Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Defeat This Diabolical Agenda

13th January, 2010: AS we go to press, a massive peaceful bandh is being observed in the South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal at the call of the Left Front in protest against the gruesome killing of four CPI(M) activists in Narayanpur on January 11, 2010 (details are carried in the Polit Bureau statement). All the seven others grievously injured are currently battling for their life in a critical condition. The politics of terror unleashed by the Trinamul Congress continues to claim the lives of CPI(M) activists and other progressive elements in the state.

While Trinamul Congress is unleashing this politics of terror in its aim to capture power in the state, it is continuing to provide patronage and cover to the Maoists, who, in turn, continue their rampage against CPI(M) activists. Since the Lok Sabha elections, nearly 200 CPI(M) leaders and activists have been martyred by these TMC and Maoist marauders acting in concert. In the districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia, the Maoists are continuing to target the CPI(M). On January 7, Haren Baske, a member of the Jhilimili CPI(M) local committee, was murdered by the Maoists in Bankura district. Earlier, Rameshwar Murmu, branch secretary of Bhuladara was shot dead on December 25, 2009. Three days later, on December 28, Comrade Kalidas Hembram was hacked to death. In the neighbouring Purulia district, CPI(M) leader Dhanu Rajak, local committee secretary in the Dhadka village was shot dead on January 9.

In the meanwhile, police operations in the Lalgarh area have yielded a large haul of weapons that had been amassed by the Maoists in the past for their murderous attacks on the CPI(M). The joint operations by the centre and the state government against the Maoists had to be reduced due to the elections to the state assembly in Jharkhand where the central forces were deployed. With these now completed, central and the state forces have now re-launched the operations.
This has earned a sharp rebuke from the TMC supremo. Confirming the connection between the TMC and the Maoists and, in a way, also confirming that the TMC had patronised and facilitated the entry of the Maoists into West Bengal in order to use the terror that they unleash to facilitate the TMC's electoral fortunes, Ms. Mamata Banerjee came out strongly against the central government and the union home minister. On January 9, she said: “The centre has surrendered to the CPI(M) by agreeing to launch the anti-Maoist offensive by the joint forces”. She went on to accuse the centre of “surrendering to the CPI(M)” by sending central forces to Lalgarh. She went to the extent of announcing an agitation to highlight the “ineffectiveness” of anti-Maoist offensive.

Once again, the TMC, in its urge to reap electoral benefit in West Bengal, is openly protecting and facilitating Maoist terror and violence in the state. This is a stand that runs into direct contradiction with the prime minister and the union home minister's repeated articulation that Maoist violence constitutes the gravest threat to India's internal security. How can the Congress continue with this untenable situation of having TMC members in the very same cabinet presided over by prime minister? This is a question whose answer the country and the people need to know.
In a brazen display of anti-democratic attitude, the central ministers belonging to the TMC continue to boycott public functions where the chief minister and other ministers of West Bengal are present. This is, in fact, anti-constitutional. The Indian constitution provides for legitimate authority to both the central and state governments and in the discharge of their responsibilities, the central ministers are bound to interact with the state government and its ministers. The railway minister has announced that she will be boycotting two important functions – the 150th anniversary of St. Xavier's College and a union culture ministry function at the Science City Auditorium – that the prime minister will be attending in Kolkata on January 16 since the state chief minister will also be present.

Such brazen anti-democratic stance coupled with the politics of terror, in their desperate bid to capture power in the state, is leading to situation where innocent people suffer and innocent life consumed. On January 9, a blazing fire broke out at noon in a slum of 450 shanties on railway land (as claimed by the railway minister) in Ultadanga in Kolkata. The TMC had called for a bandh that afternoon from 2 pm. Despite the raging fire that destroyed all the shanties and claimed one life, the TMC refused to allow the fire engines to reach the spot to protect the life and property of the slum dwellers. Such is their concern for the poor! Speculation is rife that there is more in this incident than that which meets the eye. A few days earlier, railway officials had conducted a survey exploring the possibilities for constructing a multi-purpose complex on this land as a follow-up of the fanciful announcement made in the railway budget. This fire and the Trinamul Congress's bandh preventing the fire engines from protecting the shanties has made the task much easier for the railway authorities, who, otherwise would have had to make a great deal of effort for clearing the slum. Only time will tell the truth.

As 2010 begins, these developments are, indeed, very ominous signs not only for West Bengal but for the very democratic polity in our country. Such cynical and anti-human methods of unleashing terror, violence and callousness in the pursuit of electoral benefits is not only irresponsible but gravely injurious to the health of Indian democracy and democratic institutions. The people of Bengal had, four decades ago, courageously faced and defeated such anti-democratic anarchic forces and the politics of terror unleashed by an earlier avatar of the Maoists – the naxalites. The people of Bengal had to pay a very heavy price. Unfortunately, Bengal is being pushed into such a direction, once again! For the sake of protecting and strengthening Indian democracy and social harmony, such a diabolical agenda should not be allowed to succeed.

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) issued the following statement on January 12, 2010:

THE Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) strongly condemns the killing of four CPI(M) activists in Narayanpur under the Canning police station of South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal.

In a dastardly incident anti-social and criminal elements of the Trinamul Congress launched a murderous assault on a peaceful and unarmed group of CPI(M) supporters who were returning after filing nomination papers for the elections to the managing committee of a local madrasa. CPI(M) activists Dinesh Haldar, Khairul Jamadar, Biswanath Gayen and Salim Jamadar were killed on the spot. The gruesome nature of the killings is revealed by the fact that two of them were killed after being fired with the revolver placed inside their mouths. Seven other CPI(M) activists were grievously injured in the attack and are in critical condition and are fighting for their lives.

This incident shows the extent of violence that is being unleashed against the CPI(M) and the Left in West Bengal while the Trinamul Congress and its leader Mamata Banerjee campaigns that there is no law and order in the state of West Bengal. The CPI(M) along with other Left parties had earlier presented a memorandum to the prime minister listing out the more than 150 CPI(M) leaders and activists who had been killed by the opposition since the Lok Sabha election results. Hardly a day passes in Junglemahal area especially in West Midnapur district when CPI(M) activists are not killed by Maoist marauders. In the rest of the state it is the Trinamul which carries on the campaign of violence.

Yesterday's incident is a major development in this continued spree of violence. The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) calls upon all peace loving people in West Bengal and elsewhere in the country to join in condemnation of these murders. The PB calls upon all its Party units to redouble their efforts in expressing solidarity with the struggle for defence of peace and democracy that the CPI(M) and the Left is conducting in such trying circumstances in West Bengal.

In Defence of the Struggle for Democracy in West Bengal


THE 32nd conference of All India Kisan Sabha condemns the semi-fascist attack on Left and democratic forces and the Left Front government of West Bengal let loose by the Trinamool Congress-led alliance of reactionary forces, comprising extreme rightists and pseudo-Left terrorists, that is, the self-styled Maoists. Between May 16, 2006, i.e., after the Left Front government was returned to office with well above three-fourths majority for a seventh consecutive term, and January 10, 2010, 371 comrades have been killed. Of them, 146 were murdered after the last parliamentary elections. A large number of them are from the poorest and socially deprived sections. Of these victims, 28 are tribal comrades, 42 OBCs and scheduled castes and 22 are from the Muslim minority community. Thousands of Left Front supporters were forced to leave their villages, their houses torched to ashes or demolished to dust. Hundreds of sharecroppers and patta holders were evicted from their lands and even peasants were forced to transfer their rayyati land free of cost by means of registered deeds with the stamp duties paid from their own pockets.

It may be recalled that these attacks started from Nandigram and then Singur, followed by the so-called mass resistance against police atrocities in Lalgarh. According to the twisted reasoning of these criminals, to plant mines designed to carry out the “death penalty” against the chief minister is “democratic” and attempts to apprehend these criminals is “anti-democratic.” They received overt and covert support from the hired hands of the right wing bourgeois media and from assorted self-styled “intellectuals.” The demand of the TMC chief and union railway minister that president’s rule be promulgated by invoking article 356 in West Bengal and for withdrawal of central paramilitary forces from Lalgarh is designed to make it a liberated zone for Kishanji alias Koteswar Rao and his mercenaries. “Kishanji” himself is not ashamed to take the name of Mao Zedong and then ask people to boycott elections in which they want the TMC supremo to get elected and become the chief minister of West Bengal. For her part, the railway minister, like her double-speaking counterparts among her “Maoist” allies, refuses to recognise the Maoist hand in blowing up railway lines and stations. Although the prime minister and the union home minister have declared that they consider the Maoists to be the single biggest threat to internal security, responsible for around 4,000 killings in the last five years, they do not, of course, utter a word against their new-found ally in the UPA-2 government. They kept such silence in order to get rid of their dependence on the Left during the UPA-1 government, a dependence that was much to the dislike of their imperialist mentor and strategic partner in Washington.

The union home minister has, of late, written a long letter to express his dismay in public at the “inability” of the chief minister of West Bengal to contain the insurgency in Lalgarh. Where the TMC or their past allies are not a major force, his partymen in West Bengal in some districts have themselves joined the killing spree directed against Left Front workers. The TMC has also joined hands and gone for electoral alliance with the separatist forces in Darjeeling and the Kamtapuris in the districts of North Bengal.

Such are the diabolical designs of this unprincipled alliance. However, as history has proved time and again, these allies have contradictions among themselves and their alliance therefore cannot be a permanent phenomenon. Fissures have already started appearing here and there.

The AIKS takes pride in the fact that it is the Kisan Sabha that has made most of the sacrifices in the brave mass resistance put up by its West Bengal detachment. It has done so along with its fraternal mass organisations and the Left and democratic forces by organising movements and struggles and mobilising millions of peasants under its banner.

The 32nd conference also takes note of the fact that it is the mighty movement of the peasantry and the political will of the Left Front government that has made it possible to distribute 1.97 lakh acres of land among 1.76 lakh tribal families in West Medinipur district. This district alone accounts for about half of the martyrs in the state in the post-Lok Sabha election period. The Left Front won all the parliament seats in the three districts bordering Jharkhand, which has been the main target of attack. In the Jhargram parliamentary seat, the main focus of attack, the CPI(M) candidate won over 59 per cent of the votes, and won in all assembly segments with massive margins, including the Binpur assembly constituency, in which Lalgarh is located.

The 32nd conference of the AIKS, which is being held in the land of the mightiest movement of peasantry in the country, resolves to extend its solidarity and all possible support to the heroic struggle of the peasantry and all democratic forces in West Bengal against the heinous attacks of the reactionary combine. The AIKS resolves to take up a countrywide campaign in February 2010 to mobilise the working masses and all democratic and patriotic forces in defence of this advanced outpost of democracy in order that democracy, secularism, national integration, self reliance and sovereignty of our country are defended at all costs. This conference firmly believes that, as in the seventies of the last century --- when the semi-fascist terror in West Bengal culminated in the proclamation of Emergency all over the country --- reaction will not have the final say. It is the movement of the working people and democratic forces that will become victorious, in the battle for democracy, and emerge ever stronger than before.

Friday, January 15, 2010

An Exercise in Malice and Slander

By Sakshi Sen

D BANDYOPADHYAY, a former secretary of revenue and erstwhile secretary of rural development in the government of India, fills an entire article with slander in a recent piece titled, "Citizens Beware! Killer Convicts at Large!" in the Mainstream magazine dated December 4-10, 2009. What is surprising is that there is total lack of editorial due diligence in publishing this malicious piece written by the former bureaucrat, whose motive is clear - demonising serving ministers and senior leaders of the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) - CPI(M) in West Bengal. The context that provides the author to make such a willful character assassination and deliberate falsification of facts is the Sainbari incident in March 1970, where two brothers - sympathisers of the Congress party were killed.

These murders were made the pretext to falsely implicate the entire leadership of the CPI(M) in Burdwan district. It must be noted that this was done when West Bengal was under President's rule and the Congress party was going all out to target the CPI(M) and its cadres.


The premise of Bandyopadhyay's article is that 17 of the miscreants who were responsible for the murder of the Sain brothers - the author does not care to mention their names - Pronob and Moloy Sain - were named as "accused" and eight of them, were "convicted" and life imprisonment was imposed upon them by the District and Sessions Judge of Burdwan in 1971. Of the eight thus convicted- he names Benoy Konar (who is current Central Committee member of the CPI[M]), Politburo Member and West Bengal industries minister Nirupam Sen, Manik Roy (mentioned as "absconding"), Amal Haldar and Paltoo Bandyopadhyay.

Bandyopadhyay also asserts that the "convicts went on appeal before the Calcutta High Court twice. On both occasions their appeal was rejected." He then goes on to say that the convicts did not "curiously" prefer to appeal before the Supreme Court and instead "waited for an opportunity to get them out of the prison by foul means". Later, when the CPI(M) came to power, "all the convicts of the Sai murder case were released on "parole"". Bandyopadhyay's premise is that the "convicts" were released on "parole" by political means, after getting to "power". He then makes a further assertion that the "records of the case" were "pilfered" from the "archives of the Calcutta High Court through their [the CPI(M)'s] committed members of the "Coordination Committee" among the employees of the High Court".
Thus framing his case for the article's headline that "killer convicts are at large", Bandyopadhyay then goes on to construct an elaborate pack of cards bringing the Singur and Nandigram "incidents" into the picture as he makes scurrilous after scandalous claim about the persons in question.


A cursory look at the facts at hand would be enough to dismiss Bandyopadhyay's entire article as a pack of lies, wrapped in a monument of malice intended to deliberately attack whom he perceives as his political enemy (Bandyopadhyay's current political inclinations are well known - he is an advisor to the maverick and obstructionist Trinamul Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee).
Firstly, Bandyopadhyay gets it wrong about the procedural cases since the incident. As the case order of the "State v Ajit Mukherjee and 83 others" also known as the "Sainbari case" in the court of the 3rd Additional Sessions Judge (Shri R K Kar), Alipore points out clearly –
"On 17.3.70 at 12:30 PM, one Dilip Kumar Bhattacharya lodged an FIR at Burdwan Police Station...".
"On the basis of the said FIR the Burdwan Police Station started P.S Case no 50 dt. 17.3.70 and took up investigation of the case. After completion of the investigation the police submitted a chargesheet against 111 persons on 8.2.71 under various sections of the Penal code including sections 148, 149/302 and 149/436 I.P.C. before the S.D.J.M Burdwan. "..

"the accd. persons made a prayer before the Sessions Judge, Burdwan for the transfer of the case outside the Burdwan town".

"The ld. Sessions judge rejected the prayer of the accd. persons and so they moved the Hon'ble High Court. On 21.2.71 the Hon'ble High Court transferred the case to Alipore and the S.D.J.M Alipore commited the case to the court of Sessions on 13.6.74."

"Charges were framed against the accd. persons on 13.8.77 and on 20.9.77, the ld. Public Prosecutor filed an application u/s 321 Cr.P.C seeking the court's consent for withdrawal from the prosecution of the accd. persons".

The order in the "State vs Ajit Mukherjee and 83 others case" - passed by the Third Court of Additional Sessions Judge, Alipore dated 30 September 1977 and another dated 6 May 1978 - eventually acquitted the 83 accused persons from the charges framed against them. But we are going ahead of the story. As the case records points out, the Bandyopadhyay claim that "eight" of the "17 accused" were convicted and "life imprisonment" was imposed upon them is a fairy tale. Whatever follows - that the "convicts" went on appeal against their "sentence" to the High Court and that eventually they were released on "parole" are thus completely false and flows from the rather flowing imagination of the said author. It also appears very clearly that the numbers 8 and 17 are discretely chosen to make a scurrilous point. Amal Haldar's name for example is not part of the 83 accused in the "State vs Ajit Mukherjee..." case.
How could someone who has not been convicted appeal for "parole"? And from where did Bandyopadhyay make his claim that eight persons were convicted and sentenced to "life imprisonment"? And why would anyone who has not been "convicted" appeal to the Supreme Court to overturn a judgement of "conviction" if that never happened? These are questions that deserve legitimate answers from the obviously deranged former bureaucrat.

That Bandyopadhyay's later assertions on the CPI(M) using its "power" to grant "parole" to the "convicted" and that the records of the case archive were destroyed are nonsense is proved from the "State vs Ajit Mukherjee..." case records. Curiously, Bandyopadhyay also makes other assertions that the Registrar General, Calcutta High Court had "shockingly" reported to the Supreme Court that the High Court had no paper relating to the Sainbari case, when no appeal to the non-existing conviction was ever filed in the High Court! The author continues in his nonsensical vein claiming that the "CPI(M) government had granted unconditional and unlimited parole" and hopes that the "Supreme Court gave an order revoking the parole of the convicts". It is mentioned in the article that one Joydeep Mukherjee has filed a writ petition before the Supreme Court to find out how the "convicts" have been "enjoying unrestricted and unconditional parole for the last 32 years". As established before, these are all false premises and one wonders how the Supreme Court could admit the petition which is certainly a false affidavit - a sure case of contempt of Court.
So what essentially is the truth about the trials that followed the Sainbari murder incidents? We should again take recourse to the same "State vs Ajit Mukherjee.." case order. Here is the timeline as events happened.


Following the transfer of the case to the Sessions court on 13.6.74, "Charges with Five Heads" were filed against 83 people, seven of whom are mentioned by Bandyopadhyay. The charges were that the 83 mentioned in the chargesheet were part of "about 1500" people engaging in "unlawful assembly" at Protapswar Sibtala, Burdwan and accused of participating in the murder of Malay Sain, his brother Pranab Sen and family tutor Jiten Roy, in rioting and looting and setting the house on fire etc.

The case order in "State vs Ajit Mukherjee.." dismissed the charges. It heard out a statement by the Public Prosecutor who had filed an application u/s 321 Cr.P.C for withdrawal from the prosecution of the accused persons with the consent of the court, on following grounds -

The Public Prosecutor stated that he is convinced that there was an occurence on the relevant date and relevant time in the house of the Sains, but the accused persons did not participate in that occurence. That most of the accused belonged to one political party and most of the witnesses belonged to a rival political party, and that the accused persons had been falsely implicated in the case. That the investigation had not been fair and impartial and that the rival political party directed the course of the investigation and the evidence collected by the investigation agency was grossly tainted.

That, as two major political parties were involved in the case, if instant prosecution was carried to its logical end, it is almost certain that feelings or acrimony and hatred would be engineered between the local workers of the said two political parties, and that the current (then) situation in Burdwan town is quite peaceful and the trial is bound to disturb the peaceful atmosphere that is prevailing in the town.
That, the then State government (of the Left Front) had effected a policy of "Forgive and Forget" which was directed at putting an end to all political and ideological bitterness of the past.
The judge in his order, examined the grounds of withdrawal by looking at similar judicial precedents and on the basis of principles laid down by the Supreme Court in considering such grounds.
Vis-a-vis the first ground, the judge observed that there was a case of recantation of testimony by the person who filed the FIR; that he was unsure of the numbers mentioned in the chargesheet and that following the incident, leaders of the rival political party had colluded with the investigating officer in getting statements recorded from various witnesses. There were several discrepancies with the statements given by the witnesses, in the manner the FIR was filed and in the way the investigation was done. These facts and circumstances supported the Public Prosecutor's submission that the investigation had not been impartial and that he would not be able to lead cogent and convincing evidence to warrant a conviction of the accused was not without basis.
Plus the general political atmosphere in Burdwan Town at that time, featuring political murders and attacks on rival political parties, the general inaction of the police during the incident - either to halt the miscreants' attack on the Sain house as a retaliation to an alleged bomb attack on them or to apprehend them after the incident. The judge also referred to other precedents on incidents arising out of rivalry between different associations and dismissal of charges owing to the need to continue to maintain harmony post such incidents. In the light of prevalence of relative calm and peace eight years since the Sainbari incident, the judge mentions that the Public Prosecutor's submission of withdrawal on such grounds deserved consideration.

However on the third ground of the Left Front government's policy of "forgive and forget", the judge clearly mentions that "the policy of Government is no consideration for giving consent for withdrawal" citing other precedents.

In sum, the judge considered the other two grounds enough to not find sufficient reason to withhold consent for withdrawal. Thus, the accused were acquitted of the offences under Cr.PC section 321(b). All these facts and details are available in the court order.

Coming back to Bandyopadhyay's article, it is clear that the article was written to throw mud on CPI(M) functionaries by building a monument of falsehood about "conviction", "release on parole" and "destruction of records". In doing so and by using expressions such as "black mamba", "killer convicts", "nasty killer" to describe a serving and elected minister and other public functionaries, the author only further sullies his already discredited image. What is striking is the absolute lack of editorial due diligence as well on this article. Any editor worth her/his salt would have taken pains to check the veracity of the claims as well as been tempted to use editorial standards to vet some of the abominable language used. But alas, so consumed is the editor in buying the spurious monument of lies, there is none of that necessary editorial work.
That this deranged writer is a trusted advisor of the leader of the chief party in the opposition in the state is a testament to the state of affairs that exists in the anti-Left Front alliance in West Bengal. Considering the track record of the leader in question - in the sheer mindlessness, in the nonsensical obstructionism, in the poverty of logic and reason in the Trinamul's politics, it is not a surprise that she keeps such abominable company to advise her.

'Change' for Better or Worse?

By C P Krishnan
CONDEMNING the ongoing murderous violence of the Trinamool and 'Maoists' against CPI(M) and Left parties cadre in West Bengal and expressing solidarity with the democratic sections of that state who are resisting these forces of anarchy, hundreds of people assembled at Kerala Samaj, Chennai, at the call of the North and South Chennai district committees of the CPI(M) on December 17, 2009. Surya Kanta Mishra, Party central committee member and minister for health and family welfare, government of West Bengal, was the main speaker in the meeting.

The meeting was presided over by S K Mahendran, MLA and among the speakers included G Ramakrishnan, central committee member of CPI(M), A Soundararajan, state secretariat member of the Party, T K Shanmugam and Beema Rao, state committee members of the Party.

Addressing the packed gathering, Surya Kant Misra thanked the Tamilnadu state committee of the Party for organising this meeting not only to condemn the violence of TMC and Maoists but also to express solidarity with the democratic forces resisting such violence. He underlined that this is not the first time that such violence has been let loose on the Left and democratic forces in Bengal. In 1967, the first United Front government was formed in the state with CPI(M) emerging as a big force with 40-plus MLAs. That government was dismissed using Article 356 of the Constitution. Within two years elections were held again by which time CPI(M) doubled its strength in the state assembly. Even this government was once again dismissed within a year, in 1970, and in the elections held in 1971 CPI(M) won more than 110 seats in the state assembly. From 1972 onwards, semi-fascist terror was unleashed by the then Congress rulers, which lasted for nearly four years and in which around 1400 CPI(M) cadres were brutally killed; 20,000 people were driven out of their homes; 300 offices of the Left trade unions were forcibly occupied by the Congress goons; 70,000 false cases were registered against thousands of Party cadres. The 9th Party Congress, held at Madurai in Tamilnadu in 1972, sent a warning to the whole nation that what was happening then in West Bengal would not stop there and it would not be against the CPI(M) and the Left parties' cadres alone. It would spread to the whole nation and against all the democratic forces if left unchecked. This warning came true within the next three years as Emergency was proclaimed in the country by the Congress government in 1975. Lakhs of people were arrested; the freedom of press was banned; the democratic voices were stifled. Even the songs of a famous singer like Kishore Kumar were banned to be aired on All India Radio. Violence was let loose throughout the country. The elected MLAs of the CPI(M) boycotted the assembly throughout the session to register their protest against the indiscriminate rigging of the elections. After the lifting of Emergency, in the subsequent elections held in 1977, the Left Front came to power with a clear two-thirds majority.

“A question is posed to us”, said Misra, “that why this magnitude of violence is unleashed on the Left cadres even after the continuous 32 year rule of the Left in the state. During the seventh tenure of Left Front government alone, 344 Party cadres were killed. In the year 2009 alone 159 cadres were done to death, out of which 120 comrades were killed after the 15th Lok Sabha elections”, he said.

Misra elaborated further that “the Left Front government has been voted to power consecutively for seven times and has been in power for the past 32 years uninterruptedly due to the support of the people. In 2004, 61 Left MPs were elected, of which a major portion was from West Bengal. This was the highest ever number of Left MPs in independent India. The Congress Party depended on the Left parties and the CPI(M) for survival of its government at the centre. But the CPI(M) and the Left parties were vociferously opposing the neo-liberal policies of the Congress-led UPA government at the centre. The CPI(M) was firmly opposing the imperialist hegemony, particularly the India-US nuclear deal which was very much detrimental to the interest of the people. That is the reason why concerted attacks have been unleashed on the Left parties and particularly the CPI(M)”, said Misra. He asserted that CPI(M) came into existence neither for running state governments nor for making its members/leaders MLAs or ministers. It participates in the parliamentary democratic system as it has deep roots among the people of India and shall continue to do so. But the aim of the Party is to usher in a People’s Democratic Revolution and to establish a People’s Democratic Front government.

He narrated that since 1977 varied tactics were adopted by the ruling class parties to dislodge the Left Front government from power in West Bengal. Several conspiracies were hatched but nothing could be done due to the support it enjoyed from the people. Therefore this time new tactics have been adopted. The forces ranging from the Right extreme to the Left extreme have joined hands against the CPI(M) and the Left parties in the form of a grand alliance. They use money, media and muscle power against the Left. With these three Ms, joined the 'Maoists', making it four Ms. The 'Maoists' leader, so-called Kishanji, appeared before some television channels with a mask and gave an interview exhorting the people of Bengal to vote for Trinamool Congress and make Mamata Banerjee the next chief minister. “These people who proclaim to boycott elections, want people of West Bengal to elect her as their CM. The nexus between these two forces can be easily understood. Earlier they unleashed terror in Singur, Nandigram and now they unleash violence in Lalgarh. The secret alliance between TMC and the 'Maoists' has now been exposed to the whole world. Their only aim is to capture power in the state by hook or crook. But we are very sure that that these four Ms will be defeated with one M, namely Marxism”, asserted the CPI(M) leader.

The Trinamool, along with the Left and Right extremists, has is now chanting the slogan of ‘Change’. “We also want change. The question is whether the change is for better or worse. In the 32 years of the Left Front rule, 84 per cent of the land holding is in the possession of the small and marginal farmers with a land holding of two or less acres of land. When compared to the landholding of the small and marginal farmers of all the non Left-ruled states put together, this is double the size. What change they want? Do they want to reverse this? The SC/ST population of the state constitutes 28 per cent of the total population whereas their land holding constitutes 54 per cent of the total land holding in the state. Is there any parallel to this in our country? This is not our statistics but those released by the union rural development ministry of the central government. Do they want to reverse this and hand over the land back to landlords? Is this the change they advocate?” he questioned.

The Left Front rule in West Bengal has ensured distribution of land to the landless; development of the tribal people and dalits; empowerment of women; decentralisation of powers and finance to gram panchayats; democratisation of co-operative sector etc. All these achievements are being sought to be undone by these reactionary forces in favour of big capitalists and landlords. That is why the question whether change is for better or worse is being raised, he said.

The CPI(M) leader appealed to the people who voted against the Left parties in the recent elections to consider the present situation. The number of the seats in Lok Sabha for Congress party has increased in the UPA-II government compared to what they had in the previous Lok Sabha even though there is not much increase in the percentage of votes polled. The Left parties which had the highest ever number of MPs in the last Lok Sabha have presently the lowest number of MPs in the last 40 years. He asked the people to consider what has been the impact of this on their lives. The prices of essential commodities are sky-rocketing; there is no food security; there is no job security or guarantee; the universalisation of foodgrains through ration shops has been given a go-bye; the situation in Andhra Pradesh has been mishandled; the central government is kneeling down before US imperialism on the nuclear deal and its implementation; the insurance sector is going to be thrown open for Foreign Direct Investment; the shares of Public Sector Undertakings are going to be sold in the share markets; the adverse New Pension Scheme is being thrust on the working class; the pension funds are thrown open for the private players; the Patents Act is going to be changed affecting the interest of the common man etc.

These are some of the changes that are being contemplated by the UPA-II government at the centre. The people must reflect whether these changes are in their interest or against them. As these changes are definitely against the interest of the general public, the Left parties and the CPI(M) are determined to fight against these both inside and outside the parliament. He sought the support of people in this fight.

“As the CPI(M) has been a stumbling block to the anti-people polices of the central government, a concerted attack is being waged against the Party. As has been warned by us in 1972, even this attack, if left unchecked, will spread to the rest of India. Let us reach out to the people who have not been with us and who left us in between; let us mobilise the people of India in this fight for democracy. The Left parties are ready to make any sacrifice in this fight. We will continue this fight till the last drop of blood and till our last breath. Our blood will further redden the Red flag. Our heads may be rolled down but we will not bow our head to these inimical forces; Senior leader of the CPI(M), Comrade M Basavapunniah used to say ‘if there is any confusion about whether the stand taken by you is right or wrong, see where Imperialism is and take a stand opposite to that’. Now, Mamatha and 'Maoists' combine are acting as the stooges of Imperialism. Their target of attack is CPI(M) and the Left parties. In this fight against Imperialism, we are happy to note that the Tamilnadu state committee is fully with us in all respects”, so saying Surya Kanta Misra concluded his speech.

This speech enthused the gathering and made them realise the seriousness of the danger and the necessity of a serious fight to save democracy and the Left Front in West Bengal, whatever may the cost be.

Defence the Democratic Rights in West Bengal: AIDWA

ON the December 19, Susheela Gopalan Memorial Day, AIDWA organized a meeting “In Defence of the Democratic Rights of the People of West Bengal” at the Constitution Club, New Delhi. This convention was held in the backdrop of the murder of over 160 supporters and activists of the Left and democratic movement in the state over the past few months, including children and women. While political violence in West Bengal has assumed alarming proportions, the devastating impact of gruesome violence on the next of kin of each victim as well as on the overall political and democratic culture of the state, has received insufficient attention in the mainstream media as well as among human rights activists. The unholy gang-up of a mainstream political party like the TMC with the ‘outlawed’ Maoists in order to unleash a reign of terror has also not been sufficiently exposed or held to task. As a women’s organization, the AIDWA has consistently maintained that women are ultimately the worst sufferers in an atmosphere of violence. In this instance too women have seen their children being killed, have lost their husbands, have been brutally assaulted and have had to abandon their homes and villages or face a future filled with uncertainty. Twenty women victims of political violence in different parts of West Bengal participated in the convention.

Subhashini Ali, president AIDWA, presided over the convention and started the proceedings by introducing all the participants from West Bengal. The participants included family members of martyrs namely Sarathi Roy, Anjali Mondol, Aloka Tudu, Kamala Mandal, Noorjahan Mondol, Anjura Begum, Manwara Begum, Jaleshwari Mahato and Mahima Bibi. Women who have faced attacks like Anjali Maity, Maya Khati, Padma Santra, Fullara Mondol, Shikha Aditya, Jharna Garudas, Indrani Mukherjee and Mina Khamuri and also three women MLAs who have faced physical attacks and abuse, Aloka Burman, Chandana Ghosh Dastidar and Mafuja Khatoon.

Then Dr. Vina Mazumdar, an eminent academic and women’s rights activists released a booklet The Truth Behind the Violence in West Bengal cataloguing real-life instances of the one-sided political violence that has affected women in many ways. Its analysis reveals that the political violence in Bengal far from being spontaneous represents the coming together of politically reactionary and undemocratic forces to dislodge a popularly elected Left Front government and to decimate the cadres of the CPI (M). The Congress on its part refuses to acknowledge this unholy covert alliance between its ally and partner in Government, the Trinamool Congress, and the Maoists whom it never tires of calling ‘the biggest internal threat faced by the country today’.

The fact that the Left forces still command the support and commitment of large sections of the poor is what is responsible for the attacks on its cadres, supporters and on elected bodies at all levels. Had the Left been alienated from the people as is often alleged by those who justify this violence in one way or another, these attacks and acts of coercion that its supporters are facing in such large numbers would not have been necessary. These are being resorted to precisely to terrorize people into abandoning the Left.

The booklet gives details of the suffering inflicted on the victims, specially women and children, by this political violence. Methods of political violence have resulted in subjecting women and other vulnerable sections of society to a great deal of misery. They have become “internally displaced” as they have been forced to leave home and hearth to save themselves and their families. They have lost even their meager assets or low-paid work. Their access to health, education, and government supported schemes has been severely eroded. And the plight of the widows, and fatherless children, whose numbers are growing by the day, is a stark reminder that the fallout of this merciless killing is being borne by the women and children.

While releasing the booklet, Dr Vina Mazumdar strongly condemned this violence saying that it is ‘semi-fascistic in nature and a travesty of politics’. She asked all citizens to stand in defense of democracy and to oppose such barbaric and violent acts. She urged upon all democratic minded people to apprise themselves of the true facts and decide upon the direction that our democracy must take in the 21st century.

This was followed by three sessions in which nine women spoke of their experiences. The themes of these sessions were ‘Democratic and Livelihood Rights Under Threat’, ‘Women Victims of Violence’, and ‘Family Members of those Killed in Attacks’. The sessions were introduced by AIDWA leadership from West Bengal, namely, Rekha Goswami, Shyamali Gupta and Minoti Ghosh who made an impassioned plea to all present to understand that the CPI (M) is not the cause but the target of political violence. They explained that the struggle of AIDWA supporters and activists in West Bengal to defend their right to basic safety and security, earn a livelihood, and engage in political activism needs to be supported and strengthened. Opinion needs to be built all over the country against the TMC-Maoist alliance that is attacking these hard earned rights through violence and intimidation.

Mahfooza Khatoon, a three time MLA from Kumargunj, South Dinajpur spoke of her efforts to protest against the illegal extortion of money by the TMC, which was met with physical attack, gherao, abuse and threat by Trinamool goons. Padma Santra, a panchayat member spoke of how she was asked to resign and dissociate from the CPI (M), but she refused because the people of the area had elected her and no one else could ask her to resign. She lodged a complaint against this incident but was forced to flee the area for some time under life threat. She has now returned home, but still faces danger. The Maoists attacked Maya Khati, a cook in the Mid-day-Meal scheme in Howrah and an AIDWA activist, in front of her school children. She escaped the attack with the help of other women who rushed to her aid by combating the attackers. She however has lost her means of livelihood. She subsequently faced another attack at home in the night and has been forced to live in a relief camp.

Fullara Mondal, AIDWA secretary of West Midnapore, who belongs to a landless peasant family and is a resident of Lalgarh was attacked and driven out from her residence on June 14, this year by Maoist-TMC goons. She said that in her area women are forced to join the processions of PCPA under the threat of their children being harmed. Those who resist are tried by kangaroo courts and attacked, even paraded with garlands of shoes. Women SHGs, ICDS workers, teachers, doctors are all compelled to give a share of their earning to the PCPA. It is difficult for people in the area to defy the dictat of the PCPA. Anjali Maity from Nandigram spoke of how her husband had to leave the village when he was given a dictat by the TMC-Maoists to give them 3 bighas of land and 2 lakhs of rupees. She was then attacked, abducted, physically and sexually abused for several days until her brother managed to rescue her. She had to be hospitalized for 22 days to recover from her injuries. Indrani Mukherjee an AIDWA leader from Bankura has faced several attacks over the last year. In 2008 her hand was broken in an attack by the TMC after panchayat elections. On September 21, 2009 her brother was abducted and asked to sign on a stamped paper to stop the political activities of his sister. Indrani opposed this and her house was gheraoed and attacked till she was rescued by agricultural workers. Recently, when she went in aid of families in Amla whose houses were burnt by TMC activists, her car was gheraoed and attacked, but again she managed to escape.

Aloka Tudu, a tribal woman from Bankura gave the account of how her father was killed in front of her eyes by the Maoists disguised as policemen on the day of a marriage in the family. Her hands were tied to prevent her from intervening in the attack on both her father and uncle. Given up for dead, her uncle survived but was hospitalized for eight months. Her father Gotilal Tudu was a CPI(M) leader in her area. Today, Aloka is a member of the Zilla Parishad and actively working in her area. Anjali Mondal from Barasat described her double tragedy: first her husband Sanjoy Mondal was murdered; then, when she was attacked and abducted by TMC goons, her 18 year-old son Asit Mondal committed suicide because of his helplessness. Anjali, a member of zonal committee of the CPI (M) has been forced to flee her home due to the danger to her life. Manwara Begum, spoke of the tragedies that have forced her to live with her father: first, her husband’s brother Manwar Sheikh was brutally murdered by TMC goons; after two years of struggle to obtain justice from the courts, her husband, Anwar Sheikh, a poor peasant from Bardwan, was murdered in a similar manner.

All the speakers made spirited assertions about continuing their fight against the violent and undemocratic Maoist-TMC combine, even in the face of all odds. They argued that in order to ensure the right to livelihood, security and political participation for the women of West Bengal, it was essential to politically expose as well as combat this politics of violence. The determination and resolve of these women was a source of inspiration for all those present in the audience.

The concluding speech of the convention was made by Rajya Sabha MP and CPI (M) Politburo member Brinda Karat who questioned the role of Cabinet Minister, Mamata Bannerjee, who is refusing to condemn Maoist activities and is in fact providing protection to the Maoists in West Bengal. She said that the Left Front of West Bengal has stood by people’s rights and provided an alternative politics to the people of this country. It has provided remarkable rights to the women of West Bengal in the form of land pattas and participation in politics through panchayat elections. Tribal as well as minority women have earned land pattas in large numbers and comprise a larger proportion of elected representatives much above their reserved quota. This is what has made West Bengal the epicenter of the Left and democratic movement of the entire country. The TMC-Maoist gang-up is seeking to attack precisely this heart and head of the Left movement of our country. Since the base of the Left is among the poor and the downtrodden, it is this base which is facing the brunt of the attack. She commended the women victims for their heroic resistance and for the strength of their commitment that has only been strengthened by the violence and sorrow that they face every day. She also congratulated the AIDWA leadership of West Bengal for their unflinching struggle and intervention. Brinda said that the defence of the democratic rights of the people of Bengal was essential for preserving and strengthening democratic forces, particularly the women’s movement.

The meeting ended with a vote of thanks by Sudha Sundararaman, the general secretary of AIDWA, who pledged to intensify efforts to take the truth about the ongoing diabolic political violence in West Bengal to the people of the country. She applauded the unwavering struggle of the women in West Bengal to safeguard the Left movement in their state and vowed to strengthen this political struggle further. She thanked all those who attended the day-long programme from different walks of like including intellectuals, media persons, representatives from CITU, DYFI, AIKS, SFI, cultural groups like Janam and SAHMAT, womens’ organizations like JWP, NFIW, AIDMAM, NACDOR, YWCA etc.