CPI(ML) HOME Vol.11, No.52 23 DEC - 29 DEC 2008

The Weekly News Bulletin of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)(Liberation)
U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi 110092. Tel: (91)11-22521067. Fax(91)11-22518248


In this Issue

Compromising Democracy Cannot Counter Terror

The Mumbai terrorist siege of November is ushering in policy changes in India that have serious and damaging implications for Indian democracy. In the first move, both houses of Indian Parliament have passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2008 and National Investigating Agency (NIA) Bill.    
In spite of Home Minister P Chidambaram’s reassurances that the UAPA Amendment Act has achieved a “fair balance” between “tough” anti-terror measures and human rights concerns, it is clear that the notoriously draconian POTA has been resurrected under another guise.
The UAPA Amendment Act includes almost every single draconian provision of POTA – barring the admissibility of police confessions as evidence. The Act has sweeping and vague definitions for ‘acts of terrorism’ and ‘membership of a terrorist gang or organization.’ The maximum period for detention of terror suspects has been extended from 90 days to 180 days – far exceeding international standards. Worst of all, under the Act, courts are required to presume the guilt of the accused if arms/explosives are found in his/her possession or forensic evidence suggests involvement. The onus of proving innocence in such cases lies with the accused. Unless the court finds the accused prima facie innocent, bail will be denied; in the case of ‘foreign nationals,’ there is no provision of bail whatsoever. The National Investigating Agency (NIA) Act authorises special courts to close hearings to public without defining or limiting the grounds under which they may do so.
The experience of POTA, as well as of anti-terror investigations as a rule in recent years has been rife with instances of torture, coercion, false confessions, fake encounters and framing of innocents. In at least some of these instances, even the courts and investigative agencies have had to admit that innocents were framed: prominent examples include the acquitting of SAR Geelani who had been sentenced by the lower court for the Parliament Attack case; the murder of Sohrabuddin and his wife Kauser Bi in Gujarat; the verdict of a Judicial Commission that the police had no evidence against the banned student group SIMI; and the recent findings by the CBI that Delhi Police Special Cell officers had framed and jailed two innocent Muslim youths (actually police informers) as ‘al-Badr terrorists.’ Anti-terror investigations (claiming to target terrorism and ‘Naxalism’) have been a cover for a sustained witch-hunt of the Muslim minority community and for political dissenters. Also, it is clear that neither POTA, nor any of the state-level anti-terror laws, nor the methods used by investigative agencies have succeeded in preventing terrorism or even punishing terrorists. As for the ‘National Investigative Agency’ Act, there are doubts about its effectiveness. One security affairs analyst has termed it a ‘strategic vastu shastra’ without any real impact on the functioning of the intelligence edifice; and has also pointed out that Pakistan has had a federal investigation agency since 1975 – yet terrorism has flourished there. Terrorism in India has grown unabated by draconian measures. The new legislations in the name of countering terror can only compound these assaults on democracy, not counter terrorism in any effective or meaningful way.
There has been much talk of emulating the “tough” response of the US and Bush in the ‘war on terror’. It is worth remembering that in the US itself, the Bush regime’s anti-terror policy is being met with unprecedented sharp criticism and rejection even within the US establishment. Recently, the report of the “Senate Armed Services Committee Inquiry Into The Treatment Of Detainees In U.S. Custody” – an enquiry instituted by the US Senate itself – has indicted the Bush Administration and President Bush himself for the torture of terror-suspects and violations of international human rights conventions at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. 
With every passing day, it is more and more difficult to distinguish the Congress from the BJP. On economic policy, the Congress and BJP were as it is of one mind. In the UPA regime, the Congress and its allies have rapidly shed any pretensions of ‘independence’ and have taken India even tighter into the US imperialist stranglehold. Throughout the UPA regime, the Congress carefully avoided any decisive measures against communal violence – looking the other way when the Sangh brigades ran amok against Christians at Kandhamal and failing to pass the much-awaited Prevention of Communal Violence Bill. Anti-terror investigations in Congress-ruled states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi were marked by the same traits of communal witch-hunt as in, say, Modi’s Gujarat.  And now, in the months preceding the Lok Sabha polls, the Congress is competing with the BJP to champion the agenda of anti-Pakistan jingoism, war-mongering, and assaults on democracy and secularism in the name of ‘anti-terror’ laws.          
Lamentably, in spite of some reservations expressed by the CPI-CPI(M), the above laws were passed unanimously in both houses of Parliament. It seems that the fear of being isolated and branded ‘anti-national’ has caused the CPI-CPI(M) to support the draconian ruling class consensus in Parliament.
In the prevailing communal and anti-democratic clamour for draconian laws, there was one refreshing voice of caution and sanity. The Chief Justice of India, in a recent speech, had warned against allowing the “trauma resulting from the terrorist attacks” to be “used as a justification for undue curtailment of individual rights and liberties” and “questionable” and “coercive” interrogation methods, pointing out that such methods “mostly induce false confessions and do not help in preventing terrorist attacks” and moreover run the risk of being “viewed as an easy way out by investigative agencies.” The forces of democracy must urgently uphold this eminently reasoned position and must resolutely resist all draconian laws and methods in the name of fighting terrorism, and must boldly call for India to stop importing terrorism and economic crisis from the US. Consistent anti-imperialism and uncompromising internal democracy are the only foundations for any effective resistance to terrorism.

Convention on Dalits' Rights in Tamil Nadu

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 must be ensured, the notorious elements behind the attack be arrested, and erring civil and police officials 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 agricultural workers participated in the convention.

Uttarakhand Govt. Finally Yields to Popular Pressure

The Uttarakhand’s BJP Government has finally yielded under popular pressure and ordered for a CBI enquiry into the murder of a young woman Ms. Preeti Sharma of Haldwani. Her dead body was found on 19th November 2008 at Haldwani. After her body was found it was discovered that she had been gang-raped before the gruesome murder. Preeti was in her early 20’s and was a counselor at a private computer institute in Haldwani. On the day of the heinous crime she was returning home evening after work.
As soon as the people of Haldwani and Uttarakhand came to know of this ghastly incident there was a mass outburst and a spontaneous movement of people came into being. The CPI(ML) participated in the movement with all vigour from the beginning and its leader Comrade Bahadur Singh Jangi was made Convenor of the joint struggle committee. The movement was a popular movement and under this pressure the police tried to wriggle out by arresting someone who possibly did not have any link to the crime. The people rejected the police version and the arrest and the struggle was intensified on the demand for a CBI enquiry signaling that the Uttarakhand State Police had lost all trust before the people. The movement continued for almost a month until the Govt. relented on December 17 for a CBI enquiry.
The movement saw a Haldwani bandh, gherao of the Kumaon Commissionary at Nainital, protest programmes and continued dharna for a month. The Congress and BJP had backed out from the movement on the question of CBI enquiry, but later on sensing the people’s anger and broad-based movement cutting across all sections joined in again. A Kumaon bandh was called for in the third week of December, however, owing to Govt.’s submission for a CBI enquiry bowing before movement pressure the bandh has been called off. In Delhi the All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) sent a demand letter to the Chairperson of the National Women’s Commission.

Indefinite Dharna
Continues at Sonbhadra

The indefinite dharna by CPI(ML) that began on 4 December 2008 is continuing at the Dudhi Tehsil Head Quarters of Sonbhadra District. The pressing issues on which the dharna was initiated are: (1) transparency in implementation of Forest Rights Act, and curb on fraud being enacted, (2) the pending NREGA wages of the workers be cleared, (3) ensure round the year employment for the workers and all corrupt practices while opening zero balance bank account for the workers be immediately stopped, (4) minimum wages act is strictly implemented and all the BPL families be provided BPL card and be supplied ration-kerosene at Rs.2/kg/litre respectively, (5) the 16 castes including Gor, Kharwar, Chero and Panika who have been declassified as SC and have been given the status of ST must be allotted reserved seats right from Panchayat up to the State Assembly and until this happens they be allowed to contest from SC seats. The dharna is being led by CPI(ML) Dist. secretary Com. Miganram Gaud and Com. Mithai Lal. Party’s UP State Secretary Com. Sudhakar Yadav visited the and addressed the dharna on 11 December.

CPI(M) Hand in Glove with Trinamool & Police to Defeat Jute Mill Workers

Since 1st December, jute mill workers in West Bengal are on strike. The ruling CPI(M) has deputed its mass organizations- SFI and DYFI- to bring the strike to an end. Besides, the police and the administration have started conspiring against the striking workers. On 5th December, when representatives from the striking union went to Delta jute mill to garner support for the strike, senior police officers from the police station stopped them from holding a public meeting. BCMF leader Com. Debabrata Bhakta and other leaders went to the police station to protest against this and had an argument with the officials. After the police station authorities informed them that the meeting can be allowed only if permission from higher authorities is obtained, the leaders spoke against this despicable action of the police in the presence of a large number of workers. Similar incident occurred at Meghna jute mill. On 4th November, thousands of workers from Gourishanker jute mill and Reliance jute mill converged at Meghna jute mill to attend a scheduled public meeting. On reaching, the workers found that the lathi wielding goons loyal to Trinamool Congress legislator Arjun Singh - with whose help the management has been trying to run the mill – were waiting for them. A large police contingent had also barricaded the place. The policemen informed the union leaders that since Sec 144 has been imposed in the area, the meeting cannot be allowed. BCMF leaders Com. Nabendu Dasgupta, Com.Botokrishna Das, Com.Joyim, Com. Krishna Behera and Com. Mohammad Ali then led the workers to Jagaddal police station where they blocked the road. An altercation with the IC followed. After it was promised that a meeting will be allowed any day after 9th December, the blockade was lifted.
At Bali jute mill, CPI(M) and its labour arm CITU have been continuously trying to bring the strike to an end. A rail and rasta-roko (rail & road blockade) programme was organized by the striking union on 6th December. When two trucks full of manufactured goods tried to sneak out through the mill gates, they were stopped by the workers. Later the trucks were allowed to leave after deliberations with the police and administration.
There has been a state-wide campaign in support of the strike. Meetings attended by large number of workers were held at Kaledonian jute mill at Bazbaz, Bali jute mill at Howrah, Kelvin jute mill at Titagarh, jute mills at Baranagar and Agarpara and Mahadeo, Ambika,Hanuman and Naskarpara jute mills. The management of various jute mills are trying to bring the strike to an end by luring workers with pay-hikes. But so far, such inducements have been rejected by the workers. CPI(M),Congress and Trinamool Congress have joined forces in their efforts to demoralise the workers and bring the strike to an end. Internal differences within CITU have grown sharper regarding this issue.

Indian Workers Face Torture, Humiliation & Human Right’s Violation in the US

On October 28 this year, a terrifying ICE raid (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement) targeted Indian survivors of labor trafficking in Fargo, North Dakota. The workers were brought to the post-Katrina Gulf coast to work for Signal International, LLC, a major defense subcontractor, and held in involuntary servitude.  They courageously escaped the forced-labor camps of Signal earlier this year.  They traveled on foot to Washington and launched a 29 day-long hunger strike to persuade the Department of Justice to prosecute Signal and its agents.  Instead of prosecuting the traffickers, the DOJ (Department of Justice) and ICE targeted the workers, who now face detention and deportation for coming forward and reporting Signal to federal authorities. The workers targeted by ICE launched a day-long fast inside Federal custody. They were joined by Congressman Keith Ellison (MN) and 29 religious leaders and clergy, who demanded that ICE release these workers and that the DOJ prosecute the traffickers. Their slogan read : TAKE ACTION NOW TO DEMAND THAT ICE RELEASE THESE WORKERS IMMEDIATELY AND THAT DOJ GIVE THEM THE PROTECTION THEY DESERVE. The US protestors also appealed to the US people to call the Chairs of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, who oversee the Department of Justice to lodge their protest while the workers are fasting in federal custody.

Peasants’ March & Dharna in Lucknow

Large number of peasants and farmers from different districts of Uttar Pradesh marched to Lucknow and sat on mass dharna in front of the UP State Assembly under the leadership of Uttar Pradesh Kisan Sabha. The main issues were – stop acquisition of cultivable land of peasants in the name of Ganga Expressway, provide fertilizer, water and power for agriculture and immediately clear all pending dues of the sugarcane farmers. The march and dharna were led by UP Kisan Sabha Convenor Com. Ishwari Prasad Kushwaha and UP Agricultural Labourers’ Association President and CPI(ML) CCM Com. Krishna Adhikari.

CPI(M)’s Bluff Exposed

On 25th August,29 families of agricultural labourers of Shaluipahari village of Hirbadh block in Bankura District asked for work from the panchayat. They were given 14 days' work on 26th August. But after two days the work came to a halt. Under the leadership of Com Amal Biswas and Com. Bhadra Sardar, District Committee members, CPI(ML), the labourers submitted deputations to the panchayat demanding unemployment allowance for 12 days. Ultimately, in November the pradhan of the CPI(M) controlled panchayat was forced to give allowance of Rs.18.75 for 12 days to the 29 families. But the master roll given to the party leadership did not mention unemployment allowance. The party leadership insisted that unemployment allowance should be specified in the master roll. CPI(ML) activists campaigned vigorously to spread the word of the above mentioned incidents among farm-labourers. This evoked spontaneous response from farm-labourers. The ruling party started spreading canards against the CPI(ML). On the evening of 2nd December, when Com Amal Biswas was returning from a branch meeting, he was waylaid by CPI(M) goons and threatened with dire consequences if he dared to carry on with the campaign. Under the leadership of Com Sudhir Murmu, a procession of 60 people toured the village of the CPI(M) leader. The CPI(M) leader initially tried to block the procession but had to ultimately relent.

Tribute to Revolutionary Poet Jwalamukhi

On 15 December 2008 in Hyderab ad, the renowned revolutionary Telugu poet, cultural personality and human rights activist Shri Jwalamukhi passed away at the age of 71. Shri Jwalamukhi was a part of revolutionary peasant movement of Andhra Pradesh. He was one of the important pillars of the revolutionary currents in Telugu Literature against the backdrop of anti-feudal revolutionary struggles of the Left in Srikakulam, Godavari Valley and Telangana. He was among the leading voice of cultural resistance when the peasant movement was brutally suppressed in the decades of 70’s and 80’s.
Taking inspiration from the martyrdom of revolutionary poet Subbarao Panigrahi, he along with Cherabund Raju, Nikhileshwar and others formed a group of young littérateurs. Poets of this group became popular as Digambar Poets in Telugu Literature. These poets had active support from great poets like Sri Sri. This new literary-cultural current in Telugu that was inspired by Naxalbari movement, Dalit and tribal’ struggles for life and dignity embossed a wider impression on poetry, cinema, theatre and other areas as well. Jwalamukhi was the strong representative and ideologue of this current. Lifelong he devoted in garnering the nationwide cultural energy that was released as a creative response to Naxalbari peasant movement. He acted as a link in the chain to bind all that were part of this current in any state or region. In the Hindi heartland he maintained his profound relation with Jan Sanskriti Manch (JSM) and he addressed quite a few of its National Conferences.
His death is an irreparable loss to the revolutionary left cultural current. CPI(ML) salutes the invincible cultural warrior.

Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22518248, e-mail: mlupdate@cpiml.org, website: www.cpiml.org
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