protection. Four others are also seriously injured. CPI (ML) and AIARLA leaders visited the site of the incident and met the critically injured Ajay Ram, Mukesh Ram, Mithun Ram, and Shivendra Ram. CPI (ML) PB member Com. Amar and AIARLA National General Secretary Com. Dhirendra Jha met the injured Vakil Ram at PMCH.  Earlier, on 14 September 2016 also these same feudal forces had attacked Mahadalits. The victims had then tried to register a case against the perpetrators but their efforts went unheeded. This boosted the morale of criminal landlords Brahmadev Mukhiya, Sanjeev Singh and Rajeev Singh who attacked the village on 25 December and murdered Chano Ram. This attack was done with the aim of forcibly grabbing Bihar government land – which is rightfully allotted to the poor and dalits. The CPI (ML) team has demanded immediate action on the Saharsa SC-ST thana in-charge and the Bitra thanedar. They have demanded the immediate arrest of the accused, proper treatment for the injured, compensation and employment for the family of...

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Two CPI(ML) Leaders Killed in Bihar

Attack on Mahadalits in Araria Goons enjoying political protection of the ruling government and the RJD party launched a murderous attack on the poor belonging to Musahar Dalit community in Rahariya village, Bhargama block in Araria district, killing two CPI (ML) leaders, Comrade Satyanarayan Prasad (Araria district secretary) and Comrade Kamleshwari Rishidev. Several people have been gravely injured and 3 comrades are still missing. A Seemanchal Bandh is being held at the call of the CPI(ML) on 4 January 2017 to protest this atrocity. The JDU-RJD government that claims to stand for “social justice” continues to facilitate assaults on Dalits and the oppressed. Perpetrators of the murderous attack on Mahadalits in Rahariya belong to the nearby village of Belsara and are known to be close to the RJD. The attack in Araria is no isolatd incident – a series of attacks on Mahalit colonies to evict them from homesteads and land have taken place in Bihar in the past year – at Bhagalpur, Nalanda, and also in Saharsa just a few days ago. For the last 40 years Rahariya village has had about 35-40 houses of people of the Mahadalit Musahar community. They received the parcha (papers) for this land in 1975 itself, under land ceiling provisions.  Of the nearly 100 acres of land, they live in about 3 acres, do farming in 7 acres and the remaining land...

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Modi’s 50 Day Promise Broken

Relief From Neither Corruption Nor Note Ban Disaster Prime Minister Modi’s New Year’s Eve speech was significant for side-stepping all the issues raised by the Note Ban. Soon after his 8 November Note Ban announcement plunged the country into chaos and distress, the PM had appealed to the people of the country to “bear the pain for just 50 days.” If the troubles continued after December 30, he had said, he was “willing to face any punishment at any crossroads in the country.” In his 31 December speech, however, the PM made no mention of the 50-day deadline. He was silent on how far the self-proclaimed objectives of the Note Ban had been achieved. Exactly what percentage of the demonetized notes had proved to be ‘black money’ or ‘counterfeit money’ and destroyed? How many black money holders identified and punished? How come corruption seems to be flourishing just as much as ever, with new notes making their way in lakhs into the hands of the corrupt? How come, contrary to the PM’s claims, terror strikes continued unabated even after the Note Ban? Above all, the PM remained silent on exactly how long the cash shortage would last, and when exactly withdrawal limits from banks would be lifted. He failed even to acknowledge the enormous economic slowdown, wholesale destruction of jobs and devastation of agriculture caused by demonetization – let...

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