Sankalp Divas in Memory of Comrade VM
December 18, the death anniversary of Comrade Vinod Mishra, was observed as Sankalp Divas (Pledge-taking Day) by Party units all over the country. This year, the December 18 programmes also launched the fund collection drive for the party’s forthcoming Ninth Congress.
In Delhi, a cadre convention was held at the party’s central office, in which the December 18 call was read out by Comrade VKS Gautam. Comrade Kavita then discussed some of the key tasks outlined by the Call in the context of party work in Delhi, and Comrade Ravi presented a brief paper on the political perspective and organizational principles that underlie the ongoing task of membership renewal, recruitment, transformation of candidate members into party members, branch functioning and party organs. Several district and branch secretaries and party activists introspected on the ongoing work and the tasks ahead. CCM Comrade Rajendra Pratholi also addressed the Convention. Delhi State Secretary Comrade Sanjay Sharma concluded the discussion, calling on comrades to intensify the movement of Delhi’s working class and urban poor, and strengthen the party in Delhi.
The Sankalp Divas at Patna was observed with a Cadre Convention by the Patna City Committee, addressed by the Bihar State Secretary Comrade Nand Kishore Prasad, AICCTU General Secretary Swapan Mukherjee and Lokyuddh editor Comrade BB Pandey, Patna City Secretary Comrade Saroj Chaubey, and was attended by a large number of leading activists. Conventions were also held at 12 blocks in Patna rural as well as Badh. A district level convention was held at Jehanabad addressed by PBM Comrade Ramjatan Sharma and Darbhanga, addressed by CCM Comrade Dhirendra Jha, as well as at Buxar, Purnea, Arwal, Muzaffarpur, Begusarai and W Champaran. Block level Sankalp Sabhas were held at Bhojpur, Siwan and Gaya, as well as Samastipur, Aurangabad, Kaimur. The fund collection drive was launched with great enthusiasm at all places.
A state-level cadre convention was held at Saria (Giridih) in Jharkhand. The conventon began with floral tributes to Comrade VM as well as Comrades Mahendra Singh and Ibn-ul Hasan Basru. Cadres held a motorcycle march in Bagodar preceding the convention. The Convention was conducted by Jharkhand State Secretary Comrade Janardan Prasad. SCM and the party’s MLA in the state Assembly Comrade Vinod Singh presented the December 18 Call for discussion. 16 leaders then discussed their work in various districts and fronts. Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya addressed the Convention in conclusion. PBM Comrade D P Buxi, and CCMs Comrades Manoj Bhakt, Shubhendu Sen as well as SCMs were present. In the Convention, workers’ leader from Bokaro Comrade JN Singh was greeted with enthusiastic applause when he contributed the amount of Rs 15,000 received as a ‘best worker’ award from SAIL to the party’s Ninth Congress fund. Contributions received at the Giridih district convention and the state convention amounted to Rs 4700. The Convention resolved to conduct a campaign against corruption and corporate loot, the first phase of which would culminate in Comrade Mahendra Singh’s martyrdom day on 16 January. On that date, a big rally will be held at Bagodar, and mass meeting in other districts. Another decision was to launch a campaign against the state government’s betrayal of the people, in which four teams will march in four Assembly constituencies in Giridih from 25 December onwards. From 16 January to 23 March, a second phase of political-organisational campaign will be conducted, concluding with a rally on 23 March and the State Conference of the party on 23-25 March at Koderma. From 18 December, women comrades will take up the task of full scale preparations for the AIPWA National Conference. A memorial meeting for Comrade VM was also held at Garhwa.
In Uttar Pradesh, Sankalp Sabhas were organized in many districts. The programmes included a rally to district HQs at Devaria, with the slogan ‘People’s Power Against Money Power’, attended by about 2000 people including ASHA, anganwadi and mid-day meal women workers in addition to party members. Block level GBMs of party members were held at Ballia, Gorakhpur, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Allahabad, Sonebhadra, Lakhimpur Kheri. At Mirzapur, Varanasi, Azamgarh, Gonda, Lucknow, Kanpur, Jalaun, Sitapur and Pilibhit, pledge-taking GBMs were held at district HQs.
The Tamilnadu state committee organized a state cadre meeting to observe the ‘Pledge Taking’ day. 83 leaders and cadres of the party participated in the meeting. At the meeting, the December 18 Call was read and discussed, with Com S Kumarasamy, PBM, explaining various key aspects of the call and the key tasks before the party, and calling on comrades to implement the CC call with full vigor and determination. The cadre meeting earnestly embarked on the challenge of turning the Tamil party organ, ‘Theepori’ into a fortnightly from January 1, 2012. District secretaries, in-charges and other comrades shared their experiences of ‘Theepori’ subscriptions promotional campaign in a very lively manner. A total of 1,900 subscriptions (Rs 1,90,000 collected in these 15 day campaign presented to Com G. Radhakrishnan, Manager of ‘Theepori’). Chennai committee crossed 600, Coimbatore achieved 500 and Kanyakumari, 350. The meeting overwhelmingly endorsed the target of 5000 to achieve before the party’s state conference to be held in end March. The meeting pledged to strengthen the party organ, a key tool in party building and political advance.
Party State Secretary, Balasundaram, announced decisions taken in the 2-day state committee meeting that concluded a day before the Pledge-taking Day. The meeting resolved to take up vigorous mass political campaign against the anti-people Jayalalitha Government which will culminate in a party rally and state conference of the party to be held on March 30, 31 and April 1 at Coiambatore. Responding to the CC’s call the cadre meet contributed Rs 17000 towards 9th Party Congress fund. This was presented to PBM, Com S Kumarasamy.
In Andhra Pradesh, the pledge-taking day was observed at East Godavari, Jaggampeta, Yeleswaram, Prathipadu, Krishna, and Khammam. In W Bengal, Sankalp Sabhas were held at branch and area level in most districts, while district-level cadre meetings were held at Nadia and Jalpaiguri on 18 December. The cadre meeting at Jalpaiguri was addressed by PBM Comrade Kartick Pal. On 19 December, a Sankalp Sabha was held at Darjeeling. In Uttarakhand, party activists gathered for a Sankalp Sabha at Bindukhatta, addressed by Uttarakhand In-charge Comrade Raja Bahuguna. On the same day, the Almora District Conference of the party was held at Deghat preceded by a procession and mass meeting. The Sankalp Divas was also observed at Pithoragarh.
The party units in five districts – Udaipur, Pratapgarh, Ajmer, Jhunjhunu and Jaipur – of Rajasthan celebrated Sankalp Divas with cadre meeting. At Chhattisgarh, a meeting of party cadres was held at the party office in Bhilai, and at Lal Khadan in Bilaspur. A meeting was held in Raipur on 19 December. A cadre convention was organized at Ahmedabad (Gujarat), addressed by the party’s Gujarat in-charge Comrade Ranjan Ganguly, as well as party leaders Lakshmanbhai Patanwaria and RYA leader Amit Patanwaria.
All India Kisan Sabha and CPI(ML) Haryana held a Sankalp Sabha at Sonipat in which many peasant organization leaders participated. The peasant leaders protested against the government’s policies of corporatizing agriculture. Peasant leader Om Prakash Arya, Hansraj Rana, AICCTU leader Satbir Shramik, CPI(ML) CCM Prabhat Kumar and AIKS Vice President Prem Singh Gehlawat addressed the meeting, and a cultural team presented a revolutionary Ragini (folk music of Haryana). At Odisha, Sankalp Divas was observed at Bhubaneswar, Puri, Rayagada, and Gajapati. Sankalp Divas was also observed at Tripura and Karnataka.
“As a worker in the Bokaro Steel Plant, I have been selected for a National Award amounting to Rs 15,000, and an appreciation letter from SAIL. I have decided to contribute the amount to the Ninth Party Congress Fund.
In Solidarity With Irom
In solidarity with Irom Sharmila, and against the draconian AFSPA, AIPWA held campaigns and protest initiatives in many states.
On 3 November, an impressive day-long protest dharna was held at Devaria in Uttar Pradesh. A large number of rural women workers participated in the protest, which was joined by women advocates. The protest was led by AIPWA State Secretary Premlata Pandey, AIPWA leader Geeta Pandey and others. For many who came to attend the protest, it was an eye-opener about the 11-year-long ongoing fast of a woman against a repressive law imposed on the North East and Kashmir.
At Varanasi, AIPWA organised a film screening on 5 November at Lanka. The film – AFSPA 1958 – directed by Haoban Pawan Kumar, that depicts the trail of trauma that AFSPA creates, left a powerful impact on viewers that was palpable from the moist eyes in the room. AIPWA dedicated the programme to the steely resolve of Irom Sharmila.
Memorandums demanding scrapping of AFSPA were submitted in protest programmes held at Mirzapur, Sitapur, Gorakhpur, Kanpur, Lakhimpur, and Pilibhit.
At Patna, a seminar was held on 3 December at Patna University, by AIPWA along with the Women’s Studies Department, in which several students participated. The seminar was presided over by Prof. Bharti S Kumar, and was addressed by Padmalata Thakur, in-charge of the Women’s Studies Department and professor of history, Seema Prasad of the Political Science department, Daisy Narayan of the History department, Saroj Chaubey, Vice President, AIPWA, and Meena Tiwari, General Secretary, AIPWA.
At Ranchi, a seminar was held on 27 November following a vigorous campaign. Speakers at the Seminar included Fr. Stan Swamy of PUCL, social activist Jyoti Lakra, cultural activist Xavier Kujur, and Gopinath Ghosh. Sunita, National Secretary of AIPWA, conducted the seminar. An impressive protest march against AFSPA was held by AIPWA on 9 November at Kolkata.
On 2 November, a protest meeting agaist AFSPA was jointly organised at the Guwahati Press Club, presided over by progressive writer Dr Anina Guha. Several women’s organisations including Assam State Committee participated in the protest. Speakers at the protest meeting included Junu Bora of AIPWA and editor of Jonaki Bat; Sumitra Hazarika of Nirjatan Virodhi Ekta Mancha; Mridula Kalita of Nari Mukti Sangram Samiti, Kusum Devi of Manipuri women’s organisation Meira Paibi; Himadri Devi of Brihattar Noonmati Nari Nirjata Virodhi Ekta Manch, Masfica Begum of Sachetan Nagrik Manch, as well as activists of NFIW Assam State Committee, North East Network and Lekhika Santha, and intellectuals and journalists including Maini Mahanta, editor of a women’s magazine, and Suparna Lahiri Barua. The protestors then held a procession and human chain in front of Guwahati Press Club, demanding repeal of AFSPA and enquiry into all instances of atrocities and punishment for the perpetrators. On the same day, AIPWA also held protest programmes against AFSPA at Dibrugarh and Raha.
AISA, AIPWA and CPI(ML) leaders and activists from Nagpur joined several organisations in Wardha, along with University professors, social activists, students, in a procession organised by the Jan Adhikar Manch on 5 November at Wardha in Maharashtra to express solidarity with Irom Sharmila. The procession marched ten kilometres before reaching the District Magistrate’s office where a day-long fast was observed. During the day long hunger strike the students performed various street plays and group songs. The meeting that followed was addressed by AISA’s Maharashtra President- Abhilasha and CPI(ML)’s Harendra Srivastava among others.
In Rajasthan, solidarity programmes were held at Jaipur and Udaipur, where mass delegations submitted memorandums demanding scrapping of AFSPA to the Collector.
Convention at Trivandrum Demanding Moratorium on Death Penalty
A one-day convention was organized by a group of human rights activists at Trivandrum on 28th November 2011 to demand moratorium on judicial executions. It was an unequivocal condemnation by progressive voices against continuation of capital punishment. The convention was preceded by a demonstration and a rally to the state secretariat.
The convention was inaugurated by distinguished writer P Zachariah while participants were welcomed by Gireesh Kumar on behalf of the organizing committee. The convention was addressed by long list of speakers including BRP Bhaskar, a veteran journalist, Dr N A Karim , former Vice Chancellor of Kerala University, Dileepraj an activist writer, Dr K K Rajaram of Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA), R P Amudan, documentary film maker, Dr K K Chandran, Advocate P A Pauran, President, PUCL, Kerala , K K Shahina, journalist, K Ramachandran, a noted environmental activist, H S Suraj of Students Against Death Penalty and C Vasukkuttan of Dalit Social Forum.
Comrade Venugopalan, State Leading Team member of CPI(ML) also addressed the gathering along with other Left party leaders MN Ravunni of ‘Porattam’ and P N Provint, State Secretary of CPI(ML) (KNR Group).
Com. Venugopalan expressed solidarity with the cause and demanded immediate repeal of death sentences against the three persons under death row in the Rajiv Gandhi Assassination case and in cases like that of Afsal Guru where death sentences are being awarded even without sufficient evidence to prove the guilt.
‘Thudarum Neethikkolaigal ‘(The Continuing Judicial Executions), a latest documentary film was also screened.
Seminar at Trivandrum on
“Lessons of October Revolution to the Indian Working Class”
Purogamana Charcha Vedi (Progressive Debating Forum), a small platform of activists committed to debating the issues of class struggle and taking forward progressive ideas to the people, organized a seminar on November 7th at Trivandrum marking the 94th anniversary of the October revolution.
The topic of discussion, “Lessons of October Revolution to the Indian Working Class” was initiated by Dr NA Karim, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Kerala. Comrades Shaji of Purogamana Charcha Vedi, Susheelan P and Prof M K Shiva Prasad also addressed the gathering along with many others.
Dr Karim pointed out that the present crisis of global capitalism is not only much bigger than that of the great depression, it has also acquired features of cronyism and has transformed into some sort of casino capitalism that has expanded to a global scale.
KM Venugopalan of the CPI(ML) Kerala State Leading Team emphasized on the role of working class in the struggle against opportunism in the Left movement as a major lesson. He also elaborated on the opportunist slogan of ‘defend the fatherland’ in the context of Second World War that led the opportunist Left to rally behind the bourgeoisie. He contrasted it with Lenin’s revolutionary vision that was vindicated by the victory of Bolsheviks in October revolution, which skillfully utilized the imperialist crisis in the interests of the working class. He also called upon all oppressed people across the globe to unite to fight globalization, liberalisation and corporatization in the present context.
Rape of Tribal Women in TN :
On 22nd November, TN police unleashed brutality in T. Mandam hamlet of Vizhupuram district. Four women from the Irula tribal community were raped by the Tirukovilur police in the early hours of the morning.
Hearing the news, a six-member team of CPIML and AIPWA led by Party State Secretary Balasundaram visited Vizhupuram district to investigate the incident. The team members visited the Irula hamlet and the Government Hospital in Vizhupuram, where the victims were admitted for medical examination, and interacted with the relatives of the victims, leaders of Irula tribes’ association, human rights organizations, media persons and lawyers. The fact finding team comprised Com. Balasundaram, State Secretary, Com. Venkatesan, District Secretary, Com. Gopalakrishnan, Com Suseela, AIPWA district secretary, Com. Baby and Com. Ranjani.
The Irulas are a local tribe numbering barely 40000 in the Vizhupuram district. They live by catching rats, snakes and iguanas, and sometimes by working in quarrying. They are at the lowest rung of the ladder in terms of socio-economic status. It is routine for the police to slap theft charges on them and jail them. Irula men are the scapegoats in every unsolved theft case.
The team found that on the day of the incident, six men of a family were falsely implicated in theft charges and arrested by the police. Around 8 pm the police ransacked the house; the girls were beaten and forcibly pushed into the police vehicle, took them to a remote place at midnight and raped them. The girls were threatened with dire consequences if they divulged the matter.
The girls approached the District Superintendent of Police to lodge a complaint. But the SP, instead of sending them to hospital for a medical examination, or arresting the culprits, detained them in his office for 18 hours. The SP and his team, including women police, intimidated them and forced them to sign blank papers. Only after the media highlighted the issue, an FIR was filed and court proceedings began. The Madras High Court, on a PIL petition, directed the SP to send the girls for medical examination. As a damage control exercise, the Chief Minister announced Rs 5 lakh as compensation, and 5 police men have been suspended.
The fact finding team demanded that the Chief Minister Jayalalitha should own responsibility for the incident and take stringent action against the culprits immediately. They also demanded punishment for the police, an impartial enquiry by the State Women’s Commission and State Human Rights Commission and SC/ST commission, and a review of all cases filed on Irula men, and implementation of special socio- economic programmes.
CPIML and AIPWA leaders, Comrades Balasundaram, A S Kumar, Venkatesan, Ammaiappan, Thenmozhi, Devaki, Kuppabai and Lilly met the DGP on December 2, and demanded the immediate arrest of the culprits and action against the SP and DIG under SC/ST Act. On December 5, a militant protest demonstration was held by CPIML and AIPWA in front of Vizhupuram Collectorate.