In the past, very few activities took place in Darbhanga town. Urban work occupied marginal place in Party work, rendering the urban mass organisations lifeless. Even part-time political organisers to conduct regular political-organisational activities, even at the lowest level, were not there.
Following powerful intervention by the Party subsequent to the police firing on youth assembled for army recruitment and growth of popularity of CPI(ML) in the countryside, plan to reorganise work in Darbhanga town was taken up. A leading team was set up taking active members and work began in a systematic manner. During past one year, regular political-organisational activities have been conducted and popular movements have been launched, beefing up the prestige of our Party and expanding the area of its influence. A report of some important movements:
Movement against house tax
Darbhanga is one of the six municipal corporations in Bihar. The authorities suddenly increased tax on the houses arbitrarily and the town poor were brought under its net. A month-long campaign against house tax was conducted holding street-corner meetings and collecting signatures from the houses. The municipal corporation was forced to promise a review.
Movement to save ponds
Darbhanga is a town of ponds. Ever since Darbhanga Raj days, there are innumerable ponds in the town. However, the land mafia growing with the expansion of the town has also launched a sinister drive of filling the ponds and getting the land registered against their names. Gaina Pokhar is one such pond, which is in existence for past 150 years and religious festivities are observed around it. Land mafia tried to purchase it and employed local goons to fill it. This caused resentment among the people, and a few Party members took the initiative to mobilise them. Hundreds of people were assembled, who chased away the mafia and the goons. Once again, the mafia tried to regroup the goons and launch attack and this time the people caught them, thrashed them severely and compelled the administration to take steps against them. Compelled by the movement, the administration has recently ruled that the ponds cannot be filled or purchased. Permission will have to be taken from the DM even to fill even a privately owned pond.
Movement to repair drainage system
For several decades, the drainage system of the town has not been repaired, nor has any new drain been constructed. This has caused the problem of water-logging and unhealthy conditions of trash getting deposited at various points. Mobilising resentment of the people on this question, the Party initiated a movement, holding dharnas, demonstrations and even hunger strikes. This movement forced the municipal corporation to repair drains in several wards where Party has its work, and to order construction of new drains.
Movement for wharf at the river bank
River Bagmati flows through the middle of town Darbhaga. In a thickly populated area, there is Imli Ghat, where thousands of rural and urban people cross the river on ferrying boats. Much earlier, there was a wharf, which facilitated carrying of bicycle, two-wheeler, jeep or even a supply-laden vehicle onto the boas, but for many years, it has become useless, and people had been demanding a new jetty. Last month a few renowned leaders of the town took to hunger strike and hundreds of people staged dharna in support. As large number of people got involved in the movement, ultimately on the fourth day the administration was compelled to issue tenders for the wharf. The movement has facilitated expansion of Party influence to a greater domain. Problem of the river cutting into the land in several localities have also been raised.
Movement to Get “Slum Development Project” Properly Implemented
Slum development projects are being implemented, mostly in towns having municipal corporations. This scheme abounds in corruption. Under this scheme, building of community residential houses with two-storied clusters, drainage, roads, toilet and bathroom and promoting economic prosperity, etc., are to be introduced in the urban slum areas. These schemes are not seeing the light of the day due to the nexus of officers-intermediaries-contractors. The Party has conducted a sustained movement on this question and, in a number of localities, we have scored success in promoting people’s control over these schemes.
Movement to stop recovery of earthquake loans
Darbhanga town was badly hit by the earthquake of 1987 and no house was unaffected by it. HUDCO extended loans to poor people under which a sum of Rs.3000 was handed over each and Rs.1000 was kept in fixed account. Now the recipients of the loan have received notices to repay it. Party has planned to launch movement on this issue.
Movement against corruption in Welfare Department loan scheme
Scheduled caste persons are issued loans with special subsidy under this scheme. But Welfare officials, in connivance with bank officials, corner almost the entire loan amount. Compelled by the movement launched by the Party, a committee has been set up to investigate into the matter.
The question of land seizure is directly related to the demand of agrarian labourers. For a number of years, emphasis on this aspect of struggle had waned, because of our entanglement with Ranvir Sena. Because of this, the agenda of land seizure had occupied secondary importance. In a number of places where land was seized earlier, feudal forces had regained their possession, and we could not launch any protest. Party had decided that it was better to concentrate on a single issue rather than scatter our attention on several fronts. Taking advantage of this, Ranvir Sena propagated their the claim to have recaptured many plots of land earlier seized by Maley. The bourgeois media too highlighted this propaganda. With the change of situation, forms of struggle also change to suit them, and priority too changes simultaneously. As we advanced in the direction of defeating Ranvir Sena, we started concentrating on the basic issues of agrarian labourers. In the 6th District Conference, we laid emphasis focussing on burning problems of agrarian labourers in the rural areas and decided to intensify movement under the banner of Khet Mazdoor Sabha. Immediately after the Conference, we took programmes of land seizure.
In 1992, peasants led by Kisan Sabha captured land belonging to Bagamath in Sandesh block of Bhojpur. The mahant had to flee the math. Hundreds of acres of land owned by the math is there in Paliganj, Chapra, Gaya, Hazaribagh, etc. He started residing at some other place. People started cultivating the land. Agrarian labourers received parchas of the seized land under the Ceiling Act. However, the administration took no interest in bringing the land under the possession of agrarian labourers. People had occupied the land on their own and when we got entangled in a fierce battle with Ranvir Sena, the mahant utilised the situation and reasserted his right and began to manage the land with the help of Ranvir Sena. The police also sided with mahant, though the land remained fallow for several years. This year, on 16 July, Ranvir Sena and mahant jointly started the tilling of the land. As the news reached the people, numbering four to five thousand, assembled from nearby areas. Ranvir Sena started firing to disperse them, but people offered sustained resistance and ultimately the goons had to flee from the field.
On 1 August, Khet Mazdoor Sabha held a mass meeting at the same land and demanded from the administration to divide the land among people having parcha, and distribute hundreds of acres of land under mahant’s possession among agrarian labourers.
In Baruhi village of Sahar block, there was 18 bigha ceiling surplus land. This land was under the occupation of Ramchandra Rai, an active member of Ranvir Sena. This land also came under Kisan Sabha’s red flag in 1992. This land too went out of hand when we got entangled with Ranvir Sena. This year on 23 July, around five to six thousand people led by Khet Mazdoor Sabha went to occupy the land. During the land seizure, the administration tried to stop people from hoisting the flag there. However, with a militant posture the people just waved aside the threats issued by the administration and the police and hoisted red flag there and held a large mass meeting under the banner of Khet Mazdoor Sabha. The Circle Officer, after understanding the whole scenario, assured to distribute parchas to agrarian labourers. In the beginning, there was a hesitation among the people that the land being in the possession of Ranvir Sena, a bitter bloody struggle would have to be conducted. However, when people got mobilised in large number on this issue, the hesitation broke down.
The 58 bigha land of Anhari Math and 14 bigha land of Bihta Math falls in Anhari village of Sahar block. This total 72 bigha of land was under the possession of feudal lords. Out of this, only 28 bigha of land could be identified until now, and a decision was taken to occupy this land. This area has been a sensitive area in the past, and was known to be a Ranvir Sena stronghold. Bathani Tola is situated in this area, where Ranvir Sena conducted the big massacre. Therefore, the situation was tense from the beginning and there were many an apprehension. Still, the decision had to be carried out. It was a busy sowing season, so the problem of organising a good mass participation was also there. First of all, a leaflet was distributed on the question of land seizure. All the Party and mass organisation activists took part in a propaganda campaign. There were rumours among the people that Ranvir Sena is amassing weapons, it would not allow land to be captured, none of the people going to seize the land will be able to return unhurt, etc. On the other hand, Khet Mazdoor Sabha was consistently propagating among the people to mobilise them in largest possible number. Police too had intensified patrolling. On the day of seizure, 5 August, a contingent of around 500 agrarian labourers armed with traditional weapons and red flag in hands, shouting slogans “We will not allow your right over the land that belongs to us”, started out of Anhari village the police stopped it in the way. Scuffle ensued and immediately another contingent of 400 people reached the field and hoisted red flag there. Knowing this the police reached there too and along with them, the people too reached there. All the agrarian labourers who were sowing seeds or weeding, left their work and assembled to witness the struggle. The land seizure movement was led by Khet Mazdoor Sabha District President Sidhnath Ram and Secretary Kamta Singh.
As the flag was hoisted, a procession was brought out covering Kharaon, Bathani, Ojhwalia, and Anhari villages. In the evening, a march was brought out by the resistance squad. In the face of militant people, police accepted its defeat and did not put any hurdle in land seizure. The self-confidence of basic classes has reached a new height as a result of success in this struggle. Peasant leaders Kapil Sao, Lal Bahadur Shashtri, Rambachan Pal were in the forefront of this struggle.
The land captured last year in Jethwar village of Tarari block, was once again tilled this year by the people. This land had also gone under the possession of landlords. Last year it was recaptured, but cultivation could not be started. It was done this year.
A convention against globalisation was held in Begusarai on 31 July. It was inaugurated by Party GS Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya. He said that globalisation is an anti-production phenomenon which only emphasized superprofits. The very character of capital has changes into that of looting the people. The Third World regimes have almost surrendered to the attack of global capital. Only a worker-peasant unity can provide the basis for defending the sovereignty of the country and the left should be in the center of this struggle, he added. Comrade Rajaram Singh, co-convener of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Samiti and an MLA, spoke on the crisis of the peasantry. The convention was attended by a good number of academics and intellectuals.