CPI-ML- AISA Team’s Visit to Saharanpur – A Report

 

Sarkar Hamari Hai, Police-Prashashan Bhi Hamara Hai”- Yogi Government Boosts Up Morale of Casteist Feudal Goons Who Burnt Dalit Village in Shabbirpur!

Casteist Goons from Dominant Rajput Community Enjoy Complete Impunity while Bhim Army Activists Continue to Face Witch-Hunt!

CPI-ML-AISA Appeal Everyone to Join Hands with the Dalits of Saharanpur in their Struggle for Justice!

Saharanpur Carnage: Teaching a Lesson to Politically Assertive, Self-Reliant Dalits Who Refuse to be Foot Soldiers of Hindutva’s Hate Politics:When BJP gains electoral majority, Saharanpur happens.

Houses ransacked

                                                   For last several years the belt of western Uttar Pradesh has been made the laboratory of the RSS-BJP’s sinister design of communal polarization and violence against Muslims. The 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots was a planned design by the RSS-BJP to polarize the belt on communal lines and reap electoral benefits. And now, after that design had delivered ‘electoral success’ for the RSS and BJP, upper caste feudal forces have started a celebration of their ‘victory’ by unleashing attacks on Dalits.

Within two months of Yogi Adityanath being sworn-in as the Chief Minister of UP, BJP tried to manufacture an attack on Muslims in Saharanpur on the pretext of “Ambedkar Shobha Yatra” in the month of April. BJP MP from the area Raghav Lakhanpal planned communal tension with Muslims and tried to take the BJP mobilized Shobha Yatra through Sadak Dudhli village, an area mostly inhabited by Muslims. When SSP of Saharanpur Love Kumar denied permission for the BJP mobilized Yatra to be taken through Muslim majority area, BJP supporters and activists led by Raghav Lakhanpal attacked the SSP’s house. Despite permission being denied by the SSP, the Shobha Yatra was nonetheless taken through Sadak Dushli and a communal conflict was manufactured by BJP. Love Kumar has been subsequently transferred from Saharanpur for not facilitating BJP’s plan of a communal violence.

Idols of Dalit icon Ravidas was vandalised

The Dalit villagers of Shabbirpur refused to be a part of RSS’s game plan of using Dalits as foot soldiers of communal polarization for the political-social benefit of the feudal upper caste hegemony through electoral power.

The Dalit community of Shabbirpur has schooled itself politically in the vision and dream of Babasaheb Ambedkar for a casteless society devoid of feudal upper caste dominance. They are aware of their symbols of empowerment and struggles for rights. And self-reliant, confident and politically organized Dalits who refused to be co-opted in the project of Hindutva are a real threat to feudal dominance and RSS’ hegemony. Thus, the upper caste feudal sections who are in a celebratory mode since Yogi’s victory had to teach the Dalits a lesson.

On 14th April, the villagers of Shabbirpur wanted to install a statue of Babasaheb in the Ravidas temple located in their village. The Rajput community of the adjacent area in the village objected to this, saying there is no permission for it. On Maharana Pratap Jayanti (5th May) a gathering of the Rajput community was organized in the nearby Simlana village. Dalit villagers of Shabbirpur told us that the Rajputs deliberately took a procession towards Simalana village, passing through the Dalit settlement playing loud DJ music. When the Dalits asked for permission papers to be shown for playing loud music and conducting a procession, the feudal goons from the Rajput community started attacking the Dalits. The Ravidas temple situated in the midst of the Dalit settlement was vandalised by upper caste goons, and the Ravidas statue was broken. The goons urinated inside the premises of the Ravidas temple – a symbol of Dalit identity – to humiliate the Dalits. They also started a fire inside the temple.

Even the Cows were not spared by the self-proclaimed sons of Go Mata

By evening, thousands of upper caste goons were mobilized at Simlana village. The villagers told us BJP leaders of Western UP like Hukum Singh, Sangeet Som and others were present at Simlana from where the upper caste goons were mobilized. Each of these BJP leaders have a track record of manufacturing communal riots and tension in the Western UP area.

The upper caste goons attacked the Dalit area of Shabbirpur village with swords in their hands. All the houses, and crop stored in front of houses were burnt. Everyone present in the area were attacked with swords. The villagers told us that the upper caste goons while attacking the Dalits shouted “Sarkar Hamara Hai, Police Prashasan Hamara Hai” (the police and government is ours) when Dalits called the police.

When we visited the village, the area was still full of smoke coming from burnt crops. Houses were broken and burnt, villagers injured.

Police Shield BJP-backed Feudal Goons, Witch-Hunt Dalits: After the carnage of May 5, Dalit youth called for a meeting at the Ravidas Hostel to demand justice. The administration stopped the meeting in the name of law and order concerns. Subsequently, Dalits gathered at Gandhi Park and demanded justice and compensation for the Shabbirpur carnage. The police lathi charged the peaceful gathering, which led to unrest.

Crops burnt

Since then, the UP government has started a massive crackdown on activists and leaders of Bhim Army. Bhim Army is an organization of Dalit youths in the area that works for the rights of Dalit community. Several false charges have been filed against the founder member of Bhim Army, advocate Chandrashekhar Azad. Several Dalit youths have been arrested and put behind bars in Saharanpur District Jail.

Our team met the Dalit youth who have been arrested. One of them has been arrested from Ghaziabad merely because of a Facebook post condemning the attack on Dalits in Shabbirpur. Some people from the Rajput community have also been arrested. But people in the villages told us that the main masterminds and those who led the carnage have been spared. Some commoners from the Rajput community have been picked up to create a facade of some ‘balance’ in action.

Mr. MP Singh, the SO of Badgao PS (the police station responsible for Shabbirpur) did not act to stop the carnage in spite of being called by the villagers on 5th May. After a nation-wide outrage against anti-dalit carnage in Shabbirpur, senior police officials of UP claimed that ‘Line Hazir’ order has been given for the SO. It has now come to light that such claims are contrary to the truth. Rather than ‘Line Hazir’ order being given to the SO, he has been rewarded with charge of a more important police station in the area. This is the how officials who implement RSS’ game plan are rewarded.

The Pattern: Assured of administrative impunity, the Sangh Parivar is indulging in repeated attempts at fomenting communal and caste tensions in Saharanpur. This pattern is evident from the recent attacks on Muslims followed by the attack on Dalits. After the attack on Muslims, the Sangh Parivar mobs attacked the home and family of the former SSP Love Kumar because he acted against the rioters – and the Government transferred him. Saharanpur is in the cross hairs of the RSS and BJP because the BJP lost the Assembly seat here and in two neighbouring constituencies in the recently held Assembly polls despite its victory in the rest of the State.

We Will Not Take This Violence and Humiliation Lying down, We Will Fight back” said the Dalit Villagers of Shabbirpur and Activists of Bhim Army

We visited villagers who are admitted in the hospital with serious sword-inflicted injuries. Injured in the body, they were firm in resolve to fight back for dignity and justice. Activists of Bhim Army and local villagers are collecting relief and mobilising the necessary help for the villagers of Shabbirpur. Our team met several activists of Bhim Army and the family of Chandrashekhar. It is easy to see the dreams of Ambedkar, Bhagat Singh and Chandrashekhar Azad (of the freedom movement) in their eyes. They are organizing meetings, mobilizing villagers for the Dharna at Jantar Mantar on 21st. They told us ‘Let us all meet Chandrashekhar Bhai in Delhi”.

Come to Jantar Mantar. Join hands with the Dalits of Saharanpur in their struggle for dignity and justice.

Demand Justice in the Spate of Lynch Mob Killings in Jharkhand

In two recent incidents last Thursday in Jharkhand, lynch mobs instigated by rumours of child-lifting have killed seven people near Jamshedpur in Jharkhand. Three of those killed in the first incident at Rajnagar on Thursday morning were identified as Sheikh Sajju (25), Sheikh Siraj (26) and Naim (35). Another member of this group, Sheikh Halim (28), was initially reported missing but his body was found in the locality on Friday. In the second incident Gautam Verma (27), his brother Vikas Verma (25), and their friend Gangesh Gupta were beaten to death in front of their 80-year-old grandmother as they were returning to Jamshedpur. Also the elder brother of Gautam and Vikas, suffered injuries in the attack.

In similar incidents, two others were killed last week in the same area. The Raghubar Das Government and its police and district administrations do nothing to prevent such lynch mobs from forming and carrying out murderous violence. We demand justice for the victims of the lynch mob killings in Jharkhand and all over India.

From Alwar to Saharanpur to Jharkhand- especially in BJP ruled states- impunity assured by the state machinery and the murderous culture of lynch mobs, patronised by Sangh outfits and fuelled by rumours on social media, has become the new ‘normal’.

Demand Justice Against Anti-Dalit Carnage in Saharanpur!

 

Join Bhim Army’s call

Chalo Jantar Mantar

21st May, 10 am

 

March Forward With Working Class Struggles For a World Free From Exploitation!

131 Years of May Day: Remembering the Haymarket Martyrs!

March Forward With Working Class Struggles For a World Free From Exploitation!

Join Celebration of May Day

With Protest Songs and Poetry

and Effigy Burning against Haryana BJP Govt’s Decision to Scrap May Day Celebration

On 1st May Indian workers will join workers around the globe to celebrate the May Day – the international day of the working class.

May Day Legacy: May Day commemorates the legacy of the martyrs of Haymarket, Chicago who were sentenced to death in 1886 for their role in struggling for the 8-hour day and other workers’ rights. Today in India, we see how the Maruti, Honda and Pricol trade union activists are facing trumped up charges for the ‘crime’ of having asserted the right to unionize; the 8 Haymarket leaders too were arrested, prosecuted and sentenced to death on fake charges of murder for having led a struggle for the 8-hour day. But they used the trial as a platform to expose the entire capitalist system – and their words inspire the working class movement worldwide today. August Spies, one of the 8 Haymarket leaders, announced in open court: 

“…  if you think that by hanging us, you can stamp out the labor movement-the movement from which the downtrodden millions, the millions who toil and live in want and misery-the wage slaves-expect salvation-if this is your opinion, then hang us! Here you will tread upon a spark, but there, and there, and behind you and in front of you, and everywhere, flames will blaze up. It is a subterranean fire. You cannot put it out. The ground upon which you stand is on fire…”

In India we have seen how the ‘sedition law’ is used to target the voices of justice and people’s resistance in society. August Spies was charged with the ‘crime’ of distributing ‘seditious’ material in the form of the German workers’ newspaper. He responded by reading out, in Court, extracts from the ‘respectable’ ruling class newspaper, which openly advocated the most brutal forms of violence against political opponents, especially the working class.

Albert Parsons, another of the Haymarket leaders, exposed the vicious anti-worker nature of US newspapers, which, during the 1877 Railroad Strike wrote: “Workers who demand higher wages or bread for hungry children deserve bullets, hand grenades, no vote, no freedom…”

The fights of the working class and their blood spilt in the course of those struggles in the past 130 years since the Haymarket martyrs achieved many rights for the working class. But on the other hand, in the recent times of globalization, the systematic violence on workers and consistent scuttling of their rights have also intensified.

Mounting Offensives on Workers’ Rights: The Modi Government, in the name of ‘ease of doing business’ for Indian and global corporates, is busy diluting and eroding hard-won laws protecting labour rights and the environment. Here are some of major ongoing assaults on workers’ rights:

Eroding Labour Laws: The Modi Govt is desperately trying to “amend” almost all existing labour laws. This will keep 90% workers out of the scope of the safety of labour laws and surely allow unchecked license to “hire and fire”. The implementation of these anti-worker moves has already begun in BJP ruled states like Rajasthan. For instance among major changes, the Industrial Disputes Act now allows companies employing up to 300 staffers to lay off workers or close down without taking the government’s prior approval. Earlier, those with up to 100 employees were allowed to do so. Factories Act now applies to an establishment which uses electricity and employs 20 workers and which does not use electricity and employs 40 workers (earlier it was 10 and 20 respectively). Rajasthan government has also made getting recognitions for unions more difficult. The rush now is to impose the “Rajasthan model” across the country. Further, Modi government has, in a particularly shameless manner, called for “self-certification”. In place of inspection by the labour department, the owner of a company will annually certify whether the company is following all laws!

Legitimizing Child Labour: The PM who claims to have been a tea-seller as a child, is the one legitimizing child labour today. The amendments approved by the Modi Government prohibit children between 14-18 from employment in hazardous occupations, while allowing children below 14 to be employed in ‘non-hazardous’ work in ‘family or family enterprises’. The argument given by the Government to legitimize child labour is that the ‘social fabric’ of the country would be damaged if child labour in ‘family’ work is banned. ‘Social fabric’ here is a common Sangh Parivar euphemism for caste hierarchy and caste-based division of labour. This is made clear by the Government official who told activist Harsh Mander, “What is wrong with this? Should not the son of a lohar or ironsmith, learn to be an ironsmith, or of a weaver to be a weaver?” Further, the phrase “hazardous” remains extremely narrowly defined, in reality offering no protection to children.

Contractualisation and the Plunder of Workers’ Wages: The Modi Government shamefully does not agree to the long pending demand of trade unions to the issue of equal wages to the contract workers as per the rules under Contract Labour Act; on the contrary saying that all contract workers will be paid minimum wages! But this is already guaranteed by the law. This only exposes government’s tacit acceptance that workers are not even being paid as per the existing minimum rates by the employers and its keenness to continue with this illegality, in order to allow corporates to loot the hard earned wages of workers.

Lowest Increment in Minimum Wages: The government is not introducing the much-needed raise in minimum wages according to the spiralling inflation and sharp price rise. The Modi government accepted the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission which is said to be the worst so far from the point of view of workers’ interests as it recommends the lowest increment in minimum wages.

Denial of Minimum Wages, Denial to Acknowledge Labour: The Government continuously has been refusing to recognize lakhs of Anganwadi, Mid-day meal, ASHA, Para-teachers and others as ‘workers’. They have been denied even their right of statutory minimum wages and allocations of funds for these schemes gets slashed budget after budget.

Job-less Growth to Job-Loss Growth– Rising Unemployment and Mass Retrenchment: Employment opportunities have suffered enormously during the Modi regime. Data from the Labour Bureau showed that job growth in India had fallen to a six-year low in 2015. The survey shows that in the eight key labour-intensive industries, only 0.1 million jobs were created in 2015, even worse than the former low of 0.3 million in 2012. Very recently, we have seen mass retrenchment in leading Indian IT companies, from Wipro, TCS to Infosys. Indeed experts are terming the unfolding phenomenon as a down slide from Job-less Growth to Job-Loss Growth.

Tax Exemptions and Willful Default of Bank Loans – Free Hand for Corporate Loot: In sharp contrast to snatching away of existing rights and violation of minimum wages of the working class, Modi govt has given a free hand to the crony corporates to loot our money with impunity. As per the admissions in 2017 Union Budget, during 2016-17, exemptions in corporate tax stands at a whopping Rs. 83,492 crore! Add to it humongous defaults in bank loans by the willful corporate defaulters. As per the estimates of “India Ratings”, the stressed loans (=Non Performing Assets + Restructured loans + Written off assets) with domestic banks are expected to be above a whopping Rs 13 lakh cr. (DNA, 13 May 2016). PSU banks have written off Rs 1.54 lakh crore bad loans during 2013-2016 June (PTI, 07 Dec 2016). More shockingly, Economic Times (20 Dec 2016) alerted that Rs 7.4 lakh cr debt is likely to be written-off!

Sanghi Symbolisms to Curb Working Class Consciousness and Normalise Exploitation: When BJP was fighting the 2014 election, their manifesto had promoted the concept of “Industry Family”, in which “industry owners and labours bond as a family.” Inside the BJP’s patriarchal concept of ‘family’, there can be no room for Unions and workers’ struggles and entitlements; and the BJP Manifesto had, likewise, promised to “bring together all stakeholders to review our Labour laws”. In the name of “Industry Family,” patriarchal restrictions, abuse, and violence are used to discipline women workers. In the tradition of the good old feudal-patriarchal family, the ‘mai-baap sarkar’ has snatched away the rights of workers to promote the profits of corporates. Our Prime Minister has called himself the “Mazdoor No.1”, and his most powerful “maaliks” like corporate biggies Ambani, Adani and Hinduja are scripting the snatching away of all labour laws.

At the same time, BJP leaders ranging from Yogi Adityanath to several other MPs, MLAs and other prominent figures, are openly inciting communal hatred, violence and killings on the pretext of ‘cow protection’, ‘protection of women’ and ‘counter-terrorism.’ They are seeking to divide India’s working class on communal lines, and ensure that the working class cannot unite against the attacks on labour rights and democracy. May Day is an occasion for the working class to reaffirm its resolve to resist such hate-mongering and communal violence, and rally to defend democratic rights and equality, not only of workers themselves at the workplace, but of every section of vulnerable citizens – including minorities, Dalits and other oppressed castes, and women.

Why Is the RSS-BJP Afraid of May Day Legacy? BJP government is afraid of the worker’s struggle and the glorious history of workers’ movement. Last year, the RSS declared May Day as “alien” to “Indian Culture”. Few days back, the Haryana Govt of BJP said that it will not celebrate 1st May as Labour Day anymore, instead it will observe only Vishwakarma day. Let us point out that the workers who observe Vishwakarma Day need no ‘directive’ from the RSS or BJP to do so – rather the RSS and BJP are trying to appropriate Vishvakarma Puja and pit it against May Day! This clearly reveals that the BJP and RSS, serving corporate interests and eroding workers’ rights today, would like workers to forget the legacy of May Day entirely. The Government seeking to make workers toil 12-15 hours a day, obviously wants workers to forget the history of struggle for an 8-hour day! Let us also point out that the religious festival of Vishwakarma Puja is traditionally a day for the artisans to celebrate their tools. Today, when capitalism has snatched the tools from most artisans and monopolised all the means of production, and exploits workers’ labour, the meaning of May Day and workers’ struggle against capital is more relevant than ever!

Deeply opposed to workers’ rights and struggle, the RSS-BJP routinely resorts to crafty wordplay to peddle its pro-worker image. Modi’s slogan of Shrameva Jayate (Victory to Work) is one such example. But look at the irony, while claiming to valorise work in the name of Shrameva Jayate, the RSS and BJP work for Parajay’ (defeat) of the ‘Shramik’ (worker)!

Today, global capital and their local agents are being given a free hand to exploit  workers. MNCs based in the US are able to exploit the labour of workers in India or Bangladesh. At such a time, the message of May Day – of workers’ international unity and struggle against capitalism – is a message Indian workers will never allow to be forgotten.

Last year’s historic general strike on 2nd September and the continuing workers’ protests across the country have succeeded to a certain extent in pushing the government back in the matter of amendments of labour laws. Workers have organized big strikes in the coal, transport, public and government sectors. In many States including Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Assam, ASHA, Anganwadi, midday meal workers and contract/honorarium workers in government departments have been organizing huge struggles. Women workers in Bengaluru’s garment industry opposed the Modi government’s assaults on their hard-earned PF money so massively that the government was forced to step back. Sanitation workers in Bengaluru recently won significant increases in their wages while in Mumbai, sanitation workers recently won a landmark court verdict regularizing contract workers. Pricol and Maruti workers have received solidarity from the working class all over India and the world in their struggle for justice. India’s workers are unionizing, uniting and fighting back – in the face of brutal repression!

 

Fight Back Crackdowns On Workers Rights and Wages, Impunity for Corporate Loot and Communal Divisiveness!

Long Live May Day’s Legacy of Working Class Struggle for Democracy, Freedom and Equality!