September-October 2010

Table of Contents

1) National Day of Solidarity with Kashmiri People

2) Memorandum on Kashmir Submitted by All India Left Coordination

3) Kashmir Solidarity Letter to PM

4) Towards Realignment of Left Forces and Radicalisation of the Left Movement

5) All India Left Convention Held at New Delhi

6) Delhi Declaration

7)’ Naxal’ Witch-Hunt: Mirzapur Police Targets CPI(ML) CC Meeting

8) Orissa CPI (ML) Leader Arrested in Land Struggle

9) Police Firing on Farmers in Western UP: A Fact-finding Report

10) Workers’ Convention: Onwards to 7th September All India General Strike

 

Politics in India


National Day of Solidarity with Kashmiri People


– Liberation, September, 2010.

On 20 August 2010, in keeping with a resolution adopted at its founding Convention, the All India Left Coordination (AILC) comprising the Communist Party of India Marxist Leninist [CPI(ML)] Liberation, the Communist Party of India Marxist (CPM) Punjab, the Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) Maharashtra and the Left Coordination Committee Kerala, observed the National Day of Solidarity with Kashmiri People in various important centers of the country. Through protest marches, dharnas and demonstrations left activists across the country declared a strong message of solidarity to the struggling people of Kashmir and determination to sensitise and mobilize struggling people in India on the question of the repeated betrayals and daily brutalities perpetrated by the Indian state against the people of Kashmir.

In the national capital, a solidarity dharna was organised at Jantar Mantar which was attended by a large number of students, workers, activists and democratic individuals. Addressing the dharna, Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary of CPI(ML),  condemned the stubborn continuation of a policy of repression of mass demonstrations and the attempt to deny the authenticity of the Kashmiris’ outrage and protests. He asserted that nowhere can unity be achieved at gun point or under the army jackboot and added, “In Kashmir the much-touted economic packages cannot assuage the sense of alienation, and are no substitute for addressing the political demands and aspirations for justice and dignity of the people of Kashmir.” The Solidarity Dharna was also attended and addressed by CPI(ML) Central committee members Kavita Krishnan, Prabhat Kumar, Delhi State Secretary Sanjay Sharma, All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) leader Rajiv Dimri, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Student leader Sucheta De, AICCTU leaders Satvir Shramik and NM Thomas, film maker Sanjay Kak and others.

The National Day of Solidarity with Kashmiri People was observed in 12 different districts of Punjab including Mansa, Sangroor, Bathinda, Chandigarh, Raikot (Ludhiana),Nangal (Ropar), Rahon, Mukandpur (Navan Shehar), Tarntarn, Gurdaspur, Ajnala, Raiya (Amritsar), Mahetpur (Jalandhar), and Mukerian (Hoshiarpur). Main speakers at different places were Rajwinder Rana, Sukhdarshan Natt, Kanwaljeet, Harbhagwan Bhikhi, Iqbal Kaur Udasi, Harmeet Smagh (of CPIML-Liberation) and Mangat Ram Pasla, Harkanwal Singh, Raghveer Singh, Gurnam Dawood, and Rattan Singh Randhawa (of CPM-Punjab) and others. In Assam, the effigy of Chidambaram was burnt in several parts of the state.

In Pune, a public meeting was organized by Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) which saw enthusiastic participation of workers, students and intellectuals. Among others Com. B.J. Kerkar of Lal Nishan Party( Leninist) spoke at the meeting. In Mumbai, CPI(ML) and Lal Nishan Party held a public meeting at Dadar and have planned to hold a dharna for Kashmir at Churchgate on 25 August.

In Bihar, solidarity marches were organized in 20 districts including Ara, Patna, Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Bhagalpur, Purnea, Sasaram, and Kaimur. In Jharkhand, seminars were held at Bagodar and Deoghar, and protest marches and mass meetings were held in Giridih town, Ranchi, Gumla, Dumka and Hazaribagh.
In Uttar Pradesh (UP), CPI(ML) organized solidarity marches and mass meetings across the state at Lucknow, Varanasi, Kanpur, Gajipur, Mughalsarai, Chandauli, Jalon, Allahabad and Ballia. In Uttarakhand CPI(ML) along with All India Students Association (AISA) held protest demonstrations and effigy burning of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at Pithoragarh, Dehradun and Haldwani.

At Gangavati in Karnataka, CPIML protestors burnt the effigy of the central and the Kashmir state governments. Basavaraj Soolebavi of Karnataka Souharada Vedike, Virupaksha of AICCTU and Peer Pasha, a noted left intellectual addressed the gathering. A memorandum was submitted to the Tahsildar at HD Kote taluk in Mysore district.

In Andhra Pradesh, a dharna was held at the Kakinada collectorate in which 200 people participated; at Vijayawada a padayatra from Gandhinagar to the sub-collector’s office culminated in a dharna; at Narsipatnam of Visakha district, a dharna was held at the Revenue divisional office. In Tamil Nadu, solidarity programmes were held at Tirunelveli, Thanjavur, Pudukottai, and Chennai along with poster campaigns and distribution of 10,000 leaflets in many districts. In Puducherry, Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), Forward Bloc state leaders too participated in CPI(ML)’s solidarity programme.

Politics in India

Memorandum on Kashmir Submitted by All India Left Coordination

(The following memorandum was submitted by the leaders of the four constituents of All India Left Coordination on 12 August.)

To
The Hon’ble President,
Union of India

Respected Madam,
We the undersigned are deeply disturbed by the situation in the Kashmir Valley, where scores of young people have lost their lives in firing by security forces on street protests. Reports suggest that around 50 people have lost their lives in this manner in the past two months. It may be noted that the street protests this time around started with demonstrations against the fake encounter of three civilians at Macchil. Since then the street protests  with the visible participation of women and youth  have gained momentum with every instance of killing of people, especially children and teenagers, due to tear-gassing or firing by security forces.

What is even more disturbing is the refusal by the Government of India to concede the legitimacy of the protests by Kashmiri people. Instead, attempts have been made to suggest that the protests are all orchestrated by militants or anti-nationals. The death of young people in police firing usually witness popular anger and protest anywhere in the country. The Kashmiri people are exercising their natural democratic right to protest against excesses by security forces. The attempt to deny the legitimacy or authenticity of the protests, and the stubborn continuation of a policy of repression of mass demonstrations, are contributing to the alienation and anger of Kashmiri masses. Draconian laws like Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act  (AFSPA) are emboldening security forces to commit crimes like fake encounters and killing of civilians.

The response from the Prime Minister of India too is wanting. In a long-delayed statement, he has promised various economic packages and on the key political question, has said that “autonomy can be considered if there is a consensus.” It is clear that in Kashmir, economic packages cannot assuage the sense of alienation. It is only if justice is done in cases of fake encounters and such human rights violations, draconian laws like AFSPA scrapped, and the military shadow lifted from civilian life in the Valley can some measure of trust be built. As for the political question, we recall that former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao had after all said “the sky is the limit” as far as autonomy for Kashmir is concerned. It is necessary for the Government of India to come up with a credible political proposal of maximum autonomy  without making ‘consensus’ any condition for such a proposal.

We appeal to your office to intervene to ensure that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act AFSPA is scrapped; moves taken to investigate cases of human rights violations and excesses of security forces and the guilty punished; and immediate measures taken towards a democratic political solution to the issue of Kashmir.

Dipankar Bhattacharya               Mangat Ram Pasla
General Secretary                        Secretary
CPI(ML)(Liberation)                    CPM Punjab

Bhimrao Bansode                                                   M R Murali
Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) Maharashtra            Left Coordination Committee, Kerala

Politics in India

Kashmir Solidarity Letter to PM by UK- and US-based Organisations

(On 20 August, coinciding with the Kashmir Solidarity Day called all over India by the All India Left Coordination, various organisations in the UK and US submitted a letter to the Indian Prime Minister via the Indian High Commission in London. The text of the letter along with signatories is reproduced below.)

To
The Prime Minister of India,
Prime Minister’s Office
South Block, Raisina Hill,  New Delhi, India-110 101.
20 August 2010

Dear Prime Minister,
We the undersigned wish to express our grave concern about the ongoing killings of civilians by security forces on the streets of towns and villages of Kashmir. The brutal murders of more than fifty unarmed people, a majority of them children and teenagers, in the space of two months, demonstrates a complete disregard for the humanity of the Kashmiri people on the part of the security forces who, directed by the Indian state, are acting with complete impunity.

The current phase of violent repression against Kashmiris began with attacks on demonstrations against the cold-blooded killing of three civilians at Macchil by security forces in a fake encounter. On 11 June 2010 security forces opened fire with tear gas and live ammunition on one such demonstration by unarmed civilians, killing Kashmiri schoolboy Tufail Ahmad Mattoo. In protest against this murder, people, women and youth in particular, came out in very large numbers  but security forces fired on each protest, and the death toll of protestors has risen daily.

We are extremely concerned that Kashmiris are not even being allowed to express their anger in public protests when children are killed in police firing. Some of the numerous incidents which indicate the gravity of current human rights violations include, on 1st August alone, the shooting and then bludgeoning to death of a seven year old boy by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Batamaloo; the torture and killing of a disabled youth Arshid Ahmad (17) of Reshipora Sangam by CRPF personnel inside their camp; and the killing of a fifteen-year-old girl, Afroza Teli, who was shot in the head during a protest demonstration in Khrew village in Pulwana district.

We also remind you that current events are taking place against a background of two decades of violent repression in Kashmir which has resulted in up to 32,000 women being widowed, nearly 100,000 children orphaned, approximately 10,000 men ‘disappeared’, and countless rapes of women by the army and paramilitary forces.

As representatives of Indian and South Asian diaspora organisations and civil liberties organizations in Britain we would urge you to act immediately to ensure:
– An immediate end to the atrocities against Kashmiris by security forces
– That those who committed and sanctioned these atrocities are brought to justice
– Immediate repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, (AFSPA) which provides impunity to     security forces
– That the military shadow is lifted from civilian life in Kashmir
– That the Indian government demonstrates a credible commitment to a democratic political solution in     Kashmir

Yours sincerely,
Amrit Wilson, South Asia Solidarity Group
Avtar Jouhl, Indian Workers’ Association (GB)
Raj Pal, South Asian Alliance
Jasbir Singh, The 1857 Committee
Estella Schmid, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities
Marai Larasai, Imkaan (a national charity supporting Black, South Asian, and  Minority Ethnic women’s organizations working on violence against women)
Saima Yousaf, National Union of Students
Anu Mandavilli, on behalf of Friends of South Asia, USA

All India Left Coordination

Towards Realignment of Left Forces and Radicalisation of the Left Movement

Dipankar Bhattacharya, Liberation, September, 2010.

Four fighting organizations of the Left – Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (Liberation)  [CPI(ML) (Liberation)], Communist Party Marxist (Punjab) [CPM (Punjab)], Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) [LNP](L)] of Maharashtra and Left Coordination Committee (Kerala) [LCC (K)]– formed an All-India Left Coordination (AILC) through a joint Convention held in New Delhi on August 11, 2010. The Convention adopted a Delhi Declaration with a 12-point agenda which will serve as a guideline for coordinated action and intervention by the four organizations in the coming days. In its Declaration, the AILC rejected both class collaboration/parliamentary cretinism and Left adventurism/anarcho-militarism and resolved to strengthen the Left movement by all means while exploring opportunities for broader Left unity and cooperation with democratic forces. As its first all-India action, the AILC called for observing August 20 as a National Day of Solidarity with the People of Kashmir and Protest against State Repression.

The AILC was certainly not formed overnight, it was the upshot of years of mutual cooperation and shared quest for a united platform to radicalize and rejuvenate the Left movement in the country. The CPI(ML)(Liberation) and LNP(L) have a history of working together for nearly two decades. Ever since the Communist Party of India (Marxist ) [CPI(M)] split in Punjab in the wake of the Thiruvananthapuram plenum in 2000 leading to the formation of CPM Punjab, CPI(ML) and CPM Punjab have had close ties of cooperation. The LCC (Kerala) of course came into existence only recently, but it was preceded by years of ideological struggle inside the CPI(M) and ever since it started taking shape as an independent organization, it evinced keen interest in becoming part of an all-India process of realignment and radicalization of the Left.

This united move surely marks a first step towards fulfilling a long-felt need. For much of the last three decades, the CPI(M) and Communist Party of India (CPI) had virtually monopolized the Left space in the dominant media and naturally also in the layman’s perception. The CPI had a bigger presence than the CPI(M) in the Hindi belt while the CPI(M) dominated the show in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. Over the last few years, the CPI has been reduced to a pale shadow of its past in the Hindi belt and now increasingly the CPI(M) too is facing a similar situation in West Bengal and Kerala. This marks both an opportunity and challenge for all sincere and radical forces of the Left to step up their role and dispel all notions of a ‘terminal crisis’ and ‘irrelevance’ of the Left in India. The AILC has its role cut out in this context.

The other significant feature regarding AILC is that it is not yet another proverbial case of ‘birds of the same feather flocking together’.  Neither is it an attempt at unity of Marxist Leninist (ML) forces nor is it a case of erstwhile CPI(M) forces reuniting among themselves. Rather it is a case of historically diverse and also to an extent geographically separated streams of the Left seeking a common all-India ground in today’s critical situation. A closer look at the constituents of the AILC will bring out this important aspect.

Here is, for example, LNP (L) of Maharashtra which had branched out of the CPI in the 1940s questioning the CPI’s 1942 line, played an active and important role in subsequent years in many worker/peasant/general democratic movements in Maharashtra right from the Sanyukta Maharashtra Movement to the historic textile strike of the 1980s, and moved away again in the late 1980s from the parent Lal Nishan Party’s increasingly pro-Congress reformist stance to reiterate its Leninist moorings. This is what paved the way for close cooperation between the LNP (L) and the CPI(ML)(Liberation).

The CPI(ML) too has evolved in two different directions – while CPI(ML)(Liberation) has emerged as an all-India revolutionary communist party rooted in militant mass struggles, the PWG of Andhra Pradesh has moved away from the CPI(ML) stream to acquire a ‘Maoist’ identity by merging with the Maoist Communist Centre. As far as the CPI(M) is concerned, in the later years of 1970s, it had benefited considerably from the first phase of the CPI(ML) movement – the CPI(ML) base in many areas had returned to the CPI(M) and in states like West Bengal and Kerala, it was the CPI(M) which succeeded in appropriating much of the impact of the CPI(ML)-led struggles and the people’s desire for democracy following the dark years of semi-fascist terror of the Congress.

Yet the CPI(M) promoted a hostile attitude to the CPI(ML) and tried to suppress every voice of ideological dissent within the party as a sign of ‘Naxalism’. The CPI(ML) on the other hand always stressed Left unity on the basis of independent assertion, and today, Left forces coming out of the CPI(M) find a warm welcome from the CPI(ML) precisely on this common ground.

As noted in the Delhi Declaration, the AILC marks only a modest beginning. As of now, it is just a platform of coordination with a shared approach and understanding on most urgent issues of the day. But as representatives of all the four organizations remarked in the convention, it is a modest first step, which nurtured properly, may well grow into an important long march; a small beginning hinting at great possibilities of realignment and radicalization of the Indian Left. Let us carry it forward in this desired direction.

All India Left Coordination

All India Left Convention Held at New Delhi

– Liberation, September, 2010.

A day-long All India Left Convention was held on 11 August 2010 at Speaker’s Hall, Constitution Club, New Delhi, jointly sponsored by CPI(ML)(Liberation), CPM(Punjab), Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) of Maharashtra and Left Coordination Committee (Kerala). With more than three hundred activists from across the country attending the Convention, the Speaker’s Hall was packed to capacity.

The convention was chaired by a four-member presidium comprising Comrades Ramji Rai, Bodh Singh Ghuman, K S Hariharan, and Bhalchandra Kerkar. The secretaries of the four parties – Comrade Mangat Ram Pasla, Secretary, CPM Punjab, Comrade Bhimrao Bansode, Secretary, Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) Maharashtra and Comrade M R Murali, Secretary, Left Coordination Committee Kerala, and CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya – were also present on the dais.

Inaugurating the Convention on behalf of the four parties, CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya welcomed the gathered activists and leaders, and also briefly introduced each of the four parties. Outlining the ruling class assaults on people’s rights and democracy, and the range of people’s resistance movements, he said that real forces of the Left were naturally committed to championing these movements. The Convention aimed at addressing these issues and advancing these struggles by launching an All India Left Coordination to forge a closer unity and coordination among these movemental left forces. As a broad guideline for this coordination and unity, he said, the four parties had prepared a ‘Delhi Declaration’ to be discussed and adopted by the Convention.

Following the inaugural address, the ‘Delhi Declaration’ was read out – in English by Comrade Harkanwal Singh of the CPM Punjab and in Hindi by Comrade Ramji Rai of CPI(ML) Liberation. More than a dozen leaders and activists placed their views on the various issues, challenges and perspective outlined by the Declaration.

Addressing the Convention, AISA General Secretary Ravi Rai said that if peasants’ land was being grabbed for corporate loot, similarly students’ education too was a victim of corporate loot, and the students’ movement would resist the assaults on democratic rights – not just in campuses but in the whole of society. Comrade Kumarankutty of the LCC Kerala drew a shocking portrait of the Kerala CPI(M)’s growing forays into business and the blurring of the line of demarcation between communist politics and bourgeois commerce.

CPM Punjab leader Comrade Harkanwal Singh highlighted the need for an assertion of the revolutionary Left agenda at a time when the official Left had jettisoned that agenda. LNP(L) leader Comrade Uday Bhat spoke of the working class movement in Mumbai and Maharashtra, especially the revival of textile workers’ struggles against the corporate grab of mill land. Comrade V Shankar of the CPI(ML) expressed the hope that the emerging unity of fighting Left forces would facilitate the independent assertion of the revolutionary Left over the capitulationist politics of parliamentary opportunists.

CPM Punjab leader Comrade Raghvir Singh spoke about farmers’ resistance to imperialist agricultural policies imposed in the name of WTO. Comrade Uddhav Shinde of the LNP(L) and Comrade Bauke spoke of the acute agrarian crisis in Maharashtra and other parts of the country where farmers were committing suicide. Comrade Inderjeet Singh Grewal (leader of the CPM Punjab’s trade union organisation, the CTU) spoke of the struggles against power privatisation in Punjab, and called for struggles to be intensified against the repressive anti-people and pro-imperialist policies of the Governments at Centre and States.
Comrade Kavita Krishnan, National Secretary of AIPWA, spoke about the assaults on women’s rights and freedoms in the name of ‘honour’, and also of how women were bearing the brunt of state repression in the ‘Operation Green Hunt’ areas. Comrade Malleswar Rao of the CPI(ML) spoke about the recent police firing in Sompeta, Andhra Pradesh, and the struggles against land grab and loot of mineral resources in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.

After the detailed discussion, the Convention adopted the Delhi Declaration enthusiastically. Comrade Swapan Mukherjee of the CPI(ML) presented a series of resolutions which were also adopted by the house. The Convention adopted a resolution condemning the brutal repression and bloodshed of civilians in Kashmir, demanding a democratic political solution to the Kashmir issue and calling for a ‘National Day of Solidarity with the Kashmiri People’ to be observed all over the country on August 20, 2010. Other resolutions included one against the UPA Government’s utter failure and callous attitude towards price rise, a demand for a probe into the corruption at the Commonwealth Games, and another demanding scrapping of the Nuclear Liability Bill. Another resolution adopted extended full support to the Central Trade Unions’ call for a General Strike on 7 September 2010. Comrade Swapan Mukherjee also outlined the plans for the AILC to hold Conventions at several state capitals and other centres, and also to send solidarity/fact-finding teams to various centres of people’s resistance.

The Convention culminated with the address by top leaders of the four parties. Comrade Mangat Ram Pasla, General Secretary, CPM Punjab said that the Left Coordination marked a small beginning, but one that was destined to grow big in the coming days. He said the four organisations were aware of their mutual differences but were determined to unite on the basis of the essential points of agreement. He called upon comrades to implement the Delhi Declaration with the commitment and courage that Bhagat Singh epitomised. LNP(L) Secretary Comrade Bhimrao Bansode gave a brief account of the historical evolution of the LNP(L) and said it had been overly preoccupied with trade union struggles but was determined to play a more active political role. Comrade Unnithan, leader of the LCC Kerala, presented a speech on behalf of his party, observing the degeneration of the official Left, and calling upon the Left Coordination to take up the banner of the heroic struggles of Punnapra Vayalar and Kayyur and the sacrifice of hundreds of communists – a banner that was being abandoned by the revisionist leadership of the CPI(M) today.
The concluding speaker at the Convention, Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, said that the Convention and the Coordination just launched represented a ray of hope for unity of the Indian Left movement. “Just as communists part ways at some turning points,” he said, “they can also unite at other junctures.” He said “Naxalbari was very much a product of the revolutionary tradition of the Indian communist movement – it was an attempt to resurrect Telangana when the ruling classes faced their gravest crisis after 1947 and Charu Mazumdar always described the CPI(ML) as the same Communist Party that produced the heroic martyrs of Kayuur and Telangana, Tebhaga and Punnapra-Vayalar. Today as circumstances around us are changing radically, we need to take a bold and forward-looking step towards realignment of all sincere, struggle-oriented and mass-based Left forces and rejuvenation of the Left movement to meet the challenges of the day.”

All India Left Coordination

Delhi Declaration

– Liberation, September, 2010.

(Adopted at All-India Left Convention sponsored by CPI(ML)(Liberation), CPM Punjab, Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) Maharashtra, and Left Coordination Committee, Kerala, and held at Constitution Club, New Delhi on 11 August 2010)

Recent years have been witness to an aggressive US imperialism pushing the world into renewed war and occupation as well as an unprecedented financial crisis. In the name of globalisation, imperialism has intensified attempts to appropriate and exploit the natural and human resources of the developing world, but while accentuating exploitation and disparities, globalisation has also led to intensification of all the inherent contradictions of global capitalism and new waves of popular anti-imperialist resistance the world over.

The Indian ruling classes have adopted a strategy of integrating India into this US-led imperialist order on economic as well as strategic plane. Reckless implementation of pro-imperialist, pro-corporate policies – coupled with the pro-landlord agrarian strategy being pursued since Independence – by the Indian ruling classes has pushed the country into alarming depths of an all-round crisis marked by relentless rise in prices, chronic mass hunger, widespread unemployment and rampant corruption. Even as tens of millions of the country’s poorest people reel under starvation, the debt-trap-turned death-trap continues to claim the lives of crisis-ridden peasants in their hundreds and thousands. Amidst systematic loot and siphoning of the country’s wealth and precious resources, the working people are being relentlessly exploited, displaced and dispossessed in the name of ‘development’.

The recent farcical verdict on the world’s biggest industrial genocide which happened a quarter century ago in Bhopal has unmasked a most reprehensible and thoroughly corrupt nexus among state power and corporate power undermining every principle of justice and human and national dignity. Meanwhile, the growing incidence of oppression of dalits and women and the shocking spectacle of ‘honour killings’ in the National Capital Region and its surroundings point to an ugly social reality beneath the gloss of glamourised and globalised development.

While the Indian people are seeking answers to these maladies and alternatives to these disastrous anti-people policies and the corrupt and criminalized political culture, the ruling classes and their parties, whether in power or in opposition, are making a clamour for greater liberalization to give more concessions to capital and a harder state to unleash more repression and restrictions on the people.

Against this backdrop, four fighting organizations of the Left, viz., CPI(ML)(Liberation), CPM Punjab, Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) Maharashtra, and Left Coordination Committee, Kerala, have resolved to come together and form an All-India Left Coordination with a view to strengthening the Left movement in the country.

While pursuing the goal of a countrywide Left resurgence, the AILC will focus on the following key areas of a democratic agenda:

Resisting the whole gamut of neo-liberal pro-corporate pro-imperialist policies being followed almost without exception by all governments at the Centre and in the states, and fighting for an immediate halt to the ongoing spree of disinvestment/privatization measures and for curbing penetration of FDI in key sectors of our national economy and  other sectors of strategic/national importance,

Opposing Indo-US strategic partnership and growing subordination of Indian foreign policy to the global hegemony of imperialist forces, US imperialism in particular; promoting friendly relations, especially people-to-people ties, with neighbouring countries, and uniting with the struggles of the peoples of the world against globalisation, war and imperialist machinations,

Fighting for an alternative path of self-reliant and people-centred development as against the present imperialist-dictated, corporate-driven and big capital-led ‘profit-centred development’ resulting in relentless rise in prices, growing hunger and unemployment, sharp regional and social inequalities, landgrab, displacement, resources-grab/deprivation and serious environmental degradation – an alternative that would promote relatively more egalitarian and employment-intensive and less energy-, resources- and capital-intensive path of development,

Fighting for a comprehensive policy regime ensuring fundamental rights to food, shelter, education, healthcare, basic amenities, work and social security for all,

Fighting against every facet of agrarian crisis, for adequate protection of Indian agriculture from the adverse WTO diktats, for scrapping of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Act 2005 and Land Acquisition Act, 1894, for thorough-going implementation of land reforms and promotion of small peasant-centred agricultural development,

Launching struggles for the nationalisation of wholesale trade of foodgrains and for creation and strengthening of a Universal Public Distribution System (PDS) for essential commodities of daily use as well as for subsidised agricultural inputs and automatic inclusion of all agricultural and other rural workers, small peasants, artisans, unorganised and contract workers in the below poverty line (BPL) category,

Resisting the growing state-led assault on democracy, fighting for a democratic political solution of the long-standing problems of Kashmir, North-East and the Maoist insurgency, for scrapping of draconian laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, disbanding of Salwa Judum, and halt to Operation Green Hunt and anti-minority witch-hunt in the name of combating terrorism,
Resisting communal violence, and caste and gender oppression and fighting for minority rights and affirmative action for development of deprived sections within minority communities, and the rights and dignity of dalits, adivasis, women and all marginalized sections,

Fighting for labour rights for all sections of workers, especially the right to living wages, job security, universal health and social insurance, trade union rights including mandatory recognition through secret ballot and democratization of the workplace/industrial relations, adequate protection for migrant workers and unorganized workers including agricultural labour, and against contractualisation, outsourcing, hire-and-fire, and indiscriminate privatisation which are hallmarks of the neoliberal offensive;

Promoting the women’s movement against patriarchy and oppression, to struggle for gender equality, justice, and women’s dignity, as well as equal rights and opportunities in society as well as in the workplace; resisting violence both within and outside the home; challenging obscurantist practices that demean women; resisting all attempts to curb women’s freedom in the name of upholding tradition or culture; demanding speedy legislation against sexual harassment in workplaces, ‘honour’ killings and sexual violence, as well as for 33% reservation in Assemblies and Parliament.

Promoting the student-youth movement to secure ‘right to education and employment’, demand a Common School System to ensure schooling of high quality for all, and resist commercialization and pro-imperialist restructuring of education and denial of democratic rights to the student community,

Promoting people’s cultural awakening against the corporate cultural invasion that denigrates women and working people, the feudal culture of ‘honour killing’ and various retrograde social and cultural practices that seek legitimacy in the name of tradition, fighting for democratization of social, professional and inter-personal life and supporting the progressive democratic aspirations of the intelligentsia.

The AILC will strive to build a countrywide movement over these issues while also fighting for the resolution of various pressing local problems.

The AILC rejects all kinds of fundamentalism, terrorism and national/sub-national chauvinism and upholds the values of democracy, secularism and social progress in every sphere of national life

Within the Left movement, AILC will fight against the trend of class collaboration and rightward drift and degeneration while rejecting the line of Left adventurism/anarcho-militarism.

To advance the Left-democratic agenda and strengthen the Left and democratic movement, the AILC will work consistently for broader Left unity and seek cooperation with various democratic forces including individual activists.

The formation of the AILC marks only a modest beginning and we appeal to all activists and well-wishers of the Left and democratic movement to join and help us in this endeavour.

Struggles in India

‘Naxal’ Witch-Hunt: Mirzapur Police Targets CPI(ML) CC Meeting

– Liberation, September, 2010.

The CPI(ML) Central Committee held its last meeting at Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, on 1-3 August 2010. Following the meeting, the Mirzapur police has made a deliberate attempt to intimidate the local party leaders in the name of an ‘anti-Naxal’ offensive.

On 6 August, a police official hand-delivered a letter addressed to Mohammad Salim, the National President of the Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) and a senior leader of the party in Mirzapur. The letter is signed ‘In-Charge, Naxal Cell, Mirzapur’, but there is no name accompanying the signature. The letter states that “information was obtained” that a CPI(ML) programme was organised at Mirzapur, in which office-bearers and activists from the “Naxal-affected states” of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, as well as ‘Naxal-affected’ districts of UP participated. The letter adds, “Mirzapur is an are extremely sensitive and Naxal-affected” district where there are “continuous reports of movement of Naxalites.”

The letter goes on to say, “We have come to know that you have organised a Conference and cadre meeting in this Naxal-affected area, in which suspicious people took part. Being an Indian citizen and a senior office-bearer of CPI(ML), it was your topmost duty… to obtain permission from the district administration for such a meeting. You are already aware that Section 144 is in place all over Mirzapur, and no conference or programme can be held without permission in an unconstitutional way.” In the manner of a show-cause notice, the letter then asks Comrade Salim why action should not be initiated against him and participants in the meeting for “100% violation of Section 144 CrPC,” and warned that if no answer was received by 7 August, action would be initiated against him for which he would be solely responsible.

The Mirzapur party has responded to the ‘letter’ via the District Collector, demanding to know who the ‘In-charge, Naxal Cell’ is who has signed it.

The CPI(ML) has condemned in the strongest terms this attempt to brand its Central Committee as a haven for ‘suspicious’ elements. Rather, it is the behaviour of the UP police that is suspicious and shady. Well aware of the antecedents of the CPI(ML) and its leadership (including the fact that it is a party registered with the Election Commission of India, and CCMs who attended the meeting included several former elected people’s representatives and leaders of recognised Trade Union, Agricultural Labour and Peasants’ organisations with lakhs of mass membership), the UP police deliberately chose to target the party and its highest leadership.

It may be recalled that following the CPI(ML) State Committee meeting in Gorakhpur (February 12-14 2010), the UP police and intelligence officials had interrogated district-level CPI(ML) leader Rajesh Sahni for two hours, demanding to know why intelligence officials were not allowed to attend the State Committee meeting, and implying that this meant some illegal activities were being plotted in the meeting! The interrogators also asked why the party insisted on opposing the Government and Green Hunt, and warned that if the party did not change its stance on Green Hunt, it was liable to face action. Comrade Sahni was told that the police had considered arrested the entire State Committee. Subsequently, various other members of the district committee also received calls making ‘enquiries’ about each other and about the party functioning.

The UP police and Government are clearly taking advantage of the ‘Green Hunt’ climate to defame and intimidate people’s movements and harass political forces that are voicing dissent.

Struggles in India

Orissa CPI (ML) Leader Arrested in Land Struggle

– Liberation, September, 2010.

Comrade Tirupati Gamango, State Committee member of CPI(ML), was arrested by the Rayagada police when 500 CPI(ML) Liberation activists occupied 24 acres of ceiling surplus land at Banduguda panchayat of Bisam Cuttack block of Rayagada district. Along with Comrade Tirupati, Comrade Rajendra Hikka was also arrested.

The party had been demanding redistribution of ceiling surplus land to local adivasis as per the rules of Orissa’s Ceiling Surplus Act but the Biju Janata Dal (BJD)-led government, while failing to distribute land that is the adivasis’ rightful due, instead distributed 6000 acres of land to the MNC Vedanta.

On 4 August, as part of an ongoing land rights campaign led by the party, CPI(ML) activists occupied 24 acres of land. Following the arrest of Comrade Tirupati Gamango, a protest demonstration was held at Gunupur sub-collector’s office on 9 August, where a delegation of state committee members including Comrades Yudhistira Mahapatra, Ashok Pradhan, and Muralidhar Behera met the sub-collector. A bail hearing for Comrade Tirupati and Comrade Rajendra Hikka is due on 26 August.

Recently, reports by official panels indicate how the Orissa Government deliberately colluded in the large-scale violation of laws by Pohang Iron and Steel Company (POSCO) and Vedanta. The same Government, while colluding in corporate crimes and grab of adivasis’ and peasants’ land, is out to arrest and harass activists who are leading adivasis’ struggles for land.

Peasant and Agricultural Workers’ Struggles

Police Firing on Farmers in Western UP: A Fact-finding Report

– Liberation, September, 2010.

(On 14 August, ironically the eve of Independence Day, farmers protesting against corporate land grab were fired upon in Western Uttar Pradesh. A team of the All India Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM) comprising AIKM Vice President Comrade Prem Singh Gehlawat and National Executive member Comrade Afroz Alam visited the site and met with protesting farmers. Main findings and observations of their fact-finding report are summarized below.)

Farmers whose land is being acquired for the Yamuna Expressway and the associated Hi-Tech cities have been agitating for long against land acquisition. The Yamuna Expressway would be 165 km long, acquiring the fertile lands of Gautam Buddha Nagar, Aligarh, Mathura, Agra and Hatras districts of Western UP and affecting 1192 villages. Jay Prakash (JP) Associates are the builders and developers of this project. Other than the expressway, some 30,000 bighas of land on either side of the Yamuna are being acquired for building townships and commercial ventures. It is this prime land which the Government is acquiring from farmers at throwaway prices and handing over to JP for mega profits that has irked the farmers and brought them out from their farms to the battlefield.

Villagers from the six villages – Zikarpur, Kansera, Jehangarh, Udaypur, Tappal and Kripalpur villages of Tappal block in Aligarh district had been sitting on an indefinite fast since 27 July under the banner of Sarva Dal Kisan Sangarsh Samiti, led by Ram Babu Katelia. 88 villages of Tappal block would be affected as 510 hectares of their farm land would be acquired for building the township. Their main demands were 1. Increase of land rate from the existing Rs. 412/m2 to Rs. 870/m2, the rate given to farmers in Noida two years ago 2. Residential accommodation in the new township to the farmers whose land had been acquired for building the township 3. Residential accommodation to landless labourers of the area who would lose means of livelihood after land acquisition.

Background of movement
Farmers had not wanted to sell land initially. Land was first acquired from small farmers, mostly Jatavs (Dalits) in Kripalpur, Birja Nagla at the rate of Rs 336/m2. Farmers say only 22.5% of them have agreed to sell their land. Farmers filed a writ in the High Court against land acquisition. The judgement on 2 July went against them. After that, between 8-11 July, the district administration in collusion with JP razed to ground the standing crop of farmers of the six villages, building embankments to encircle their lands and forcefully evicted them. Farmers in Udaypur broke these embankments. The Government had also deviously acquired possession of the land in land records even before the agreement with farmers was finalised. The farmers were then compelled to start an indefinite fast from 27 July against the state government. Thousands of farmers from the nearby villages would gather daily at the dharna in solidarity with the movement.

The Incident
On 14 August, at about 5 pm, a plainclothes Station Officer of Tappal Police Station along with some masked goons of JP reached the dharna site and arrested Ram Babu Katelia. When farmers resisted, they were fired upon by the SO and four people received gunshots. Hearing that their leader had been kidnapped, villagers from the neighbouring villages started gathering at the scene. Meanwhile, a PAC truck reached there and uprooted the tents at the dharna. The people then realized that Katelia had been arrested by the police and they retaliated against the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC). The PAC fired on the unarmed villagers, killing three, including two children. The PAC entered Zikarpur village and mercilessly beat up even women and children. The villagers fired in self-defence and in the ensuing melee one PAC officer was killed. The farmers were in no mood to relent and ultimately the PAC had to flee. Meanwhile some farmers erected blockades on the Aligarh-Palwal road. Next day, on 15 August, thousands reached the dharna to chalk out the next course of action. The neighbouring towns of Tappal, Jattari and Zewar observed total bandh. In adjoining Mathura, farmers blocked the roads. A large part of Western UP was celebrating its own version of Independence.

On 16th, a massive Kisan Panchayat was organized at the Dharna. Leaders of all major political parties addressed the Dharna. Com. Prem Singh Gehlawat, the National Vice-President of AIKM and Com. Afroz Alam, the national Executive member of AIKM also reached the spot and addressed the gathered villagers and visited their homes.

To dowse the spreading fire, Mayawati rushed her Cabinet Secretary to Aligarh where Katelia was jailed. Under pressure from the movement, Katelia was unconditionally released, a compensation of 10 Lacs was announced for those killed by the police and the land rate increased from 412 to 570/m2.

Those killed in police firing include 13-year-old Mohit, a Class V student from a Jatav family; 13-year-old Prashant Sharma of Jahangarh and 26-year-old Dharmendra of Sarol village. 13-year-old Rafiq Khan, a Class VIII student of Kansera village, has also disappeared since the day of the firing and is presumed dead. Comrade Prem Singh visited the homes of all four.

The UP Unit of CPI(ML) has declared that it will observe 23 August as a Black Day all over the state against the corporate land grab and police firing on farmers.

Workers’ Struggles

Workers’ Convention: Onwards to 7th September All India General Strike

– Liberation, September, 2010.

All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) held a Workers’ Convention on 12 August 2010 in Constitution Club, New Delhi “Against Corporate Loot, Privatization and Assault on Workers’ Rights”. The Convention was attended and addressed by leaders of Maharashtra Sarva Shramik Mahasangh, CTU (Punjab) and Left Coordination Committee, Kerala. Worker activists and leaders from Delhi and neighbouring states like Punjab, U.P. and Uttarakhand participated in the convention.

The convention was presided over by Comrades N M Thomas, Hari Singh, R N Thakur and Bhagwant Singh Samao of AICCTU, Bhim Rao Bansode of Maharashtra Sarva Shramik Mahasangh, P Kumanrankutty of Left Coordination Committee, Kerala and Comrade Randhawa of CTU (Punjab). The main speaker at the convention was CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya. A resolution supporting the All India Strike was read out by Rajiv Dimri.

The General Secretary of AICCTU Swapan Mukherjee welcomed the participants and also delivered the concluding speech. Apart from members of Presidium, the convention was addressed by Vijay Kulkarni of Maharashtra Sarva Shramik Mahasangh; Ram Kishan, Secretary General of All India Health Employees and Workers Confederation; leaders of AICCTU – Babulal (U.P.), Santosh Roy (Delhi), K.K. Bora (Uttarakhand), Satbir Shramik (MTNL); Ravi Rai, General Secretary of AISA; Kanwaljeet, leader of RYA (Punjab) and others.

The convention resolved to give a fitting rebuff to the anti-worker approach of the powers that be and intensify the nation-wide campaign for the success of the all India General Strike on 7 September 2010 called by Central Trade Unions including AICCTU in the backdrop of intensified onslaught on the working class by the UPA Government at the Centre and State Governments of all hues and people’s resistance.

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