HRDA statement on the arrest of imminent social activist Teesta Setalvad

With the election of the new right wing government at the centre, there has been a renewed attack on activists and intellectuals in India. The most recent victim of the government’s persecution has been imminent human rights activist Teesta Setalvad who was a key figure in exposing the crimes of Modi’s Government in Gujarat during the 2002 riots. We republish the statement in solidarity with Teesta Setalvad by the Human Rights Defenders Alert-India.

HRDA-India: Statement in Support of Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand

The Human Rights Defenders Alerts – India [HRDA], is shocked to hear about the denial of anticipatory bail to renowned human rights activists Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand by the Gujarat High Court on February 12, 2015. The Gujarat High Court in this particular case of an allegation of misuse of funds further commented that ‘The facts of this case reflect the sorry state of affairs of the NGOs’. “How can one seek materialistic pleasure and happiness at the expense of the poor and needy persons. How can one even use five paise which is meant for the poor and the needy. The facts of this case reflect the sorry state of affairs of the NGOs…The donations are made with lot of trust and hope that ultimately the money would reach the poor and the needy. However, here is a case where, in the name of the poor, needy and unfortunate riot-affected victims, lakhs of rupees was received and embezzled,” said the court, adding that it was “shocking and disturbing”. The HRDA strongly condemns the comments of the Judge of the Gujarat High Court as they are completely uncalled for, based without any substantive evidence and seriously impinge on the right of all NGOs and civil society groups. These comments are even before the investigation in the FIR is complete totally damaging to a human rights defender of international repute. The Supreme Court of India, stayed the arrest of the activists and agreed to hear the anticipatory bail plea the next day on February 19, 2015. HRDA appreciates this speedy intervention of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.
This particular case in question is with regard to a trust that was formed in 2007 to build a memorial for the victims in Gulberg Society during the 2002 Gujarat Riots. The Court has also failed to appreciate that ‘Memoralization’ is a human rights engagement that no one but Teesta and her colleagues had attempted to keep the memory of the Gujarat carnage alive in the minds of our Indian society so that the sanctity of our secular fabric is protected from further such attempts. Due to an increase in the land prices, the trust couldn’t afford the said plan and with the due consent of the grant donors utilized the funds for legal aid for the riot victims and petitions challenging the role of the State. An embezzlement case was filed in January 2014 and the Gujarat High Court was moved for an anticipatory bail. For more than a year, the anticipatory bail matter has been pending in court. It is also important to take note of the fact that the Supreme Court has found itself been repeatedly asked to intervene in cases related to the Gujarat Riots. HRDA is alarmed by the speed in which a petition for anticipatory bail has been handled by the Gujarat High Court – for more than one year!! .
This particular matter however is not directly related to the Gujarat Riots, both Teesta and Javed for now over 11 years have been working for justice for the victims and survivors of Gujarat Riots. Their role has been instrumental in obtaining life sentences for former Gujarat State Minister Maya Kodnani, Bajrang Dal Leader Babu Bajrangi and more than a hundred others. This particular denial of anticipatory bail also comes in the light of several senior police officers accused in a series of cases relating to Gujarat Riots being granted bail by the courts and reinstated back in senior positions in the state police.
This is not the first time that Human Rights Defenders working for justice and truth with regard to Gujarat Riots have been targeted. Teesta herself has been targeted in several other false criminal cases for which she had to seek anticipatory bail from the Supreme Court. It is clearly a part of repeated attempts to discredit human rights defenders and attacks on them.
HRDA strongly condemns the ongoing attacks on human rights defenders in the state of Gujarat and this particular case of attack on Teesta, her husband Javed and their colleagues by the State. These repeated attempts by the state of Gujarat to push the activists on defensive line have constantly failed over 11 years. The response of the State is in contrary to the assurances of states in the UN Declaration of HRDs and in fact it emphasizes all the work that Teesta, Javed and their colleagues have been carrying on patiently and silently. HRDA also humbly requests the judiciary to be sensitive to the NGOs and civil society groups and refrain from passing generic statements having serious implication for people and their reputations, constantly working for human rights and development.
HRDA demands that the NHRC which is to organize a national workshop for Human Rights Defenders in New Delhi on the 19th February and to which it has also invited Teesta Setalvad to participate, will in effect ensure that it [the NHRC] intervenes before the Supreme Court of India in the anticipatory bail petition under Sec 12(b) of the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993, because this is a matter which impinges on the human rights of human rights defenders. It is at times like this that an institutional protector of HRDs, like the NHRC has to take ‘extra-ordinary’ measures for extra-ordianry human rights defenders like Teesta.
HRDA reminds the higher Courts of this country that HRDs across the globe are now armed with a mandate from the U N Declaration on Human Rights Defenders 1998 which mandates them to: individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels. [Art 1]. HRDs also have the right to offer and provide professionally qualified legal assistance or other relevant advice and assistance in defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. [Art 9[3][C]. It is this engagement that Teesta and her colleagues have been engaging in Gujarat since 2002.

The rise of the far right in Nepal

B.D Bista

Far-right groups in Nepal have been gaining some momentum in the recent time. With the major political parties still lingering over the promulgation of a constitution through the constituent assembly and with the masses feeling betrayed by their leaders and with their common day to day grievances going unheard, the far-right has found the perfect time to raise its head again, after being buried by a wave of a Maoist popular revolt and a mass uprising that led to the abolition of monarchy and founding of a secular, federal democratic republic.

The monarchist party RPP Nepal has long been advocating the reinstatement of the monarchy and the Hindu state. From the first constituent assembly that failed to draft a constitution within the stipulated time period to the second constituent assembly, the party has managed to more than triple its votes from 76,864 to 252,579, an increase from a meagre 0.74% to 2.79%. Although it still is a tiny minority of votes, its influence on the people which seems to be increasing day by day, cannot be measured from their votes alone. The two major political parties Nepali Congress and CPN(UM-L) turning their backs on the previously agreed agendas and the Maoist party led by Prachanda and Baburam unable to intervene, with them slipping to being a minority from being the single largest party in the first constituent assembly and the masses feeling alienated from them, it is only helping the cause of the far-right groups.

Moreover, a faction of the Nepali Congress Party led by the notorious Khum Bahadur Khadka, who had boasted of suppressing the Maoist rebellion within weeks when it first broke out in 1996 when he was the minister for home affairs, has formed a Hindu ‘army’ and recently threatened to cut off arms of all non-Hindus in a demonstration. Just yesterday, the Prime Minister Sushil Koirala from the governing party Nepali Congress, while receiving a memorandum from.the monarchist party RPP Nepal, said that he had no idea where secularism came from, implying that his party was never in its favour, unsurprisingly, as all these agendas like abolition of monarchy, secularism etc were pushed forward by the Maoists. To add to that, the ascension of the right-wing Hindu chauvinist party BJP to power in India, which has been historically meddling with Nepali politics, has helped the far-right Hindu groups here in Nepal too. Many of the BJP leaders have openly called for reinstatement of Nepal as a Hindu state. They have been comparatively silent on the question of monarchy. But it’s no secret that they favour a comeback of a Hindu monarchy. The ex-king Gyanendra himself has been lobbying amongst the BJP leadership, including the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the last time being during his visit to New Delhi a few weeks back,

The Maoists themselves are in no position to deal with the rising tide of right-wing forces. In addition to dissolving their parallel government, courts and the army, they have also dismantled their last militant force, the Young Communist League a few years back, which would have been an important force to counter the far-right. The party has split twice, recently just a few weeks back. They have drifted away from the classes they claim to represent and more importantly, they haven’t realized the gravity of the situation. If the far-right manages to gain more strength or come to power in the near future, which is not impossible, the Maoists will receive the first blow.

The faster they realize the impending danger, the better will they be prepared to face it. But given the current situation and their attitude towards this issue at hand, it’s unlikely that they will take the necessary steps.

Appeal for solidarity from ASTI workers

We are reproducing the appeal for solidarity by contract workers at ASTI who have been on a hunger strike opposing the conditions of work at the factory of ASTI at Gurgaon. We request all our readers and followers to help –

An appeal by ASTI Theka Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti, Manesar, Gurgaon
3rd December 2014
We the contract workers of ASTI Electronics factory at IMT Manesar, Gurgaon are on Dharna from 3rd November and 7 of us continue fast-unto-death from 25th November with our just demands against contractualisation, illegal lay off, and exploitation.

We had a tripartite meeting with the management and labour department day before and yesterday 2nd December. The management of ASTI continued with their adamant anti-worker attitude, and spoke through the contractors in the meeting. The DLC (Deputy Labour Commissioner) of Gurgaon, J.C. Mann also spoke in the management’s language, and told us off that there is no work so we have been laid off. We did not buy their false arguments and said that most of us have been working in the factory for the last 4-5 years in perennial nature of work in the assembly line. We should rather be made permanent by law and the contract itself is a sham contract. There was no resolution in the tripartite meetings, and the DLC rather than giving us any concrete promise has now passed on the case to the ALC (Asst. Labour Commissioner) Gurgaon.

Anti-social elements instigated by the management have been continuing to harass us, to inform which, a team of workers also met the Police Commissioner Gurgaon yesterday, but no concrete steps have been taken by the police other than forming barricades from the management’s side in front of the factory.

The health of 5 women and 2 male workers on fast-unto-death from 25th November is deteriorating, and ketone body has been found in the blood samples. But the Gurgaon administration has not even sent a single doctor or any medical assistance to the dharna site till date. A team of workers from ASTI Theka Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti also met the DC (Deputy Commissioner) Gurgaon to tell the administration to remind them of their responsibility but to no heed. We shall go to meet the DC Gurgaon again tomorrow 4th December at 11am and we appeal to pro-worker individuals and forces to come in solidarity in the meeting with the DC Gurgaon.

We are enthused to have received solidarity from workers in industrial belt. But at present, we are continuing with our struggle in the face of severe odds of anti-worker management-administration-police nexus. We are faced with a severe financial crisis which is becoming a hurdle in sustaining our struggle. We appeal to all pro-worker forces and individuals to come to our dharna site and also to contribute financially to our struggle.

Please send in your contributions to:
Raghuvendra Pratap
State Bank of India,
Sector 10A, Gurgaon Branch,
Account No. 34189662682
CIF No. 87673860011
Contact for further details: Shivani and Raghuvendra
(ASTI Theka Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti):
09555671885; 9654553194, 9971735073

STATEMENT ON DELHI’S SOLIDARITY DEMONSTRATION WITH FERGUSON/NYC AT THE US EMBASSY

The following statement was issued by a solidarity campaign by students in Delhi with the protestors at Fergusson, USA as written by Vincent Kelley [ link – https://www.facebook.com/vincentkelley/posts/865867286797286] . We applaud them for holding a solidarity rally in front of the US embassy at New Delhi.

After robust support from students and organizations within Jawaharlal Nehru University for the protest march on the 29th November in solidarity with the Ferguson uprisings, we, along with JNUSU, called for a demonstration today at the US embassy. From the very outset, it was evident where the allegiances of the police lay. They stopped us three times despite us having informed them of our protest beforehand; first, at R K Puram, Sector 6, where they had us wait forty-five minutes to “speak to the authorities” from the police station near the embassy. After much heated negotiation and an all-out show of outrage by protestors, they relented and said that we could proceed to a school (of all the places) half a kilometer away from the embassy, provided we agree to be escorted by them. This was when their escort vehicle tried to misdirect our bus away from the embassy to Jantar Mantar, which is a “safe spot” to dump all protests in, away from the ivory-towers of power and privilege.
We stopped on the Ring Road before Africa Avenue and blocked traffic on that side for about ten minutes, after whch the police once again conceded ground and allowed us passage towards the embassy. Soon after, we reached a bigger contingent of the police at the Chanakyapuri bridge near Leela Hotel, which tried its best to dissuade us once again from moving towards the embassy. This time they threatened us with detention, while a truck bearing a water-canon was already lurking behind our bus. After more negotiations, and consistent pressure-building by slogans, we pushed forward our final ride to Carmel Convent School near the embassy.
The police were ready in their riot-gear, brandishing lathis, and the water-canon was still behind us. Upon reaching, they barricaded the road before the school that led to the embassy. We continued chanting there, and all of us had a sit-in, as the police hovered in anticipation. American as well as Indian students spoke on the rampant militarization and white-supremacy in the US, as well as revitalized casteism and racism in the Indian context, which are connected and fed by the same neoliberal enterprise between the ruling classes of both countries.
As the US hegemony crumbles, the forceful arm of the USA operates – not just domestically in incidents such as Ferguson – but also through the police of its allied states in an effort to retain the semblance of authority. The last time we saw this was during the Indian state’s shameless silence – even ideological connivance – in Israel’s offensive on Gaza earlier this year.
We salute the resilience of those who came out and the spirit of international solidarity which we find ourselves enriched from. We will strive to forge ever greater unity in our global struggle for collective liberation.
Inquilaab Zindabaad!! We are unstoppable!! Another world is possible!!

FULL SUPPORT TO THE CONTRACT WORKERS STRIKE OF BSNL

SUPPORT THE STRIKE OF CONTRACT WORKERS ! FULL SUPPORT TO CONTRACT WORKERS OF BSNL !

On the 27th of November, the contract workers union of BSNL are taking a most important and necessary step. On this day nearly one lakh contract workers employed in BSNL are going on strike across India. It is a united strike action by all workers around eleven key demands crucial for the contract workers.

1) Regularisation of left out casual and contract workers.
2) Casual labor wage to be the same as the lowest wage of BSNL instead of DOT.
3) Minimum Wage as per Government Orders to be implemented for the contract workers, including higher wages for semi-skilled, skilled and highly skilled as per A, B, and C cities.
4) Wages must be paid through cheque/account in time. Even if contractor changes, the same workers should continue.
5) Implementation of Social Security measures like EPF, ESI, and Gratuity, Bonus.
6) HRA quarters to be allotted to contract workers.
7) EPF account to be opened by Principal Employer instead of contractor.
8) Issue ID cards by BSNL management.
9) Equal pay for Equal work for contract workers.
10) Vacate Victimisation – Reinstate all retrenched workers.
11) Recognize BSNL Casual Contract Workers Federation.

Nature of contract work and nature of exploitation.

The contract workers while employed by BSNL, are paid by the contractors. The contractor effectively acts like a seller of labor force, and the company its buyer. Because of this, the company management always tries to pass the buck on to the contractors, and the contractors themselves show now responsibility towards their workers. The Abolition of Contract labor act stipulates certain facilities and duties that the contractor must provide for the workers, chief among these are ensuring due payment of ESI, Provident Fund and payment of minimum wage. More often than not, they don’t honor any of these commitments. On the contrary, we have seen cases, where workers haven’t even gotten their pay for periods of 4-5 months and when this payment is given, it is done in a most irregular manner. This is despite a company directive, that the workers must be paid via cheque or through deposit in their account.

Duality of responsibility b/w company and contractors. Company management blaming contractors, contractors blaming company management.

When these irregularities are reported to the company, the company feigns responsibility by saying it is not their duty. This is far from the truth ! Being the company which employs the workers, BSNL is the main employer for the contract workers and it is their responsibility to ensure that the workers get adequate pay and decent working conditions. Likewise, the contractors pretend that all matters pertaining to labor rights is out of their hands, even when the law stipulates that they must observe due payment of wages and give facilities for workers to help in their work. Neither the contractor nor the management has any regard for the contract worker and his rights. We cannot and must not let the contractor go scott free with their wrong doings, but nor must we lose sight of the bigger picture in which the management becomes the main enemy.

Who is the main enemy ?

While the contractor may present himself as the immediate enemy, the truth is that he is only a small part of a much bigger system in which the main enemy are those that decide the company policy. We must fight at three levels. The first level faces the immediate enemy, that is the contractor. Every time, that the contractor fails his duties to the workers, or commits any act which is illegal (like non-payment of wages) the union and the organization must take it up with the management and demand the same of the management and report the contractor for his illegal act. On the second level we fight against the company’s local management, against whom we can demand immediate measures dealing with local conditions. At the third level, we fight against the very top management and in turn, the capitalist government itself, and demand changes in policy for the betterment of the condition of workers and changes in law to ensure decent working conditions and ultimately, for the abolition of the contract labor system.

This third enemy, is our main enemy and it is not just our enemy but of the whole working class of India. Even while fighting at the local and state levels, we are ultimately building up to the fight at the national level. In this, we must build unity amongst ourselves and between ourselves and the workers of India.

The need for unity and organization. Unity between all contract workers and unity between contract and permanent workers.

However, none of this can be achieved without the strength of a strong, militant and united organization of the workers. This step has been taken by the formation of the BSNLCCWF, but we cannot simply take it for granted. The organization must be strengthened by the constant vigilance and active participation of the workers in it. The organization in turn must function as an organization of the workers, taking the rank and file into trust in every decision it makes. The hallmark of a militant workers organization, is its steadfast commitment to the interests of the workers and fearlessness in defending and furthering it.

While we are building our own organization in BSNL, we must not be ignorant of the larger picture. The curse of contractorization affects not just us, but the whole working class of the country. By uniting our struggle with the struggle of all contract workers, and even non-contract workers, we will not only be strengthening our own struggle, but also furthering that of the entire working class. Remember, the main enemy is the capitalist class and its government.

Revolution in Burkina faso

Reposted from litci.org/en

Written by Jose Moreno Pau

Before the announcement of the amendment of the constitution by President Blaise Compaoré, by which he intended to stand for re-election next year (and certainly win), the Burkinabe angry masses took to the streets.

Tens of thousands of people protested since Tuesday 28 October, erected barricades and stormed the parliament. The revolution ignited in the capital Ouagadougou and in major cities. After an attempt to maintain power and repress protesters declaring a state of siege, Blaise Compaoré had to resign.

Campaoré’s government at the service of France and imperialism

Blaise Compaoré stayed 27 years in power after a coup d’etat against the man who had been his friend, known as the African Che Guevara, Thomas Sankara, who was killed.

Blaise Compaoré seized power in 1987 with the support of France and reversed all the progressive measures of Sankara. He returned the nationalized lands back into the hands of the landlords. He became a faithful disciple of the policies of the IMF and of loans from the World Bank. He reopened the country to the French troops who since then have in Burkina Faso a privileged basis for control of the region. As well as the U.S., whose military deployed in Burkina Faso after the creation of the AFRICOM (U.S. Africa Command). The French and American military presence with their European partners in this country and in the neighbor Senegal have served for the invasion of Mali and to consolidate the control over the natural resources of these countries.

In recent years, the economic indicators exhibited a year growth of 9% (6.5% in 2013). This growth has been due to gold mining, whose share in GDP is 20% and cotton cultivation. However, this growth has not benefited the population; Burkina Faso has 17.5 million inhabitants and is one of the world’s poorest countries (181 of 187). 3 million Burkinabe migrants live in neighboring Ivory Coast. Literacy does not reach 30%. This situation is in direct relationship with the policy of the deposed President Blaise Compaoré.

Blaise Compaoré handed the gold mines to Canadian, Australian, South African, U.S. and Russian companies. Gold mining has put Burkina Faso as African fifth largest exporter of this precious mineral. The 32 tons of gold exports produces an income of only € 287 million in taxes or the country and just 5,000 jobs. Mining operations have performed environmental tragedies causing tremendous pollution and deaths of people and animals.

The other big multinational business in Burkina Faso is cotton cultivation. Monsanto signed an agreement with the government to introduce the cultivation of GM cotton. Three companies control all agricultural land and impose to farmers the purchase of their cotton.

Vacuum power and military’s role

The news that Compaoré was no longer in office filled with joy the tens of thousands of protesters. The chief of staff of the armed forces, General Honore Traoré assumed power, dissolved parliament, and said he would begin a democratic transition for the year ahead. The masses remained mobilized seeing in general Traoré a continuation of the regime.

General Traoré intends to keep power in the hands of the Army. Although one of the last proposals of former President Compaoré was to call elections in three months, General Traoré speaks of a year transition.

A few hours later the fall of Compaoré, Lieutenant Colonel Zida also proclaimed himself president. Zida, who was number two of Compaoré’s personal guard, tried to detach from the former president and claimed to be part of the people and the martyrs who rose up against his boss.

The army seemed to have finally backed the latter; however tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets again, after the call of the civilian opposition, demanding the fall of Zida as well.

The Black Spring has achieved great success

The demonstrations targeted the attempt of Campaoré perpetuation in power by means of the re-election amendment. This democratic demand sparked from the misery in which the population find themselves, due to submission to imperialism. Despite the military dictatorship serves the interests of the imperialist powers and their multinationals, spokesmen for the opposition suggest that the army should be part of the political transition. The army split over who should run the country, Traoré or Kouame Lugué, the later a retired former general who is supported by opposition sectors.

The revolutions that began in North Africa, Tunisia, Egypt and Libya have reached the heart of the continent. It is important that the African masses learn what happened in Egypt, where the regime managed to survive thanks to the Army, which has continued in power and has kept the country submitted to the U.S.

Africa in fire

2 years ago the president of Senegal was overthrown by mass mobilization. But the new president, Macky Sall, continued at the service of imperialism and its international treaties. Indeed, he threw Senegal back to its former French metropolis.

In South Africa the working class is showing their strength with historic strikes and raising the need to build up independent organizations to achieve their ends.

The Burkinabe revolution meanwhile faces a regime which is product of a coup and attacks the institutions that used to endorse it, as the Parliament, and states clearly that do not want the military in power.

Breaking with imperialism, for the African unity

Toppling presidents and their cliques, who have been perpetuated in the governments of their countries for decades, protected and encouraged by the colonial powers, is the first step to achieve true independence.

And the people of Burkina Faso and the rest of Africa do not start from scratch. A few decades ago they have fought for independence and in recent years have experienced significant revolutionary processes. Recovering the legacy, with its successes and failures, of the great African leaders like Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral and Thomas Sankara, will be essential to build the revolutionary parties that the masses need to break the chains of their people.

To escape poverty African countries need to break with imperialism and its treaties. The imperialist troops must be expelled and is necessary to build a common front for the no payment of the foreign debt, which is the mechanism by which imperialism impose the neoliberal policies on their governments. The African countries need to recover their wealth and make them available to their people and stop a handful of multinationals from continuously profiting from their exploration.

The Burkinabe soldiers will face a dilemma: either they follow the orders of the generals who want to maintain Burkina Faso prostrated, but with a new face in office, or refuse to suppress the people and workers, who are those that have to govern.

The Burkinabe masses are still fighting and showing their determination not to accept new military dictatorships.

Statement on the riots at Trilokpuri New Delhi

Below we reproduce the PADS (People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism) statement on the recent communal riots in East Delhi’s Trilokpuri.

STATEMENT ON THE RECENT COMMUNAL DISTURBANCES IN TRILOKPURI
BY
PEOPLE’S ALLIANCE FOR DEMOCRACY AND SECULARISM

NOVEMBER 2, 2014
(Members of P.A.D.S. have been interacting with and visiting residents of Trilokpuri ever since the communal disturbances started on Oct 23. Along with many other citizens they are involved in efforts to re-establish peace and in providing legal aid to those wrongfully arrested. This statement is based on their experiences.)

The inhabitants of Trilokpuri, a densely populated neighbourhood of working people in Delhi, went through a harrowing week after Diwali night on 23 October. A brawl around two places of worship turned into a full scale communal clash. Armed mobs from outside the locality are reported to have joined the rioting that involved brick throwing. Firearms were also used and two boys suffered critical bullet injuries. Inhabitants are emphatic that the police fired into the crowd. The police first denied firing at all. Its latest claim is that it fired only in self defense. One apparel show room owned by a Muslim resident was gutted. Police intervened in force only two days after the clashes started. It turned the neighbourhood into an occupied war-zone. More than fifty men and minor boys were arrested randomly, many picked up forcibly from their houses amid verbal abuse and physical violence. Road intersections were barricaded and entry and exit points were closely monitored. Drones were used in surveillance and houses systematically searched. Essential supplies were in short supply. Daily wage earners, contract workers, and self employed who could not go out lost their source of livelihood. Seriously wounded and ill had no access to medical aid. While the entire neighbourhood suffered in one form or another, inhabitants of three blocks in particular, nos 15, 27 and 28, and attached jhuggi clusters, mainly occupied by citizens who are Muslims bore the brunt of police action.

All this happened at a distance of less than ten kilometers as the crow flies from the center of state power in India’s capital. National elections five months ago were won by Mr Narendra Modi who projected a ‘strong man’ image and promised that he would provide ‘achhe din’ of decisive and effective governance. In reality, the face of the Indian state in Trilokpuri these days is ugly. First, institutions of the state, its police, bureaucracy, and all political parties associated with it failed to prevent a localised scuffle from flaring into a violent riot. And second, when the state did show up, only its authoritarian jack boots were seen on the ground. It further terrorised people already battered by rioting and public violence. It did not taken any steps to initiate dialogue between affected communities, and provided no relief or medical aid. Its social institutions like schools, anganwadis, health centers, or the police organised peace committee, etc. simply collapsed. Three fourths of the arrested people are Muslim citizens. Some of them are migrant workers. Arrested people were abused and beaten up while in police lock up. Many of them had visible injuries when presented in front of a Magistrate in the Karkardooma court on 27th October. They were not provided any medical aid or food for nearly two days.

The Trilokpuri neighbourhood has a traumatic past. It was established in the mid seventies of the last century during Emergency. It is a so-called resettlement colony, in which people forcibly displaced from inner city were settled and given land titles. The displacement and settlement process was often violent. Mr Jagmohan, the top administrator of Delhi and a close confidant of Mr Sanjay Gandhi then, later Governor of Jammu and Kashmir during insurgency there and a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, was the chief persona in the entire process. The most gruesome massacres of Sikh citizens in Delhi in 1984 took place in Trilokpuri and neighbouring Kalyanpuri.

Despite the fast economic growth and massive urbanization in the past two decades in India, settlement patterns in cities continue to be segregated by religion. Most of Trilokpuri is inhabited by Balmikis, a scheduled caste, classified as untouchables in the orthodox Hindu varna order. After the Sikhs migrated out, Muslims are the other community, who are concentrated mainly to three out of thirty blocks. Recent migrants in search of work form a significant part of the population. They are also settling along community lines. The twenty five square yard plots originally alloted have now risen to three-four storey pucca structures, providing a decent rental income to original owners. There are also occasional cars parked in narrow streets. The little prosperity that has trickled into this neighbourhood has however not brought secure peace. Residents often complain of brawls and other forms of every day violence. The area reportedly also suffers from petty crime syndicates operating under police protection. Nevertheless, for thirty years since 1984, the neighbourhood escaped communal violence. Even the weeks following demolition of Babri mosque in 1992 passed peacefully.

Recent events in Trilokpuri reveal the character of Indian society and state that do not portend well at all. All experiments in Fascism, that involved selective violence against minorities to consolidate a nation, have relied upon mass support. The India of 2014 can not be said to be impervious to such schemes. The political success of Mr Narendra Modi at the national level has emboldened the Hindutva targeting of religious minorities and aggressive mobilisation around sectarian demands.

The ex-MLA from the BJP is reported to be part of the communal organising in Trilokpuri. Communal polarisation is proving to be a successful electoral strategy for the BJP. It is exploiting economic, political, gender and caste anxieties in a fast changing society which has not developed a strong popular democratic consciousness. The tragedy of politics at the moment in India is that none of the competitors of the BJP have a clue about how to counter its dangerous mix of religion and politics with a leader enjoying mass support. The Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi had succeeded in getting the support of Muslim and Dalit voters in the last assembly elections and currently holds the Trilokpuri seat, but it is afraid to come out publicly against communal violence lest it disturbs its electoral calculations. Congress is in severe decline and absent from the scene. No mainstream political party in India has had the wisdom and ideological clarity to realise that treating society in terms of the majority- minority framework actually validates communal agenda, and that the counter to communalisation of politics is an unequivocal assertion of citizenship rights of every one.

It is also obvious that the Indian state, while seemingly democratic in some aspects, is also undemocratic in some fundamental ways. It does not consider the protection of democratic rights of its citizens as its prime responsibility. It regularly attacks rights of the poor and socially marginal, which at present also include religious minorities. Indian state still follows the colonial authoritarian policy of treating moments of deep social strife like riots as a ‘law and order’ issue, and its first action is to enforce its brutal authority over people, rather than help the victims. Further, over time the Indian state institutions have been communalised. None of the victims of communal riots in India, including the most gruesome ones, of 1984 in Delhi, 1992-3 in Mumbai and 2002 in Gujarat have received justice. Commission after commission on riots in India have found the police and administration to be authoritarian and partisan. Yet, if nothing has changed, there obviously are powerful social and political forces that wish to use this character of Indian state for their own ends.

The social ideological environment of neoliberalism has encouraged religiosity and public assertion of religious identities, while weakening mass based mobilisations against oppression and exploitation. This is happening in all communities. Right wing political forces claiming to represent specific religious communities are using the opportunity to develop new kinds of aggressive religious practices that lead to social strife and communalise the society. This is a new challenge which democratic and secular forces have to contend with. Barring a few exceptions, the media in the capital has played a partisan role during recent developments in Trilokpuri. English language newspapers and TV channels that cater essentially to consumerist aspirations of urban propertied and professionals have spread the police version of rioting, which blames Muslim residents of the neighbourhood. They are more interested in sustaining a consumerist utopia unencumbered by social disturbances, rather showing the sufferings of the marginal and the physical abuse of people arrested by the police. Many residents of Trilokpuri work as maids, drivers, security guards and provide other services to the upper middle class residents of neighbouring Mayur Vihar. Yet life in the latter went on as usual.

P.A.D.S. appeals to the citizens of Delhi to disregard aggressive sectarian demands, provocations and rumours by communal forces and defeat their plans to communalise society. Secularism of the state and society is necessary for everyone, believers of different religions and non-believers, to lead a peaceful life without discrimination and persecution. Before succumbing to calls for their so-called ‘community’ interests all citizens should ponder over what kind of society they wish to live in. The one based on hatred and violence, or the one which respects citizenship rights of everyone.

We appeal to the working people of the city, who constitute the overwhelming majority of its population, to organise and fight together against their economic exploitation, caste oppression, price rise, police extortion, and deplorable condition of public services like hospitals, schools, and transport, rather than against each other.

Long term policy changes are needed to ensure that events like Trilokpuri do not occur anywhere else in the country. People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism demands following from Delhi state administration.

1. All administrative and police officials who failed in their duty to prevent rioting, made random and wrongful arrests, and physically abused citizens should be punished.
2. All residents who suffered physical injury, mental trauma, wrongful arrest and loss of property during riots and subsequent police occupation of the neighbourhood should be adequately compensated.
3. All citizens arrested should be granted immediate bail, and cases against them settled expeditiously so that they and their families can lead a normal life as soon as possible.
4. A judicial commission of inquiry should be constituted immediately to find out culpability of state administration, and of the political leadership of any party in fanning the communal violence.
5. Immediate relief should be provided to all residents who have lost livelihood. Medical aid should be given to the injured.
6. The ‘official’ peace committee established by the police has proved completely ineffective. It should be revamped and representatives of the organisations working in the area should be included in it. Its meetings should be held regularly and publicly.

7. Many areas in Delhi are potential flash points for communal violence. There are many reports of aggressive sectarian demands made by ‘panchayats’ and ‘mahapanchayats’. All those making illegal demands and spreading false propaganda about others should be dealt with firmly, so that citizens of other parts of the city do not suffer what Trilokpuri residents are going through.

On the Scottish question

The following was a reply made by Comrade Choppa to a comrade from London, who was opposed in principle to Scottish independence. :

We need to ask one question right at the start. If Scotland is such a pile of useless crap as Westminster makes it out to be, why are they so determined to keep hold of it?
And why are they suddenly throwing concessions and money at it?

Asking that question and stepping away from the doomsday atmosphere created by the English media and politicians, we next need to lay out what the National Question actually is.

Why? Because no-one bloody knows. Just because it has been clarified well by Lenin and Trotsky in their work with the early 3rd International, and by Trotsky in relation to Spain, for instance (and Ukraine, for that matter), doesn’t mean it’s been resolved for ever or that the consciousness of the working masses has stayed at the level L and T were able to raise it to. T didn’t even succeed in raising the consciousness of the Catalonian revolutionaries above the nationalist level during the Civil War to any great extent. And if Trotsky couldn’t do it in such a situation, we have to be very clear to ourselves that we aren’t Trotsky, and the workers of Britain are nowhere near as politically conscious as the workers were in the Spanish state during the Civil War.

The National Question is a democratic issue, not a socialist one, and we need to spell out for our readers just exactly what this means. Explicitly, and not indirectly as we do if we point out that the present referendum is to a high degree an internal fight between different sectors of the capitalist class. In fact, there are still democratic issues that are unresolved in the most advanced imperialist states, and many of them are connected with the position of ethnic or language or cultural groups as disadvantaged and discriminated minority groups within the big state while occupying a majority identity and position locally or regionally.

And modern history shows us that democratic issues can’t be ignored by anyone – they are the most powerful social engines of change we have seen – the right to vote, gender rights, national (etc) rights. After world war 2 the imperialists (with the aid of world Stalinism) were able to curb the socialist mobilization of the working class in most of the world, and at least contain it within bureaucratic chains where the class succeeded in overthrowing capitalism. But they were completely helpless in the face of the masses rising against them in the anti-colonial revolution. They did of course succeed in diverting the revolutions into democratic nationalist channels, but only at great cost to themselves and their colonial empires and direct economic control.

India is the great example of this process, of course. with the African and Asian anti-colonial wars a close second.

But – and this is the most important thing for us – the democratic revolution grows over into the socialist revolution, the two are inseparable (except abstractly and statically). And given the way forces change their relationships over time – there are ebbs and flows – the process can proceed both forwards towards more socialism, and backwards towards less democracy – a rolling back of democratic gains.

But the social forces fuelling all this don’t roll back or ebb away… Their leaderships and mass consciousness does the ebbing and flowing, not the fundamental social foundations of life in human society. Which is to say that on the one hand the democratic revolution didn’t just end when nationalist forces gained independent power with a state of their own. And on the other, the fusion of democratic and socialist needs is growing all the time as all sections of the bourgeoisie turn away from democratic ideals to devote all their energy to salvaging what they can of the capitalist system, leaving (as we can see more and more plainly) only the working class and its most immediate social allies as champions of democratic progress.

The continuation of the democratic revolution is best seen in the eruption of North Africa and the Middle East over the past few years. And is very clear in the demands for greater rights and autonomy within the established imperialist states – Ireland, Catalonia, the Basque country, Quebec, the rights of aboriginal peoples worldwide, etc etc.

And none of these mobilizations are any respecters of established sovereign borders. The Voice article mentions the “disintegration of the old social structures) and this is seen very clearly in the disintegration of the old nation state boundaries and jurisdictions. Developing social forces (the unstoppable onward march of the productive forces) – the world market, the imperialist bourgeoisie and the international working class – are making old social containers (like nation states) as antiquated and obsolete as the feudal aristocracy and its privileges were in the 18th century.

But of course these containers don’t disappear of their own accord. Revolution – conscious human action on the level of each society and the whole world – is needed to dismantle or demolish them and replace them with new more adequate political and social structures.

Right – so where does that leave us in relation to Scotland and the referendum?

I think we need to dismiss the “either/or” approach to the referendum for a start. The Voice writes that “nothing is in the interests of the working class” and we have to start from this. It’s like the question of Free Trade versus Protectionism. Purely bourgeois concerns – okay, some of their effects impinge on us too, but the question of state and class power isn’t raised at all. It’s just a question of which capitalist faction gets most from the present capitalist society.

And we have to use Trotsky’s (the 4th International’s) Transitional method a lot more deliberately and consciously than we have before. We need to place demands before the class that are winnable, and raise its consciousness by perceptible steps during the struggle for these demands.

Which means the United Socialist States of Europe, while necessary, needs to be built up to as a power slogan. The suggestion of a federation of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland is a lot more manageable.

And we have to raise the question which none of the left does about where the current consciousness of the working class stands.

If the struggle for more autonomy or even independence for Scotland can be combined with a struggle against capitalism then we can move forward to a struggle for more explicitly socialist demands. Which means less reformism which is good.

This isn’t the same as the Socialist Party’s call for a critical yes vote, which is abstract phrase-mongering since it lacks any transitional awareness of where the class is now and where it might be led during the course of the struggle.

The thing is, that our tasks are monumental regardless of how the vote goes.

As Galileo said of the earth, “Eppur si muove”, “it moves, regardless (of what you inquisitorial bastards would like to think)”. And we have to pursue our transitional Bolshevik-Leninist policies regardless of the way different capitalist governments and regimes move the goalposts every now and then.

Marx in his early years (till the 1850s roughly) leant heavily towards supporting the bourgeoisie against any other competing social force (except of course for the revolutionary working class). The bourgeoisie was the highest expression of development of the forces and relations of production over against slave-owners, feudal despots or petty tribal societies. He later saw that this was abstract and against the nature of social change, and that the cause of socialist revolution might just as well be forwarded from within some seemingly archaic social structures from pre-capitalist ages, like the Russian communal village, the mir. Or that real social mobilization against the oppressive ruling class might well move things on, regardless of obscurantist and mistaken leadership. After some slight initial hesitation due to the anarchist and inadequate leadership of the Paris Commune he nonetheless gave it his wholehearted support despite the fact that it might easily have broken up the unity of France and with it the French working class.

I think we’re at risk of being a bit abstract and anti-change ourselves if we appear to be defending the real imperialist unity of the United Kingdom while waving a very abstract banner of a Workers’ Unity to justify this when there is no concrete unified socialist consciousness to give our banner any reality.

The truth is concrete, and our way of dealing with the fluidity of concrete class realities with their ebb and flow is the transitional method.

Our problems grasping the nettle of nationalist opinion and mobilization in Britain (Wales and Scotland really – Ireland is better catered for in this respect) are largely due to our losing focus on what really agitates people and gets them mobilized rather than what we think should agitate them and get them on their feet.

Comradely

Choppam

Statement on BSNL contract worker’s dharna on 26th

ALL OUT SUPPORT TO THE CONTRACT WORKER’S STRUGGLE !

Contract workers in BSNL are said to number around at least 1 lakh. This huge force of workers are among the most exploited segment of the company’s workforce. These workers, some of whom have worked for over ten years, remain deliberately exempted from benefits which are guaranteed by labor laws. After years of wait, all contract workers have united in their struggle and today are out on protest all over the nation under the banner of the BSNL Contract and Casual Worker’s Federation. The New Wave Bolshevik Leninist group extends its full support to the union and the contract workers who have come out on struggle today. We are with you all the way !

Nature of contract work and nature of exploitation.

The contract workers while employed by BSNL, are paid by the contractors. The contractor effectively acts like a seller of labor force, and the company its buyer. Because of this, the company management always tries to pass the buck on to the contractors, and the contractors themselves show now responsibility towards their workers. The Abolition of Contract labor act stipulates certain facilities and duties that the contractor must provide for the workers, chief among these are ensuring due payment of ESI, Provident Fund and payment of minimum wage. More often than not, they don’t honor any of these commitments. On the contrary, we have seen cases, where workers haven’t even gotten their pay for periods of 4-5 months and when this payment is given, it is done in a most irregular manner. This is despite a company directive, that the workers must be paid via cheque or through deposit in their account.

Company management blaming contractors, contractors blaming company management.

When these irregularities are reported to the company, the company feigns responsibility by saying it is not their duty. This is far from the truth ! Being the company which employs the workers, BSNL is the main employer for the contract workers and it is their responsibility to ensure that the workers get adequate pay and decent working conditions. Likewise, the contractors pretend that all matters pertaining to labor rights is out of their hands, even when the law stipulates that they must observe due payment of wages and give facilities for workers to help in their work. Neither the contractor nor the management has any regard for the contract worker and his rights. We cannot and must not let the contractor go scott free with their wrong doings, but nor must we lose sight of the bigger picture in which the management becomes the main enemy.

Who is the main enemy ?

While the contractor may present himself as the immediate enemy, the truth is that he is only a small part of a much bigger system in which the main enemy are those that decide the company policy. We must fight at three levels. The first level faces the immediate enemy, that is the contractor. Every time, that the contractor fails his duties to the workers, or commits any act which is illegal (like non-payment of wages) the union and the organization must take it up with the management and demand the same of the management and report the contractor for his illegal act. On the second level we fight against the company’s local management, against whom we can demand immediate measures dealing with local conditions. At the third level, we fight against the very top management and in turn, the capitalist government itself, and demand changes in policy for the betterment of the condition of workers and changes in law to ensure decent working conditions and ultimately, for the abolition of the contract labor system.

This third enemy, is our main enemy and it is not just our enemy but of the whole working class of India. Even while fighting at the local and state levels, we are ultimately building up to the fight at the national level. In this, we must build unity amongst ourselves and between ourselves and the workers of India.

For unity between all contract workers and unity between contract and permanent workers.

However, none of this can be achieved without the strength of a strong, militant and united organization of the workers. This step has been taken by the formation of the BSNLCCWF, but we cannot simply take it for granted. The organization must be strengthened by the constant vigilance and active participation of the workers in it. The organization in turn must function as an organization of the workers, taking the rank and file into trust in every decision it makes. The hallmark of a militant workers organization, is its steadfast commitment to the interests of the workers and fearlessness in defending and furthering it.

While we are building our own organization in BSNL, we must not be ignorant of the larger picture. The curse of contractorization affects not just us, but the whole working class of the country. By uniting our struggle with the struggle of all contract workers, and even non-contract workers, we will not only be strengthening our own struggle, but also furthering that of the entire working class. Remember, the main enemy is the capitalist class and its government.

The long term goal and short term goal.

Our struggle must be shaped in two directions. On the one hand, we must keep a long term goal, whilst on the other keep a gist of short term goals which can give contract workers immediate relief. The long term goal must be the regularization of all contract and casual workers employed by the company and their alleviation to the status of a permanent worker with the wage rate and attached benefits of a permanent worker, for all those who do work of a permanent nature. For those whose work is of a temporary nature, to make improvements in their condition of work and wage rate bringing them at par with permanent workers employed in similar areas of work. Our short term aims must include the most urgent and immediate questions of increases of pay and regularization of payment as well as measures which can guarantee us these.

Lastly, we must remember that it is only through rigorous and organized struggle that we can win in our fight. There are encouraging examples right within BSNL of victories which the contract workers have won through their struggle. In Kerala and Karnataka where they have won wage increases, and have successfully fought back discrimination against themselves. These are examples which show the way forward for all of us.

Abolish contractorization ! Stable jobs and good conditions for all !

Stop the discrimination ! Equal pay for equal work !

Message of solidarity to the metro workers of Sao Paolo Brazil

To metro workers in Sao Paulo Brazil,

The New Wave Bolshevik Leninist, on behalf of the working masses of India greet you. We are a revolutionary organization in India struggling to rebuild the Bolshevik Leninist party in South Asia and the fourth international globally.

We express our solidarity with the strike action which you have decided to take. At the time when the world is watching the developments in Brazil around the Fifa World Cup, your strike action sends a strong message both to the capitalists in Brazil and capitalists worldwide. A message that they cannot take the lives of the working class and poor for granted ! That we won’t be pacified with shows of glory ! That the masses can and will fight for what is our just needs.

In this endeavour, we stand in solidarity with you and all the struggling people of Brazil.

In India too, we have seen the arrogance and intransigence of the capitalists during the Commonwealth games. Billions were squandered in scams and wasted over gaudy construction projects all to make the rich richer while the poor stayed poor. Hundreds of workers even died during the mega construction projects like the stadium in New Delhi where bonded labor was used for construction (despite it being illegal!) but the government turned a blind eye to this reality. That government has been justifiably thrown out of power, but the capitalists remain.

Should you succeed in your struggle, it will be an inspiration for the workers here fighting against capitalists who are just as corrupt, just as ruthless and just as brutal.

Long live international Solidarity !

Long live working class unity !