In the wake of the anniversary of the 1959 Tibet movement (March 10) and ahead of the Beijing Olympics, Tibet has once again emerged as a hot spot of ethnic tension. There are reports of violence against and killing of protesting Tibetan monks by Chinese forces; and also of ethnic targeting of Han Chinese and Hui Muslims by Tibetan protestors. Chinese authorities have straightaway blamed the Dalai Lama for provoking the violent protests. Army has been deployed after more than a week of escalating tension. While there is little ‘independent’ information to judge the actual nature and scale of the turbulence within Tibet and attempts by the Chinese state to suppress it, solidarity protests are being witnessed in many centres across the world and Tibetan refugees based in India are particularly vocal against the recent turn of events in Tibet.
The turmoil in Tibet has been greeted by die-hard anti-China hawks with demands of boycott of the Beijing Olympics. In India, BJP and the likes of George Fernandes have raised an uproar in Parliament with their shrill anti-China hate campaign over Tibet. The US has always used the Tibet question as part of its overall strategy of containing China and in the present instance too, it is entirely possible that Washington is looking for ways to embarrass China with a disruption of the Beijing Olympics.
The US stance reeks of obvious double standards. Those who support the occupation of Palestine and continue to occupy Afghanistan and Iraq surely have no right to accuse other regimes of "occupation"! (Let us remember that March 2008 marks five years of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq). Nationality struggles are fault lines that the US has exploited time and again to further its imperialist interests, Kosovo being a glaring example. Be it Tibet or Kashmir, the US is eager to manipulate the situation in order to strengthen its strategic foothold in Asia.
India's response to the Tibet question too is marked by glaring double standards. India has provided a haven for Tibetan refugees and the Dalai Lama. The right-wing brigade led by the BJP has used the Tibet plank for their virulent anti-communist, anti-China hysteria. But the Indian State's own treatment of nationality struggles in Kashmir and the North East has been marked by arrogant and brutal military suppression. 'Special Powers' have been conferred on the Armed Forces giving them a licence to freely indulge in summary execution, rape and repression in both these regions. In spite of popular struggles demanding scrapping of the AFSPA, the Indian State continues to justify and impose the AFSPA in the name of anti-insurgency. The BJP has led the jingoistic cries for even harsher and more bloody military suppression of the aspirations of the people of Kashmir and the North East, decrying every demand for autonomy as a threat to 'Akhand Bharat'.
However, it is necessary to recognize that, between 1959 and 2008, much has changed in Tibet. The movement has come to focus mainly on issues of autonomy rather than that of secession. The protesters may shout for 'Free Tibet', but this slogan does not seem to find wide acceptance in the Tibetan mainstream today. Even the Dalai Lama, the internationally recognised icon of Tibet, has reiterated in the wake of the current turmoil that genuine autonomy is what the Tibetan people want. In such circumstances China would do well to address the aspirations for autonomy through political dialogue rather than by repression and martial law. The spectacle of protesting Buddhist monks being brutalised by armed forces can hardly evade comparisons with similar scenes in military-ruled Burma and the tragic stigma of Tiananmen.
One hopes that China will take proper lessons from the Soviet experience, where bruised national sentiments played no small part in the great shipwreck. Democratic and peace loving people of the world are deeply concerned over the situation in Tibet, and expect China to handle the agitations and the ethnic tensions with greater sensitivity and maturity. China's stance on economic questions has been one of pragmatic flexibility: in the case of Hong Kong, China has shown its willingness to experiment with a policy of "one country, two systems", where the Central People's Government is responsible for the territory's defence and foreign affairs, while the Government of Hong Kong is responsible for its own legal system, police force, monetary system, customs policy, immigration policy and so on. Can't we, then, expect greater accommodation on China's part of Tibetan aspirations for autonomy?
While resolutely resisting every attempt to fan up an anti-communist and anti-China frenzy over Tibet, we do hold that state repression can only be counter-productive, providing grist to the imperialist mill and allowing greater room for US interference in the region. A lasting solution can be reached only through political dialogue in a democratic atmosphere.
Massive Pol khol-Halla bol Rally at Patna
The CPI(ML) March 18 Rally at Gandhi Maidan, Patna, was very different from rallies by other political parties in every aspect, i.e. in terms of mass participation, public-propaganda, projecting people's issues and also in terms of visual appeal depicting large visuals of people's actual ongoing struggles and sacrifices for change. In sharp contrast to others' depiction of large cut-outs of their netas (leaders) all the visuals at CPI(ML) rally focused on its actual heroes - common people, toiling masses. There were large hoardings and paintings depicting State barbarity on people's movement as well as their resistance struggles and also basic demands in the form of slogans.
CPI(ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya was the main speaker at the rally. Another highlight of the Rally was the speech by Com. Uday Bhatt of Lal Nishan Party from Maharashtra, who exposed the Thackeray-brand of chauvinistic politics in Maharashtra and struck a chord with his listeners. Among others who also addressed the rally were Com. Bahadur Oraon from Jharkhand, Comrades Swadesh, D.P. Buxi, Ram Naresh Ram and Ram Jatan Sharma.
The Rally adopted various resolutions some of which are:
1. Demands that the Central Govt. scrap the anti-national Indo-US nuclear deal.
2. Declaring this year's general budget as an election stunt that is bound to escalate prices and inflation further. While demanding waiving of loans of all sorts for all rural poor-including farmers owning upto ten acres in crisis-ridden areas and weavers as well as fishermen, this Rally expresses its deep ire at the reduction in outlay for the rural poor' employment programme NREGS. This Rally demands that the Central Govt. makes a budgetary provision equivalent to Defense budget for the employment of rural poor. This Rally of rural poor, workers, peasants, students and youths expresses concern about Laloo Yadav's Rail Budget that reflects extreme negligence for passenger amenities and safety by Railways administration.
3. This Rally demands complete roll-back of the SEZ policy and demands that both Central as well as State Govts. completely halt all land-acquisition without an accord with the peasants and alternative job provision. This Rally expresses solidarity with all the struggles of farmers in the Country against SEZs and forced land acquisition.
4. The Rally declares that this Govt. led by Nitish Kumar is patently pro-rich and is stabbing the poor in their back. The true face of this Govt. that is enacting drama of Global Meet, Poor Summit and Development Runs is that it has failed completely in providing even the essentials like food rations and kerosene oil, electricity and water. The Rally calls for mounting increased opposition against such carelessness for lives and livelihoods of the people of Bihar.
5. This Rally declares Nitish Kumar's Govt. as an oppressive Govt. for brutally suppressing movements of Shikshamitras (para-teachers), Lok-Shikshaks, Asha workers, struggling poor for getting their names included in BPL list and farmers demanding electricity. This assembly calls upon people of Bihar to accelerate agitations and movements against the Nitish Govt. that has become a puppet of criminals, bureaucrats and mafias.
6. This Rally expresses deep ire at the escalating attacks on Dalits-poor-women and horrible incidents of rape of minors and demands from the State Govt. that it constitutes special Judicial Enquiries on these and specially on the more than 100 incidents of killings and oppression of Mushahars.
Other resolutions were also adopted including suspension of Police officials responsible for misbehaving with CPI(ML) leader and ex-MLA Com. Mahboob Alam; CBI enquiry into swindling of more than 1000 crores of rupees by fake muster rolls of NREGS; immediate filling up of more than 7.5 lakh jobs lying vacant in the State and lastly gheraoing the Nitish Govt. for its backtracking on land reforms agenda and evading grant of legal rights to sharecroppers, refusal to act on the recommendations of the Bandhopadhya Land Commission Report, and doing nothing to ensure control on land to those who have received parchas for the same.
Padyatras in Tamil Nadu
In Tamilnadu, AICCTU organised padayatras all over the state as a part of preparations for the Assembly gherao of 27th March. Padayatras were held at 47 points in the State and more than 2000 workers participated in these padayatras. Demands such as Amendment in TU Act, 1926 for TU Recognition, 5-cent house stead patta for unorganised and construction workers, Amendment in Standing orders Act to reduce trainee period to 6 months and to regularise trainees involved in direct production process, 2-acre land for rural poor, 3% of GDP allocation for welfare measures for the unorganised and construction workers etc.
Protest in Gazipur Against Death Threat to CPI(ML) Leader
A militant demonstration was held by the Party in Gazipur at the office of the Supdt.of Police on 18th March against the death threat given to CPI(ML) Dist. Secretary Rampyare Ram by the Parra vill. Pradhanpati Hafiz Khan. Apart from the demand to book and arrest the accused pradhanpati under the Dalit Atrocities Act, other crucial demands were also being raised like issuing job-card, worker-card after distributing registration forms to each agricultural labour under NREGS, stopping fraud in BPL survey, enquiry into loot of development fund of Parra village and incongruity in allotment of houses under Indira Awas Yojana, providing red-cards to rickshaw pullers and allotting them houses.
The Parra village under sadar block has been chosen Ambedkar village for the year 2007-08, under which 140 Indira and 9 Mahamaya houses are allotted. Out of these 30 per cent has been given to salaried families, big land-owners and those owning Maruti cars. Those pulling rickshaws and thelas (hand carts) could not submit 5000-6000 facilitation fee and for this they were denied the allotment.
In the BPL survey plans were hatched to exclude the poor from the list. In the name of repair work of ideal water reservoir lakhs of rupees were defrauded by the nexus of gram-pradhan and BDO. But no actual work was done. Pradhan-pati is a history-sheeter. Severla cases of murder has been pending against hin in the Nonahara police station. Nobody raises a finger against him in the village out of fear. The CPI(ML) leader assembled all rickshaw and thella pullers and met the SDM and CDO, but the response was not fruitful for the victims. A CPI(ML) delegation met the Jt. Development Commissioner of Varanasi who was on a official trip to Gazipur and was apprised of all the muck that was being favoured by the local officials. He has ordered for an impartial enquiry.
The Dharna and demonstration was addressed by State Standing Committee member Ishwari Prasad, Narendra Pandey, RYA national secy. Om Prakash Singh, Rampyare Ram and other leaders.
Peasants Lay Siege to SDM office in Jhunjhunu
In Jhunjhunu dist. of Rajasthan hundreds of peasants marched to SDM's office on the morning of 18 March and laid seize until their demands would be met. Their militant mood prevailed right until late evening when finally the SDM and other officials of the District conceded to their demands and agreed to hold discussions. The peasants led by CPI(ML) leader Phoolchand Dhewa, were demanding compensation for crop damaged due to frost. They also warned that the survey should be done in all the affected villages and all peasants who have suffered losses must be compensated and not only those that had assembled there.
8th march International Women's Day
AIPWA held A Dharna in front of Vidhan Sabha in Lucknow
Women from Sitapur, Lakhimpur Kheri, Kanpur, Varanasi, Deoria, Mirzapur, Gazipur Muradabad in fact all over Uttar Pradesh came for the Dharna. AIPWA National President Srilata Swaminathan led the dharna and presided over the mass meeting. National Vice President of AIPWA, Tahira Hasan said atrocities on Muslim and Dalit women have been increasing many fold in Mayawati Govt. but Mayawati has not raised single issue of Dalit or Muslim women. Examples are Sravasti and Bhadoi. She came to power through emotional exploitation of Dalit community but diluted SC/ST act. SEZ and anti-people development can be seen in Orissa and Bengal. Now we will see in Uttar Pradesh through Ganga Expressway. Kisan Sabha leader Krishna Adhikari critisised Mayawati Govt. for grabbing fertile land and she said farmers are committing suicide in Bundelkhand but this Government is helping capitalists and is not at all worried about peasants and workers.
AIALA’s Protest in Madhubani District
All India Agricultural Labourer Association (AIALA) and CPI(ML) led a protest demonstration of angry landless poor and agri. Labourers at Jagatpur Panchayat Office in Rehika block of Madhubani district on 27 February with the demand of kam do (provide jobs). The protestors were demanding probe into NREGS scam and its proper implementation.
Dharna in Arrah
Hundreds of urban poor staged a massive day-long sit-in protest at the Bhojpur District Magistrate’s office on 20 February to ensure punishment for the killers of Com. Sufian. Three hundred women and hundred men were present in the dharna.
Third Gorakhpur Film Festival Against Communal Fascism
The Third Gorakhpur Film Festival organised between 23-26 February this year by Jan Sanskriti Manch and Gorakhpur Film Society, Expression was quite a success in terms of developing ideological sensitivity of the people of Gorakhpur. The theme this year was Sixty Years of Displacement & Partition and it was dedicated to Hindi poet Trilochan and noted Urdu writer Qurratulain Hyder who passed away recently.
The Director of the film Garam Hawa M.S. Sathyu inaugurated the Festival. After the screening of Garam Hawa audience had a lively interaction with its director. Chairperson at the inaugural session and chief editor of Samkalin Janmat Ramji Rai, pointing to incidents like Babri demolition, State sponsored genocide in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Nandigram etc, said that in last sixty years Garam Hawa (hot air) had transformed into khooni hawa (bloody air) and that it was call of the time to deploy all tools of art and culture in resistance to clear this fascist air. A souvenir containing films information, notes and articles was later released by M.S. Sathyu, poet Manglesh Dabral and Viren Dangwal.
CPI(ML) urges probe into police firing on potato farmers
The CPI (ML), Malda branch, submitted an application to the Gangarampur Block development officer in South Dinajpur, under section 6 and 8 of the Right to Information Act 2005, about the bond distributed among farmers for storing potatoes in the cold storage of Gangarampur Co-operative Marketing Society. After inquiring into the police firing following an agitation staged by the local potato farmers on 27 February at Kaldighi in Gangarampur, the CPI (ML) leaders claimed that the cold storage authorities had sold off bond at high prices to the big merchants depriving the poor and marginal farmers.
It was also alleged that Gangarampur Co-operative Marketing Society is suppressing facts by hiding the computer and preparing a new list of bonds distributed to the farmers. They demanded administrative inquiry against the society seizing the hard disk of the computer to unearth earlier records of bonds distributed to farmers while the society claimed that the computer was damaged by the angry farmers.
On 29 February, the CPI (ML) leaders Mrityunjay Das and Nabakumar Biswas visited the Kaldighi village in Gangarampur and interacted with the farmers.
A CPI(ML) fact-finding report notes that farmers became violent when they came to know that the bonds for potato were exhausted within 10 days and they were not in position to keep their produce in the cold storage. This year farmers had a massive potato production and many could not complete harvesting. On 25 February, nearly 1000 farmers came to the society to collect the bonds but returned without bonds from the long queue after waiting for a long time. Next day more farmers assembled there to get bonds from the society.
According to the report, "A farmer, Mr Saifuddin Mian, resident of Shikarpur under Jahangirpur gram panchayat, had been able to collect a bond (token no 1247) on 25 February. He disclosed that last year the price of bond was Rs 17 per bag but this year he had to collect bonds from a local businessman by paying Rs 25 to 28".
The CPI (ML) leaders demanded publication of the list of farmers distributed by the society. They also demanded that farmers should get back their cycles which are under the police custody. Police seized hundreds of cycles from the spot when agitated farmers fled after police lathi charge and firing.
Com. Bhuvaneswar Ram passed away on 14 March at his residence. He was Office Secretary of Dhanwar (Giridih) Office. He was 66 and was battling with cancer. He was undergoing treatment at Jamshedpur. He was in the vanguard against anti-feudal movement in Dhanwar and was a whole-timer communist. He quit CPI and joined our Party in 1994 and despite all odds fulfilled his responsibilities in the Party to his last breath. Entire rank and file of the Party bids Red Salute to the memory of Com. B. Ram.
Mohd. Tahir Hussain
On 26 February, 2008 Com. Mohd. Tahir Hussain who was a veteran Party member and Branch Secretary of Shahganj village under Tikari P.S. of Gaya district passed away at the age of 50 due to his heart failure. The Party deeply mourns his loss and expresses deep condolences to his family and comrades close to him in Gaya district.