Over the years, the customary Independence Day address by the Prime Minister has been reduced to an empty ritual, shorn of any resonance with the reality of the country, let alone any resolve to mitigate the grim reality. This year, Manmohan Singh’s address sounded like a downright cruel joke with a country and people reeling under a deepening crisis. The PM predictably projected the nuke deal with the US as a great achievement of his government and as an unprecedented boon for India. But the ‘nuke deal’ PM also claimed ‘credit’ for providing a ‘new deal’ to India’s farmers. Only a few miles away from the heavily guarded ramparts of the Red Fort from where the PM was delivering his lecture, blood was yet to dry on the fields of Greater Noida where five farmers had to pay with their lives for protesting against real estate sharks who took away their land for a pittance in the name of compensation.
Ever since it came to power riding on the ever upwardly climbing graph of farmers’ suicides, the UPA government has failed to bring any succour to the crisis-ridden peasantry. The debt burden has continued to mount, the crisis has continued to aggravate, and suicides have continued unabated. As for the Congress, it has only continued to pay lip-service to the sufferings of the ‘aam aadmi’. In the course of the trust vote debate, Rahul Gandhi devoted his entire speech to his ‘first-hand’ survey of the plight of the farmers in Vidarbha – the latest hot spot in his itinerary of political tourism – as though the nuke deal and strategic partnership with the US would resolve the agrarian crisis and magically metamorphose Vidarbha into California!
On August 15, Manmohan Singh also waxed eloquent on the perils of communalism, fundamentalism and every other variety of divisive politics. Even as he spoke, Jammu and Kashmir continued to bleed and burn. For nearly two decades, the state has been ceaselessly crying out for a democratic political solution to end the spiral of repression and killings. Back in power both in the state and at the Centre since the last elections, the Congress has however only managed to stoke the fire with its own agenda of divisive politics and unmitigated repression. It created the Amarnath land ‘dispute’ and handed over the agenda to the BJP and its cohorts much the same way as it had earlier acquiesced to the Sangh brigade on the Babri Masjid issue.
Worse still, when both Jammu and the valley erupted in anger, the state unleashed its brutal repressive might on the protesters in the valley while relatively speaking Jammu witnessed much less state violence. Coupled with the Amarnath land transfer dispute and the economic blockade enforced by Jammu-based organizations, this barbaric unleashing of state repression has once again pushed the valley to the brink of total alienation from the rest of the country. When tens of thousands of people defy the might of the Indian state to march to the UN office in Srinagar, the pain and anguish and alienation being suffered by the people in Kashmir becomes absolutely palpable.
During the trust vote debate, the Congress paraded the support it got from the National Conference and the PDP, the two parties from Kashmir, as a clinching evidence that the deal must be good for India. Now when the same Omar Abdullah who delivered such an impassioned speech in support of the trust vote is complaining of police brutalities and increasing political alienation being inflicted on the people of Kashmir, Manmohan Singh can think of nothing better than delivering hypocritical sermons against divisive politics! He should rest assured that every false claim he made, every hypocritical sermon he delivered in the course of his August 15 address will boomerang on his government and party when the country goes to the polls.
Three days after Manmohan Singh had delivered his bundle of lies, it was time for the people of Pakistan to be treated to some similar false claims and empty boasts by Pervez Musharraf. Faced with an impeachment motion, the flamboyant former military boss turned ‘civilian’ chief resolved to step down, one of his major excuses being he did not want Parliament in Pakistan to be subjected to horse-trading (‘horse training’, as he initially put it before correcting himself), in an obvious oblique reference to the economics and politics of the trust vote farce enacted in Indian Parliament only a few weeks earlier! The streets of Pakistan however erupted in joy, and no tears could be seen for a man used and thrown away by the US after he had delivered for nine long years as a trusted lieutenant of the White House.
The trusted allies of Bush are all having to leave one after another – now with Bush himself awaiting his final exit, his ‘Man Mohan’ must also begin to pack up.
Greater NOIDA Police Firing:
CPI(ML)-AIKSS Team Visit
A team comprising Prem Singh Gehlawat, National Co-Convener of All India Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Ishwari Prasad Kushwaha, member of CPI(ML)’s UP Standing Committee, and comrades Pradeep Kumar, CPI(ML) activists from Meerut, and CPI(ML) activists from NOIDA Ramesh Chand and Nandji visited Ghori Bacheda (where police firing on farmers took place) and other nearby villages in Greater NOIDA on 16 August. This team met people of the affected villages, where five farmers were killed, dozens severely injured or missing, 96 farmers have named FIRs and 1000 farmers have unnamed FIRs against them, and Police, PAC and paramilitary troops patrolled the entire area.
The team’s report observed, “Another story of peasants struggling on the issue of land – and receiving bullets in return – that too on the eve of the 61st anniversary of India’s independence. This time the site is Greater NOIDA in UP, not far from the National capital of Delhi. We found the villages under a shadow of terror. We were prevented by police from reaching Ghori Bacheda by road; we managed to do so on foot, guided by people of neighbouring villages through the fields and by-lanes. We found Ghori Bacheda seething with anger. Lands in this and nearby villages (including in Mayawati’s own village of Badalpur) have been acquired in the name of the Ganga Expressway, posh residential complexes, high-tech city, industrial area and tourism – but the farmers who are giving up their land and livelihood are getting a pittance in return: a merest fraction of the prevailing market rate.”
Observed 14 August as a Protest Day Against Firing
Strongly condemning the incident of police firing on peasants in Greater Noida on 13th August, the CPI(ML) and Uttar Pradesh Kisan Sabha observed 14th August in UP as a protest day against the firing. Incidentally Mayati Govt. completed its 15th month in power on 13th August and was marked by cold-blooded killing of five peasants and many injured by the Mayawati regime.
Mobilising the peasants against the accelerating pace of repression of people's movements, the CPI(ML) State Committee has said that in whole UP Party workers and members will court arrest on 20th August against the murders of peasants and democracy.
In Varanasi, half a dozen Party leaders were arrested for burning efiigy of Mayawati Govt. Among them were Comrades Manish Sharma (AISA State Secretary) and Sarit Patel. Effigies of Mayawati Govt. was also burnt at Pilibhit, Allahabad, Mirzapur, Akbarpur (Ambedkar Nagar), Mau, Sitapur and many other districts. At Chandauli, Ghazipur and Nagina in Bijnaur the CPI(ML) members and Kisan Sabha activists organized protest marches.
Through the various protest programmes organized on 14th, the Party has demanded (a) filing cases of murder against the Administrative and Police officials responsible for the killings of the peasants in the firing, (b) releasing the arrested peasants unconditionally and adequately compensating the families of murdered peasants and those who lost their land and (c) stopping all forced land acquisitions without prior consent of the peasants.
CPI(ML) Releases Booklet in Lucknow on 15 Months of Mayawati's Govt.
CPI(ML)'s UP State Secretary Com. Sudhakar Yadav released a booklet in Hindi titled "Mayawati sarkar ka sava saal: uthta parda, badhta janvikshov" brought out by the UP State Unit, at a press conference organized in Lucknow.
The 28 page booklet exposes the desperate attempt of the BSP and its votaries to cover up the failures of the present BSP Govt. by saying that without Mayawati becoming the PM of India UP’s problems won't be solved. Earlier, on four occasions when she became the CM of UP by various permutations and combinations, the logic of ‘compulsions of a coalition govt.’ used to be put forward in defense of the failures to provide relief to the masses who voted for her. The booklet discusses that now that there is no compulsion of a coalition govt., what prevents the BSP's Govt. from fulfilling its promises to the electorate of the State? The inconsistency inherent in this argument of BSP is further ascertained by conspicuous absence of any alternative programme or agenda/policies for guiding the Country in any particular direction. Neither does it have any policy to present before the nation.
The booklet further exposes the fading away of the emotional appeal for a Dalit Prime Minister due to the excesses of the Mayawati Govt. The BSP Convention held at Lucknow recently bears example to this which was no match to the strength of participation, enthusiasm or vibrancy seen in earlier conventions of BSP. To safeguard its so-called Dalit-vote bank Mayawati is indulging in all sorts of political gimmicks from making public a perceived threat to her life to appointing a political heir from a particular caste.
In a phase of agricultural and food crisis the Mayawati Govt. has been on a drive to forcibly acquire agricultural land of UP. In the name of Ganga Expressway and Ghagra Expressway large tracts of land from peasants are being grabbed and being handed over to corporate houses like JP Associate.
Now this land grab drive has reached even Mayawati's village Badalpur, where in the name of carving out a picnic spot near Mayawati's house constructed on 30 acres of land, hundreds of hectares of land belonging to peasants is being grabbed at throwaway prices. The booklet has exposed the treatment meted out by Mayawati’s regime to Dalits – the very section on which she bases her Chief Ministerial status and Prime Ministerial ambitions. The booklet also presents a critique of a book penned and published by Mayawati recently – the ‘Blue Book’ which is blueprint for a new shift in social engineering tactics of the ruling class. The booklet exposes the Mayawati Govt.’s real anti-democratic and anti-peasant character and calls upon the people to launch all-out campaign to oust this anti-people BSP Govt. and carve out a pro-people alternative from among the people's movements.
Thousands Court Arrest on CPI(ML)’s Nationwide Jail Bharo on 20th August Against Indo-US Nuke Deal & Price Rise
In support of the all-India General Strike called by the Sponsoring Committee of Central Trade Unions on 20 August, the CPI(ML) held a ‘Jail Bharo’ (fill the jails) protest all over the country. Protest rallies were held as part of this campaign in many states, including UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, W Bengal, Uttarakhand, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Assam, Punjab and Orissa. The CPI(ML) had launched a nationwide campaign on July 23 against the pro-imperialist Indo-US Nuke Deal, runaway inflation and state repression on people’s movements – this campaign culminated with the Jail Bharo agitation on 20 August.
In Delhi, hundreds of activists converged at Parliament Street, shouting slogans and raising banners and placards such as “Be it NOIDA or Nandigram – STOP Corporate Land Grab and Massacre of Peasants”; “Price Rise = Death for the Poor, Profits for Corporates!”; “Manmohan Singh: Betraying Aaam Aadmi, Obeying Ambani and America!”; “Congress-UPA, Have Shame: Stop Shooting Kashmiris in Hospitals and Streets!”
The activists, in large numbers, including those from Delhi as well as from Bijnaur in UP, led by CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar, marched towards Parliament, broke the barricades and were taken into custody in the Parliament Street Thana. Inside the thana, a mass meeting was held, which was addressed by CPI(ML) activists. AISA General Secretary Ravi Rai said that AISA had conducted a successful campaign for a Students' Strike on 20 August in Delhi University, Jamia Millia Islamia and JNU, mainly focusing against the Nuke Deal.
AIPWA activist Uma Gupta, CPI(ML) UP State Committee member Afroz Alam, Delhi State Committee members V K S Gautam and Amarnath Tiwary, AICCTU leader Santosh Rai, Delhi State Secretary Sanjay Sharma and CPI(ML) Central Committee members Prabhat Choudhury and Kavita Krishnan addressed the gathering.
Addressing the gathering, CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya lambasted the UPA Government for its anti-people policies, and especially held the Congress’ opportunism and BJP’s communal agenda responsible for the explosive situation in Jammu and Kashmir. He said that the UPA Government had all along had death in store for the peasants: either through suicide, or by bullets in case they dared to protest. He took the UPA Government to task for its betrayal of the aam aadmi on all fronts – agrarian crisis, handing over of workers’ hard-earned PF to corporate profiteers, land grab, state repression and prices which continue to soar.
At Jhunjhunu more than 200 CPI(ML) members courted arrest. Prior to that Party’s Dist. Office was also inaugurated on this day. In Jaipur about 150 Party members courted arrest.
At Ahmedabad, Himmatnagar, Bhavnagar and Balsad in Gujarat Dharna was held with very broad participation of common people and Party members.
More than 50 people courted arrest at Karnal in Haryana.
At Gwalior more than 300 Party members from Gwalior as well as Bhind courted arrest together.
In Mansa, Barnala and Sangroor districts more than three hundred people courted arrest.
In Bihar, about sixty thousand people courted arrest against the Indo-US Nuke Deal, the spiraling prices and anti-people UPA Government. Angry protests and arrests of CPI(ML) supporters and members took place in most districts and blocks of the State.
More than ten thousand people courted arrest in the State. In Dhanbad Dist., the strike in entire coal belt area was successful and more than 300 people courted arrest in the city. Party members courted arrest in most places in the State including Ranchi, Giridih, Bokaro, Jamtara, Devghar, Bagodar etc.
9th August, celebrated as anti imperialist day on the anniversary of the historic Quit India Movement of 1942, was observed this year in West Bengal by CPI(ML) as a protest day against India-Us Nuke Deal and strategic partnership bearing potential of eroding India's sovereignty. A JAIL BHARO programme was organized in almost every dist. head quarters. The rally at Chunchura, Hoogly where party is going to organize its 8th State Conference from 25th August, 2008, was the biggest among others. State Secretary Com. Kartik Pal with other dist. leaders marched with thousand of party activists despite police enforcements to stop them, protesting Indo-US Nuke Deal, massive price rise, corporate land grab destroying livelihood of peasants and agricultural labourers. Similar programmes were organized in the district head quarters of Kolkata, North 24 Parganas, Nadia, Bardhaman, Bankura, Birbhum, Malda, Jalpaigudi, Mursidabad, South 24 Parganas and Darjeeling. Almost all the state level and dist level leaders and thousands of party activists made this day long programme throughout the state a resounding success.
AISA-RYA Seminar on Nuke Deal in Darbhanga
AISA-RYA held a seminar on the Indo-US Nuke Deal on 9 August (Quit India Day) at Kunwar Singh college, Darbhanga. CPI(ML) Central Committee member Dhirendra Jha was the main speaker, and he exposed the false claims of the Nuke Deal of power generation etc..., and said that the real purpose of the Deal was to shackle India to US diktats. Dr. Ajit Kr. Chowdhury, head of the Pathology Department of Darbhanga Medical College, was the chief guest at the seminar, and he said, remembering the anti-colonial legacy of 9 August, that the UPA Government’s Nuke Deal had bartered away India’s hard-won independence. The seminar was inaugurated by Prof. Awadhesh Singh, Principal of Brahmanand College.
The Seminar was conducted by AISA Bihar Vice President Kesri Kumar Yadav, and concluded with thanks by Santosh Swami. Many student activists, as well as CPI(ML) District Committee member Abhishek Kumar and AIALA VP Laxmi Paswan addressed the seminar.
Pune Villagers Confront Killer Dow
(B.J. Kerkar, senior leader of the Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) reports of a powerful people’s struggle against US MNC Dow Chemicals, responsible for crimes like the Bhopal gas disaster.)
The villages Shinde and Vasuli - some 30/35 Kms. away from Pune – have waged a struggle against the notorious American MNC – DOW Chemical Company. Without the knowledge of the villagers, Dow Chemical began construction of their plant in over 120 acres of Shinde-Vasuli’s Gairan land (land reserved for cattle grazing), illegally cutting down some 7000 trees on the plot. Since there was no name board of the company, as yet villagers were unaware as to who was constructing the plant.
The villages fall between two small hills – Bhamchand and Bhandara – highly revered by the Warkari Sect, because they are associated with 16th century poet-saint Tukaram, and are said to mark the birthplace of the Warkari Sect.
The plot continued to be in the name of the Gram Panchayat of Shinde-Vasuli. The Panchayat Act requires that without the permission of the Gram Panchayat, the land cannot be taken. But without fulfilling this requirement, the construction was started.
Due to a chance encounter with Justice B.G. Kolse-Patil, retired Judge of Bombay High Court and Vilas Sonawane, both leaders of the Lokshasan Andolan, (who had come there in connection with an agitation going on nearby) the villagers came to know of the notoriety of Dow. Then they began to agitate, under the leadership of Lokshasan Andolan. Meetings, demonstrations, marches began in right earnest. Villagers participated in large number very enthusiastically, with women folk in the forefront. In a mass meeting, the villagers decided not to allow the Company to resume construction, come what may.
On January 27, 2008, Dow tried to enter the village with trucks carrying construction materials, escorted by 150 Special Reserve Police in their blue Police vehicles. The villagers had anticipated this and to the utter surprise of the SRPs, first around 300 women gheraoed the Police, later joined by 700 men, making it impossible for the Police to move.
The gherao continued for the whole day and right through the night, the SRPs being denied even food and water, which villagers normally never deny to any visitors. Meanwhile, young boys towed their bullock carts on the road, followed by tractors, blocking the road completely.
The women screamed at the Police, asking them, “Have you come here to protect us or kill our children and our families?” Next day, the Police arrested a few men and women and took them to Khed Taluka Court. The Gherao continued in the village. Finally, by afternoon, the DSP (Pune Rural) agreed to let them off without making charges against them; the Gherao in the village was then lifted and the SRP force was allowed to return. All through this struggle, Justice B.G. Kolse-Patil and his team remained with the agitators and helped them to confront the Police.
The most interesting development of the episode was the role of villagers, especially the women: peasants who were transformed into brave fighters who dared to challenge the armed police and gheraoed and screamed at them for long.
Later a Committee called “Dow Hatao-Pune Bachao” (Kick out Dow, Save Pune), was formed, consisting of Trade Unions, Women and Student Organisations, and other social organisations, to see that the villagers’ struggle became the struggle of Pune and the whole of Maharashtra. Under the banner of this Committee, we successfully conducted many meetings, morchas, rallies and demonstrations, Press Conferences, and signature campaigns. Lal Nishan Party (Leninist), Lokshasan Andolan and Lokayat were the core constituents.
The Committee also appointed a Peoples’ Tribunal led by two retired High Court Judges of Bombay High Court and Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court, Justice G.G. Lone and Justice Suresh Hospet. After two days proceedings, the Tribunal held the Company guilty of violating all laws and Acts, made a strong recommendation to the Government of India and Government of Maharashtra, not to allow this notorious Company to set up shop anywhere in this Country.