January-February 2014

Table of Contents

  1. CPI(ML) General Secretary Visits Muzaffarnagar Relief Camps
  2. The Battle for Relief, Rehabilitation and Justice for the Riot Victims of Muzaffarnagar
  3. Nationwide Protests on 2nd January 2014 against Closure of Muzaffarnagar Relief Camps
  4. WB Govt’s New Lows after Madhyamgram Repeated Gangrape and Murder
  5. CPI(ML) Welcomes Formation of AAP Government
  6. The Khobragade-Richards Episode
  7. Are we expected to bring back the dead to give evidence?”
  8. Nirbhaya case: At JNU, the cause has grown wider
  9. Nelson Mandela Will Always Remain an Inspiration for the Struggle for Justice and Liberation

 

Struggles in India

CPI(ML) General Secretary Visits Muzaffarnagar Relief Camps:

Demands Central Intervention Under Article 355 to Ensure Rehabilitation and Justice

– CPI (ML) Press Release.

A CPI(ML) team led by the party General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya visited relief camps in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts on 8 January 2014. The team also included party Politburo members Swapan Mukherjee and Kavita Krishnan, Delhi State Secretary Sanjay Sharma, and Vice-President of AIKM Prem Singh Gehlawat. The team was also accompanied by activists of the All India Students’ Association, Revolutionary Youth Association and the JNU Students’ Union President Akbar Chawdhary.

In a statement issued following the visit, the CPI(ML) General Secretary said, “If ever there was a riot engineered with the most sordid electoral calculation, it was the orchestrated communal violence that shook Muzaffarnagar through September and October 2013. Today the cruelty of the communal violence is compounded by the cruelty of the UP State Government of the Samajwadi Party that has completely abdicated from its responsibility to prevent communal violence, and to ensure relief, rehabilitation and justice for the survivors. So far, the Central government has remained a silent spectator to the shocking aftermath of the Muzaffarnagar violence. Under Article 355 of the Indian Constitution, the Centre has the power to intervene in such situations and instruct the state government to discharge its constitutionally mandated responsibility. But as on many previous occasions, the Centre has once again failed to intervene and guarantee relief, rehabilitation and justice for the riot victims of Muzaffarnagar. The Supreme Court had asked the State Government to ensure facilities in the relief camps; instead it is busy trying to close down the relief camps. This blatant violation of even the Supreme Court’s order is further ground for the Centre’s immediate intervention.”

The main observations of the team yesterday are:

1) The scope of the communal violence is far greater than what the Government of UP admits. The number of those missing since the violence erupted is at least double the number to which the UP Government admits, and the death toll is likely to more than a 100. Moreover, the violence affected not only Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts but also Baghpat district, and people from these three districts have fled due to communal violence and communal terror.

2) A large number of those displaced and rendered homeless by the communal violence are yet to be recognised as victims by the State Government. Even in the 9 villages identified by the Government as riot-affected, some 1500 ration-card holders who are currently displaced, are being denied compensation and recognition as riot victims. Moreover, residents of adjoining villages, who fled in terror as they saw armed mobs attack their neighbouring village, are also not being recognised as victims of communal violence, though their homes and property too were destroyed by the communal mobs. For instead, while Lisad village is recognised as riot-affected, the villagers who fled adjoining Hasanpur, that has the same Pradhan as Lisad, are not being recognised as bona fide victims of the riots! Those who have fled following communal violence in Baghpat too, are not being recognised as riot victims. To sum up, the victims of communal terror as well as communal violence, are equally deserving of compensation, relief and rehabilitation.

3) The residents of the camp are mostly labourers. Having lost their livelihood as well as their homes, they are destitute now. The riot-displaced people are understandably reluctant or afraid to return to their villages even as relief camps are being bulldozed and they are being re-evicted. Whatever land and other property they had in their villages is being systematically grabbed in what can only be described as a campaign of communal cleansing. Most shockingly, it is the state government which is endorsing this campaign with its seal of official approval. Riot survivors who have received compensation from the government have had to give written undertakings promising never to return to their villages or claim any compensation for the loss or damage of property suffered.

4) And now with police stories of attempted LeT recruitments from among Muzaffarnagar riot survivors claiming media attention, the agenda of relief and rehabilitation is getting further sidelined. The people in the riot camps were extremely angry and aggrieved at the leaking of such police stories, which they fear are further vitiating the communalised atmosphere in the region.

The CPI(ML) General Secretary also said that a major implication of the Muzaffarnagar violence is a disturbing communal division within the peasantry. The Bharatiya Kisan Union led by the late Mahendra Singh Tikait has become acutely communal and this means a major political blow for the agricultural population in western UP who had already been reeling under a deep agrarian crisis and growing pressure of corporate land-grabbers. Already the sugar barons have taken full advantage of this situation ensuring that the cane growers got a raw deal. “As well as extending all-out support to the battle for relief, rehabilitation and justice for the riot victims of Muzaffarnagar,” he said, “the CPI(ML) is committed to working to rebuild the unity of the peasantry and the working people and intensify peasant resistance to the growing state-corporate assault on agriculture.”

Politics in India

The Battle for Relief, Rehabilitation and Justice for the Riot Victims of Muzaffarnagar

– ML Update, 8 – 14 Jan., 2014.

The story of Muzaffarnagar continues to become more and more shameful and horrific with every passing day. If ever there was a riot engineered with the most sordid electoral calculation, it was the orchestrated communal violence that shook Muzaffarnagar through September and October 2013. The district which till recently had no antecedent of communal violence fell to the vicious design of the Sangh brigade after Amit Shah, Narendra Modi’s trusted lieutenant from Gujarat was entrusted with the charge of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. The SP government failed miserably in checking the riot, but no one could realise that the government’s failure in stopping the violence would only prove to be a precursor to a prolonged chapter of complete abdication of its responsibilities. Today the SP government stands thoroughly complicit in the crimes being perpetrated against the riot survivors of Muzaffarnagar.

With tens of thousands of people displaced from the riot-torn villages just before the onset of winter, the government should have taken the lead in carrying out relief work on a war footing, but relief operations were left to the initiative of various community organisations. And when sections of the media started reporting on the plight of the riot victims in relief camps, especially the most shocking cold-wave deaths of infants and children, the government began shutting down the camps. Mulayam Singh even went on to say that the people in relief camps were not riot victims but activists of opposition parties. His brother described the relief camps as a conspiracy to grab forest lands. As the mercury dipped and the number of deaths kept increasing, the principal secretary of the UP government told us that people could not possibly die of cold – how else do people survive in Siberia, he asked – even as the father and son duo were immersed in New Year festivities.

The riot-displaced people are understandably reluctant or afraid to return to their villages even as relief camps are being bulldozed and they are being re-evicted. Whatever land and other property they had in their villages is being systematically grabbed in what can only be described as a campaign of communal cleansing. Most shockingly, it is the state government which is endorsing this campaign with its seal of official approval. Riot survivors who have received compensation from the government have had to give written undertakings promising never to return to their villages or claim any compensation for the loss or damage of property suffered. And now with police stories of attempted LeT recruitments from among Muzaffarnagar riot survivors claiming media attention, the agenda of relief and rehabilitation is getting further sidelined.

Starved of relief and rehabilitation and living precariously in the shadow of fear, will the riot survivors of Muzaffarnagar ever get justice? Will the guilty ever be prosecuted and punished? Hundreds of people travelled all the way from Muzaffarnagar to Jantar Mantar on 16 December to seek justice. A public hearing took place in Lucknow on 6 January. More than 6000 people are named in 500-odd FIRs, yet only some 200 have been arrested, and many have already been released on bail. BJP MLAs Sangeet Some and Suresh Rana, two of the key accused, were felicitated at Narendra Modi’s Agra rally. The shocking rape cases reported by riot survivors are yet to see any judicial progress. Ironically enough, while the Muzaffarnagar violence once again underscored the need for effective legislative measures against communal violence, the UPA government failed to bring the long-promised communal violence bill, even in its most diluted form, in the winter session of Parliament.

So far, the Central government has remained a silent spectator to the shocking aftermath of the Muzaffarnagar violence. Under Article 355 of the Indian Constitution, the Centre has the power to intervene in such situations and instruct the state government to discharge its constitutionally mandated responsibility. But as on many previous occasions, the Centre has once again failed to intervene and guarantee relief, rehabilitation and justice for the riot victims of Muzaffarnagar.

A major implication of the Muzaffarnagar violence is a disturbing communal division within the peasantry. The Bharatiya Kisan Union led by the late Mahendra Singh Tikait has become acutely communal and this means a major political blow for the agricultural population in western UP who had already been reeling under a deep agrarian crisis and growing pressure of corporate land-grabbers. Already the sugar barons have taken full advantage of this situation ensuring that the cane growers got a raw deal.

As well as extending all-out support to the battle for relief, rehabilitation and justice for the riot victims of Muzaffarnagar, revolutionary communists must also work to rebuild the unity of the peasantry and the working people and intensify peasant resistance to the growing state-corporate assault on agriculture.

Nationwide Protests on 2nd January 2014 against Closure of Muzaffarnagar Relief Camps; for Ensuring Proper Relief and Rehabilitation for the Riot Victims

Arrest of all Perpetrators to Pave the Way for Safe Return of Survivors

Party Demands from the President to Ensure effective intervention under Article 355 of the Indian Constitution

New Delhi: Large number of people – from CPI(ML) activists to workers, youths, students, women and several others – sat on a dharna at Jantar Mantar protesting against the Uttar Pradesh Govt’s extremely insensitive action of bulldozing of the relief camps meant for riot survivors of Muzaffarnagar thus forcefully evicting them. The Party sent a demand letter to the President of India asking him to issue an advisory directing the Central Govt under Article 355 to intervene for ensuring relief, rehabilitation and justice to the riot victims.

The dharna emphatically raised the demand that the UP Govt’s attempts to shut down the relief camps be prevented and every riot-hit family be guaranteed security, relief materials and proper rehabilitation. Acting on Article 355, all those named in hundreds of FIRs for rioting, raping and killing be immediately arrested and a SC guided SIT be instituted to look into all the reported cases of Muzaffarnagar riots. Dharna also demanded for the passage of Communal Violence Bill in the upcoming session of the Parliament.

Students from all the universities of Delhi participated in this dharna in significant numbers. Organisation of the Ex-AMU students in Delhi-NCR also participated in this dharna. CPI(ML) Politburo member Comrade Swapan Mukherjee, RYA leader Aslam Khan, AISA leaders Shweta, Farhan, JNUSU President Akbar Chaudhary, JNUSU Jt.Secy. Sarfaraj Ahmed, AMU Old Boys’ Association Delhi-NCR President Irshad Ahmad, GS Muddassir Hayat andtreasurer Shamsad Khan among others spoke at the dharna. The protest dharna was conducted by Comrade Ravi Rai, RYA General Secretary.

Uttar Pradesh: Dharna and demonstrations were held at Lucknow and Robertsganj. Party activists from Sitapur, Faizabad, and Ambedkarnagar participated in the Lucknow dharna. Public meeting was held at Chandauli in Mughalsarai after a procession. At Mirzapur a demonstration was held. In Ghazipur a march was taken out before the dharna. In Gorakhpur, Varanasi, Allahabad, and Deoria processions were held before culminating into protest meetings. Dharna was held at district HQs of Mau, Ballia, Bhadohi, Jalaun, and Muradabad. In Lakhimpur-Khiri, dharna was held at two centres, district HQ and Palia tehsil. Programmes were held at several other places.

The protest dharnas sent a demand letter addressed to the President of India through the District Magistrate or Collector. In Mathura too a party delegation handed over a demand letter to the DM.

The demand letters to the President mentioned that the SP Govt in Uttar Pradesh has failed in preventing the riots and upholding its duty towards the victims of the Muzaffarnagar riots. Therefore the Centre should intervene under Article 355 and prevent the closure of the relief camps apart from other measures. Party’s State and district leaders led the protests.

Tamilnadu: In TN, protests have followed fund raising for the riot victims. Protests were held in Chennai, led by Comrade Munuswamy and main speaker was Party’s Politburo member Comrade Kumaraswamy. RYA leader Comrade Bharathi also addressed the protest.

At Mayiladuthurai several party members, people and Muslim organisations participated in the protest. Comrade TKS Janardhanan conducted the programme. Here the protest was also addressed by district secretary of CPI Comrade Srinivasan, Mr. Jubair, dist president of TMMK, dist secretary of MMK Mr. Muzafuddin, Mr. Jafar Ali on behalf of Tauheed Jamath apart from CPI(ML) leaders including Comrade Ilangovan.

At Pudukottai a demonstration was held led by Comrade Kalai Selvan and CPI(ML) district secretary Comrade Asai Thambi. Demonstrations were held in Rasipuram led by Comrade Velmurugan and participated by TMMK leaders Raja and Bakhruddin; and Kumarapalyam in Namakkal district was led by Comrade K Govindaraj and KR Kumaraswamy; Vilupuram Collectorate- addressed by Comrade Venkatesan, district secretary of CPI(ML); at Karanodai in Thiruvellore district – addressed by Comrade Janakiraman, DS, apart from AISA leaders.

Demonstration was also held at Coimbatore led by Comrade Balasubraminian, district secretary, and RYA and AICCTU leaders also spoke at the protest.

Uttarakhand: At Srinagar in Garhwal, CPI(ML) and AISA activists burnt an effigy of the Samajwadi Party Govt of Uttar Pradesh. Here the protest was addressed by party leader Comrade Indresh Maikhuri. He accused the SP and BJP of colluding in Muzaffarnagar riots. The protest vehemently condemned the SP for its utter insensitiveness towards the riot victims.

At Rudrapur, CPI(ML) leaders and AISA activists led by district secretary Comrade KK Bora and AISA leaders Lalit Matiyali, Kavita Verma among others handed over a demand letter for President to the DM. At Haldwani too the demand letter to be sent to the President was presented to the SDM by Nainital district secretary Comrade Kailash Pandey and Party leader BS Jangi. In Bhikiyasaind the letter was given to the SDM by Comrade Anand Negi.

Struggles in India

Nationwide Protests on 2nd January 2014 against Closure of Muzaffarnagar Relief Camps and for Ensuring Proper Relief and Rehabilitation for the Riot Victims

– ML Update, 8 – 14 Jan., 2014.

Arrest of all Perpetrators to Pave the Way for Safe Return of Survivors.

Party Demands from the President to Ensure effective intervention under Article 355 of the Indian Constitution

New Delhi: Large number of people – from CPI(ML) activists to workers, youths, students, women and several others – sat on a dharna at Jantar Mantar protesting against the Uttar Pradesh Govt’s extremely insensitive action of bulldozing of the relief camps meant for riot survivors of Muzaffarnagar thus forcefully evicting them. The Party sent a demand letter to the President of India asking him to issue an advisory directing the Central Govt under Article 355 to intervene for ensuring relief, rehabilitation and justice to the riot victims.

The dharna emphatically raised the demand that the UP Govt’s attempts to shut down the relief camps be prevented and every riot-hit family be guaranteed security, relief materials and proper rehabilitation. Acting on Article 355, all those named in hundreds of FIRs for rioting, raping and killing be immediately arrested and a SC guided SIT be instituted to look into all the reported cases of Muzaffarnagar riots. Dharna also demanded for the passage of Communal Violence Bill in the upcoming session of the Parliament.

Students from all the universities of Delhi participated in this dharna in significant numbers. Organisation of the Ex-AMU students in Delhi-NCR also participated in this dharna. CPI(ML) Politburo member Comrade Swapan Mukherjee, RYA leader Aslam Khan, AISA leaders Shweta, Farhan, JNUSU President Akbar Chaudhary, JNUSU Jt.Secy. Sarfaraj Ahmed, AMU Old Boys’ Association Delhi-NCR President Irshad Ahmad, GS Muddassir Hayat andtreasurer Shamsad Khan among others spoke at the dharna. The protest dharna was conducted by Comrade Ravi Rai, RYA General Secretary.

Uttar Pradesh: Dharna and demonstrations were held at Lucknow and Robertsganj. Party activists from Sitapur, Faizabad, and Ambedkarnagar participated in the Lucknow dharna. Public meeting was held at Chandauli in Mughalsarai after a procession. At Mirzapur a demonstration was held. In Ghazipur a march was taken out before the dharna. In Gorakhpur, Varanasi, Allahabad, and Deoria processions were held before culminating into protest meetings. Dharna was held at district HQs of Mau, Ballia, Bhadohi, Jalaun, and Muradabad. In Lakhimpur-Khiri, dharna was held at two centres, district HQ and Palia tehsil. Programmes were held at several other places.

The protest dharnas sent a demand letter addressed to the President of India through the District Magistrate or Collector. In Mathura too a party delegation handed over a demand letter to the DM.

The demand letters to the President mentioned that the SP Govt in Uttar Pradesh has failed in preventing the riots and upholding its duty towards the victims of the Muzaffarnagar riots. Therefore the Centre should intervene under Article 355 and prevent the closure of the relief camps apart from other measures. Party’s State and district leaders led the protests.

Tamilnadu: In TN, protests have followed fund raising for the riot victims. Protests were held in Chennai, led by Comrade Munuswamy and main speaker was Party’s Politburo member Comrade Kumaraswamy. RYA leader Comrade Bharathi also addressed the protest.

At Mayiladuthurai several party members, people and Muslim organisations participated in the protest. Comrade TKS Janardhanan conducted the programme. Here the protest was also addressed by district secretary of CPI Comrade Srinivasan, Mr. Jubair, dist president of TMMK, dist secretary of MMK Mr. Muzafuddin, Mr. Jafar Ali on behalf of Tauheed Jamath apart from CPI(ML) leaders including Comrade Ilangovan.

At Pudukottai a demonstration was held led by Comrade Kalai Selvan and CPI(ML) district secretary Comrade Asai Thambi. Demonstrations were held in Rasipuram led by Comrade Velmurugan and participated by TMMK leaders Raja and Bakhruddin; and Kumarapalyam in Namakkal district was led by Comrade K Govindaraj and KR Kumaraswamy; Vilupuram Collectorate- addressed by Comrade Venkatesan, district secretary of CPI(ML); at Karanodai in Thiruvellore district – addressed by Comrade Janakiraman, DS, apart from AISA leaders.

Demonstration was also held at Coimbatore led by Comrade Balasubraminian, district secretary, and RYA and AICCTU leaders also spoke at the protest.

Uttarakhand: At Srinagar in Garhwal, CPI(ML) and AISA activists burnt an effigy of the Samajwadi Party Govt of Uttar Pradesh. Here the protest was addressed by party leader Comrade Indresh Maikhuri. He accused the SP and BJP of colluding in Muzaffarnagar riots. The protest vehemently condemned the SP for its utter insensitiveness towards the riot victims.

At Rudrapur, CPI(ML) leaders and AISA activists led by district secretary Comrade KK Bora and AISA leaders Lalit Matiyali, Kavita Verma among others handed over a demand letter for President to the DM. At Haldwani too the demand letter to be sent to the President was presented to the SDM by Nainital district secretary Comrade Kailash Pandey and Party leader BS Jangi. In Bhikiyasaind the letter was given to the SDM by Comrade Anand Negi.

Politics in India

WB Govt’s New Lows after Madhyamgram Repeated Gangrape and Murder

– ML Update, 8 – 14 Jan., 2014.

The Madhyamgram double gangrape and murder of the 16 year old girl, abduction of the victim’s body and attempts by police to forcibly cremate it has brought out once again the deeply misogynistic hostility towards victims of sexual assault and a ruthless oppression of all voices of dissent that has come to define the two-and-a-half year old TMC rule in West Bengal. The fact that a survivor of gang-rape was gang raped again while returning after lodging a complaint with the police and was later burnt to death reflects how extremely insecure and vulnerable the women have become under the Mamta Banerjee-led TMC rule. Not only did the state police fail to provide her with any security following her complaint, far from accepting its failure, it first tried to paint her brutal murder as an act of suicide and then shamefully hijacked the body and tried to cremate it without her family’s consent. When the aggrieved parents appealed for justice, the police reportedly told them to ‘go back to Bihar’, from where they originally belong.

The incident and the utter apathy of the administration has shocked the people of WB. On New Year’s Day, the victim’s father, who is a member of CITU, took part in a funeral procession organized by CITU and joined by representatives of all other central trade unions. On the same day, AISA along with other progressive students’ organizations took out a protest march from College Square condemning police’ role and administrative apathy. The March blocked the busy Esplanade crossing for some time. Several other protest marches and demonstrations were organized on the same day by concerned citizens, human rights groups and cultural organizations. An AIPWA delegation met the Women’s Commission on 3rd January. Comrades Meena Tiwari, Chaitali Sen and others from the delegation visited the girl’s parents. A street-corner meeting was held on the following day in front of Moulali Dargah. The meeting was addressed by Comrades Kavita Krishnan and Meena Tiwari among others. A candlelight march followed where local people and passers-by joined spontaneosly. Same day, AISA and AIPWA jointly protested in front of the Banga Bhavan in Delhi.

A protest meeting was held at Madhyamgram 4-point crossing on 5th January. Kavita Krishnan, Meena Tiwari, Partha Ghosh and others addressed the gathering. CPI(ML) called for observing an all-India Protest Day on 6th January. The day was observed in memory of the Madhyamgram victim and all other victims of gender violence, with local-level rallies and street-corner meetings in most of the districts. Students in Jadavpur University held a march condemning the whole incident and Govt’s role, on the 7th.

CPI(ML) has called for a massive protest rally from College Square to Dharmatala on the 9th of January. The following demands will be reiterated in the rally:

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee must apologize publicly and answer for the Kolkata Police’s role in abduction and attempted cremation of the victim’s body. The Kolkata Police Commissioner must be sacked for the Police’s role. The Commissioner of Bidhan Nagar Commissionarate must be sacked immediately for failing twice to provide safety to the victim and trying to masquerade murder as self-immolation by keeping the victim’s dying declaration secret for a week. A fast-track court must be set in motion to ensure swift and exemplary punishment to the culprits of double rape, murder and those responsible for repeatedly threatening the victim and her family. Administration must provide adequate compensation and security to the grieving parents so that they can live their lives in safety and with dignity.

 Politics in India

CPI(ML) Welcomes Formation of AAP Government

– Sanjay Sharma, Secretary, CPI(ML) Delhi State Committee

Hopes AAP Will Fulfil People’s Aspirations for a Reversal of Corrupt, Anti-People Governance

New Delhi, December 28: CPI(ML) welcomes the emergence of AAP as a powerful third force in Delhi and the fact that it brought to the fore a democratic agenda concerning some basic demands and interests of the common people in Delhi. The rise of AAP has revalidated the relevance of agitation-based politics, exposed the political vulnerability of the status-quo, and highlighted the people’s quest for an alternative to the parties of the status-quo, the Congress and BJP in particular.

AAP’s manifesto includes many of the burning issues of the toiling people of Delhi – and it is Delhi’s people who have given AAP its strength. On the eve of formation of the AAP Government, slum evictions have been attempted near Mansarovar Park and Mayur Vihar (stalled by timely protests), and CNG prices have gone up. We hope that in the face of these assaults on the rights of Delhi’s poor and common people, the AAP Government will live up to its manifesto and defend people’s aspirations for a thorough reversal of corrupt and anti-people governance.

While AAP began by tapping into the popular anger against corruption and the Congress, it attracted not just anti-Congress votes but perhaps primarily erstwhile or traditional pro-Congress votes. Many sections of traditional or core Congress voters – whether in the resettlement colonies or in Muslim-dominated neighbourhoods or among government employees – have voted for AAP, triggering a collapse of the Congress and placing AAP objectively in contention with the BJP. AAP is now running a Government backed by the Congress. In the days to come, how AAP handles this new phase of contention with BJP will be important to observe.

 International

The Khobragade-Richards Episode: Tale of US Govt.’s Racism and High-Handedness, and Indian Govt’s Class Bias and Irresponsibility

– ML Update, 24 – 31 December, 2013.

Several urgent concerns need to be addressed in the wake of the arrest of Indian Deputy Consul Devyani Khobragade on charges of visa fraud and under-paying her domestic worker. The issues of the mutual and reciprocal dignity of nations, reflected in diplomatic protocol, and those of the rights of domestic and migrant workers; the rights and dignity of Devyani Khobragade as an Indian diplomat and those of Sangeeta Richards as an Indian citizen and worker should not be used to undermine each other.

The charges against Ms. Khobragade are serious. But let us first look at the manner in which the US Government has dealt with them, before coming to the Indian Government’s role in the entire affair.

Would the US Government have treated a diplomat from a non-‘Third World’ country, charged with the same offences, in the same manner? US Attorney Preet Bharara states that she was not hand-cuffed or arrested in the view of her children, but he does admit that a strip search and cavity search – routine in the US – were conducted. But this is neither here nor there. The question is – would a diplomat from, say, the UK or France have been subjected to invasive searches and treated like a common criminal, and would the US allow its own diplomats to be thus treated in other countries? Again, this is not to undermine the seriousness of the charges brought against Ms. Khobragade. Rather, the question is, are the rules somehow different where US diplomats are concerned? When CIA operative Raymond Davis was charged with killing two men in Lahore in broad daylight in 2011, the US quickly claimed diplomatic immunity for him, even though he was not even officially a diplomat. So the US claims ‘diplomatic immunity’ even for its clandestine operatives charged with heinous crimes like murder, but claims it has no choice but to arrest, invasively search and jail an Indian diplomat? It is really this double standard that is the primary factor behind the anger that many Indians feel at the treatment meted out to Ms. Khobragade. It is difficult to evade the conclusion that imperialist high-handedness, as well as the structural racism of the US criminal justice and prison system, played a part in allowing the US Government to forget diplomatic conventions that it would expect as its due for its own diplomats. Of course, the US was no doubt encouraged in its high-handedness by the fact that the Indian Government never made an issue of the US’ refusal to extradite David Headley or Warren Anderson, of the shooting of an Indian fisherman by a US warship in 2012, or of repeated instances of frisking of senior Indian Government representatives in US airports.

What about the Indian Government’s response to the ongoing episode involving Khobragade and Richards? When the issue surfaced several months ago, India’s Ministry of External Affairs took no measures to prevent the matter from escalating. The MEA is well aware of the fact that Indian diplomats regularly employ and under-pay domestic help, drivers, gardeners etc from India. The infamous ‘double contract’ is an open secret – where there is one contract that complies with the US regulations and another ‘real’ contract that actually governs pay and other conditions. In the past couple of years, there have been other cases involving Indian diplomats accused of employing ‘bonded’ or ‘slave’ labour. The diplomats’ complaint has been that the MEA does not pay them enough to employ workers at US rates. This cannot, of course, be an excuse for underpaying workers – the point is that the MEA was well aware of the issue and did nothing to resolve it.

Further, the Indian Government seems to think it owes no duty to the other Indian citizen in the matter: Sangeeta Richards, the domestic worker. Instead, they have endorsed the action initiated by Khobragade against Richards, including charges of blackmail, fraud, theft; making insinuations that Richards was attempting to facilitate illegal immigration of her husband and child; and revoking Richards’s passport. Richards attempted to legally raise her grievances, terminate her employment by Khobragade, seek a fresh passport and visa so that she might work elsewhere, and sought a payment of $10,000 since she claimed to have worked 19 hours a day. The Indian Government seems to have decided that for a worker to raise such grievances against an Indian diplomat, amounts to betrayal of the Indian State and Indian nationalism! Disturbingly, the Indian Government seems to ignore the indications that Khobragade’s conduct towards Richards (and perhaps of other Indian diplomats towards their employees) amounts to human trafficking.

The discourse of much of the media and most political parties in India is equally disturbing. Richards’s actions are being described as a conspiracy. BJP leader Yashwant Sinha talks of how it’s common for servants to get ‘star-struck’ by the ‘glittering lights’ of the US, and to want to illegally immigrate and feel dissatisfied with their lot! People have said to me that the domestic worker should be happy with her wages because she would make less in India. Would these same people agree that an Indian who works in Microsoft in Seattle should make the same as an Indian who works in Infosys in Bangalore?

The Delhi High Court injunction of September 20 restraining Richards from moving court against Khobragade outside India, says: “It is pertinent to mention here that the plaintiff and her family treated defendant No. 1 [Sangeeta Richards] as a member of their own family…The (plaintiff’s) house is equipped with all modern domestic gadgets. Defendant No. 1 was being given leave/off on Sundays when she used to visit a beauty parlour, church and her friends.” In India, the most common euphemism for exploitative domestic labour and even child labour is “we treat them like family.” “Like family” justifies every feudal relationship with the domestic worker, suggesting that a formal work contract regulated by the law would somehow corrupt the “family relationship.” Similarly, of course, any attempt by women to invoke laws regarding dowry harassment or domestic violence inside the household, is painted as a violation of the sacred “family ties.” Domestic workers in India face exploitative work conditions, with no norms of work hours, pay, leave, and vulnerable to sexual violence and even bondage and torture. India is yet to ratify the ILO Convention on domestic workers’ rights.

Yashwant Sinha declared that India should retaliate to the arrest of Khobragade by arresting US diplomats with same-sex partners, since homosexuality is illegal in India. Flaunting homophobia as ‘national pride’ and implying that minimum wage and anti-trafficking laws are ‘foreign’ to India is condemnable and truly shames India as a democracy.

It also needs to be pointed out that while employing highly exploited domestic workers is of course more prevalent in the Indian middle class, it is also a major and growing phenomenon in the US among professionals and elites. In the US, large numbers of households employ Latina, Filipina and other migrant women as maids and nannies. Their work conditions are usually exploitative, and they are often profiled as ‘illegal’ and very vulnerable to harassment. Some years ago, these ‘undocumented’ workers participated in huge numbers in a series of massive protests against being branded as ‘illegal’ by US immigration laws, which, far from protecting such workers, render them much more vulnerable to exploitation. The draconian provisions of the US visa regime under which Khobragade was arrested are in fact primarily targeted at controlling and limiting the rights of these workers themselves.

Instead of muscle-flexing and grandstanding, India and the US must work on resolving the diplomatic impasse, without compromising either on India’s sovereignty and the dignity of its diplomats, or on the rights of Indian workers. India must work to end the exploitative practices and trafficking by diplomats and protect all Indian workers from such practices. And India and the US both need to protect the rights of domestic workers in keeping with the ILO Convention norms in their respective countries.

 Struggles in India

Are we expected to bring back the dead to give evidence?”

ML Update, 17 – 23 December, 2013.

(Survivors of Bathani Tola and Laxmanpur Bathe Massacres speak at People’s Hearing For Justice. A report of the Hearing and the signature campaign and Journey for Justice that preceded it, in which 5 million signatures were collected on a petition to the President of India.)

The Bihar government is in connivance with the Ranveer Sena. The lower court had awarded death sentence to 3 of the killers and life imprisonment to 19, but the High Court acquitted all these Ranveer Sena men. The High Court asks for evidence. Are we expected to bring back the dead to give evidence? There are 3 police pickets there, why don’t they ask those policemen? 14 witnesses braved life threats to give evidence, yet the High court let the murderers go scot free and called the witnesses liars. When Barmeshwar Singh was killed a CBI enquiry is ordered, but the poor are being subjected to injustice even through the court. We have gone to the Supreme Court to demand justice. Come what may, we will not give up our fight for justice.” These were the words of Bathani Tola eyewitness and survivor Naeemuddin Ansari at the People’s Hearing conducted at Jantar mantar, New Delhi by the CPI(ML) on 18 December.

In 1996 the Ranveer Sena had brutally massacred 21 people from dalit-minority communities, out of which 6 women and children belonged to Naeemuddin’s family. He testified in court as an eyewitness – but the Patna High Court rejected his testimony.

After the Public Hearing, 5 million signatures (collected between 30 October and 10 December in an intense campaign all over Bihar) were submitted to the President of India. Signatories included the general public, well-known intellectuals, litterateurs, cultural activists, journalists, and human rights activists. The petition appealed to the President to raise his voice in support of the struggle for justice, and to intervene to reopen the Justice Amir Das Commission that had identified the political figures behind the Ranveer Sena, but that had been disbanded by the Nitish Government before it could submit its findings.

The signatures had been brought to Delhi in a Nyay Sangharsh Yatra (Journey for Justice) that began on 10 December (Human Rights Day) from Bihar’s capital Patna. Traversing through the carnage affected areas and talking to the victims, holding public meetings in Durgavati, Mughalsarai and Benaras on the question of justice, the Yatra arrived in Delhi. Around 60 mass meetings were held during this period. CPI(ML)’s former MLA Arun Singh, Bihar State Committee member Mahanand, Anwar Hussain from Inqulabi Muslim Conference, RYA National President Amarjeet Kushwaha, Raju Yadav and Qayamuddin from Revolutionary Youth Asociation, folk singers Krishna Kumar Nirmohi, Raju Ranjan and others were part of the Yatra. The Yatra culminated in the Public Hearing held in Delhi on December 18th – the death anniversary of former CPI(ML) General Secretary Vinod Mishra.

At the hearing, Laxmanpur Bathe carnage survivor Ramugrah Rajvanshi said: “Nitish took our votes in the name of ‘mahadalit’ but got the perpetrators of the carnage acquitted, because he wanted to maintain good relations with feudal forces. It is only the CPI (ML) which is with us in our fight for justice.”

Laxman Rajvanshi who lost 3 family members in the Bathe carnage said, “After the acquittal, the killers are threatening us, saying now we will kill 116 instead of 58; we are all-powerful from top to bottom, what can you do against us?

Rita Devi, survivor of the Bathani Tola massacre, described the gory scene that greeted her eyes after the massacre – walls spattered with blood and flesh. She said, “People testified at risk to their lives, in the hope of justice – and their hopes were dashed to the ground.” Later, speaking to Delhi students, she said, “I had to go to court recently with my little son, in some other matter. My son, seeing the judges in the court, said – ‘Are these the judges who let the killers go scot free? I don’t want to be a judge when I grow up.’”

On 15 August 2013 feudal forces had attacked the dalits of Baddi village (Rohtas district) for daring to hoist the flag. Shriniwas Ram, son of 70-year-old Ramvilas Ram who was killed in this attack, said that he had also come to demand justice for his father’s murder. Madhuri of AIPWA who has been fighting for the victims’ struggle for justice, said that the then President KR Narayanan had called the carnages a national shame. Is the acquittal of the murderers not a shame? Sharing her experiences from the signature campaign she said that women feel that the High court verdict comes as a morale booster for criminals and today the women of Bihar are facing violence from such criminals. These women signed the petition not only to get justice for the carnage victims but also to deter the ongoing violence against women in Bihar.

CPI (ML) Arwal district Secretary Com. Mahanand said that if the Supreme Court does not give us justice we will go back to the same 5 million signatories of the petition for justice. Com. Anwar Hussain, CPI(ML) leader from Bihar, said that the Nitish government has provided all amenities to the villages which attacked Miyanpur, while Miyanpur itself lacks even basic amenities and the licences for weapons which had been provided for self defence are not being renewed.

Prof. Nandini Sundar of Delhi University, Chittaranjan Singh of PUCL, Prof. Sona Jharia Minz and Dr. YS Alone of JNU, Prof. Nawal Kishore Choudhary of Patna University, and JNUSU Vice President Anubhuti Agnes Bara were the Jury members at the People’s Hearing. Prof. Nandini Sundar condemned the High Court verdict as the worst possible verdict and said that we all want justice for the victims; this fight is not only for these victims but also for the victims of violence all over the world. Chittaranjan Singh of the PUCL condemned the refusal of the President to give time to meet the deputation from the People’s Hearing.

The Jury said that it expects the Bihar government to file an appeal in the Supreme Court without delay, guarantee safety of witneses, reinstate the Amir Das Commission and make its report public. At the same time the Union Home Ministry should also give the necessary directives to the Bihar government. Prof. Nawal Kishore Choudhary said that the Nyay Yatra (journey for justice) is not over yet. The killings at Bathani, Bathe and Miyanpur were not ordinary killings but tantamount to the murder of Indian democracy, Constitutional values and human rights. It is the minimal responsibility of the Indian State to fulfil the demands of this Jury and the duty of every citizen to fight against massacres.

At the start of the People’s Hearing Bihar State Committee member and former MLA Arun Singh said that the Ranveer Sena was not just a criminal gang, it had the full protection of political parties. Feudal-communal in character, it was supported by the BJP, and also by the Lalu-Rabdi and Nitish governments. On this occasion the founder of People’s Front of India (PFI) and Supreme Court lawyer Tahir Hussain said that even in the case of a single murder, the High Court has to think a hundred times before overturning a Lower Court verdict; the acquittal by the High Court of these brutal mass murderers is astounding. Taramani Rai of the CPRM said that he would mobilise public opinion on this issue in Darjeeling. Atul Dighe of the Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) said that the fight against feudal forces would continue till the end, and PFI National Vice President Satyapal Singh assured full support in the fight for justice. Former CPI(ML) MP Rameshwar Prasad was also present on the dais.

Addressing the People’s Hearing, CPI (ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya said that after a long and brave fight the people got justice from the lower court but the High Court cast suspicion on the witnesses, which is a matter of great shame. Today this fight belongs not only to Bathani, Bathe and Miyanpur but to all poor, oppressed, dalit, and working people of the entire country. This fight is related to the fight for justice and freedom for women which the streets of Delhi have seen during the past year. It is related also to the fight for justice for the oppressed minorities in the relief camps at Muzaffarnagar. From Kashmir to the North East, wherever people are fighting for their rights, we are fighting with them. Com. Dipankar said that the CPI(ML) is going to launch a countrywide campaign in the new year, on 2nd January, to demand justice for the Muzaffarnagar victims. He stressed the demand for an effective anti-communalism law, pointing out that throughout the country youth belonging to the minority communities were being hounded and witch-hunted. The question of people’s justice includes the release of all the innocent people languishing in jail.

The proceedings were conducted by Com. Ravi Rai, RYA General Secretary. Com. Krishna Kumar Nirmohi, Raju Ranjan, and Nanhaku Paswan presented folk songs on the theme of justice: “Kaahe bhayil Bathani se beimaani, Bathe se beimaani ho judge sahib poochh taani, nyay ke murti hoke anyay kari dihal, nyay sange kayil manmaani” (Why did you betray Bathani and Bathe, we ask you Mr.Judge, being a representative of justice why you do this injustice, why did you interpret the law according to your whims?)

 Struggles in India

Nirbhaya case: At JNU, the cause has grown wider

– ML Update, 17 – 23 December, 2013.

Students of JNU have kept alive the flames of protest they sparked a year ago after city girl Nirbhaya was gang-raped and brutalized on December 16, 2012. On Sunday they held a night vigil where through soul-stirring performances and inspiring speeches they extended their movement to encompass issues such as marital rape, the Armed Forces (Special powers) Act and the draconian Section 377.

On Monday, they kept their solidarity show going. Joining hands with students from Jamia Millia Islamia and Delhi University, gay rights activists and professors, they marched with candles from Ganga Dhaba in JNU to Munirka bus stop where Nirbhaya and her friend boarded the bus that winter night.

Sunday evening started with a five-minute short film – “In the Body of Justice” by Eve Ensler, author of ‘The Vagina Monologues’. Prof Nivedita Menon of JNU delivered a moving lecture on how the common man must “take back the republic”.

She called for a new sexual assault law. “We need a freshly-designed law that will reflect gender neutrality.” This legislation, she said, should take into account mass violence during communal riots, violence on women in caste situations where dalit women are raped. “We need a law that reflects the realities of our society.”

Actor Maya Rao presented a skit called “Walk” developed against the backdrop of the Nirbhaya incident. Her message: “The battle got much bigger since 2012”. Freedom, not protection, is what this battle is about, she said.

The longest applause was for Soni Sori, a suspected Dantewada Maoist, who was allegedly tortured and raped brutally by policemen. “I got strength from the movement you have sustained since last December. The torture had demoralized and shattered me physically. In jail, I realized there are women in worse conditions than me. I reached out to you and you responded. The movement you launched and the strength I got from it kept me going,” she said.

On Monday nearly 800 students marched to Munirka where Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association and gay right activist Gautam Bhan addressed the gathering with Prof Kamal Mitra Chenoy. Supreme Court lawyer Vrinda Grover addressed the students before the march began.

International

Nelson Mandela Will Always Remain an Inspiration for the Struggle for Justice and Liberation

– Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary, CPI(ML).

Nelson Mandela breathed his last on 5 December. He leaves behind a lasting legacy of determined struggle against discrimination and oppression, for liberty and justice.

The plunder and enslavement of Africa, in a sense, laid the foundations of the modern capitalist world as we know it today. When Nelson Mandela waged his struggle against apartheid in South Africa, it is important to remember that the apartheid regime enjoyed the support of the very countries that wage war and occupation in the name of ‘democracy’ and ‘liberation.’

Mandela will be remembered then, primarily as an icon of the protracted struggle for justice, equality and liberation, of the undying spirit of resistance. People the world over, waging battles for liberation against centuries of oppression and injustice, will always draw inspiration from Nelson Mandela. Mandela passed away on December 5 – a day before the Mahaparinibban Diwas of Babasaheb BR Ambedkar, another icon of struggle against entrenched oppression and injustice.

The struggle waged by Mandela and Ambedkar is far from over, racism, apartheid and social oppression, hand in hand with neoliberal globalisation, continue to hold people in chains. Inspired by their legacy, fighters for liberation will continue to wage struggles with determination and courage till racism and social oppression are fully eliminated.

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