Police on a rampage in Sonebhadra

RECENTLY AN incident of large-scale police violence took place in a small village of district Sonebhadra. In the village Narkati which is surrounded by thick jungle for miles and is barely connected by road, police went on a virtual rampage. The background was a clash between the police and the MCC. Though the police was forced to retreat and the MCC activists took to the jungles, it was not the end of the battle. The police promptly rushed to the nearby village Khutahar, randomly beat up people and picked up 7 innocent men and took them to Naugarh Police station. As soon as Block Pramukh and CPI(ML) leader, Basmati Kol heard of the incident, she collected some hundred people from Khutahar, of which some 65 were women and began a sit-in protest in front of the thana. She had an altercation with the SO of Naugarh who informed them that the 7 arrested persons had been taken to Chakia for interrogation by higher officials. He first claimed to have been present where the persons had been caught during an encounter. When asked if they were in possession of arms, he did not seem to know saying ‘Bade Sahab can tell you everything.’ The Dharna continued till 1 a.m. the next morning. Later on when the protesters went to Chakia they were informed that the seven had been released.

On 17th May two dead bodies -- one of a constable and another of a forest guard were found near Narkati. On 18th morning police, PAC, CRPF swooped down on the village in large numbers. The brutality unleashed by them cannot be measured in words. Anyone between the age of 2 to 60 was beaten up, maximum torture being meted out to young men. Old men and women were thrown mercilessly on the ground -- you could see tears in their eyes as they showed their bruises. Even women were not spared.

Next morning, Basmati gheraoed the police station with more than 200 people. Six of the arrested people were released and the rest sent to Chokaghat (Varanasi) under section 302 IPC. Around 50 were sent to the Govt. hospital with grievous injuries. The doctors refused to treat them, demanding exorbitant fees. The struggle continues as fear stalks the village and inhabitants flee into the jungle on the slightest sound of a jeep. Few days back a similar police raid was conducted in Parasia village. Several have been arrested. The only charge is that the villagers are providing shelter to Naxalites.

Varanasi firing on peasants

BABATPUR AIRPORT, located at a distance of 18 kms northwest of Varanasi, along the Jaunpur Marg, has been constructed on land acquired by the government. On 21 May, about 40-50 villagers, men and women, were protesting against non-payment of compensation to those displaced due to construction of the Airport. Women tried to stall the construction of the boundary wall, which was being raised in order to expand the Airport. The SDM, present there, began to physically push the women back, while the police began to brutally beat them with lathis. Some of the women’s bodies were mercilessly pierced with the ends of the lathis, resulting in severe injuries. When a peasant, Radheyshyam Pal protested, he was beaten up so brutally that he ended up with multiple fractures in his limbs. Members of the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti as well as local grampradhans as well as other kisan leaders who were present at the site, were virtually stuffed like sacks of potatoes into the police jeep and whisked away to the local thana.

As the news of the incident spread, around 200 kisans and villagers collected on the spot in protest. They had barely collected there when the SDM, who was donning a helmet and was brandishing revolvers in both hands, began firing and ordered the police to open fire on the innocent villagers. In the subsequent incident of police firing, one of the peasants, Mewalal was killed, another had a bullet hole in the chest, two others had bullets embedded in their thighs, while a dozen others had bullet injuries. Several women were also grievously injured. 

The entire area got converted into a police camp and several political leaders began to visit the area. At night when the police began to force Mewalal’s family members to perform his last rites, and they refused, his daughters and daughters-in-law were mercilessly beaten up.

To give special facilities to tourists, 133 acres of land belonging to 115 peasants had been taken over. However, it was decided that compensation would be granted according to the valuation of 1882.The peasants, in order to fight for their land, had appealed in the High Court. It was only when the High Court refused to intervene, that they began to resort to other means like approaching almost every MLA in the area for support. Even after this failed, they independently began to organise under the banner of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti and raise their demands. Finally, an amicable solution was reached which was signed by the district authorities as well as leaders of the KSS.

Even after a written agreement, the DM started getting the wall constructed, violating it. Only a small part of the compensation was paid. Again the Kisan leaders met the DM and pressed for the remaining compensation as well as an inquiry into the acquisition of land in excess of that agreed upon, plus other irregularities. The peasants waited till the 20th and when nothing was done, they decided to proceed to stop work so that their demands would be heeded. The SDM refused to talk and what followed has stunned the democratic conscience of the state of UP.

The very next day Rajnath Singh, CM, shamelessly sent his wife to the hospital with compensation cheques for the victims. One of the deceased’s wife threw away in sheer anger a cheque that was being offered to her. 

On 22 May the CPI(ML) leader and spokesperson of UP Khet Mazdoor Sabha, Rajesh Sahni went with a team to the area and demanded that the SDM and SO be arrested and tried for genocide. he also declared a week-long relay fast from 25 May onwards.

On 25 may State Secretary of CPI(ML) Com. Akhilendra Pratap Singh visited the area and demanded a stop to the killing spree the Rajnath Singh’s regime. He appealed to all progressive and Left Forces to come together in the struggle.

First Conference of UP Khet Mazdoor Sabha

THE FIRST conference of Uttar Pradesh Agricultural Labourers’ Union was organised at the Town Hall, Ballia on May 1, 2001. The conference began by paying homage to veteran leader Comrade Dipak Bose and other martyrs. Inaugurating the conference, the UP State Secretary of CPI(ML), Comrade Akhilendra Pratap Singh said that the agrarian labourers should come out of the clutches of casteism and assert as an independent political force. The agrarian labourers’ movement had established its political identity, growing beyond militant struggles on economic and political issues. It should establish a broader mass base. Referring to the Mirzapur bandh on 21st March against Bhavanipur massacre, Comrade Singh said that the it was for the first time in the eastern region (purvanchal region) of UP, thousands of agrarian labourers had come out on the streets and established that they wanted political solution to their problems. They should be assimilated into the organisation and given a revolutionary orientation.

He emphasised that the Sangh Parivar had established close ties with imperialist forces and through the market economy they had detached so many producers from production and forced them to stand in the queues of the unemployed. Seventy per cent of these producers comprised rural poor and they should be organised as a class force, he said. After the inaugural speech, Comrade Krishna Adhikari presented the draft document of the UP Khet Mazdoor Sabha. According to her report, the implementation of the WTO accords in agriculture, the increasing imports of agricultural commodities, and the introduction of modern machinery in agriculture have rendered 70% of the agricultural population unemployed. In eastern UP and the Terai area of UP, known for the green revolution, the labourers don’t get more than 40 to 45 days of work. The minimum wages are not increasing and remain at Rs.20 to 25 per day. Dalits, adivasis and fishermen are being dispossessed of their traditional land holdings including forest lands, village common properties and ponds etc. The landlords and mafia gangs are seizing these lands. The bonded labour system and the tradition of ‘work without pay’ are being implemented openly. Different types of private taxes are being extorted from the rural poor. The usures are lending money at a very high interest rates and recovering their dues forcefully from the poor. 

The barbaric suppression of agrarian labourers and poor peasants by the police, as in Bhavanipur, goes on unabated. Women are paid only half the wages compared to men for the same amount of work. If they raise their voices for dignity, self-respect, and against sexual exploitation and harassment, they are beaten, paraded naked and subjected to gang rape, Ms. Krishna Adhikari said in her report. The document stressed giving formal organisational shape to the mass of agricultural labourers under our influence, and forming teams of activists to develop leadership. It emphasised the culture of hard work and the work style of staying with the masses. It identified combining of numerous grassroots struggles with political initiatives from above as the main challenge. 

Against a target of 50,000, the membership enrolment for the Khet Mazdoor Sabha stood at 23,000. District level conference of the organisation has been held only in one district. The conference took up the task of holding conferences and forming committees at village, block and district level and completing membership target. About 200 participants from 20 districts attended the conference. 26 delegates participated in debates on the document, which was later passed unanimously.

A 19-member state committee was formed with Ms.Krishna Adhikari as the president, Sriram Chowdhary as secretary, and Rajesh Sahani as vice-president, office secretary and spokesperson of the UP Khet Mazdoor Sabha.


Peasant conventions against WTO

UNDER THE banner of Haryana Kisan Sabha a convention of peasant activists was organised at Prajapati Dharamsala, in Asand, a tehsil headquarters of Karnal district. About 50 activists from four districts, Panipat, Jind, Kaithal and Karnal, participated in the convention. The convention was organised against the adverse impact of WTO on the Indian farmers. The main slogan was: Lootera Baghao, Kisan Bachao; Bhagva Hatao, Desh Bachao (Kickout the looters, Save Peasants; Oust Saffron, Save Nation”. The main speakers at the convention were Comrade Prem Singh Gehlawat, CPI(ML) Incharge of Haryana and Convener of Haryana Kisan Sabha and Comrade Karamvir Rana. The meeting was conducted by Ramkishan.

It was decided at the convention to enroll 2000 members for the Kisan Sabha and collect 25,000 signatures in the ongoing nationwide signature campaign.

Another meeting was organised at Nilokehri (Karnal) which was conducted by Mahendra Chopra and was addressed by Comrades Prem Singh Gehlawat, Ramkkishan, Ramkumar Gyan Singh and Jaibhagwan.


On the issue of separate statehood for Telengana

(Resolution adopted by Andhra Pradesh State Leading Team of CPI(ML) Liberation)

THE DEMAND for separate statehood for Telengana has come to the fore once again. The recent formation of three new states of Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh, and the decision of a section of the TDP to leave the party and form Telengana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) to champion the demand, have added new fillip to it.

Though the demand has caused concern among those who cherish the unity of the “Telugu-speaking nationality”, persistent feelings of neglect, deprivation and backwardness among the people of Telengana have made this a popular demand. The World Bank-dictated policies of Mr. Chandrababu Naidu’s government, which have failed to address backwardness but have further aggravated regional uneveness and lopsided growth, have only fuelled this demand. In this sense, Mr. Naidu is squarely responsible for the sense of alienation among the people of Telengana and the revival of this demand at this juncture. Far from realising the folly of his own anti-people and anti-development policies, Mr. Naidu is blaming his political opponents for the rise of this demand and calling it their conspiracy.

The BJP and the Congress are playing a double-game on this issue by trying to cash in people’s sentiments in Telengana without taking any concrete stand on the issue. Since strong aspirations for development and equality underlies this demand, the CPI(ML) Liberation considers this a democratic demand of the people of Telengana and demands that the Centre should constitute a Second States Reorganisation Commission to consider this and certain other similar demands like that of Vidarbha.

At the same time, the CPI(ML) Liberation notes with concern that reactionary forces have come to the fore today to champion the demand, whose role in various other democratic struggles of the people of Telengana have hitherto been nil. CPI(ML) Liberation appeals to the people of Telengana to be vigilant against such right-wing forces and against any possible attempt to steer the movement along sectarian and chauvinistic lines, which would only weaken the united Left-led movement of the people of all regions of the state of Andhra Pradesh against the World Bank-dictated policies of the TDP government.



AIPWA forces a Tata group company to remove anti-women hoardings 

Titan, a Tata group company, had put up hoardings in Patna to advertise its gold jewellery marketed under the brand name Tanishq. The billboard read Vivah zewar shuddh na hon to beti par kya gujregi (Imagine what will happen to your daughter if the bridal jewellery has not been made of pure gold!). AIPWA protested against this offensive anti-women hoarding. AIPWA leader Comrade Saroj Choubey, accompanied by leading women activists of Patna like litterateur Usha Kiran Khan, broadcaster Ratna Purkavastha, newsperson Seema Sujani, editor of Talash magazine Mira Dutta, Patna University teacher Bharati S. Kumar, and district board members Damayanti Sinha and Leela Verma went to the Tital showroom and lodged a strong protest. Their protest memorandum noted that the advertisement justified dowry and resorted to emotional blackmail of women for selling jewellery. When the local officials of the company pleaded helplessness putting the onus on their corporate headquarters in Bangalore, the protest message was sent there with the demand that they remove all such hoardings immediately. Soon, under instructions from the company headquarters, all the five such hoardings put up at different places in Patna were removed. 



Workers Solidarity Conference in Dhanbad

WORKERS’ SOLIDARITY Conference was held at Dhanbad on 10 June at Railway Club in which workers from 11 trade unions belonging to railways, coal, steel, bank, steel, telecom, postal, RMS, Central Govt. Employees Association, Coal (CIITEA), insurance (LIC) and Jharkhand State Govt. non-gazetted employees (NGEF) participated through their unions. Com. CM Singh of AIREC inaugurated the conference. Com. Pradeep Jha, Editor of Shramik Solidarity, Patna, was the chief guest and Com. Upendra Singh, General Secretary of Coal Mines Workers Union (CMWU) was the main speaker at the conference.

Com. Sukhdev Prasad of All India Railway Engineering Workers Association presented the theme paper of the conference. Com. Hira Prasad of telecom union NFTE, Com. Deodeep Singh Diwakar of Centre of Steel Workers, Com. Arun Singh of CMWU and Com. BN Ghosh from Sindri FCI also addressed the delegates. The conference adopted five resolutions (i) Wage agreeent for steel workers be concluded immediately, (ii) Illegal lockout in Valley Refractories in Kumardhubi be lifted and affected workers be given living allowance by state govt. (iii) Declaring BCCL and ECL as sick industry be opposed; (iv) Plan to revive FCI in Sindri be implemented at the earliest; and (v) Privatisation, contractualisation and downsizing in railways be opposed. The conference also decided to organise a massive workers convention in September this year. A 25-member committee of Workers Solidarity Forum (WSF) was formed in the conference and Com. BR Singh of AIREC Dhanbad was elected its convenor, who made the concluding speech. Six seats of WSF Committee are still lying vacant. Representatives from sectors like GIC (insurance), AIBEA (Bank employees) etc. who could not attend the conference due to some other engagement have also expressed their willingness to join it and they will be soon accommodated in the Committee.



Panchayat Members’ Convention in Bihar

BIHAR STATE Committee of the Party organised a massive convention of newly elected representatives to local bodies, i.e., ward members, mukhiyas, block panchayat samiti and district panchayat samiti members, on 6 June at Arrah in Bhojpur. Addressing the meet, Party General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya called for ushering in a new political chapter in the history of Bihar by waging a decisive battle against Ranvir Sena on the basis of worker-peasant unity. He said that the powerful victory of the poor everywhere from Bathe to Bathani Tola and Shankarbigha to Senari has proved that the countdown of this maneater army has begun and the people of Bhojpur have declared that they would no longer tolerate the forces of massacre and violence.

The Party General Secretary emphasised that the massive victory of rural poor in panchayat elections is the indicator of their increasing independent assertion. This struggle must be taken to its ultimate goal -- the struggle for political power and to this end panchayats must become centre of struggle for acquiring the right to take policy decisions.

Com. Dipankar pointed out that the poor agrarian labourers are always prepared to forge struggling unity with middle and rich peasantry against the agricultural policy introduced by anti-national, pro-imperialist forces. He called upon all the progressive, democratic forces, who want to reinforce this assertion of the rural poor, to join hands with CPI(ML).

The convention was also addressed by Com. Ramjatan Sharma, Secretary of Party’s Bihar State Committee, ex-MLA Com. Chandradeep Singh, and newly elected district panchayat members Com. Kamta Prasad Singh, Kapil Sau, Mukesh Ram, Indu Devi, Krishna Prasad Gupta; mukhiyas Rajeshwar Mushahar, Zakir Hussain, Shivmangal Yadav, Rajkumar Chaudhary, Jagdish Pal and block panchayat members Chandradhan Rai, Rajendra Singh, Sanjay Singh and Kanhaiya Thakur. State Convenor of Bihar Pradesh Khet Mazdoor Sabha Com. Rameshwar Prasad presided over the convention.



People’s Forum against Globalisation in Rajasthan

PEOPLE’S FORUM Against Globalisation has been formed in Rajasthan and it held a seminar on 29th April 2001 in Jaipur in which many aspects of globalisation were debated. Shri S. P. Shukla, convenor of the People’s Campaign against Globalisation, who addressed the seminar laid emphasis on India’s losing its sovereignty to the USA and the need for people of all walks of life to come together to oppose this. Renowned journalist, Shri Prabash Joshi, who spoke on the devastating fall-out of globalisation on the working people of India, warned that within five years crores of farmers would lose their lands on be on the streets. The seminar was presided over by the former Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Shri Rabi Ray who outlined how successive governments had sold the country to MNCs. The meeting was also addressed by Shri Savai Singh, Samagra Seva Sang, Srilata Swaminathan, CPI-ML, Shri Prem Kishen Sharma, State President PUCL, Shir Ram Kishen Sharma, Samajwadi Party and many others. The Forum plans to formulate an action plan for Rajasthan.