A Rebellion in Real Time: Dalits in France Up in Arms
Two Muslim teenagers of African descent, returning from a football match, are deliberately chased by police into a power substation. They are electrocuted to death, and in no time the whole Parisian suburb called Clichy-sous-Bois – and then other working class districts – explode in protests. Thus began the present spate of violent protests that have become common in suburban France over the past two decades. The rebels are primarily Arab/African, unemployed, young, and Muslim— French citizens that are not regarded as French by the authorities (especially the police) and many white French.
Led mainly by young French citizens born into first and second generation immigrant communities from France ’s former colonies in north Africa, these cycles of violence are almost always sparked by the deaths of young black people at the hands of the police, and then inflamed by a contemptuous government response. In this case, just as community leaders were beginning to calm the situation, the security forces reignited the fire by emptying teargas canisters into a mosque. The official reason for the police action: a badly parked car in front of it. The government refused to offer any apologies to the Muslim community. On the contrary, the interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy called the protesters “vermin” and “scum” and said the suburbs needed “to be cleaned out with Karsher” (an industrial cleaner used to clean the mud off tractors). After this, the rebellion spread further into nearly three hundred towns, and across the borders into many cities in Belgium , Germany and Portugal . Massive arrests, police fire, curfews, proclamation of a state of emergency under a law that was created in the 1950s to gain control over the Algerian population during the French Algerian war, banning of public gatherings —nothing sufficed to bring the situation fully under control.
The economic backdrop to the exceptionally prolonged turbulence is easy to see. With large corporations moving abroad and outsourcing much of their activities, jobs become more and more difficult to find. And then racial discrimination remains a “daily and repeated” fact of life, as Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin acknowledged, adding that job seekers with foreign-sounding names are sometimes not given equal consideration as those with French names. As things stand, while the national unemployment rate is around 10%, nearly 30% of the French of north African descents are out of work.
The aftershocks of the Paris quakes elsewhere have been portrayed in the mainstream media as “copy cat” riots by Muslim immigrants. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Solidarity actions in part, basically they stem from a largely similar set of frustrating conditions in most European countries where angry, disaffected, and largely young segments of the marginalised communities find nothing better to do than declare war on the present order of things. What brought the youth to the streets is not Islamic fundamentalism, but rather the disenfranchisement and stigmatisation of a population for its race and religion. What they demand is an end to discrimination for having a Muslim name.
To take a panoramic view of the whole development, what we witness are nothing less than violent protests by third world ghettos within G7 countries. The reactions are also equally intense: the hatred aired by the French home minister is fully shared by the ruling elite in the richest nations. The ‘rioting’ by, and state repression on, African-Americans in Florida – who were the worst victims of hurricane Katerina and state apathy – also fit into the broader picture. Of course, the US is the most ‘advanced’, and already there are reports of ethnic cleansing in Florida in the name of relocation. Our country too is home to an expanding army of the wretched of the globalising earth, the abandoned children of a pattern of development that accentuates the rich- poor or elite-subaltern polarisation to the extreme point of vulgarity. Beyond that point, rebellion remains the only option: often en masse, at times in anarchist fashion, and mostly sporadic as yet, but always representing a passionate, powerful, irrepressible urge for change.
CPI (ML) completes propaganda for third phase of elections in Bihar, Campaign continues for last phase.
A central team of CPI(ML) leaders, Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya, Srilata Swaminathan, KD Yadav, Krishna Adhikari and Meena Tiwari conducted intensive campaign for the third phase of elections in Bihar . Ex. DGP D.P. Ojha also addressed meetings and conventions. Party G.S. Dipankar Bhattacharya, Srilata and K.D. Yadav addressed several meetings in Darbangha and Madhubani, while Rajaram Singh and DP Ojha campaigned in Madhubani, Jhanjharpur and Darbangha including a meeting in Mithila University . On 8 November, massive meetings were addressed in Motihari and Adapur Assembly constituency. In Betia and Motihari, a seminar and press conference respectively addressed by Rajaram Singh and DP Ojha. Subsequently meetings were addressed by Dipankar Bhattacharya, Srilata Swaminathan and Rajaram Singh in Shikarpur and Sikta Assembly constituencies. On 10-11 November Sri DP Ojha, Akhilendra Pratap Singh and Kamlesh Sharma addressed meetings in Chapra district.
Addressing meetings in Mairwan, Darauli and Bhore, Com. Dipankar said that while all industries are closed in Bihar , Criminalisation and Kidnapping had become a burgeoning industry in the state and it was only CPI(ML) that could put a check on this. He said that RJD and JDU leaders in these constituencies have already conceded defeat; now it was for the people to oust the Congress and BJP from these constituencies for ever. He welcomed the peoples’ mandate in the February elections which had ousted the RJD from power and not allowed the JD(U) to capture it by hook or by crook. He said that CPI(ML) has conducted mass movements against rampant corruption that is becoming institutionalised in Bihar- the Fodder Scam, the Coal-tar Scam and the Flood Relief Scam to name the major instances. The Party has girded its loins to build a new, democratic Bihar . In the third phase Party has fielded 2 women, 5 Dalit, 5 extreme backward candidates in a total of 17. Campaigning for the last and fourth phase has already started.
CPI(ML) has called upon the people of Bihar to express their solidarity in favour of the forces struggling to break the shackles of feudalism in order to build a New Bihar in a democratic India . This struggle encompasses the struggles of the poor, agricultural labour, toiling peasants, oppressed minorities and dalit communities, and of youth, students and women.Party campaign is centered around an organised political assertion of the marginalised sections of the society for furthering the cause of an overall transformation of the society.
AISA Shows Black Flags to Manmohan Singh Against the Killer Policies of His Govt.
Violent Attack on Protesters by NSUI-ABVP-JPF Under the Patronage of Administration and Police
AISA protested against the UPA government's anti-people policies by showing black flags during the PM's visit in the Jawaharlal Nehru University on Nov. 14. AISA activists raised slogans against Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Patents Amendment Act, police atrocity on workers in Gurgaon and students in Garo Hills, as well as the UPA Government's pro-US foreign policy and economic policy, and its compromise with the communal forces. While AISA and other democratic groups protested, the ABVP and NSUI joined hands to attack the peaceful protesters physically, and the SFI-AISF held back from the protest. The police and JNU Administration tacitly patronised the violence by ABVP-JPF and NSUI lumpens. Several AISA activists including women students were roughed up and suffered injuries.
AISA's JNU unit Secretary Awadesh Tripathi said that "JNU students have had a glorious tradition of fearlessly expressing dissent against those in power, this campus showed black flags to Indira Gandhi during Emergency and protested against Advani's visit in 1996. AISA has kept alive that tradition". AISA said in a statement that the UPA government has not only continued with the NDA's economic and foreign policies, it is also protecting the perpetrators of the Gujarat carnage. Manmohan Singh recently refused to make available the late K R Narayanan's letter to Vajpayee regarding Gujarat , to the Nanawati Commission.
"When Manmohan Singh uttered pious platitudes to us on 'Children's Day', it was our duty to remind him, what about the children your men in uniform killed in Kupwara and Garo Hills? Neo-liberal ideologue and World Bank pensioner, our PM visited our former colonisers and praised the British Raj as 'an act of enterprise, adventure, creativity'! No wonder his policies and his police are once again bringing back the starvation and repression of the Raj days!" said AISA communique.
AISA and other groups held a protest meeting later in the night to condemn the violence by ABVP-NSUI lumpens patronised by the administration and the police and resolved to continue the protest to demand that the administration take action to punish those who blatantly attacked and injured peaceful protesters.
Imperialists and their agents can never be welcome in JNU!
Those who order brutal attacks on the workers and fiddle while dalit homes burn know that they are bound to face resistance. In order to avoid facing JNU students' protest, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupender Singh Hooda skulked into the campus at night on November 11, without any prior public announcement. But as soon as Hooda entered the campus, AISA activists got to know it, notified the student community and began a spirited protest, joined by other students. As a result of the protest which was later joined by other student groups too, Hooda was not allowed to give his speech while students told the 'Killer Hooda to go back. The man whose police brutalised workers in Gurgaon to protect the interests of the MNC Honda, and watched Dalit homes be burnt in Gohana were told by the students in no uncertain terms that he was not welcome!
This democratic protest was violently assaulted by NSUI leaders, who threw chairs at the protesters and tried to beat them up. Hooda had apparently been invited by a group called 'ARK Foundation' to a 'Youth camp' in which busloads of around a 1000 people from outside the campus had attended.
Protests in UP against Pro-US Foreign Policy of UPA Govt.
CPI(ML) held statewide protests on Nov. 13 and burnt effigies of UPA Govt. against India 's vote in International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) against Iran and joint military exercise with the US . Protests were held at many places in the state including Lucknow and Varanasi .
CPI(ML) Investigates Jahanabad Jail Break
A central team of CPI(ML) comprising of Bihar State Secretary Ramjatan Sharma, Central Committee member Ramji Rai, Kisan Sabha leader Shivsagar Sharma and Bihar State Committee member Mahanand visited Jahanabad where CPI(Maoist) had attacked a jail and freed some of its leaders, including one Ajay Kanu, and killed one Ranvir Sena leader inside the jail and taken away 4-5 men belonging to the Ranvir Sena along while fleeing after the incident on November 13. Later some bodies were recovered outside the town. As per the account of one police man present at that time the team found that when this incident took place only three armed police constables and five home guards were on duty in jail and they gave almost no resistance to the attackers. The jail, having a capacity of 341, housed 658 inmates at that time. Maoists first fired bullets at the police lines and then threw few bombs in the town before attacking the jail. One police person was killed in the jail premises and one succumbed to his injuries in the hospital. Many inmates fled the jail as the gates remained open for hours without any staff after the incident. Bihar DGP and Home Secretary have accepted that they had prior intelligence reports of some possible attack by Maoists.
Whatever be the governmental claims of 'saving' the police lines, it is a truth that when the corrupt jail administration treats hardened criminals as VIPs and gives inhuman treatment to the common prisoners, occurrence of such incidents is not surprising. In the same jail prisoners had revolted on many occasions in the past against such treatment. Even outside the jails criminals and Ranvir Sena leaders have patronised by the state. Ranvir Sena men who killed Comrade Manju Devi have not yet been arrested. While the government has to own responsibility for the incident, it has only tried to sidetrack the real issues by suspending the SP and transferring the IG Prisons. Sensationalising the incident as an isolated event by some sections of the media without going deeper into the political situation in Bihar will only help to create the conditions for greater repression by the state on innocent and poor people.
CPI(ML) Demands Relief Package for Karbi Anglong and N.C. Hills to Save Innocent Lives
CPI(ML) has demanded a comprehensive economic package of Rs. five hundred crores from the central government for complete rehabilitation of all violence affected people in Karbi Anglong in Assam . An assistance of rupees five lakhs for each family of killed persons, rupee one lakh as one time assistance to those whose houses were burnt and costs of treatment of injured persons to be borne totally by the state are some features of this package which Party has demanded through a memorandum handed over to the Union Home Minister.
CPI(ML) leader Jayanta Rongpi met the Union Home Minister Shiv Raj Patil on Nov. 11 and apprised him of the latest developments in this region which witnessed engineered spate of violence taking more than 95 lives and made thousands of people homeless. He also reiterated CPI(ML)'s demand of putting a halt on delaying tactics by the central government in the name of talks with the armed outfits and to go for a speedy political solution of the problems in the region. It was also demanded to disarm the DHD and UPDS and to review the cease-fire agreement.
He warned the government not to undermine the growing tension still simmering below the surface that might burst at any moment even at the slightest provocation. So far, apart from symbolic visits by many dignitaries the government has done precious little to offer assistance and relief to more than fifty thousand displaced persons who are mostly poor peasants. The fact that ex-gratia financial assistance declared by Chief Minister to the families of those who lost their lives are yet to get a penny in respect to relief and rehabilitation. Had it not been the efforts of CPI(ML) and various civil liberty and voluntary organizations the plight of the inmates of relief camps would have been pitiable manifold.
The government has not taken any effective steps to address the basic issues which were responsible for the conflict between UPDS and DHD – the two militant outfits with whom government has signed ‘ceasefire agreement’.
These Hill districts of Assam have gone through this now familiar cycle of conflict between two militant organizations, resulting in mindless killings of innocent civilians - burning of villages - people fleeing to the relief camps - formation of so called peace committees - inefficient and insufficient relief distributions - followed by a relative calm, only to be disturbed again by the next round of violence leaving behind trails of immense human sufferings. This insanity must be stopped.
Karbi Anglong and North Chachar Hills district has the misfortune of bearing the brunt of three major mass massacres of civil population during last three years due to clashes between these militant outfits. History reminds of the situation becoming uncontrolled within a couple of months after every such clash as the concerned authorities never tried to resolve the basic issues behind such clashes. This can not be ascertained at the moment that this will not be the case this time. Going by the pattern of three mass massacres of civil population during last three years it is seen that the situation comes ‘under control’ after a couple of months without resolution of the main cause of the conflict. The possibility of next round of clashes remains very much alive.
A CPI(ML) delegation had met the President APJ Abdul Kalam on Oct. 27 to demand the dismissal of Tarun Gogoi led govt. in Assam for engineering violence for petty political gains. The Party in Assam has decided to further intensify mass campaign against the massacres and the state protection being given to such anti-people outfits engaged in violence. Party will also enhance its independent efforts in carrying out relief and rehabilitation work for the affected people in the region and is also carrying out a nationwide signature campaign in support of the people of Karbi Anglong.
Mazdoor Adhikaar Rally in Ranchi
A rally of unorganised labour was organised in Jharkhand and marched from the CPI(ML) office in Church Road to the Commissioner’s office. A memorandum was submitted to him. The rally was led by the State Secretary of the AICCTU Tarun Sarkar, labour leader Shashikant, Aftab Alam, Bhim Sao, Singi Khalkho and others. Speakers in the rally said that this rally was organised to give a warning to the anti-worker Government. They said that on the one hand there was massive migration and hunger deaths of workers and on the other hand workers were being rendered unemployed through indiscriminate mechanisation while contractors and mafia were ruling the roost. They said that though a central law for unorganised workers was in force, the Munda Government had given no social security to the workers. Rather, 20 thousand workers from the state who were residing in Ranchi were living under inhuman conditions. The AICCTU leaders have sent a memorandum to the Governor of Jharkhand demanding, among other things: the Government issue ID cards for all workers, minimum wages for workers, red card and ration cards to be ensured, welfare board for workers to be constituted, unorganised labour act, pension and insurance laws to be immediately implemented, equal wage for equal work for men and women to be guaranteed, stop to indiscriminate mechanisation, etc.
Campaign against Water Privatisation in Delhi
CPI(ML) is conducting a month-long campaign in Delhi to oppose Delhi government's attempts to privatise water supply at the behest of World Bank. Party has termed right to water as a fundamental right and demands for a free supply of at least 100 litres per person per day, to withdraw increased water tariffs and that complete transparency be maintained in relation to all governmental accounts.
CPI(ML) has reiterated its stand to oppose any attempt by the government to sell basic amenities to the private sector. The Party has organised protest programmes at many places in Delhi on Nov. 10. Hundreds of people held a dharna in Narela which was led by Surendra Panchal and AICCTU leader Santosh Rai, while in Mangolpuri veteran Comrade Mulkraj and Satya Prakash Baudh led one such dharna. AIPWA and RYA held dharnas in Kalyan Puri and Patparganj which were led by Amar Nath Tiwary, Charan Singh, Madhunisha and AISA's Arnab Shukla. A dharna was also held at Vikas Marg in Shakarpur. This was addressed by Delhi State Secretary Rajendra Pratholi, Ravi , Uma, and Delhi Nagrik Sabha leaders Samudra Paswan and Surjit Panchal.