For over a month , the Terai- Bhabar Kisan Sabha (TBKS) has been leading a movement of poor peasants who supply milk to the milk producers’ cooperative federation, Lalkuan in district Nainital of Uttarakhand. TBKS leader Bahadur Singh Jangi, AISA State President Indresh Maikhury, along with Devendra Rautela, President AISA unit in Nainital, Pankaj Vidrohi, and Gajendra Sah, a TBKS activist have been arrested by the administration on fake charges and have been in jail for several weeks, while dozens of Party leaders are now facing arrest warrants against them.
The struggle started with an intensive campaign to get rid of corruption in the co-operative dairy federation and to provide appropriate prices of milk being sold by peasants to the cooperative and other demands on a 12-point charter. It intensified with the move to hand over the profit making cooperative, to which most small households of the region owe their livelihood, to Mother Dairy. This move to privatise, goes against the basic norms of self-reliance of the cooperative movement. TBKS activists have been on an indefinite hunger strike in Lalkuan since Jan 18 and till now three batches of hunger strikers have been removed, arrested and force-fed by the police. On Jan 24 agitators held a chakka-jam in Lalkuan for more than two hours on the national highway and gheraoed the elected Chairman of the Uttaranchal Cooperative Dairy Federation when hundreds of people forcibly entered inside his lush offices. On Jan 28 morning, Comrade Jangi was forcibly taken away by the police from the site of the hunger-strike and severely beaten up on the way to jail inside the police car. Later he was implicated under the 7th Criminal Amendment Act along with many other criminal sections of the IPC.
This was widely protested in many places and on Jan 30 a much bigger protest and road blockade was held at Lalkuan which jammed the highway for the whole day.
Later on Feb 3, three above-mentioned AISA leaders and Gajendra Sah were picked up by the police from the dharna site and sent to jail. This was done a day before the Chief Minister ND Tiwary had to address a gathering organised by Congress for the coming elections in Haldwani, clearly to avoid any protest in front of him.
Peasants have been demanding a Rs. 3 per litre hike in milk procurement prices and scrapping of a joint venture agreement with the Mother Dairy and a scientific reevaluation of the price-fixing criterion, which has now become decades old.
On February 10, a gherao of the local thana at Lalkuan was held, demanding the immediate release of Bahadur Singh Jangi and other leaders, withdrawal of all cases framed against them, and an agreement on the demand charter. More than 80 party activists and supporters, including more than twenty women, were arrested and sent to Haldwani jail on Feb 10.
The indefinite hunger strike movement by TBKS on the 12-point charter of demands continues.
Inaugurating the impressive opening session of the 3 rd National Conference of RYA CPI(ML) GS Comrade Dipankar issued a call of ‘Badla Lo – Badal Dalo’ to youth. He called upon youth to avenge the crimes and betrayal of the rulers, committed against youth and the nation. He said that instead of fulfilling his promise of providing one crore jobs to youth, the Vajpayee government had forced crores of them out of jobs and brought millions of workers and peasants to the brink of starvation and suicide. He called upon the youth to unite with the struggles of the peasants and workers and dislodge the anti-people from the seat of power. Referring to the reign of terror unleashed against the revolutionary forces, Com. Dipankar said that by arresting revolutionary youth or killing some of them, they can’t demoralize the forces of social change and stop them from fulfilling the dreams of our great martyrs.
The open session, in which hundreds of young people from all over India took part, was addressed by Mahendra Singh, CC Member CPI(ML) and MLA, Jharkhand Assembly, AISA general Secretary Sunil Yadav, RYA General Secretary Lal Bahadur Singh and youth leaders Babaji Aher from Pune, Md. Salim, Jaitu Deshmukh, and Tapan Mishra. RYA president Mithilesh Yadav presided over the open session. The open session was preceded by an impressive and colourful youth march from Gandhi Maidan to the conference venue in Shahid-e-Azam Bhagat Singh Nagar, (Jhumri Tilaiya, Koderma), which rang with slogans “Rozgar nahin to sarkar Nahin”, and “bhrasht satta par chot do, yuva andolan par jor do”.
300 delegates from 10 states participated in the delegate session, which began with the presentation of the draft report by the General Secretary. After a lively discussion the report was adopted unanimously. The conference adopted a five point youth agenda. The Conference called for resistance to imperialist assaults on our sovereignty, and against saffronisation and communal fascism. It resolved to target unemployment, social issues like health and other public services, corruption and criminalisation.
The Conference elected a 51-member National Council. Tapan Mishra was elected President and Kamlesh Sharma as General Secretary, Md. Salim, Rajkumar Yadav, and Amarjeet Kushwaha as Vice-Presidents, and Om Prakash Singh, Subroto Sen Gupta, and Paramhans Kumar as Secretaries.
The conference resolved to launch “Badla Lo- Badal Dalo” Sandesh Yatras to culminate in Siwan on March 31, the martyrdom day of Comrade Chandrasekhar. The Conference demanded that the killer Shahabuddin be punished and debarred from contesting elections as well as shifted from Siwan jail. The Conference also demanded an immediate release of Rajkumar Yadav, popular CPI (ML) leader from Jharkhand, and newly elected RYA national vice president.
On 15 December , Mazdoor Mukti Morcha held a "Mazdoor Chetna Bicycle March" in Mansa district of Punjab on the demand of a National Law for Agrarian Labourers. Marchers started from Baba Bujha Singh Bhawan, CPI(ML) headquarters in Punjab (Mansa) and reached Dalelsinghwala village, from where the March began. It was led by Bhagwant Singh Samao, President of Mazdoor Mukti Morcha and other local leaders. The marchers had come from 30-35 villages. The march will continue for a whole month aiming at imbuing consciousness among the agrarian labourers of their rights. The Mazdoor Mukti Morcha has planned to launch a campaign on an integrated programme including demands of putting a stop to the practice of begar (corvee) by the dalit agrarian labourer women in the form of cleaning animals’ excretions at the landlords’ houses, bonded labour system, cancellation of debts on agrarian labourers and better wages. Punjab Government has snatched away whatever amenities enjoyed by the agrarian labourers so long, and these anti-labourer policies have increased the economic burden on the back of agrarian labourers. Large-scale mechanisation has snatched away avenues of employment and the rural poor are bound to run from pillar to post in search of jobs. The march aims at mobilising the agrarian labourers against these policies under the slogan “Safeguard your dignity, employment and safety”. The march was flagged off by CPI(ML) State Leading Team Secretary Comrades Rajvinder Singh Rana and Jita Kaur.
Indian Institute of Marxist Studies (IIMS), Dalit Christian Forum and Pragatipara Prajatantrika Vedike jointly organised a seminar in Bangalore on 14th February, 2004. IIMS state convener Dr. Lakshminarayana made the introductory remarks. The forenoon session on “Marxism and Dalit Question” was addressed by Dr.B.M.Puttiah, Hampi University, Rev. Manohar Chandra Prasad, Dalit Christian Forum and was chaired by Dr. Vijay Poonacha, Hampi University. The afternoon session on “Annihilation of Caste – From the Left and Dalit Perspective” was addressed by V.Shankar, CCM, G.N.Nagaraj, State Secretary of CPI(M), Hebbale Lingaraju of DSS and S.Venkataramanappa of Pragatipara Prajatantrika Vedike and was chaired by Prof.Hasan Mansoor, State President of PUCL.
The seminar was attended by a cross-section of left and dalit activists. The seminar was an attempt for healthy dialogue on the sensitive issue. Our Party’s position presented by Shankar was well received and provoked a remark that if Gujarat was an experimental lab for communal forces, Bihar is the experimental lab for the annihilation of caste for CPI(ML).