6 December 2005 : Old Lessons, New Challenges
6 December is remembered as a black day in contemporary Indian history. A reminder of that traumatic hour when modern India was held hostage by the savage forces of barbarism, when the 'secular' Indian state revealed the depth of its bankruptcy and impotence to facilitate the frenzied demolition of a medieval mosque by the goon squads of the Sangh brigade.
As a spectacle of modern-day barbarism, 6 December 1992 can well be bracketed with 6 August 1945 when the US had first bared its nuclear-powered imperialist fangs to erase the whole city of Hiroshima in Japan from the face of the earth. But while in the case of Japan, the attackers had come from outside, in our case, they were very much from within. And they were not faceless shadows from the so-called terrorist-extremist fringes, but celebrities from modern India's 'political mainstream'.
Thirteen years since the invasion of Ayodhya, the celebrity invaders and demolishers are still enjoying their protracted tryst with state-power. Not only have they secured impunity for all their extra-constitutional crimes, but periodically they also enjoy the licence to make laws and administer them against their chosen targets. From Ayodhya they have marched to Ahmedabad via Delhi, and now having hit the electoral jackpot in Bihar, they are working overtime to choreograph a fresh communal script all over the Hindi heartland.
While the communal brigade is eyeing new destinations, the camp of 'official secularists' is reeling under the weight of the poll debacle suffered in Bihar. In fact, this is the second major occasion when 'official secularists' have suffered such a huge rout in Bihar. We must remember that between 1999 and 2004, when the NDA managed to last a full term at the Centre with a clear majority, much of that strength came from RJD-ruled Bihar, which contributed more than 40 MPs to the NDA's tally in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections. Now with Laloo Prasad's first resounding defeat in an Assembly election, it has been comprehensively proved that secularism can flourish only as an integral component or feature of a progressive and democratic polity, it can never survive as an add-on to an otherwise undemocratic and retrogressive regime. Strengthening of radical Left and democratic politics is the only real and effective way of weakening and defeating communalism.
To come back to the issue of Ayodhya, the NDA and the UPA now sing the same line of abiding by judicial directives. What is the judiciary really to decide? As far as the country is concerned, the only question of public importance is to convict and punish the architects of the demolition campaign. But successive central and UP governments have displayed a clear lack of political will on this score. The case that is currently being talked about has nothing to do with the criminal act of demolition, it is just another title suit to decide 'trusteeship rights' over the 'disputed land'. But can Ayodhya really be reduced to an ordinary land or property dispute? On the eve of the 150th anniversary of India's first war of independence, the great uprising of 1857, secular Indians must boldly assert that in the event of the mosque not being rebuilt the only other acceptable alternative can be a national memorial dedicated to the great martyrs of 1857.
Tailpiece: Thirteen years ago, every picture from the demolition site at Ayodhya had Uma Bharti jumping in delirious joy in the company of Messrs Advani and Joshi. Today, the 'victor' from Ayodhya is playing 'victim', all her 'triumphs' having allegedly been 'misappropriated' by a party she now likens to an aeroplane with two pilots and four hijackers. She claims to have been a victim of three types of 'bias' within the party leadership - gender, caste and class, and she is vowing to come back with the real BJP, with the true spirit of Ayodhya unleashed in a new avatar.
Well, we can not expect the sannyasin politician to mention 'religion' as another source of the BJP's 'bias'. But will she ever realise that millions in this country have already experienced in a far deadlier degree what she calls a mere 'bias'? Over the last two decades India has been relentlessly haunted by hate campaigns, witch hunts, carnages, pogroms and genocides that Uma Bharti has co-authored and co-perpetrated in the august company of her mentors-turned-tormentors, and does she now really expect to garner public sympathy as a victim? What you describe as 'bias', and what many in this country have experienced as nothing short of a persecution campaign, is what has all along defined and driven the Sangh parivar, and there can therefore be no sympathy, Umaji, for all your cries of a new and real BJP.
National Convention Against WTO’s Hong Kong Ministerial
Indian People’s Basic Needs and Interests Are Not Negotiable
The Indian People’s Campaign against WTO organised a national Convention on Dec 3 in New Delhi. The Convention decided to organise countrywide protests against the WTO Ministerial round in Hong Kong to be held on 13-18 December. The convention warned against the disastrous implications of the current WTO agenda for the future of the Indian economy and for the livelihood options and prospects of the overwhelming majority of India’s working people. The convention called upon the Indian government to reject the draconian provisions of the three main proposals that constitute the Hong Kong agenda, viz., the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), the non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and demanded a comprehensive review of the TRIPS agreement that has reinforced the monopolistic stranglehold of the MNCs and the developed countries.
Initiating the proceedings at the convention, Convenor SP Shukla presented a detailed preview of the Hong Kong Ministerial and the vac round vis-à-vis government of India’s positions. Prominent among the speakers were CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat, former Prime Minister V. P. Singh, G. Devarajan of Forward Bloc, Manoj Bhattacharya of RSP, Socialist thinker Surendra Mohan, Samajwadi Party’s Sunilam, Vandana Shiva and many others. The convention was chaired by CPI General Secretray AB Bardhan.
Speakers in the convention demanded that every issue related to WTO must be discussed in Parliament before going to the current round and government of India must show total transparency with regard to its positions in the WTO in the best interest of the people of India.
CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya began his address by paying tributes to the gas victims of the Bhopal genocide perpetrated by the Union Carbide exactly 21 years ago. He said that while successive governments over the last two decades have failed to punish the multinational company, Union Carbide, and secure proper compensation for the lakhs of victims of this tragedy, the last one decade has seen the reins of the entire economy being handed over to the MNCs in the name of honouring the WTO agreements. An effective resistance to the WTO’s agenda calls first of all for a determined opposition to the governments which convert the WTO agenda into India’s own policies and implements them at gunpoint. In this context, he underlined the need for organising massive nationwide protests on 13 December, the inaugural day of the Sixth WTO Ministerial in Hong Kong.
He said that trade is the field where the domestic economic policy of a country meets its foreign policy. A government which follows a pro-rich economic policy and a pro-US foreign policy can never uphold the interests of the nation or the working people in an international forum like the WTO. While for the sake of public consumption the government of India talks of making common cause with other developing countries through groupings like G-20 or G-33, Comrade Dipankar noted that in real life the UPA government was increasingly reducing India to the status of an appendage to G-1, the Unilateral State of America. The anti-WTO national campaign must therefore play an instrumental role, stressed Comrade Dipankar, to build a powerful mass movement and assert that India was not for sale and that the basic interests of India’s working people were not negotiable.
Secular March Held on 13 th Anniversary of Babri Mosque Demolition
A Secular March was organised in Patna on the occasion of 13 th anniversary of Babri demolition, on 6 December, which was attended by many eminent citizens, artists, social and political activists, literary persons and political leaders. Patna regularly observes this day as a day of solidarity against the communal fascist forces for the last many years. The march was led by CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, State Secretary Ramjatan Sharma, Ex-DGP of Bihar DP Ojha, literary figure Kishan Kaljayee, Arshad Azmal and others. The march started from Gandhi Maidan and culminated at Railway Station crossing into a mass meeting.
Comrade Dipankar said in his speech that RJD-Congress's last fifteen years' misrule has helped communal forces in gaining power in Bihar today, and this has posed a new challenge before us. Now we have to win over the situation in favour of the people by defeating these forces. The demolition of Babri Masjid was an attack on the basic foundations of modern India and it is very sad that the CBI is yet to complete its investigation though many governments have changed since then. The question of Babri mosque is directly concerned with the unity and democracy of the country and people of India will never allow communal forces to build a temple at this place, said Comrade Dipankar. He reminded the audience of fifteen years' anti-poor rule in Bihar that led to the formation of a government in alliance with the communal forces and said that these forces may now use this opportunity to spread nationwide another round of communal frenzy. He said that the path followed by Lalu and the Congress is actually a path of betrayal from the struggle against the communalism. He also said that Nitish Kumar's so called 'new Bihar' without a new path is bound to be proved a farce and he will be exposed as a mask of the BJP in due course of time. He said that the united struggles of agricultural labour, poor peasants, students, youth, women and other democratic sections will pave the way for a new people's Bihar. The meeting was conducted by RYA General Secretary Kamlesh Sharma.
Secular March in Varanasi
A Secular March was held out in Varanasi on Dec 6 which was participated by hundreds of people from many districts of eastern UP. The march vehemently condemned the BJP's attempts to communalise the region in the wake of the murder of it's MLA Krishnanand Rai. Rai was killed in a gang-war rivalary but BJP is trying to give it communal colours. The marchers, led by UP State Secretary Akhilendra Pratap Singh, sent a memorandum to the Governor of UP demanding ban on Hindu Yuva Vahini, which was instrumental in flaring up riots in Mau, and CBI inquiry of Mau riots and the murder of Krishnanand Rai.
A similar Secular March was also held in Lucknow on the day.
Earlier, CPI(ML) has organised a dharna at Gazipur district headquarter on Dec. 2 to condemn BJP's attempts to spread communal frenzy. The dharna was held with the slogan "No to riots, Provide employment and right to livelihood and dignity" and "Do not impose one more riot over the people of eastern UP who are already suffering from hunger, unemployment and lack of development". The dharna was led by Party's State Committee member Ishwari Prasad Kushwaha.
Convention against Communalism in Guwahati
Assam State Committee of CPI(ML) organized a political convention at Bhagawati Baruah Bhawan, Guwahati on the occasion of anti-communal day on 6 Dec. The convention was also attended by the leaders of RSP, UDF and AGP(P). Prominent among speakers were Ganesh Kutum, former Speaker of Assam Assembly from AGP(P), advocate Hafis Rashid Ahmed Choudhury and Dr. Samedur Rahman from United Democratic Front, Paresh Baruah, State Secy of RSP and CPI(ML) CC member Jayanta Rongpi. The convention was presided over by Party's Assam State Secretary Rubul Sarma.
The convention unanimously expressed the need of launching united efforts to resist communalism in the state. Convention demanded the resignation of Tarun Gogoi Government, which has totally failed to control UPDS and DHD in Karbi Anglong. The convention resolved that the people of Assam need a drastic political change and hence all the left and democratic parties must respond to it through united initiatives for preparing a viable political alternative by defeating the politics of Congress as well as the BJP.
Starvation Deaths in Gaya
Garaj Bhuiyan, aged about forty years, of Gobindpur village in Banke Bazaar block of Gaya died of starvation during last week. Two children of Sarju Bhuiyan also met the same fate. This village is comprising of nearly 27 hutments where all the inhabitants are very poor agricultural workers and all have been provided with red cards (BPL Card). But none of them is receiving foodgrains through ration shops or given employment through food-for-work scheme ever. CPI(ML) MLAs raised this issue inside the Assembly in Bihar.
Dharna in front of Assam Assembly
Asom Sangrami Chah Sramik Sangha (ASCSS) staged a dharna in front of Assam Assembly on 29 November during the Assembly Session. Through this dharna ASCSS raised some burning problems of tea workers of the state. Demands covered new wage agreement and proper enquiry into a firing incident where one worker was killed in September and withdrawal of suspension of workers. Although the time bound wage agreement has expired on 31 March, no steps have been taken so far for the new wage agreement. This is depriving the workers of the tea gardens in Assam of their due wages. ASCSS is launching a movement demanding Rs. 75 as the minimum wage. ASCSS demands from the Assam Govt. to sign the new wage agreement immediately.
Hunger Strike in Udaipur by Rajasthan Kisan Sangathan
CPI(ML) leader Nathulal Gometi and Rajasthan Kisan Sangathan (RKS) leader Gangaram sat on a fast-unto-death in Udaipur under the banner of Rajasthan Kisan Sangathan to press for their demand of complete rehabilitation of 27 displaced tribal families of Morila back in the village and occupation over their own lands. These families were forcibly expelled from the village by a powerful section of the villagers after a land dispute. CPI(ML) and RKS has raised this issue and demanded from the administration to immediately rehabilitate these families on their lands.
The hunger strike was broken on sixth day when the DM gave assurance to immediately arrest all the accused persons and rehabilitate all affected people. But the RKS decided to continue dharna till the demands are fulfilled. Though the police has made arrests of some of the accused persons, main accused are roaming freely and complete rehabilitation is still awaited.
Dharna against Continuing Violence in Karbi Anglong
CPIML, ASDC(P) along with KSA, DSU, KNCA staged a dharna before Assam Assembly on 28 Nov on Karbi Anglong issue. They demanded the resignation of Tarun Gogoi Government which is responsible for the recent carnage and clashes between two militant groups - UPDS and DHD. More than 1000 people from different parts of two hill districts participated in the dharna.
AICCTU Protest in Diphu
At the joint call of AICCTU and Karbi Anglong Workers Association (KAWA) 16 workers organizations held a protest demonstration at Diphu on 15 November. The procession went upto District Council office. A memorandum to the President of India was sent through Deputy Commissioner, Karbi Anglong. The workers demanded the dissolution of Assam Government, which is primarily responsible for the recent carnage. Protesters also demanded proper compensation to the displaced persons and victims of the carnage that happened due to the clash between two armed outfits - UPDS and DHD, and adequate relief to every inmate in the relief camps.
A mass meeting was also held, presided over by Sem Kiling, president of Karbi Anglong district committee of AICCTU. Speakers included Birendra Singh, President of Thela Association, Patir Raza Borbhuyan, Vice- President of KAWA, Dilip Kiling, President of KAWA, Karbi Anglong Kisan Sabha leader Rovi Kr. Phangcho and CPI(ML) State Secretary Rubul Sarma.
This protest was significant in the sense that for the first time labouring people from different sections of unorganised workers including Thela Association, Barbers’ Association, Karbi Anglong Youth Association, Vegetable and Fishery market Association came in solidarity over a democratic issue in Karbi Anglong.
Convention against Land Acquisition
East Godavari district unit of AIALA, Andhra Pradesh Kisan Sabha and CPI(ML) jointly organised a district level convention at Kakinada on December 3 against the AP Govt.'s move to acquire 11,000 acres of prime agricultural land for an ONGC refinery and a special economic zone evicting people from 34 villages.
Dr. K. Balgopal, Secretary of AP Human Rights Forum addressed the convention as the special guest. The Convention was also addressed by CPI(ML) State Secretary N. Murthy, AIALA State Secretary B. Bangar Rao, APKS State Convener D. Harinath, Arjun Rao, Viplava Kumar, Nageshwar Rao, K. Rathna Kumari and some sarpanches and MPTC members of the affected area. Though the land is being acquisitioned for the ONGC Project, the Reliance Group has substantial interest in this. Dr. K. Balgopal accused the AP Government of not sharing any information with the affected people. The Convention resolved to resist locating the projects near Kakinada and to launch struggle against it.
AISA Investigates Tehri Dam Evacuees Woes
An All India Students' Association team in Uttaranchal visited the Tehri Dam affected areas after the second tunnel was closed down recently which drowned whole of the Tehri town. The team observed that the issue of compensation has not been resolved completely, the people's woes have further increased by the apathetic attitude of the DM, who is also acting as the rehabilitation authority. He has fixed the time of such hearings at 4 PM which is highly inconvenient for the affected rural population as they can not go back to their villages after hearing on the same day considering the difficult tarrain in this hill area. There are many villages which technically are not dam affected but now their inhabitants have to cover a distance of upto 60 km and spent nearly 100 rupees to reach the mainland areas. Which was such a short distance earlier that they used to come New Tehri town on foot. Moerover, there is a large number of villages which will have to bear the brunt of ecological and environmental imbalances due to Tehri project, but they are also considered as 'not affected'. The team also observed that although a number of evacuees have not received proper compensation, there is a section which has prospered highly through corrupt means during the construction and commencement of this project. The AISA has demanded for the creation of a separate post of rehabilitation director and the current DM of Tehri be transferred with immediate effect. The team was led by Indresh Maikhury and Atul Sati.