CPI(ML) Sankalp March on 6 December
On 6 December, on the 16th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition, CPI(ML) held ‘Sankalp March’ programmes all over the country to pledge to intensify the struggle against the divisive forces of terrorism, communalism and regional chauvinism. Condemning the terrorist assault on Mumbai, the CPI(ML) protests on 6 December rejected all prescriptions of dictatorship, army rule, war with Pakistan and partnership with the US as ‘solutions’ to make us secure. They demanded punishment for the perpetrators of the Babri Masjid demolition as well as the communal pogroms at Mumbai (1992), Gujarat (2002) and Kandhamal (Orissa) and Karnataka in 2008.
In Delhi the Sankalp March started from Mandi House and culminated in a mass meeting at Jantar Mantar. The march was led by CPI(ML) Politburo member Swadesh Bhattacharya, AICCTU General Secretary Swapan Mukherjee, AIPWA National Secretary Kavita Krishnan, CPI(ML) Delhi State Secretary Sanjay Sharma, AISA General Secretary Ravi Rai, JNUSU President Sandeep Singh, along with many democratic individuals, workers, and students. The meeting was addressed by the above activists as well as by noted journalist Jawed Naqvi, Tanweer Fazal of the Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Group and student activists of various universities in Delhi.
At Patna, the Sankalp March from Gandhi Maidan culminating in a meeting at Patna Junction Circle, was led by CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, Bihar State Secretary Nand Kishore Prasad, CCM K D Yadav, Saroj Chaube, Meena Tiwary, and BB Pande, AISA State Secretary Abhyuday, AICCTU State Secretary R N Thakur and AIPWA State Secretary Shashi Yadav. Apart from CPI(ML) leaders, the meeting was also addressed by Prof. Naval Kishore Chaudhury, Head of the Deptt of Economics, Patna University, former NIT professor Prof. Santosh Kumar, Prof. Amarnath Singh of Patna University, intellectuals and social activists like Arshad Ajmal, Father Philip Methra, Prakash Louis, Prof. Bharti S Kumar as well as Shri Kundan Singh, father of Rahul Raj, the young man from Bihar who was killed in a suspicious encounter in Mumbai.
The Sankalp March at Lucknow from Charbagh to the Assembly was led by UP State Secretary Sudhakar Yadav, as well as state committee members Kranti Kumar Singh, Madan Singh, Vidya Rajwar, Balmukund Dhuria, district secretary Shiv Kumar, Jan Sanskriti Manch convenor Kaushal Kishore, Ravindra Sinha, poet Shobha Singh, AIPWA National Vice President Tahira Hasan, PUHR General Secretary Dr. Brijbihari, AICCTU leader Hari Singh and many other activists.
Similar marches were also held at Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Allahabad, Moradabad, Mirzapur, Sonebhadra, Jalaun, Azamgarh and many other centres. An impressive March was held at Sikandarpur in Ballia, and marches were also held at two other centres in the same district.
Marches were also held at Ranchi, Gumla, Giridih, Ramgarh, Hazaribagh, Dumka, Jamtara, Bundu, Bagodar and Barwadih in Jharkhand; and Agartala, Kailasahar, Udaipur, Dharampur and other towns in Tripura.
Convention on Dalits' Rights in TN
CPI(ML)'s Tamilnadu State Committee organized a Convention in Madurai on 9 December 2008, on the issue of protecting democratic rights of Dalits. Tamilnadu witnessed several caste clashes in the last two months. A fact-finding team under the leadership of Com Balasundram, State Secretary, and including advocates and students, met the people of the affected areas of Elumalai, E Kottapatty and Uthapuram. A report was produced based on the major findings of the visit and it was released in the convention at Madurai.
A separating wall was erected between the Dalit and non-Dalit areas in Uthapuram village in Madurai district. Dalits there were attacked as they protested against the maintenance work of the caste wall. The fact-finding team found that the police at Uthapuram had sided with upper caste goons. Holding the government and political parties to blame, the team demanded that action be taken against the police and revenue officials.
The dalits' demands included removal of the encroachment in the common path (that is, demolition of the caste wall), restoring worshiping rights of the dalits (that is demolition of another caste wall built around the worshipping area and removal of encroachment on the banks of the Kanmoy-Water Body), construction of a Bus Shelter and so on. Instead of meeting these straightforward demands and implementing the law, the Government was conducting peace committee meetings. When the government was forced to concede the demands eventually, the local casteist group attacked a convoy of Dr. Krishnasamy (Leader of Puthiya Tamilagam) and initiated a fresh round of clashes and attacks in and around Madurai district. Dalits were attacked in many villages and police killed a youth in E Kottaipatti in an attempt to suppress the voice of Dalits. The latest assault was the well-planned attack on dalit students of Dr. Ambedkar Law College of Chennai, aimed at sparking off a fresh round of castiest frenzy.
The report was released by Comrade Gundumalai and received by Comrade Thangapandiyan, editor of Puthiya Poraali (New Fighter or Militant) magazine. Comrade Mathivanan, who presided over the convention, briefly narrated the major findings. Comrades Sankara Pandiyan, Bharathi and Usha (State Committee members) addressed the gathering. Comrades Bhagat Singh (Advocate), and Vaiyavan (Tamilaga Manavar Munnani (Tamil Nadu Students Front) also spoke on the rights of dalits. Comrade Balasundaram, state secretary asserted that protecting the rights of dalits is an integral part of democratic struggles.
The convention demanded that the rights of dalits over land and livelihood should be protected and the dignity of dalits should be maintained, the notorious elements behind the attack should be arrested, and erring civil and police officials should be suspended or transferred and action against certain officials be taken under the PCR act. The convention also demanded that the government should stop sponsoring 'Thevar Jayanthi' (‘Birthday of Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar’) as the annual event is being used by reactionary forces to instigate caste frenzy.
More than 200 rural poor mostly women and agriculture workers participated in the convention.
Demonstration in Support of Adivasis’ Struggle at Lalgarh
In solidarity with the adivasis of Lalgarh (West Bengal) against state repression, AIALA, AIPWA, AISA, PBKS held a sit-in demonstration and mass meeting on 12 December 2008 at Churchura, Hooghly district. CPI(ML) State Secretary Comrade Partha, as well as well as State committee members Comrades Prabir Haldar and Chaitali Sen also addressed the demonstration. A deputation met the DM and held a mass meeting and sit-in demonstration.
Demo for Flood Relief in Puducherry
The CPI(ML) in Puducherry and AICCTU, AIALA, RYA and Movement for Protection of the Homeless held a big rally on 5 December 2008 demanding adequate and immediate relief to the victims of recent heavy floods and the Nisha storm.
The rally was led by S Balasubramanian, State Secretary of Puducherry. The rally passed through main thoroughfares of Puducherry town and culminated in a large demonstration in front of the collectorate of Puducherry.
A detailed memorandum to the Chief Minister was submitted through the collector.
The demonstrators demanded: Rs 5 lakhs compensation to those who died in the recent heavy rains and floods and Rs. 75,000/- for those injured, and Rs 25,000/- for those who lost their homes in the floods; 50 Kg rice along with 10 litres of kerosene at the rate of Rs 2/- per Kg/litre to all BPL families, and 25 Kg of rice with 10 litres of kerosene at the same rate for non-BPL families; compensation of Rs 25,000/- per hectare to those whose land has been devastated; immediate implementation of NREGS works in all rural areas and urban poverty alleviation scheme works in urban areas; waiver of house and land taxes in the affected region; Rs 25,000/- to each village panchayat and Rs 10,000/- to each Municipal ward towards immediate relief work; expediting the construction of houses for urban poor in the tsunami affected areas; stern action against the officers of Revenue, Disaster Management, Electricity and PWD Departments who failed the people during the crisis. The demonstration was addressed by P Sankaran of AIALA, S Mothilal, State Secretary AICCTU, P Ravikumar of RYA, K Selvam, SCM of CPI(ML), K. Saminathan SCM and C S Sagayaraj, President of the Movement for Protection of the Homeless.
Agricultural Labourers Gherao DM in Gazipur
On the issue of job cards and work under NREGA, agricultural labourers led by CPI(ML) and AIALA gheraoed the DM residence in Gazipur on 8 December. Prior to this, AIALA had held a 5-day dharna at Gazipur Sadar block. In the same district, in Jamania block, an AIALA dharna had been continuing since 25 November. AIALA has been demanding that the administration must set up a counter to issue job cards to all job-seekers, take photographs, open bank accounts for the workers with zero balance, guarantee 100 days work or else pay unemployment allowance, and also hold camps to disburse pension to widows and the handicapped, as well as old-age pension.
Eventually, after the administration had failed to respond positively to the dharna, more than 100 workers, led by CPI(ML) Distrct Sectretary Rampyare Ram, marched from the party office to the DM’s residence and began a gherao. All the protestors were arrested and brought to police lines. However, they were released later and the administration conceded the major demands raised by the protestors. Following this assurance, the dharna at Sadar block was called off, though as a precaution, the dharna at Jamania block will continue till the assurances are implemented.
CPI(ML) Performance in Assembly Elections
In the recently held Assembly elections, CPI(ML) had contested 6 seats in Chhattisgarh, nine in Rajasthan, one each in Madhya Pradesh and Delhi. Some of the seats where we made a notable beginning are: – Salumber (4081), Dhariawad (4214), and Pratapgarh (5334) in Rajasthan (where we polled fourth in the latter two constituencies); Masturi (664) and Jagdalpur (547) in Chhattisgarh; and Narela (882) in Delhi.