Massive CPI(ML) Rally Sets Tone for Koderma By-election
On September 9, a massive Badla Lo Badal Dalo rally was held at Jhumri-talaiya, which set the tone for the upcoming Koderma by-election. The rally saw the spirited participation of thousands of rural poor, including a large contingent of women, students and tribals. Addressing the rally, Comrade Dipankar said that while the power-struggle between Babulal Marandi and Arjun Munda had invited this by-election, the electorate of Koderma must be mobilized to use this opportunity to teach a lesson to both of them and avenge the assassination of Comrade Mahendra Singh by sending the CPI(ML) nominee to Parliament. He put forward a charter of demands for the incumbent govt. in Jharkhand, including cancellation of all the MOUs signed by the previous government, a probe into all corrupt deals, action against notorious SP Dipak Varma, strict implementation of laws protecting tribal rights over land, effective measures to guarantee employment and revive industry, holding of panchayat polls, and implementation of the NREGA, as well as measures to end state repression.
The Rally was addressed by PB member Comrade Akhilendra Pratap Singh, CC member Comrade KD Yadav, CPI(ML) MLA Vinod Singh, as well as Comrade Raj Kumar Yadav. A popular tribal leader of Kolhan in Chaibasa district, the former MLA Bahadur Oraon, declared from the dais that he was joining the CPI(ML). Comrade Dipankar welcomed him into the Party and presented him the Party Flag.
CPI(ML) Activists Face Crackdown in UP
With Assembly polls round the corner, a desperate Mulayam Administration has launched an assault on democratic movements led by CPI(ML) activists. CPI(ML) and AIALA began a dharna on September 6 at the tehsil HQ at Sidhauli in Sitapur District. Later, the dharna turned into a hunger strike. The peaceful dharna and hunger strike were attacked by local goons and the police, in presence of the Administrative officials. The dharna tent was torn down, participants beaten up, their belongings robbed and their bicycles broken. The two main leaders of the struggle – Rakesh Singh, National Executive member of AIALA and CPI(ML) leader Dr. Brijbihari were mercilessly beaten and detained in the lock-up of the Sidhauli Kotwali. The Party HQ in Lucknow contacted the Sitapur DM, but despite this the repression intensified.
On the midnight of September 8, Rakesh Singh was brought out of lock-up and brutally beaten; despite serious injury, he was not sent for a medical test. Two separate cases under a dozen fabricated charges were lodged against them the next day, while raids are taking place to arrest other activists.
To protest against this brutal assault, the Party began an indefinite dharna at the DM's office at Sitapur on September 14. this peaceful dharna, too, was attacked on September 16, when Standing Committee member Madan Singh and AIALA State Secretary Sriram Choudhary were on the dharna. Among the assailants were some Gram Pradhans who had just had a meeting with the DM. When Sriram Choudhary and other injured people tried to lodge an FIR, the police did not comply; and a medical test too was denied. Despite the assault, the dharna continues.
The active collusion of the district Administration was in evidence in both the above incidents. The assailants are yet to be arrested. We may recall that on July 8, feudal goons had killed a CPI(ML) leader Ram Bux Singh – a dalit activist who was at the forefront of a land struggle of rural poor in his area. Even then, the Administration had favoured the murderers. The main accused was not touched, while the police officer who had protected the killers was not even transferred.
Now, through an Administrative order dated September 18, the peaceful struggle by the CPI(ML) has been banned. However, the dharna continues at the DM's office in Sitapur, and various democratic forces have come out in support of it, including the Bar Association, the Traders' Association, the Kisan Union of Tikait, the Lord Buddha Club and other dalit organisations, and the Right to Information Struggle Committee.
In Pilibhit, CPI(ML) CC Member and National VP of AIALA Krishna Adhikari, Advocate Kishan Lal who is a member of the Zila Panchayat, Manohar Lal who is AIALA District President as well as over 100 CPI(ML) activists have been sent to jail on September 20, on a range of serious criminal charges. Their crime? They were leading an agitation for providing BPL cards to the poor. Based on their own survey of corruption and irregularities in issuing BPL cards in 60 villages of Marouri Block, they had submitted a report to the BDO/ SDM demanding BPL cards for all poor families and cancellation of the card illegally issued to those who are not poor. To press for these demands, they began an indefinite dharna on September 14 at Marouri Block HQ. During negotiations, the Administration gave a written assurance to issue BPL cards to the poor families in 20 villages. But it backtracked on this assurance. CPI(ML) and AIALA leaders pressed for its actual implementation in at least 10 villages.
Refusing to respond to dialogue, the Administration resorted to a lathicharge on the protestors, injuring many activists. The first lathi fell on the widow of Narayan Haldar, who had committed suicide of hunger. The charges include various sections of IPC and the Seventh Criminal Law Amendment Act. The Assam Road was blocked on September 23, and an indefinite dharna began on the same day at the District HQ. on 24 September, women under the banner of AIPWA will protest while a State-wide protest of CPI(ML) has been announced to take place on 25 September
In Semra and Sonbarsa villages in Rajgarh block of Mirzapur District, the Administration forcibly drove out hundreds of tribal families from their ancestral homes. Nearly 100 poor tribal families became homeless.
On September 16 in Sevarahi village in Gazipur district, poor peasants have been beaten up by the henchmen of a Minister in Mulayam's cabinet, who hails from a neighbouring village. CPI(ML) has begun an indefinite dharna at Gazipur district HQ, but thanks to the Minister's patronage, no action has been taken against the culprits.
CPI(ML) is planning a state-wide protest against the continuing spate of attacks on democratic movements of the rural poor for proper implementation of development schemes.
AIALA's ‘Ghera Dalo Dera Dalo' Movement Demanding Job Cards
The Bihar Government had claimed that by the end of August, public functions would be held at all panchayats to distribute job cards. This promise has remained on paper, and so AIALA launched a militant protest movement at all Block HQs from September 18-23.
In preparation for the movement, Cadre Conventions were held at the Block and District levels, followed by village level meetings, at which statistics were gathered about the status of distribution of job cards. These reports were submitted to BDOs during the movement.
On September 18, people flocked to the Block HQs in hundreds and thousands, preparing to camp at the HQs until job cards were distributed. As the days passed, the numbers increased. Women too participated in good numbers. At those places where the Administration had not made preparations for distributing job cards, the BDO remained absconding. If the Administration failed to initiate a dialogue, people were forced to lock the HQ and stop work there. Block HQs were gheraoed at some places. At most places, the process of registration and photography leading to issue of job cards took off only after intense struggle.
The Ghera Dalo campaign was launched in 100 blocks of 29 districts.
In Biraul block of Darbhanga, around 3000 people participated in the movement. Women blackened the face of the BDO. The BDO Devendra Suman ordered a crackdown, in which several non-bailable charges – ranging from interference in Government work to attempt of murder – were framed against 8 named accused and 250 others. The 8 include Karo Devi, two newly elected sarpanches Bacchu Thakur and Rajendra Ram and BDC member Zakir Hussain. The DM was gheraoed in Bahadurpur block. In Bahadurpur, Darbhanga town, Ghanshyampur, Manigachhi, Baheri and Kevati blocks, offices were locked and work stopped.
In Punpun, people drove the HQ employees and the BDO out of the office, and CRPF and SAF was called in. Eventually, the SDO and BDO had to offer some concrete steps for card distribution. In Dhanarua block of Patna , the number of participants increased from 1500 to 6000. In Darauli block of Siwan, around 3000 people participated, forcing the BDO to apologise and begin the process of registration and photography. In Kalyanpur Block of Samastipur, 500 people remained gathered at the Block HQ from 18-20 September. On September 20, when there was no response from the Administration, all block employees were locked in from 11 am to 3 pm. The BDO then arrived, and a written agreement was signed regarding time-bound distribution of the job cards. In Kaler block of Arwal district, too, registration began only after all employees were locked inside the office.
State Repression on Peasants in Punjab : CPI (ML) Fact-Finding Team Visits Site
A fact-finding team comprising AIKSS leaders Prem Singh Gehlawat and Ramchandra, and PKU leaders Ruldu Singh, Gurnam Singh, Balkaran Balli and Karnail Singh, visited Raipur village in Mansa district of Punjab, where there had been a massive crackdown on protesting peasants on 11 September. The team visited the injured people and addressed meetings at various villages. They found that the event went back to the scourge of Commission Agents who exploit the debt burden of the peasantry. Tara Singh had handed over some land to one such agent in lieu of debt payment; but the agent cheated him and grabbed a much larger amount of land than what was agreed. This land was sold to powerful land mafia forces. When Tara Singh tried to challenge this, the Sarpanch bearing allegiance to the Congress assaulted his family, and destroyed his home and belongings. In chock, Tara Singh dies. In protest, peasants held a March, on which there was a brutal lathicharge and 16 were arrested and charged with attempted murder.
The team met several people with broken limbs and other injuries. They met the SP and DC and demanded unconditional release of those arrested, and got some assurances to this effect. On 21 September, they visited the arrested people in Bhatinda jail.