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DK Revives Campaign against Thali

TERMING the "thali" or "mangal sutra" or "marital tie", traditionally worn around the neck by married Hindu women as long as their spouses are alive, a symbol of slavery or oppression, 21 married women discarded it at a function organised by Dravidar Kazhagam at Chennai on the 124th birth anniversary of B.R.Ambedkar. The event got over even before a division bench of the Madras High Court issued a stay order on the function. The DK announced the "thali" removal programme after protests by Hindu Munnani against television channel Puthiya Thalaimurai over its proposed programme on women wearing "thali".

The Tamil TV channel later cancelled the programme but two tiffin box bombs of low intensity were thrown at the channel's office. Several Hindu organisations sponsored by RSS opposed the DK's "thali" removal programme.

However, the beef-eating ceremony arranged by the DK had to be cancelled after the stay order of the court was communicated to its leaders. Though Justice D. Hariparanthaman of TN High Court, on 13th April, quashed a ban order imposed by the Chennai police on both the events, this was overturned by a special sitting of the Division Bench consisting of Justice Satish K. Agnihotri and Justice K. Venugopal at the former's residence.
A DELEGATION of the representatives of various secular political parties and organisations met the chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to draw his attention to the fast deteriorating communal situation in the state. The delegation handed over a memorandum listing the incidents of communal violence which took place in various towns of the state. The memorandum in particular mentions the cases of arson and looting of shops owned by Muslims. Such incidents took place in Rahatgarh of Sagar district, Jawad of Neemach district, Alirajpur, Khargone. In Rahatgarh alone about 70 shops were first looted and then set on fire. The communal hooligans did not spare thelas' of poor families. The memorandum also demanded action against those who attacked Christians at Jabalpur. L.S. Herdenia, convener of Rashtriya Secular Manch. informed the Chief Minister that the local police is refusing to record such FIRs which mention the names of culprits who are invariably related to extremist Hindu organisations. Despite efforts made by the Manch not a single individual involved in these incidents have been arrested. The delegation pointed out that it is the bounden duty of administration to ensure that injustice is not done to any section of the society
POSCO, the controversial South Korean multinational company (MNC), is reported to have decided to pack off from its $12 billion steel complex in Odisha, as a result of powerful protests by local people who have taken strong exception to iron ore mining by the company in the Khandadhar region. A US-based news site, reporting on the development, has called it "a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's hopes to convince companies to make in India." The site, bloomberg.com, said, South Korea's biggest steelmaker company Posco's Odisha project was the nation's "biggest foreign investment", yet it has "failed to take off since 2005 because of opposition from local farmers and the failure to secure iron ore mining leases." It claims, the withdrawal has happened despite the fact that "the steelmaker was able to overcome local resistance and get the state mafias to acquire about 2,700 acres (1,093 hectares) of land for the first phase."

"Securing supplies of iron ore, a key steelmaking raw material, has proved tougher", the site said, quoting Jagannadham Thunuguntla, head of fundamental research at Karvy Stock Broking Ltd to say that "Posco has waited for a very long period and probably they thought it was time to take a final decision on their future course." The development has taken place following the South Korean company's decision to shut its engineering and construction unit in Gurgaon. Before that, in 2013, it scrapped a plan to build a steel plant in Karnataka because of land and mining delays. In2013, Arcelor- Mittal, the world's biggest producer of the alloy, pulled out of its steelmaking.
MORE THAN 20 potato farmers have already committed suicide in the state this season and the number is feared to go up further. Whereas it is customary for farmers to desire a good harvest, in West Bengal it is a good harvest that has proved to be a curse to the farmers, thanks to the government's policies which have resulted in farmers not getting a price for their potatoes. After the latest incident of farmer suicide in Rangta village in Garbeta block of West Midnapur district, party state committee members Comrade ShibuGiri and Comrade Tarun Manna visited the spot for an investigation. It was revealed that the deceased farmer had taken 30 bighas of land on lease, at the rate of Rs 1000 per acre, for sowing potatoes. He had borrowed both from a local usurer as well as the Punjab National Bank a total sum of five and a half lakh rupees to meet expenses towards seeds, fertilisers and associated costs. However, despite an excellent harvest, he could not sell his crop and he took his life to escape from the debt. It was a clear case of suicide by a desperate farmer entangled in indebtedness but the shameless state government has put it down to 'family problems'. The West Bengal State Committee has condemned the state government's attempt to hush up the real cause of farmers' suicides by resorting to deception and called for a state-wide agitation on the following demands: 1) The state government must immediately buy potatoes from farmers at a rate of Rs 800 per quintal, 2) Bank loans of affected peasants must be waived and fresh loans arranged for them to cover the losses, 3) Families of farmers who have committed suicide must be given proper compensation by the government. West Bengal: Party launches protest against suicide of potato farmers.
THE LATEST incidents in AP and Telegana show that in these states the heinous culture of fake encounter killings by the police force continues unabated. The mass killing of five alleged SIMI men in Telangana on April on the plea that they had been trying to escape from custody has already been proved to be an unprovoked and cold-blooded murder of under-trials. According to the police, the incident occurred on a busy highway in the middle of the morning when the prisoners were being taken from Warangal jail to a Hyderabad court. According to IGP Warangal, Naveen Chand, the police convoy of three vehicles made an unscheduled halt at the request of under-trial prisoner, Vikaruddin Ahmed. With his handcuffs off, Vikaruddin allegedly snatched an AK 56 rifle from Reserve Sub-Inspector, Uday Bhaskar and the remaining four prisoners, Mohd. Zakir, Mohd. Hanif, SayedAmjad, and Izhar Khan pounced on two other policemen. In retaliation, the other policemen, 17 in all, shot all five dead inside the van. However, photographs of the slain men showing that they were handcuffed to the car seat when shot have already come up on the media giving the lie to the police statement of 'attempted escape' and 'attack on policemen'. This murder is another example of the growing communalization and fascisization of the state.

On the same day, 20 labourers – mostly adivasis from Tamil Nadu – were gunned down by the police in Andhra Pradesh's Chittoor district. The police claimed that the slain men were smugglers of red sanders — a rare wood with huge demand in the international market – and that the police had opened fire after coming under attack by the smugglers in Seshachalam forest in two places within a radius of one kilometre. This police story too has been proved to be nothing but a sinister lie, and the 20 workers were actually barbarously killed by the police not in self-defence and certainly not on the spot but after being taken into custody and being brutally beaten up on the previous day. An eye witness has asserted that 7 of the 20 killed were picked up by the AP police from a running bus on the AP-Tamil Nadu border. Landless tribals from Tamil Nadu are lured by smugglers into cutting trees. The labourers are not aware of the risks they have to face and are made to believe that cutting trees is a petty crime Thus there are numerous cases of this type in the AP-Tami Nadu border areas, where hundreds of poor adivasi-dalit workers are compelled to cut wood in forests by a powerful mafia engaged in a multi-crore business and enjoying political support. When caught by the police they are subjected to rigorous imprisonment and sometimes even killed. More than two thousand are now perishing in jails. Instead of taking action against the king-pins, the police are engaged in killing and torturing these hapless labourers.

The AP, Telengana and Tamil Nadu committees of CPI(ML) Red Star have severely condemned these killings and demanded stringent action against those responsible for the genocide. The CPI(ML) Red Star calls on all democratic forces to come out against these mass killings in the name of fake encounters
CONCERNED over the delay in arresting the killers of Abdul Hakeem, who was murdered in February 2014 in Payyannur by suspected land mafia henchmen, the action committee formed by local residents has launched a mass movement. The People's Action Committee, demanding the arrest of the culprits in the heinous murder of Abdul Hakeem, a native of Payyanur, Kannur District has been on a path of continuous struggle for nine months, as the authorities have refused to do justice.

On 10 th February, 2014, morning people reported to the police that Hakeem's dead body was found burning in the compound of the Juma Masjid behind the Payyanur railway station. The police came very late, though the police station was only 3 kms away. It was a gruesome murder that shocked the people. There was a widespread feeling that there were no attempts to trace the criminals. Different organizations protested, raising the demand to arrest the culprits. Nothing happened and these protests cooled down. It was in June, four months after the murder, that the People's Action Committee started a struggle demanding the arrest of culprits.

Hakeem was a young man from a poor family, without any patronage of the rich or the powerful. There were attempts from above to scuttle the police enquiry at every stage; to see that no one was arrested. Crime branch enquiries and newspaper reports have subsequently confirmed the worst fears of the people – that a powerful lobby is protecting the criminals and preventing any arrest. In newspaper reports, certain politicians are also alleged to have supported the antisocial mafia behind the murder. The mafia in question is said to have grown powerful in a very short time and have amassed wealth through real estate business, money lending and unlawful activities. People are afraid of this mafia to such an extent that they don't even dare to give evidence against criminals. As elsewhere, the criminal-police-politician nexus is operative in Payyanur too, creating a fear psychosis among the general public.

The People's Action Committee started a massive Satyagraha in front of the police station from 2nd October, 2014, demanding CBI intervention and arrest of the culprits. But it was withdrawn after 42 days, as the Government assured that the CBI would be entrusted with the investigation. The agitation was resumed on 25 February, 2015, as Satyagraha in front of the Gandhi statue in Gandhi park, Payyanur and this has been going on for the past 30 days. The Action Committee has called on the political parties to take astand on the Hakeem murder issue and to initiate agitation compelling the leaders of the ruling parties to take necessary action.

As people's participation in the struggle increased, there were desperate attempts from certain quarters to threaten the leaders of the struggle, including an attempt on the life of E V Sunilkumar, who was on a bike and managed to escape narrowly. He lodged a complaint with the police but they did nothing, as they claimed that he could not identify the criminals. On 17th March, a group of miscreants waylaid his bike and attacked him again, this time with swords, in front of the CPM office. He ran for his life to a nearby house; but the criminals hacked him with swords in front of the small children in that house. The children were so terrified that they have not overcome the shock and are undergoing counselling. Certain CPM workers have warnedthe Action Committee members over the phone that Sunilkumar will not be spared! Sunil has been hospitalized with severe wounds and fractures all over his limbs.

The murder of Hakeem calls for justice; no one has been arrested so far, though the police hand out news frequently in the media that they are about to nab the criminals. In the meanwhile the poor family of the dead is finding it hard to carry on: his wife and son have no means of livelihood anymore. Action Committee chairman T. Purushothaman has appealed to all human rights activists to take up the issue and support the ongoing struggle at Payyanur and initiate action in solidarity to achieve their objectives. He has also, on behalf of the committee, made an open appeal to all to try and prevail on the Kerala government to take stringent action against the murderers of Hakeem and the criminal mafia that has instigated murder.
A GROUP of militant trade unions comprising All WB Sales Representatives' Union, Bandh Karkhana Sanjukta Sangram Committee, Sramik Sangram Committee (Workers' Initiative), AICCTU, IFTU, NTUI and TUCI organized a convention in Kolkata on March 28 calling for developing the struggle against the conspiracy to do away with the labour laws that despite all limitations provide some relief to the organized sector workers of the country. The convention noted that the government is attempting to force out a large section of workers from the ambit of the labour laws heretofore in force, the cardinal reason being to provide a ready market of cheap labour to the corporate world. Our Prime Minister's 'Make in India' slogan is actually a euphemism for guaranteeing to the corporate world flexible and cheap labour in the interests of capital and the elimination of trade unions. The convention was addressed by Com Ashish Kusum Ghosh of All WB Sales Representatives' Union, Com Amitabha Bhattacharya of Bandh Karkhana Sanjukta Sangram Committee, Com Kamal Tiwari of Sramik Sangram Committee (Workers' Initiative), Com AtanuChakraborty of AICCTU, Com Samanway Chatterjee of IFTU, Com NK Vasudevan of NTUI and Com Alik Chakraborty of TUCI. It was decided at the convention that the trade unions would organize a massive demonstration in June demanding that the West Bengal state government make the necessary changes in its laws to retain the original labour laws and thus refuse to accept the amendments to the labour laws brought in by the central government. The demonstration would also highlight the burning problems of the workers of the state, especially in the tea and jute industries
MORE THAN 50 CPI(ML) Red Star activists were arrested and detained at the Reserve Police Barrack in Bhubaneswar for protesting against power tariff hike on March 31. The Odisha Bidyut Upabhokta Mahasangha (Odisha Electricity Consumers Forum or OECF) called an All-Odisha Hartal on March 31 against the power tariff hike – 20 paise per unit for all consumers and 40 paise per unit for the agricultural sector –an order passed by the Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission, and demanding immediate rollback of the order. Supporting the hartal called by the OECF, the CPI(ML) state unit led a militant protest against the tariff hike which is likely to affect over 56 lakh power consumers in the state including farmers and small and medium enterprises. On March 31, the day of the hartal, Bhubaneswar Area Committee members, led by Secretary Com Chintamani Moharana and Party State Committee members Com Pramila and Com Bijaya Barik started a rally from its office and gheraoed Reliance Fresh as symbolic protest against the nexus between the Navin Pattanaik government and Reliance Company. From 8am to 11am the mega shopping mall remained totally gheraoed by protestors and completed closed. Then the protestors marched more than 5 kilometres, shouting slogans, distributing leaflets, etc. Reaching the Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission office, the protestors continued their agitation and tried to forcibly enter the office. There was a vigorous tussle with the massive police force deployed on the spot and more than 50 protestors of CPI(ML) Red Star were arrested and taken to the Reserve Police barracks Protestors from other parties and organizations supporting the hartal were also arrested and detained there. Party State Executive Committee member Com Rebati Ballav Mohantywas also arrested in front of the State Assembly along with other protesters. The militant hartal was a sure sign of more vigorous agitations to come if there is no rollback in the tariff hike.

The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.