JNUSU President and AISA and CPI(ML) activist Comrade Chandrashekhar

Special Court in Patna Sentences Three Accused in the Murder of Former JNUSU President Comrade Chandrashekhar and CPI(ML) Activist Comrade Shyam Narain Yadav To Life Imprisonment!

AISA Demands Reopening of Case against Main Conspirator Former RJD MP Shahabuddin, Calls for Nation-wide Protests on March 31st!!

Fifteen years after the murder of former JNUSU President and AISA and CPI(ML) activist Comrade Chandrashekhar, a special court in Patna has sentenced the three accused (Dhruv Jaiswal, Sheikh Munna and Iliyas Warsi) to life imprisonment.

Chandrashekhar Prasad came to JNU as a student and left as an activist of the agrarian poor. The years in JNU were years of political activism and struggle as he first grew attracted and then deeply involved with the radical politics of AISA which was just starting out in JNU. He was elected Vice-President of JNUSU in 1993, and subsequently held the office of JNUSU President for two terms. Under Chandrashekhar’s leadership, JNUSU led a number of historic struggles to uphold the democratic and progressive character of this campus, foremost among them the struggle to restore deprivation points in JNU’s admission policy and a massive agitation against a proposal to privatize the campus and implement fee hikes. He always asserted, in word and deed, that the student movement must ally itself with democratic and progressive struggles across the country and the world.

Chandrashekhar left JNU to become a whole-time activist of the CPI(ML) in Bihar. He was martyred on 31 March 1997, along with another young CPI(ML) activist, Shyam Narain Yadav, while addressing a meeting condemning the massacre of dalits. His death saw an outpouring of grief, as students spilled out into the streets, launching a mass movement that extended from Delhi to Siwan, facing lathis, water canons and rubber bullets.

Chandu’s murder on the streets of Siwan on March 31st 1997 was clearly a reaction to the growing people’s assertion under the banner of CPI(ML) against the feudal forces in Bihar. The verdict of the special court is the result of a protracted struggle for justice. However, AISA holds that it is highly unfortunate that the CBI investigation has failed to nail the role of the main conspirator, former RJD MP Shahabuddin. In doing so, it has completely failed to acknowledge the political conspiracy behind the murder of Comrade Chandrashekhar and CPI(ML) activist Comrade Shyam Narain Yadav.

Why did CBI not even chargesheet Shahabuddin in the Chandrashekhar murder case, given the fact that the shooters were known to be Shahabuddin’s goons? AISA demands that the CBI reopen the case, in order to investigate and nail the political conspiracy behind the murder of Comrade Chandu. On March 31st this year, AISA will be holding nation-wide protests with this demand.

To remember Chandu is to do more than pay tribute. It is to say that the struggle continues, both in our campuses and beyond.

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Bhagat Singh and his relevance today!!

Source: Wikipedia

Know then your braves,
For you the feeble they fight unto their deaths;
They lie down hacked to pieces
on the battlefield they never deserted.
Is it the romance you yearn for?
Then come unto me,

Come holding your head upon your palm… ( A Punjabi poem sung in the memory of Bhagat Singh)

As the last week of March begins, we commemorate the heroic lives of those like Bhagat Singh and his comrades who have become symbol of revolution. We remember the brief, incandescent lives of those like the revolutionary poet Paash martyred on 23 March, 1988 and Chandrashekhar Prasad, former JNUSU president-martyred in Siwan on 31 March, 1997- who lived among the struggling people and were committed to this struggle unto the last. In the life and death of Bhagat Singh, in particular, we find an inspiration for our times and a guide to the struggles ahead. In the world that surrounds us and the issues that confront us, his words and acts acquire particular depth and meaning. Today, as the people of Koodankulam and Jaitapur launch a spirited resistance to nuclear power plants, as they face mass arrests as well as bullets and batons from “democratically” elected governments, as people in Jagatsinghpur barricade their villages against the state government and POSCO, these struggles are a clear proof that the revolutionary legacy of Bhagat Singh, Paash, Chandu and others who lived and died for a better society is alive and kicking. A new meaning to patriotism Bhagat Singh’s political awakening began at the time of the horrific Jallianwala Bagh massacre where innocent people were surrounded and shot down in cold blood. Over time, as his involvement, with revolutionary politics grew, he grew also in courage and confidence. Through the struggles he participated in and led, Bhagat Singh gave a new meaning to patriotism. The old cry of Vande Mataram was replaced by the slogan of revolution — Inquilab Zindabad — which he was among the first to proclaim. At the centre of his definition of patriotism were the people of the country. Love for the country became defined as love for its people. He keenly followed the struggles of peasants and workers and insisted that without establishing the dominance of workers and peasants, the national movement would not bring true independence for India. The capitalists, the traders, the princes and big landlords (who were such firm friends of Gandhi); he viewed with the deepest suspicion, arguing that they could only be treated as unreliable friends, if not sworn enemies, of Indian independence. The nature of the ruling classes While appreciating the mass mobilization that came with the Gandhian struggle, Bhagat Singh also identified the class character of the Congress and warned that Gandhi’s politics consciously discouraged against any attempt to politicize the working class. He spoke, in fact, of the dangers of setting up a rule by the ‘brown sahibs’ that would merely replace the imperialist rule with another mask, and where the domination of the overwhelming majority of Indians, the workers and peasants, would continue uninterrupted. He stated also that in order to challenge imperialism we must demolish the domestic basis of foreign rule – feudal forces and capitalist collaborators, the props and supporters of imperialist domination. Where the Congress was afraid to voice the demand for complete independence, where Gandhi openly and repeatedly condemned the revolutionaries, Bhagat Singh and his comrades were unafraid and raised the battle cry: Inquilab Zindabad! The War that exists at the heart of our ‘democracy’ In Bhagat Singh initial writings, there is an inclination towards anarchism and revolutionary terrorism, but he was quick to recognize and grasp the superior revolutionary essence of Marxism. He spoke of the indispensable need for an organized communist party and the centrality of a communist politics for independence and socialism. He emphasized the proper combination of all forms of struggle and prepared a draft revolutionary programme that was marked by a consistent and comprehensive revolutionary approach. The India of Bhagat Singh’s dreams was no ram rajya, nor an idealized world of milk and honey. He warned against the terrifying dangers of communal politics and spoke in no uncertain terms against the brutal realities of caste oppression. The India that we live in today is no longer a British colony and the sun has long set on the British Empire. It is, however, the land of the brown sahibs that Bhagat Singh warned against. When we observed “Republic” Day this year, a police officer under whose custody Soni Sori was tortured and abused sexually was awarded a ‘gallantry’ award! To raise one’s voice against state repression, against corporate land grab, against displacement is now termed by the powers-that-be as “sedition”. Corporate honchos who loot our resources and politicians who rewrite laws to protect a regime a corporate profiteering roam free, while people’s doctor Binayak Sen is jailed for years together for talking of systemic state-sponsored malnutrition and poverty.

70% of our people live on less than 20 rupees a day, but our rulers are far too busy attending banquets organized by the US President, leader of the biggest imperialist power in the world. Our sovereignty has been mortgaged to foreign interests. Love for the country has been redefined as ‘love for the corporates’. Vast enclaves of land are being given over as tax-free havens of corporate loot and plunder. When people suffer, the state turns a blind eye; when they protest, it turns a deaf ear. A state of war has been declared: it goes by the name of ‘Operation Green Hunt’ whose targets are the poorest people: the dalits and the adivasis of our land. The Indian state today is as unafraid as its colonial predecessor to shoot down people when they raise the flag of protest The face of freedom Yet Bhagat Singh lives on in the struggles of our times and the cry of “Inquilab Zindabad” still resounds. Beyond the films, beyond the statues in parliament, beyond the attempts of India’s ruling class to subvert Bhagat Singh’s revolutionary legacy, his memory endures. It has lived on in Kayyur and Punnapra-Vayalar, in Tebhaga and Telengana, in Naxalbari, Srikakulam, Bhojpur and Nandigram. Bhagat Singh’s nationalism began with the students and the youth. He urged that they should go deep among the masses, to the colonies of workers and hamlets of the rural poor. For all those of us who wish to fight for an Anti-imperialist and pro-people patriotism, Bhagat Singh is the face of that freedom. For those of us who wish to raise the voice of protest against imperialist agendas, against corporate loot, against draconian laws, against caste violence, religious fundamentalism and patriarchy, Bhagat Singh provides us energy and inspiration.

His slogans still reverberate in our ears : ‘Long live Revolution, Down with Imperialism, Workers of the world unite.’ The red leaflet thrown had the message, ‘It takes a loud voice to make the deaf hear.’  Today when we remember these martyrs, we need to ask our self do we have it in our self to raise a loud voice? As the inheritors of the ideas and spirit of these martyrs, AISA pledges to raise a loud voice that shatters the current system of injustice and intensify our struggle for an India of Bhagat Singh’s dreams.

We remember also the words of Com. Chandrashekhar, who responded to a question asked to him during the JNUSU Presidential debate with the fearless reply: ‘Yes, I have ambitions. My ambitions are to live like Bhagat Singh and die like Che Guevara!’ To speak of Bhagat Singh-Sukhdev- ajguru, to speak of revolutionary poet Avtar Singh Paash, to speak of Chandrasekhar is to reclaim our history, to make it our own, to declare this country is ours; it does not belong to imperialist capital or its indigenous agents. It is to declare that while we are witness to the suffering of our struggling people, we shall also bear witness to their liberation!

Inquilab Zindabad!!

Crackdown in Koodankulam! Stop a “Nuclear Nandigram” from happening at Koodankulam!

source: www.countercurrents.org

Koodankulam is under siege. Tamil Nadu Government, soon after by-polls in nearby Sankarankoil took place on March 18, changed its tune on the nuclear project. Announcing a Cabinet decision to commission the Koodankulam project without further delay, the TN Government abandoned its posture of “sharing the people’s concerns” about the project’s safety, and has announced that the nuclear project is needed for the State’s “progress”. It claims that all safety concerns have been allayed.

Source: www.countercurrents.org

In preparations for what the local protesters fear will be a ‘nuclear Nandigram,’ there is huge police deployment in the area, incoming phones of activists have been jammed, and roads and transport towards Koodankulam and Idinthakarai have been blocked. People are facing great difficulites as food has been completely blocked. Water supplies also have been put on halt. The medical shop has very limited supplies, and there are no good doctors in the area. One olderly gentleman had some difficulty but he was prevented from getting medical access. Another pregnant woman got pains, and the police prevented her from leaving for at least an hour Around 18 leading activists have been arrested, of whom several have been charged with sedition. Updates from local people say that 6000 armed policemen presided over by TN’s ADGP, 3 DIGs and 20 SPs are stationed in the area, as a menacing presence. At Idinthakarai, villagers are spending night and day at the protest site, waiting for a crackdown. Section 144 has been imposed, and protestors are defying curfews to come to the protest site by boats. Around 20,000 have gathered in spite of all odds at the gate of the plant, and are on a relay hunger strike. 15 activists (8 men and 7 women) including the main leaders of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) are on indefinite hunger strike at Idinthakarai demanding the immediate release of arrested comrades; withdrawal of the Tamil Nadu cabinet resolution; a thorough and complete probe of geologists, hydrologists and oceanographers into the safety issues of the Koodankulam nuclear power plant; release of the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) signed secretly by the governments of India and Russia on liability in February 2008; and safety drills and evacuation drills in the 30-km radius of the Koodankulam project.

Source: indianmuslimobserver.com

This crackdown comes in the wake of an all-out assault of nuclear jingoism by no less than the Prime Minister, accusing the protest of being ‘foreign funded’ and backed by foreign powers hostile to India’s growth ambitions. A CNDP statement commented, “Not only is such anti-democratic behaviour deeply shocking, it is also extraordinary that this should happen at a time when over 80% of the Japanese public have repudiated nuclear energy demanding that their country’s nuclear plants be completely phased out, and when an official German Ethics Commission on Nuclear Safety said “Fukushima has shaken people’s confidence in expert’s assessments of the ‘safety’ of nuclear power stations. This is also and particularly true of those citizens who have until now relied on such assessments. Even citizens who do not reject nuclear power categorically are no longer prepared to leave it to committees of experts to decide how to deal with the fundamental possibility of an uncontrollable, major accident.” A letter by concerned citizens addressed to the Tamil Nadu CM pointed out, “The Tamilnadu Chief Minister’s claim that the Expert Committees have addressed all concerns raised by the protestors is contrary to fact. Numerous issues such as the lack of back-up water supply, the fate of the desalination plants in the event of seawater recession, the quantum and fate of nuclear wastes and the sub-lethal effects of thermal pollution on marine biodiversity are only a few of the issues that remain wholly unaddressed by the Committees. Information relating to the arrangements made between the Governments of India and Russia relating to liability in the event of a nuclear disaster have been withheld….Commissioning the plant at this stage without having conducted the statutorily required emergency drills is a clear indication of the lack of safety culture, and the insincerity of the declarations that the plant is safe…It is unfortunate that the Government is making it seem as if commissioning Koodankulam will bail the state out of its electricity crisis. itis a fact that if at all commissioned, the 1000 MW plant is unlikely to yield more than 250 MW.

Source: The Hindu

In solidarity with those opposing the Kudankulam nuclear project Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union along with other students’ organisations from the university staged a protest outside Tamil Nadu House on Thursday. A memorandum was also  submitted to the Principal Resident Commissioner.

We appeal to the student community to stand against in solidarity with the people protesting there in whatever way they can. We appeal to stand against the Intensifying Police Repression on Villagers and Activists Resisting Disastrous Koodankulam Nuclear Project! We Demand the Release of All Protestors and Leaders and Withdrwal Of Tamil Nadu Cabinet Resolution Giving Go Ahead for the Koodankulam Project . Resist UPA and Tamil Nadu Government’s Lethal Design to Foist Koodankulam Nuclear Plant On Local people Usingthe Might Of State Repression!

Jashn-e-Azadi successfully screened at Delhi University despite right-wing threats & police pressure: AISA

AISA and Students of Sociology Department (DU) Successfully Screen Jashn-e-Azaadi in DU on 16 Feb, 2012, Braving Attacks and Threats by ABVP and ‘Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena’! Hundreds of Delhi University Students Participate in Film Screening and Discussion with Sanjay Kak, Director of Jashn-e-Azadi!!

Today hundreds of DU students and teachers participated the screening of the documentary film  Jashn-e-Azaadi organized by AISA and students of sociology in the Department of Sociology, Delhi University. “Predictably this screening had to held in the teeth of opposition from right-wing fascist forces like ABVP and the Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena, who tried their level best to stall the screening. Moreover, the DU administration and the Delhi Police also shamefully sided with these forces and tried to pressurize the Sociology department to stop the screening”, said Harshvardhan Tripathi Secretary DU, AISA.

AISA had taken proper permission for this programme on Monday itself (13th of February, 2012). However, the DU administration and the Delhi police tried to prevent the movie from being screened. Since early this morning, the Delhi police kept calling the organizers (AISA representatives), stating that the Police has been receiving “threats” from ABVP and Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena. These forces openly told the Police that they would disrupt the screening, if it was allowed. “Instead of giving protection and preventing the hooligans from the entering the premises of Delhi School of Economics, Delhi police kept pressurizing the organizers to cancel the screening”, added Harshvardhan. The DU administration initially also tried to pressurize the sociology department and the organizers to cancel the programme.

However, the Sociology department stood firm in its defence of academic freedom. They demanded that the DU administration give in writing details of legal and academic grounds on the basis of which the film screening should be cancelled. Unable to give any logical response to this, the DU administration changed its stand and in a written statement, it told the Sociology department that the film screening could carry on. And so, the programme was held.

Sanjay Kak addressing the students after the screening

Commenting on today’s incident, director Sanjay Kak said, “By defending their right to screen the film, the Delhi School of Economics has stood for the best traditions of academic independence. And by coming in large numbers despite the intimidation, students have shown themselves to that trust. Thanks to AISA for showing the way.” The film screening in DU today was followed by a discussion with the director Sanjay Kak, who pointed out that disruption of his movie or any other talk on Kashmir serves the simple purpose of not letting the people know the reality in Kashmir.

AISA condemns the role of the Delhi police, which instead of preventing the goons from entering the premises of DSE, escorted them till the gates of Sociology department where they were stopped by the huge gathering of teachers and students. This incident should also be seen in the light of the DU administration’s recent move to remove AK Ramanujam’s essay ‘Three Hundred Ramayanas’ from BA History syllabus. Yesterday, several groups in DU (including AISA) unitedly organized a massive seminar in DU against such draconian attacks on academic freedom by right-wing forces. And today’s incident is yet another victory of progressive forces who have been fighting to reclaim the campus space from corporate and fascist take over. It is a victory for campus democracy, against hooliganism and for a culture of debate and discussion.

The Mandate from JNU Students: AISA, March on!

Mohd. Firoz (EL), Ravi Prakash(L), Abhishek(R), Sucheta(ER)

After a gap of four years, Jawaharlal Nehru University students voted on March 1 to elect their union, and the verdict could not have been more emphatic in favour of AISA, the flag-bearer of radical student politics in the campus. For the second successive term, AISA candidates swept the central panel, and for the first time AISA also secured a clear majority in the council, its candidates dominating the three biggest centres accounting for the largest number of students in the campus.

In the President’s post, Sucheta De from AISA polled 2102 votes – probably the highest ever by a JNUSU candidate – defeating her nearest contender, Zico Dasgupta from SFI (who got 751 votes) with a colossal margin of 1351 votes. In the Vice President’s post, Abhishek Kumar Yadav from AISA polled 1997 votes, defeating Anagha Ingole from SFI who got 1357 votes. In the post of General Secretary, Ravi Prakash of AISA polled 1908 votes as against the AISF candidate Durgesh Tripathi who got 989 votes. For the post of Joint Secretary, AISA’s Mohd. Firoz Ahamed polled 1778 votes, as against Mohd. Altamash from SFI who got 1199 votes. The candidates from Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) – affiliated to the Hindutva-majoritarian outfit RSS and the BJP party – polled a distant third on most posts.

On one level, the outcome of the JNUSU election may be seen as just yet another corroboration of the well-known and deeply entrenched Left tradition of the JNU campus. For the last two decades AISA has had a fairly prominent presence in JNU, winning as many as seven presidential elections since its first historic rise in 1993. If it was the SFI-AISF combine which dominated the campus in the 1970s and 1980s, it is AISA which has been the main contender since the 1990s; and over the last several years AISA has also succeeded in reinforcing its ideological-political influence with adequate organisational network and sustained initiatives on every major issue that mattered for the students.

But if we look at the outcome in the context of the ongoing neo-liberal assault on and restructuringof  higher education and the developing political situation in the country, the victory clearly sends  out a much bigger message than a mere reiteration of JNU’s traditional preference for  the Left. The arena of higher education has been witnessing massive commercialisation making it  increasingly impossible for students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds to receive  quality education or pursue careers of their choice. This implicit pro-rich and elitist bias is now being  sought to be reinforced by a targeted truncation of campus democracy and student participation in  politics.

In the past four years, JNUSU elections were stayed by the Supreme Court, on the pretext that JNU’s democratic method of elections (conducted fully by students without administrative interference) violated the recommendations of the Supreme Court-appointed Lyngdoh Committee. The Lyngdoh norms and suspension of elections for the past four years was a deliberate ploy on part of the ruling establishment to foster depoliticisation among JNU students.

Indeed, the stay on elections had led to disarray and passivity among other student groups in JNU. AISA, though, had remained very active – mobilising students in several landmark struggles in this period, in spite of there being no elected JNUSU. Key struggles in recent times, in which AISA played a leading role, include a sustained struggle against the Lyngdoh recommendations; a massive agitation against attempts to commercialise various facilities like electricity and levy ‘user charges’; a long and successful struggle resulting in a landmark Supreme Court verdict with national implications, correcting the faulty definition of ‘cut-off’ marks in implementation of quotas for Other Backward Classes; and a successful struggle for recognition of madarsa certificates in JNU admissions.

AISA has also campaigned and mobilised students in large numbers to challenge the UPA Government’s package of education-related legislation that are a blueprint of privatisation. Hundreds of JNU students participated in AISA’s August 2011 barricade at Parliament Street against corruption and corporate plunder. AISA in JNU stood in solidarity with people’s movements at Jagatsinghpur against the POSCO steel plant, at Jaitapur and Koodankulam against nuclear plants, and mobilised students against the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act, communal violence, against state repression, fake encounters and custodial killings in the North East, Kashmir, forest areas, and other parts of the country.

AISA’s re-election in 2012 is therefore a resounding rebuff to the attempts to depoliticise JNU and weaken the student movement, and an overwhelming indication of students’ support for AISA’s political agenda and initiatives. It is a befitting reply to those in the media and ruling establishment who spell the ‘end of ideology’ and decline of support for the Left among young people. It is significant that the emphatic mandate for AISA has effectively marginalised every rightwing trend in student politics, be it the RSS-affiliated ABVP, the pro-Congress NSUI or the anti-reservation platform Youth for Equality. The mandate is also a strong rejection by students of the Lyngdoh recommendations that attempt to strangle campus democracy.

The election of the JNUSU coincided on the one hand with the Assembly elections in the five states of Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Goa and Uttar Pradesh and the February 28 all-India industrial and rural strike called by trade unions and agricultural labour organisations. The AISA campaign in JNU, which clearly marked the leading voice in JNUSU election, effectively combined the immediate concerns of JNU students with the democratic demands and aspirations of the people joining the February 28 strike and participating in these Assembly elections. The campaign pulsated with the spirit of the growing popular resistance to corporate land-grab and illegal mining, mega scams and rampant loot of development funds, and repressive steps like Operation Greenhunt and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act that are propelling the Indian state’s war on human rights.

The mandate for AISA also meant a clear rejection of SFI/CPI(M) in the celebrated             citadel of Leftwing student politics. After West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura, JNU is known as the fourth key bastion of the CPI(M). In 2007 in the wake of Singur and Nandigram, JNU had rejected the SFI/CPI(M) attempt to defend the indefensible. As the CPI(M) gets ready for its 20th Congress, it is quite clear that the CPI(M) remains adamant and refuses to acknowledge the disgrace it has brought to the glorious history of communist-led peasant movement in the country and learn any real lesson from the debacle it has suffered in West Bengal. The JNU verdict clearly suggests that the CPI(M)’s own ranks, let alone the broader intelligentsia, remain unconvinced and critical of the CPI(M) leadership’s  arrogant refusal to acknowledge its basic mistakes.

It is indeed inspiring to note that while the corporate media have been busy peddling the likes of Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav as youth icons for the new generation, the student community in JNU has reiterated its overwhelming commitment to the legacy of Bhagat Singh and Chandrasekhar. AISA commits itself to consolidate the gains and use this mandate to strengthen and radicalise the student-youth movement and forge stronger links with the broader democratic movement in the country. That can be the only true tribute to the legacy of Bhagat Singh, modern India’s greatest youth icon, and our very own Chandrasekhar who was killed simply because he tried to connect the student radicalism of JNU to the peasant militancy in Bihar. In the days to come, AISA must and will march on.