CPI(M) Organises Mass Satyagraha
1.76 LAKH PEOPLE COURT ARREST IN TRIPURA STRUGGLING masses of Tripura set a new record in the history of struggles on May 28. Braving the burning heat of May and incessant rain in different parts of the state, more than 1,76,000 people courted arrest participating in the mass Satyagraha movement at the call of the CPI(M). The thundering call of the fighting masses was loud and clear: the Congress government should immediately respond to the urgent demands or quit office. The call of mass satyagraha was given by the culmination meeting of the Sangharsh Sandesh Jathas at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi. In Tripura, CPI(M) state committee launched massive campaign throughout the state from May 15, which culminated in the mass satyagraha on May 28. In addition to the demands of food, curbing price rise, right to health, education, land and house sites, social justice and employment, curbing corruption and ban on FDI in retail trade, the movement also put forth local demands like steps from the FCI to procure paddy from the peasants at a minimum support price and continuing with the levy sugar in PDS. Throughout the state mass satyagraha was organised at 49 places in front of the central government offices. A total of 1,76,052 number of people participated in the movement. Participation of women was significant and noteworthy everywhere. In Agartala, the mass satyagraha in front of the All India Radio was led by CPI(M) state secretary Bijan Dhar and state secretariat member Gautam Das. In front of Doordarshan Kendra, Agartala the movement was led by CPI(M) Central Committee member and MP Khagen Das. Central Committee members Rama Das and Bajuban Reang led the movements in Jirania and Mandwai respectively. In Agartala, a militant rally marched through the main roads of the city before it was arrested by the police in front of the Akashvani Bhavan. Rallyists shouted slogans in support of the six point demands. The famous slogan of the 1989 general election “Gali gali mein shor hain, Congress chor hain” was heard once again. In front of AIR alone, 12,002 satyagrahis courted arrest. After courting arrest addressing the people Bijan Dhar said, the Left is striving for an alternative force at the centre. The Congress is like the King of the game of chess which is facing a check on every move. To avoid a disaster it may go for an early election. The mass satyagraha on the 6 point popular demands of food, land, employment etc is essentially linked with the struggle for an alternative government at the centre with alternative policies. He called upon the masses to be prepared for it. Gautam Das said, CPI(M) wants an effective Lokpal Bill which will be able to conduct investigation against the prime minister. The CBI has to be freed from government control as the Supreme Court has rightly termed it to be a caged parrot of its political masters. He said, the huge electoral victory of the Left in Tripura shall boost the mass struggle for an alternative in the country. Later in a statement, CPI(M) Tripura state committee extended warm congratulations to the democratic, secular, peace and development loving masses of the state for their massive participation in the movement. It called upon the masses to carry forward these countrywide struggles further ahead and ensure that the logical effect of these movements is reflected in the forthcoming political struggle at the national level. (Rahul Sinha) STATE GOVT INVOLVED IN LAND GRABBING IN HARYANA ON May 24, workers of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) put up a blockade of the main entrance of the Mini Secretariat at Panchkula, Haryana, against what they said was utter callousness and indifference of the state and central governments towards the most basic issues of livelihood of the common people. The action was part of an all-India call of the party to defy law and picket the government offices. The protestors first assembled at the Mazri Chowk in the town and took out a large procession which included several women. They then entered the Mini Secretariat and occupied the main entrance gate, defying the police force, and shouted slogans in favour of their long pending demands including food security, right to health and education, right to land and residential plots, etc. They also demanded inclusion of all poor families in the BPL list, payment of pending wages of work done under MGNREGA in Morni and Raipur Rani blocks, curb on the movement of wild animals which are damaging standing crops, social justice for the weaker sections, and security for women and girls. Addressing the workers who were picketing the office, the party’s state secretary Inderjit Singh held the policies of the government responsible for creating a shining India for the corporate sector on the one hand and reducring the toiling people to misery and deprivation on the other. He also condemned the Bhupender Singh Hooda government of Haryana for seeking to suppress all genuine protests with brute police force. In this context, he cited the example of shameless repression of dismissed Maruti workers and their parents including women at Kaithal on May 19. The blockade was lifted on the intervention of the subdivisional magistrate (SDM) who assured that the issues raised in the memorandum, submitted on May 1, would be taken up in a meeting which he would fix up in consultation with the district collector who was away on the day. Others who also addressed the protestors included Jai Bhagwan, Mehar Chand Goyal, Lakshman and others. On May 27, hundreds of CPI(M) workers similarly picketed the office at Barwala in Hisar district against the insensitive attitude of the central and state governments towards the burning problems of the toiling masses. Addressing the protestors, CPI(M) state secretary Inderjit Singh charged the Hooda government with indulging in massive land scandals. He reiterated his party's demand for an impartial inquiry into the connivance of the state machinery with those who were out to grab thousands of acres of farmers’ lands. These elements in the real estate business, and their backers in the government machinery, were resorting to gross manipulation of rules with impunity in order to earn profits of unimaginable dimensions. On the other hand, the CPI(M) leader said, lakhs of homeless families were running from pillar to post for a 100 square yard of residential plot each. Singh criticised the state government for sending notices for recovery of the facilities provided to those poorer families whose names from the BPL lists have been wrongly deleted through a fresh survey conducted after High Court order. He wondered how the state failed to challenge such an improper order issued by a division bench of the High Court. The SDM came out to listen to the protestors who narrated how the public distribution system was being weakened, residential plots were not being given to the poor, illegal sale of liquor was going on in many villages, the health situation was deteriorating in the state, etc. They demanded an enhancement in the amounts of the old age pension and widow pension, bonus on wheat, curb on the rising incidents of sexual assault on women, and security for dalits, among other things. The programme was part of the all-India call of the party for struggle to raise the livelihood issues concerning the workers, peasants and other toiling masses. The SDM assured the demonstrators that he would call a meeting of the party’s leaders with the officials on June 6 and settle down the issues. It was on this assurance that the picketing was withdrawn. Those leading the protestors included Suresh Kumar, a member of the Zila Parishad, the CPI(M)’s area committee secretary Mohan Lal. PROTESTORS HOLD DEMO IN DELHI ON May 28, Delhi state committee of the CPI(M) organised a big demonstration in front of the Delhi Government Secretariat, in which several hundred activists of the party, including a large number of women, participated. The demonstrators were demanding, as part of their nationwide campaign, strengthening of the public distribution system with 35 kg ration to each family at the rate of Rs 2 per kg, end to the differentiation of APL and BPL categories, an end to the cash transfer system, withdrawal of the rise in the rates of electricity and water, low-cost flats for the poor, initiation of an urban employment guarantee scheme, 25 per cent reservation of seats and beds in private schools and hospitals, proper implementation of the welfare schemes meant for the SC, OBC and minorities, and an end to corruption. The party’s state secretariat member Vijender Sharma presided over the demonstration. State secretariat members Asha Sharma and Anurag Saxena addressed the demonstrators. The speakers strongly criticised the UPA government for its neo-liberal policies, and also criticized the Sheila Dikshit government of Delhi which is not taking steps to redress the grievances of the poor. The activists first gathered near the ITO where they had a meeting and then marched towards the Delhi Government Secretariat where they were stopped by the police near the Gate No 3. CPI(M) ORGANISES MASS PICKETING IN JHARKHAND AS a part of the all-India mass picketing movement of the CPI(M), a mass picketing programme was organised at the Ranchi Collectorate in Jharkhand on May 29, under the banner of the Ranchi district committee of Communist Party of India (Marxist). CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat led the action. In Jharkhand such programmes are being organised in 82 blocks and at all the district headquarters. The main demands of the party included allotment of forest land to the tribal and other people traditionally living in forest areas, providing foodgrains at the rate of one rupee a kg to all the poor people, and withdrawal of the process of omission of names from the BPL list. A mass procession commencing from Jaipal Singh Stadium preceded the picketing programme and the picketing at the Collectorate was presided over by Sanjay Siddharth, a member of the CPI(M) state committee. Brinda Karat, CPI(M) state secretary Gopikant Bakshi, Rajendra Singh Munda (state secretariat member and former MLA), Sufal Mahto (Ranchi district secretary), Subhash Munda, Rangowati Devi (member, Zila Parishad, Ranchi) and Manju Munda addressed the meeting. Brinda Karat spoke about the neo-liberal policies of the Congress as well as the BJP which are serving the vested interests of the rich, including foreign capitalists, at the cost of the toiling masses of our country. The public distribution system is in a very bad condition and the poor are not getting foodgrains, though the government godowns are overfilled with 6.5 crore tonnes of foodgrains. Rampant corruption is only worsening the situation. Though the UPA government has placed the Food Security Bill in the parliament due to public pressure, the draft bill has serious shortcomings; for instance it talks of providing 25 kilograms of grains instead of 35 kilograms to each family and payment of cash in place of foodgrains. The CPI(M) has strongly protested the measures of the government to dilute the bill. The Forest Rights Act has been passed but it has not been implemented in Jharkhand. Further, in the name of a Greater Ranchi Master Plan, tribal people are going to be evicted from their lands, defying the Chhota Nagpur Tenancy Act and provisions of the fifth schedule of the constitution. Brinda Karat also said that the CPI(M) would have to intensify its struggles against these policies of the government. The SDO of Ranchi received the memorandum from the picketers at the Collectorate gate and assured that the demands including the inclusion of names omitted from the BPL list and implementation of the Forest Rights Act would be met by the government. Participation of tribal youth and women from different parts of Ranchi was remarkable. On May 28, mass picketing was organised at Hunterganj block of the extremist prone district of Chatra, attended by around 2000 toiling people. While addressing the meeting in the Hunterganj market, Brinda Karat vehemently criticised the policy of the government for abrupt curtailment in BPL list. She said pattas of the vested land under the possession of the poor people have not yet been issued, and that the administration has for long been neglecting the cleaning of silt in old canals that are meant for irrigation. Instead of supplying 35 kg of foodgrains to each family of the poor people. only 25 kg are being supplied. The meeting was presided over by Ramdeo Singh, secretary of the Chatra district committee of CPI(M). The party’s state secretary, Gopikant Baksi, and state committee members Banwari Singh and Sanjay Paswan also addressed the meeting. Brinda Karat also participated in the mass picketing programmes at the headquarters of Godda and Dhanbad districts on May 30 and May 31 respectively.