Monday, October 29, 2007

Observe Bharat Bandh on 3th October

Scrap SEZ Act, Save the Country
Sez Hatao, Desh Bachao
Scrap all MOUs signed for large scale mining and big industrial plants.
No to Displacement, Development for People
Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan (VVJVA) appeals to one and all in the country to observe a day’s bandh (general strike) on 30th October, 2007 to strongly protest the Government’s policy displacing millions and millions of people, through the policies of SEZs and opening up vast mining projects, big dams and so-called urban renewal benefitting the MNCs and big capitalists in various parts of the country.

The call to observe bandh was given by the first ever All India Conference on 22 & 23 March, 2007 against displacement, where about a hundred of people’s organizations and a similar number of democratic individuals came together at Ranchi to raise their collective voices against all kinds of displacement including that caused by SEZs.

The people of Nandigram, Kalinganagar, Polavaram, Jagatsinghpur (where POSCO is grabbing the land for its SEZ and captive port), Raigada, Dadri and elsewhere have put up valiant resistance even risking their lives against this day-light robbery of the poor, of making people destitute through the so-called policies of development. In hundreds of places, millions of people in the country have been fighting tooth and nail to stop the SEZs, big mining, big dams, tourist projects, national parks, highways and big industrial projects that have been rendering several millions of people homeless and destitute. The misery of the people is fast developing into a surging storm, the very thought of the spectre of which has sent shudders through the ruling classes. The ruling class elite have become restive to the resisting voices of the people.

The present displacement is an outcome of Second Generation Reform phase under the cliché of development which is nothing but an all-round attack on the toiling masses. Earlier our rulers had mortgaged the country to the imperialists. Sixty years of so-called independence and the ‘democracy’ that supposedly has come of age meant all this penury to the vast majority of people. Today, the entire country, irrespective of the urban and the rural, has been transformed into a firing range where the mercenary police and paramilitary and the goondas of the ruling parties are brutally trying to crush the agitating people who want to protect their Jal, Jungal and Jameen—their sources of livelihood. On the other hand we have a Prime Minister and his smooth talking policy pundits taking their lessons from the World Bank and Washington, laying the road map for a so-called 10 percent growth rate, turning a blind eye to the burning problems of the people.

The Prime Minister of this country gives the impression that he cannot but falter when he gets vacuous about the super power that India is going to become. In these new clothes of the emperor what is being cleverly hidden is the total naked, shameless subservience to the rapacious needs of foreign capital. Beneath the smokescreen of an India Inc.—projected by a sensation driven, sycophant media—is the blood soaked face of a beastly state that satiates on the toil of the adivasis, dalits, landless agricultural labourer, the small and middle peasant, the small entrepreneur... the list is getting longer. There is no way the real anguish of the people that erupts in a Nandigram, Kashipur, Kalinganagar, Jagatsinghpur, Singur or Polavaram can be heard as a dignified, real, response of the people. The Market driven media and the policy pundits who receive their dollops from Multinational consultancy agencies such as Mckinsey or the British run DFID or their senior patrons the World Bank and the IMF are crying hoarse depicting these protests as primitive, anti-development, against civilization itself.

People are being taken into custody under the laws of sedition! As if they are an obstruction to the forward march of development of this country! Lakhs of crores of rupees worth MoUs have been signed by various state governments with various Multi National Corporations for mining of valuable resources of the people such as bauxite, coal, iron ore, diamonds, uranium, precious stones, etc. Several MoUs have been signed with monopolies to develop urban centres that will suit the needs of big capital in the process pushing out all small and medium entrepreneurs from the urban spaces as these ventures have been identified as hazardous to a clean urban environment. Wal-Mart and Reliance are aggressively displacing the local retail and small business. Huge malls have been swallowing the rest of the business. Supreme Court orders are decimating the local retail business prospects making way for MNCs and TNCs. Jawahar Rozgar Vikas Yojana has been wiping out the poor people in the urban slums. Big mining and industrial projects along with about 500 SEZs are driving the people out of their habitats.

Today, every nook and corner of the country is thrown open to the foreign capital in close collaboration with big capital at home to tear open the veins of the rich resources of this country.
Any form of resistance is met with brutal force by the state. Paramilitary and police armed to the teeth hound villagers and adivasis who are fighting for their very survival; when they refuse to let their land and livelihood being sold to the foreign capital and the local big capital for a pittance. And there is deafening silence against these unlawful, criminal acts of the state, on the part of the judiciary not to say the civil society.

The call to OBSERVE BANDH hence as become a wake up call for all those who believe in democracy, the well being of the vast sections of the masses as they too have their rightful place in our society to lead a dignified, secure life free of domination and exploitation. The people have been resisting, fighting their struggles of survival. The people of this country have to give a resounding rebuff to these anti-people policies brought in by this blood thirsty monster of the Indian state. This BANDH CALL is also a wake up call to the powers that be to look at the issues pertaining to development and displacement from the point of view of the people. And not from the diktats of the World Bank, IMF or the US.

Hence we appeal; we urge the people of this country to come forward, to surge ahead with the bandh call as these issues have become the bane of the vast sections of the people, their livelihood, their dreams and memories. These issues are no more the vested or narrow concern of this or that organisation. They have become the life and death issues of the wretched, the poor, the worker, the toiling masses, the tribals, dalits, the small entrepreneur, the small and middle peasant and the patriotic farmer. Yes this is the burning issue of the people of this country.

We once again call upon all political parties, democratic organisations, trade unions, employees’ organisations, workers and peasant organisations, youth and student organisations, adivasi and dalit organisations and the people—the masses of people to come out on to the streets, on 30th October, 2007, to say in no uncertain terms that we will not take all this blood sucking exploitative policies of the rulers and their pay masters lying low.
Let us fight it.
Let us resist it.
Let’s smash the SEZs policy.
Let us end all kinds of displacement.
Let the dead be buried. But death should not be allowed to live!

Repeal SEZ Act, 2005 along with all approved SEZs.
Scrap all MOUs signed for large scale mining and big industrial plants.
Repeal Land Acquisition Act 1894 along with all later amendments to it till date.
Rehabilitate all families so far displaced in the last sixty years.
Abrogate 123 Nuclear Agreement with US!
Stop displacement, stop imperialist sponsored development; protect and advance peoples livelihood.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Interview with VarVara Rao

Poet, professor and Marxist critic, Varavara Rao has been the face of the Naxalite movement in AP for almost four decades now. In an exclusive interview to Daipayan Halder, he spoke on 'State terrorism' and the status of the Naxalite movement in Andhra Pradesh

vv picture

Varavara Rao

Is the State becoming intolerant?
It is. The State has become the biggest terrorist. But in Andhra Pradesh, more than in any other state, atrocities have been the worst. If you are a Naxalite, a naxal sympathiser, an ideologue, or simply a civil rights activist, you can be put behind bars or killed in a fake encounter any time.

In 1992, for example, journalist Gulam Rasul wrote about a land scam in an Urdu daily. An additional DSP killed him in a fake encounter and branded him a Naxalite. His friend who was traveling with him in a scooter was also killed. Doctors working for the underprivileged, lawyers taking up the causes of the marginalised are being put behind bars. Civil liberties are being curbed like never before. Laxmi, a women's rights activist, was killed in a fake encounter in 2005. Since 1969, more than 2,000 people have been killed in fake encounters.

But didn't the previous Andhra Pradesh government want to negotiate with the Naxalites?
The peace talks between the government and the Naxalites broke down and the ban against them was re-imposed on August 17, 2005. This has led the cadre to look for alternative operational zones in Orissa and Chhattisgarh. The repression started in the previous Telugu Desam regime and has been continued by the Congress government in pursuance of World Bank conditions.

he police launched a crackdown on Maoists on January 6, 2005, when it became clear that there was no meeting ground between the state government and the outfit. Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy was interested in going ahead with the second round of talks, slated for November 16, 2004, with the CPI (Maoist) and the CPI-ML (Janashakti), but senior police officers advised him against it.

Why did the talks fail?
Mainly because the government wanted Naxalites to lay down arms, while carrying on their political programmes and their propagating ideology. The Naxalites rejected this. Following a series of encounters, in which 10 Naxalites were killed in a week, the CPI (Maoist) and CPI-ML (Janashakti) announced on January 16, 2005 that they were pulling out of the peace process.

Is it hard to get the youth interested in Naxalism?
It is only the petty, bourgeoisie youth who are taking to the market economy. The marginalised youth, i.e. the Muslims, the Dalits and the tribals, are not swayed by the market forces because they can see that inequality is rising. They are attracted to the movement. But there is no campus culture today. You can get a degree through distance education without ever walking into a university campus. In a campus, there is scope for healthy political debates. That culture is dying.

But the Centre now says that Naxalism is a developmental issue and plans to address it as such
These are academic talks. (Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh says it is a developmental issue, but he is also supporting SEZs. SEZs will displace people, take away their livelihoods. So the problems will persist. Look at what is happening at Nandigram, at Singur, at all other places.

Finally, what is the future of the Naxalite movement? Will it continue in the face of prosperity?
The movement will continue. The forces of liberalisation and globalisation have widened the gap between the haves and the have-nots. This has to be redressed.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

State Women's commission condemned in Rizwanur Rahman case

(We are publishing below a statement released by a number of intellectuals and concerned citizens, regarding the openly partisan role played by the West Bengal State Women's Commission in the Rizwanur Rehman case. ]

We are distressed to read the statement of the West Bengal State women's Commission after its visit to Priyanka Todi whose husband Rizwanur Rahman was found dead on the railway track after he had fixed an appointment with the APDR friends regarding his harassment at the hands of the Kolkata Police who were acting in blatant violation of all legal and civil norms at the behest of Priyanka's father Ashok Todi . Todi wanted her daughter to walk out of the marriage and had mobilized Kolkata police to terrorize Rizwan and his friend Sadiq who was witness to their marriage. The couple was called to the Lal bazaar Thana and was told by the police that Priyanka should go to her parents and they would ensure that she returned after a week. This was not to happen. She was forced to go her father but all efforts of Rizwan to talk to her after this period failed. Desperate, he contacted the APDR .

One must remember that Sadiq, who was witness to their marriage, was threatened by police . He had to go into hiding. Priyanka had gone to her parents on 8 September. Rizwan wrote a detailed account of his harassments at the hands of the Kolkata Police and gave it to the APDR. On 21 September, he talked to the APDR people and it was decided that they would meet in the afternoon. This meting was also not to take place. He was found dead on the Railway tracks. Prasun Mukherji, the Kolkata police Chief declared immediately without waiting for the customary autopsy report that it was a transparent case of suicide. He blatantly justified the illegal intervention of the police in a perfectly legal marriage between tow adults Priyanka and Rizwan, claiming that it was natural for the father of the girl to get upset over such marriage, as it was a marriage between unequals. After all, Ashok Todi is a man of more the 200 crores and Rizwan was only a Muslim of modest earning!

We know that a powerful people's campaign is on demanding the removal of the cops involved in the whole affair which has repeatedly been rejected by the CM, West Bengal . It is now a matter of public discussion that Todi is close to Prasun . The west Bengal government is putting shameless arguments in the high court opposing a CBI investigation. It is widely believed that the CID report has been manipulated to make it a case of suicide. The state government has violated all norms in constituting a Judicial Inquiry.

In these circumstances, the visit of the State Women's Commission to Ashok Todi's place to know about Priyanka's well being and the statements made by the members of the commission afterwards that Priyanka had come on her own to Todi and the Police were not harsh to her and she wanted to be left alone and to top it all, the appeal by the members of the commission to Priyanka that she should not let herself get harassed by the media make it very clear that the commission is being used to give legitimacy to the police and the government and also to Ashok Todi. Should one be surprised that the Commission did not think it fit to visit Rizwan's family and instead went to Todi's house which, as has rightly been said cannot be a neutral site ?
We are pained and shocked to see that despite eminent people like Jashodhara Bagchi heading the state commission it has failed to maintain an autonomous position on the case, succumbing to tow the official line of the police and the state government and that too on its own initiative without any visible pressure from outside. This is a reflection of manner in which Women's State Commissions have been undermined nationally and in states whether it is Rajasthan or West Bengal. Time and again the interests of women and protection of their rights are compromised for political interests or for maintaining the interests of those who are powerful.

We condemn strongly the move by the West Bengal State Women's Commission. They need to remember that these institutions were created after a long and difficult struggle and any move to make them subservient to the state would be resisted with the might of the people. The members of the Commission have lost their right to continue as they have, on this occasion and on many occasions like Singur and Nandigram failed to act in an autonomous manner.

Ram Puniyani, Academic, IIT, Mumbai
Uma Chakravarti, Historian, Delhi
Harjinder Singh, Academic, IIIT, Hyderabad
Manas Joardar
Imtiaz Ahmad , Academic, Delhi
Tamilnadu Women's Collective
Dilip Simeon, Academic, Delhi
Jiten Nandi
Kalyani Menon-Sen, Jagori, Delhi
Mukta Sinha, Charkha Samiti, Patna
Arshad Ajmal, Al Khair Society, Patna
Rabin Chakraborty, Kolkata
Satya Sivaraman, Journalist, Delhi
Teesta Setalvad ,Co-Editor, Communalism Combat
Sheba George, SAHR WARU: Women's Action and Resource Unit
Trupti Shah, Sahiyar, Vadodara
Meher Engineer, Kolkata
Arun Kumar, Delhi
Nasiruddin Haider Khan, Journalist, Lucknow
Ranjana Padhi, Delhi
Khurshid Anwar, Institue for Social Democracy, Delhi
Ujjwal Kr Singh, Academic, Delhi University
Shabnam Hashmi, Anhad
Apoorvanand, Academic, Delhi University
Aditya Nigam, Academic, CSDS, Delhi
Nivedita Menon, Academic, Delhi University
Rupesh, Koshish, Patna
Neelu, Nari Jagaran Kendra, Patna
Persis Ginwalla
Sushma Iyengar
Dhruv Narain, Daanish Books, Delhi
Sunita Narain, Daanish Books, Delhi
Asmita Collective, Secunderabad
Nagraj Adve, Delhi
Saleem Kidwai, Lucknow .
Md. Farooque, Muscat , Saudi Arabia
Kumar Rana, kolkata
Anuradha Talwar
Shramajibee Mahila Samity
Tamil Nadu Women's Forum
Tamil Nadu Dalit Women's Movement
Forum Against Oppression of Women, Bombay.
Nirantar, Delhi

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Food Movement spreads all over South Bengal

[This report has been copied from website]

Food Riots Continue In South Bengal

October 7, 2007

A ration dealer’s house and the office of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) were set ablaze in Burdwan district of West Bengal Sunday in the continuing protests against alleged corruption in the public distribution system (PDS) and food grain hoarding that have claimed four lives.

A group of people set on fire the house of ration shopkeeper Golam Mohammed at Nawabhat in Burdwan district, about 250 km
northwest of Kolkata, and as the mob left the area it torched the CPI-M office in the vicinity.

The group clashed with police and some CPI-M supporters alleging that the ration dealers were hoarding food grains.

Burdwan superintendent of police Piyush Pande told IANS that about 25 people, including Pradip Das, the CPI-M MLA from the area, were injured during the arson and subsequent police action.

‘The situation is now under control. We have arrested eight people,’ Pande said.

Police said Mohammed was attacked after he failed to pay up money demanded by the group. His storehouse was also set on fire. There was tension in some other areas of the district like Golshi, Itaru and Shashankha.

Murshidabad district also witnessed ration riots in some areas Sunday.

Burdwan had witnessed similar attacks on Saturday as well along with Bankura and Birbhum districts.

A ration dealer from Bankura Saturday hanged himself as he could not afford to pay the Rs.400,000 fine slapped on him by a kangaroo court.

Biman Kundu, 32, was found hanging from the ceiling at his home in Borokumira village, 230 km from Kolkata.

This was the second suicide in the district since protests against alleged corruption in the food distribution system began. A ration dealer from Raipur had killed himself on Sep 28.

The kangaroo court, called by villagers, had charged Kundu with selling wheat and rice in the black market and was asked to pay up.

The villagers have been attacking the houses of the ration dealers, their stores and looting property and food grains before torching them.

‘The ration corruption allegations should be probed by the state agencies immediately. We have to activate the anti-corruption wings of our state instead of always screaming for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry,’ said state PWD Minister Kshiti Goswami.

Earlier two protesters were killed in the police firing.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya has appealed to people for peace. He asked people not to take law into their own hands and said the government had requested the centre to increase rice, wheat and kerosene supplies.

Food Supplies Minister Paresh Adhikary said a show-cause notice had been issued to Bijendra Nath Malakar, the Birbhum district controller of food, and action would be taken against Madan Mohan Mandal, the Bankura district controller of food, who has recently retired.