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Saturday 19 November 2011

Scrap AFSPA! End the Repressive Rule of Armed Forces in the North East and Kashmir!

CPI (ML) HOME Vol. 14, No. 4501 - 07 Nov. 2011
The Weekly News Bulletin of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)(Liberation)
U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi 110092. Tel: (91)O11-22521067. Fax(91)11-22442790

Scrap AFSPA!
End the Repressive Rule of Armed Forces in the North East and Kashmir!
On November 2, 11 years back, a young woman in Manipur, disturbed by the terrible Malom massacre in which the Assam Rifles killed 14 civilians, went on a hunger-fast in mourning and protest. Some days later, on November 5, she decided to begin an indefinite fast – to be broken only when the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 - instrument of the humiliation and repression imposed on Manipur and the North East - was scrapped.
The writ of AFSPA runs in most of the North East states, as well as in Kashmir – in all regions where there is heavy deployment of armed forces in the name of combating insurgency. The very presence of such huge contingents of armed forces in civilian areas, of course, brings severe repression and rights violations in its wake. What the AFSPA does is to provide a cloak of impunity to the armed forces in case of any act of violence meted out by them to civilians. It gives the armed forces a licence to kill civilians on 'suspicion', and it protects the armed forces from prosecution in case of any such acts of violence on civilians.
Irom Sharmila has been virtually imprisoned in hospital in Imphal, to prevent her ongoing fast from reaching the national capital and generating greater awareness among the general public and pressure on the central government. In 2004, following the rape and murder of a young woman, Thangjam Manorama, by jawans of the Assam Rifles, a huge protest movement erupted on the streets of Manipur. The Meira Paibi women of Manipur protested without clothes outside the army headquarters in Imphal, with banners saying, 'Indian Army Rape Us.' In an effort to contain those protests, the UPA Government set up the Justice Jeevan Reddy committee to look into the AFSPA.
The Jeevan Reddy Committee did recommend that the AFSPA be scrapped. But the UPA Government has taken no action on that recommendation. Even now, as the support for Sharmila's fast and the demand for scrapping AFSPA has gained momentum, the UPA Government continues to say that a 'consensus' is required in order to heed the demand. In other words, by 'consensus' the Government means that the Army itself must be willing to do away with the AFSPA! The Government ought to ensure that its laws and its armed forces do not overstep the constitutional boundaries. Instead the Government is retaining the AFSPA – a blatant violation of all constitutionally guaranteed civil rights – and justifying it in the name of the Army's own sentiments and opinions!
In Kashmir, in the wake of an uproar over the discovery of over 2000 mass graves in which it is suspected that victims of custodial 'disappearances' lie buried, and an incident of custodial killing of a worker of the ruling National Conference party, the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has offered to lift AFSPA from some of areas of Kashmir. This is a highly inadequate offer. Not only must the AFSPA be scrapped since its very existence is in violation of constitutional principles; in both Kashmir and the North East, the culture of impunity must be ended and security personnel responsible for custodial or fake 'encounter' killings of civilians must be brought to book.
As we salute the courageous struggle of Irom Sharmila and express solidarity with her ongoing fast, we must demand the immediate scrapping of AFSPA. The scrapping of AFSPA can only be a first step in restoring peace and justice to the North East and Kashmir. The truth about custodial disappearances, rapes and 'encounter' killings must be established and the guilty punished. And above all, the army deployment in civilian areas must be withdrawn so that the people of these regions can breathe free and without fear.
Comrade Ramnaresh Ram's 1st Memorial Day commemorated
CPI(ML) commemorated the first Memorial Day of Comrade Ramnaresh Ram, a veteran of the communist movement in the country and one of the founder leaders of revolutionary peasant movement of Bhojpur, on 26 October 2011. A pledge taking meeting was organised in Arrah on this occasion while his memorial was inaugurated in Sahar. The political prisoners lodged in Arrah Jail under various trumped-up and false charges, also held a programme inside the Jail. A booklet on veteran Comrade's life and works was released at the Pledge Meeting. A minute's silence was observed in the memory of Comrade Ramnaresh Ram.
CPI(ML) Politburo member Swadesh Bhattacharya addressed the meeting in Arrah. He said Comrade Ramnaresh Ram's contribution to the communist movement has added new chapter to the revolutionary history of the Bhojpur region. He organised the poor and toiling masses and transformed them into a formidable political force. His legacy will remain a source of inspiration for the coming generations. He called upon those fighting against corruption and loot, for democracy, to unite and come forward to march ahead on the path lit by Comrade Ramnaresh Ram.
Sudhir Suman described Comrade Ramnaresh Ram's multi-faceted personality while introducing the booklet which was released on the occasion. Comrades Rameshwar Prasad, President AIALA, Dhirendra Jha, Gen. Sec. AIALA, Party CCM Amar, Ex-MLA Arun Singh, Party Bihar State Committee member Sudama Prasad, and many other leaders were present on this occasion. Agrenand Chaudhary of Swami Sahajanand Saraswati Vichar Manch, Prof. Parasnath Singh, Prof. Ramtavkya Singh, Prof. Tungnath Chaudhary, Dr. BK Prasad, Dr. Ashutosh Prasad, Dr. Suniti Prasad and many other prominent citizens of the region were also present.
Comrade Ramnaresh Ram's memorial was inaugurated at the banks of Sone river in Sahar block headquarter, by Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya. The memorial is being built on the land donated by party's activist Manager Thakur who himself hails from the rural poor background. AIALA District President Siddhanath Ram hoisted the flag and addressed the gathering saying Comrade Ramnaresh Ram started his political journey during Quit India Movement and since then never deviated from the revolutionary path and broadened and extended the poor peasants' struggle against oppressive feudals to the hundreds of villages that had started from a single village. He organised movements on different issues of toiling peasants and paved a new way for the revolutionary communists. Kamta Prasad Singh of AIALA said that these struggles completely changed the scenario of Bhojpur which used to be a strong fort of feudal oppression and where poor peasants and Dalits had no right to sit on a cot, or wear clean good cloths, and even women's dignity and respect was not protected. They had no voting right under feudal terror. Comrade Ramnaresh Ram and his Party played a historic role in changing this situation. But now again, those same feudal forces are trying to revive and consolidate themselves under the protection of Nitish government, hence it is now more imperative to carry forward the legacy of Comrade Ramnaresh Ram and his Party. The Nitish model of so called 'development' is primarily meant to attack the rights of toiling peasants, poor and agricultural labourers, and this must be resisted.
Comrade Dhirendra Jha addressed the gathering at the inaugural function and said that Comrade Ramnaresh Ram added new dimensions to the communist movement and struggles for social change. He was a flag bearer of the legacy of people's movements and rich tradition of commitment and sacrifice which is dispersed across a long span of history from first struggle for Indian Independence of 1857, to the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, to the Quit India Movement, and then to the struggles of Telangana and Naxalbari uprising. He will forever remain a guide for us. Comrade Ramnaresh Ram believed that if freedom and equality has not reached to the houses of poor, then such terms will remain empty rhetoric. Even today people are living on wages lower than Rs. 20 day amidst the hype of Bihar Govt's clamour of development. His political views and his Party reoriented lakhs of people towards the struggles of majority of population, which is peasants, workers, youth and unemployed. When Bihar Govt is trying to reverse the achievements of the struggles led by Com. Ramnaresh Ram, a two pronged strategy against pro-imperialist policies on the one hand and against feudal-communal-regressive forces on the other, is needed in order to change the existing regime through a widespread mobilisation of poor and toiling masses. He called upon to make the forthcoming rally to be held on 21 November in Patna a great success.
Peoples' poet Krishna Kumar Nirmohi recited poems in memory of Comrade Ramnaresh Ram. Comrade Ramkishore Rai conducted the inauguration meeting.
Nearly 350 prisoners in Arrah jail held a memorial meeting led by Comrades Digree Yadav, Satish, Mahendra Singh and Hareram.
Comrade Ramnaresh Ram breathed his last after a brain hemorrhage last year on 26 October. He had played a pivotal role in building movements of rural poor and agrarian labourers as well as in the expansion of CPI(ML) through many militant struggles on various issues that resulted in increased political assertion of poor and toiling masses. He was born to a poor Dalit family in 1924. Ideas of Bhagat Singh and peasant movement led by Swami Sahajanand Saraswati left a deep impact on him. He joined communist movement in support of Telangana peasant struggle and against the death sentences awarded to the communist revolutionaries, and since then remained committed for the cause of democracy, socialism and communism throughout his life.
Towards AICCTU's 8th National Conference
AICCTU Protests in Delhi
In the wake of ongoing preparations for the All India Conference of AICCTU, a mass campaign is going on for membership by different unions. A mass protest was organised in front of District Commissioner's office involving hundreds of construction workers against the continuous denial by Delhi Govt in giving voter ID-cards and BPL cards to them. The protest was led by AICCTU Delhi President VKS Gautam, Ram Abhilash and OP Sharma. A memo was handed over to DC who assured of guaranteeing voting rights to the poor workers who have no property or any other proof of residence which is made mandatory for issuing the voter I-cards. The AICCTU Delhi has condemned such biased parameters which in all practical terms is only meant to deprive workers of their voting rights and identity that in turn results in further weakening of bargaining power thereby keeping them permanently in inhuman conditions.
Issuing of BPL Cards to all working population was also demanded along with many other demands. This was addressed by CPI(ML) Delhi Secretary Sanjay Sharma, RYA's Aslam Khan and many others.
Another protest was held by the workers of Wazirpur Industrial area at the Labour Commissioner office to reiterate the demands of implementation of Minimum Wages and Industrial safety. Workers are usually paid upto one-third or even one-fourth of the prescribed minimum wage and this is going on under full administrative protection. The workers are made to work in very inhuman and insecure conditions leading to deaths and injuries on a regular basis. These two issues were being raised by the All India General Kamgar Union for quite some time. The protest was led by AICCTU Delhi Vice-President Mathura Paswan, while Munna Yadav, RP Singh, AISA Gen. Sec. Ravi Rai, and many others addressed the gathering.
Workers' convention at Guwahati
In the process of preparation of the forthcoming national conference of AICCTU, a workers' convention was held at Guwahati Press Club on 30 October that discussed present day challenges before the working class and the task before trade unions. A presidium comprising of AICCTU state President Viren Kalita, Anil Sarma of India Carbon and Girish Kalita of United Workmen Union of Guwahati Refinery conducted the convention and CPI(ML) state secretary Com. Rubul Sarma inaugurated the convention. Com Sarma explained different forms of exploitations and attack on working class and he emphasized on organising the huge sections of unorganized and temporary workers along with making them politically conscious. He called upon the workers to develop a strong working class movement with the unorganized workers as its bedrock. AICCTU State Secretary Subhas Sen spoke on the perspective and progress of activities for AICCTU's forthcoming national conference at Bhillai. He also called upon the workers to make the 8th November nationwide workers strike in Assam a grand success.
Leaders of different affiliated trade unions placed their views and opined to develop workers' movement in greater Guwahati and Kamrup district.
Convention also constituted AICCTU's Kamrup District Committee with Com. Anil Sarma of India Carbon Workers' and Employees' Union as the President and Debojit Bhagawati of United Workmen Union of Guwahati Refinery as the secretary.
Party's 1st Garhwal Region, and Udham Singh Nagar District Conference
CPI(ML)'s first Garhwal region Conference (Kumaon is the only other region in Uttarakhand) was held on 23 October 2011 at Srinagar. The conference began by remembering the martyrs.
Central Committee member Comrade Rajendra Pratholi inaugurated the Conference as Chief Guest. Citing the popular protests worldwide against corporates, corruption and despots such as the OWS, he said it is imperative to intensify our efforts for imparting revolutionary temper to the movement against corporate loot and corruption. Comrade Purushottam Sharma, Party's Observer for the Conference noted that both the Congress and BJP have transformed the State into a paradise for the corrupt and the swindlers and a political vacuum kind of situation is prevailing in the State. This situation calls for consistent and intensified efforts on our part towards building strong and deep-rooted Party organisation in Uttarakhand.
The Conference emphasised on increasing Party's membership, strengthening the mass organisations and wider circulation of Party Organs and literature. Some longer term targets are constitution of district committee in Chamoli and town committee in Srinagar. AIKM's Karnaprayag block conference was also decided to be held in December, apart from other decisions and resolutions.
Hitherto existing Garhwal Leading Team was replaced with a seven-member Garhwal Party Committee, that includes- Comrades KP Chandola, Indresh Maikhuri (Secretary), Atul Sati, Lalit Mohan Chaukiyal, Madan Mohan Chamoli, Malti Haldar and Ashish Kandpal.
Udham Singh Nagar
CPI(ML)'s first District Conference of Udham Singh Nagar was held at Dineshpur on 16th October 2011. Comrade Rajendra Pratholi and CPI(ML)'s State incharge Comrade Raja Bahugna were the main speakers at the Conference.
Comrade Raja condemned the communal organizations RSS, BJP and Bajrang Dal and also the Congress which has helped push the situation in Rudrapur to the point of communal riots. Four people (3 Muslims and one Hindu) lost their life in the communal violence. He said the only option before us to counter the communal politics is strengthening the communist organization in the area. He said that in last ten years there has been drastic change in the district with the establishment of SIDCUL (industrial zone). This has resulted in a large increase in the numbers of industrial workers while agricultural labourers and peasant population has gone down relatively. In this scenario AICCTU will have to focus more on organizing the workers' movements here. AISA also need to be organised afresh here.
The Conference elected a 9-member District Committee with Comrade KK Bora as the Secretary. Other members are- Comrades Nishan Singh, Kartik Mandal, Harish Joshi, Virendra Haldar, Ajay Saxena, Rudal Prasad, Vishnupad Sana.
Some important resolutions are- doubling the Party membership in one year, demands for strong action against Congress MLA Tilakraj Behad, BJP's ex-Municipality Chairman Rajkumar Thukral and others who incited and conspired the Rudrapur communal riots, suspension of the DM, proper compensation to the victims, a Convention to be organised on 27 November against the communal riot and demonstrating people's unity, fighting for the implementation of labour laws in SIDCUL, etc.
Panchayat and Local Body Elections in TN
In the Local body elections in Tamil Nadu we contested in 170 places for various posts, from Village Panchayat ward members to Corporation ward members: Pudukottai (34), Kanyakumari (32), Tanjore-Nagappattinam (29), Tiruvallore (15), Tirunelveli (12), Salem (10), Madurai (9), Coimbatore (8), Villupuram (8), Cuddalore(4), Kanchipuram(4), Dindigul(3), Virudunagar(3), Kirshnagiri (1).
Among the 105 Village Panchayat Ward posts we contested, we won at 26 places. We contested in 22 panchayats, for the post of panchayat president, securing nearly 4000 votes in all. We won 2 seats, one from Tiruvallore (at Nerkunram, where a woman candidate has won) and one from Pudukottai (Periyakottai). Apart from these, a woman candidate (a CPIM dissident) supported by us won one panchayat president post from Kanyakumari.
Altogether we contested in 26 Town Panchayat ward member posts, of which we secured 2, one each from Kanyakumari and Dindigul. In two places, one in Kanyakumari (candidate is a leader of fishing community) secured 3984 votes and another one from Pudukkottai, we contested for Town Panchayat President Posts. In Cuddalore district we contested for the post of Virudhachalam Municipal Chairman where we got 366 votes. We contested for 6 Block Council wards, securing between 100 to 600 votes. From Tirunelveli and Salem Corporation we contested 7 Corporation Ward member Posts and secured 550 votes. 31% of the contestants were women.
We won the following seats: at Pudukkottai - one panchayat president post (Periya kottai – reserved, SC post) and 10 panchayat ward members; Kanyakumari - 1 panchayat president (at Nettangode – a woman), 3 panchayat ward members and 2 Town panchayat councilors; Tiruvallore - one panchayat President (Nerkunram- a dalit woman), 3 panchayat ward members; Tanjore-Nagapattinam - 5 panchayat ward members; Dindigul, one TP Councillor and 1 panchayat ward member; Villupuram, 1 panchayat ward member; Tirunelveli - 2 panchayat ward members; Virudhu Nagar - 1 panchayat ward member.
In all, our performance has improved since the last panchayat elections. We secured 26 panchayat ward members (13 in the last elections); 2 panchayat president posts as well as 1 supported by us, while in the last election we won a single post. Whereas the last time we could not get any Town panchayat ward member posts, this time we won three.
OWS Resonates in Kolkata
From Wall Street to Kolkata, we are one in global protest against corporate loot and imperialist attack
On 29th October CPI(ML) organized a mass demonstration in solidarity with the ongoing Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, at metro channel, Dharmatalla in kolkata. Comrades from Kolkata, Hoogly and North 24 Pargans participated in this demonstration.
AISA's State leader Sudip Chakraborty, RYA State President Shouvik Ghoshal, AICCTU State President Atanu Chakraborty, Poshchimbang Gano Sanskriti Parishad Secretary Amit Dasgupta, AIPWA Kolkata Secretary Indrani Dutta, Poschimbanga Krishak Samity Vice President Krishna Pramanik, AIALA leader Sajal Adhikary, Prof. Salil Biswas and CPI(ML) State Secretary Partho Ghosh addressed the gathering. The meeting was presided over by CPI(ML) State Committee member Basudeb Bose. PB member Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya also attended the demonstration.
The demonstrators read the following statement/resolution:
The protest started at the headquarters of global capital- Wall Street, US on 17th September, 2011, has already spread to more than 1500 cities throughout the world. To 'rescue' only 1% of the society, billions are spent from the public money, whereas the other 99% are facing unemployment, poverty, job cuts and even deprived from basic survival needs. In an effort to overcome the deep crisis the US capitalism is continuing its aggressive war strategy. People's resistance against this are facing massive state repression, police harassment and mass arrest. This meeting extends support and solidarity to the spirit of this worldwide protest and assertion of different sections of the people throughout the world. The meeting also condemned the US-NATO attack in Libya.

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