More than one million people from every occupation took part in the picketing programme that was held in Bengal at the call of the central units of the four Left parties. We have received reports from 19 of the districts noting that the programme was a massive success. We have chosen here to concentrate on four districts. One is Kolkata where civic elections are due as in adjacanbet Salt Lake. We have also chosen the Maoist-irritated districts of Midnapore west and part of east. We have selected north 24 Parganas for its vast industrial belt. We have focussed on Darjeeling for the JMM intransigence.
Kolkata saw the central government buildings under siege by thousands upon thousands of people from the morning until early afternoon when the programme was called off as announced earlier. From sales tax and income tax offices to railway HQs, the areas were vast swathes of slogan-shouting people.
Addressing the Kolkata rally, the central rally that is, at the Ayakar Bhavan, CPI (M) state secretary was trenchant about his critique of the anti-people and anti-poor policies of the Congress-run central government which, he added to say, had apart from pursuing an anti-people economic policy had been a failure as far as the maintenance of the internal security of the country was in consideration what with the ‘Maoists’ and their kith-and-terrorist-kin running amuck. Biman Basu called for bigger movements in the days to come to make the union government realise the gravity of the situation that the nation faced.
There was a big rally of fervour at each of the government offices in the terai, dooars, and plain lands of the Darjeeling district. Jibitesh sarkar, state committee member of the CPI (M) who heads the Darjeeling district unit of the Party told the People’s Democracy over phone that the Pradesh congress attempted but failed to create jhamelas (troubles) near the Bagdogra airport but were repulsed by a militant thousand of the masses including women.
Amitava Basu, state secretariat member of the CPI (M) and the district secretary of the 24 Parganas north CPI (M) told PD that more than 30 thousand people mustered before the central government offices and they were of the single view that the central government had been a consistent failure in the maintenance of even the minimum comfort for the lives and livelihoods of the common men and the right had ‘shone.’
Amitava Basu himself addressed several rallies and brought up the point that an ally of the central government was active in providing succour of every imaginable kind to the left sectarian killers called by the home minister as the nation’s greatest internal security imbroglio.
Dipak Sarkar, speaking to PD from Midnapore said that several lakhs of people could be encouraged to come out in the searing heat and scalding temperature of the pre-summer afternoon to picket before the central government offices. Professor Dipak sarkar said that the success was preceded by an intensity of campaign and agitation in the past week and this was the wholesome, pro-people result. The people, Professor Sarkar, reminded us had themselves realised where the shoe pinched and had thus also come out spontaneously where the sectarians were active.
Thousands of people all over the state participated in the civil disobedience movement called by the four Left parties against sky rocketing price of the essential commodities and the failure of the central government to curb it. As per the decision of the Tripura Left Front committee the protest action was organised at 55 places all over the state.
At Agartala, the procession of the agitators started from Battala .CPI (M) state secretariat member Gautam Das, CPI state secretary Prashanta Kapali, AIFB state secretary Shyamal Ray, RSP state secretary Sudarshan Bhattacharya led the masses. Braving the scorching heat of April noon, the slogan shouting rally marched through the main streets of the capital city towards Akashvani Bhavan. Women in a large number were in front of the rally. The rally demanded immediate withdrawal of the price hike in petrol and diesel which were having a cascading effect on the prices of essential commodities. The agitators carried posters and banners demanding ban on the forward trading of food grains, strengthening of the PDS, making scope for employment and land reforms. As soon as the rally reached the road leading to the Akashvani Bhavan, the police obstructed them . The agitators broke three cordons before the police arrested them. They were kept in the Stable Ground before being released by the order of the magistrate. Around 6500 people courted arrest here only. At Dukli Subdivision near Agartala around 4000 people including CPI (M) Central Committee member Khagen Das courted arrest. More than 10000 people courted arrest at the three block headquarters of Khowai Subdivision. More reports from allover the state are still pouring in.
Nearly 1.5 lakhs of people including S Ramachandran Pillai, CPI (M) Polit Bureau member,courted arrest in Tamilnadu when they were picketing in front of the central government offices on April 8, against price rise.
From the state capital metro city of Chennai to the southern tip of the nation, Kanyakumari, thousands and thousands of cadres of CPI (M), CPI and AIFB thronged with red flags and raised slogans against the anti-people policies of the UPA government.
Nearly at 300 centers around the state, the Left party activists staged this massive picketing as part of the nationwide Jail Bharo programme to protest the government’s failure to check rising prices of essential commodities.
In Chennai, S Ramachandran Pillai, G Ramakrishnan, state secretary of CPI (M), D Pandian, state secretary of CPI and P V Kathiravan, state secretary of AIFB led the movement in front of the central railway junction.
Before courting arrest, S Ramachandran Pillai addressed the activists. He said the massive picketing was called by the Left parties for the genuine demands of the people.
Demanding universal PDS, employment for all unemployed and condemning the attacks on the democratic rights of the people, he announced that the next course of the agitation will be taken to an higher level with the secular and democratic parties.
Nearly 5000 people were arrested here by the police.
N Varadharajan, senior leader and central committee member of CPI (M) led the movement at Dindigul, and T K Rengarajan MP, U Vasuki, both Central Committee members led the picketing respectively at the temple city of Madurai and Thiruvallur.
CPI (M) Lok Sabha member P R Natarajan was arrested at the city of Coimbatore and CPI MP, P Lingam was arrested at Virudhunagar.
State secretariat and state committee members, district secretaries of the Left parties led the movement in other places and courted arrest.
Meanwhile, the MLAs of CPI (M) and CPI raised the price rise issue and shouted slogans against the wrong policies of UPA government, in which the ruling DMK party also participated in the Assembly, which is underway for the budget session. They demanded a discussion on the issue in the assembly. But the government denied permission.
Then theLeft MLAs walked out from the assembly and organised road roko in front of the Assembly and then all of them, including K Bala Barathi, leader of CPI (M) and V Siva Punniyam, leader of CPI, were arrested by the police.
In Pudhucherry, the police lathicharged the gathering of Left parties in front of the assembly of the union territory. 30 cadres including 10 women were injured. Tamilnadu state committee of CPI (M) condemned this attack.
THE call for jail bharo agitation, given by the four Left parties against price rice, evoked good response in Andhra Pradesh with around 50,000 people courting arrest through out the state. Around one lakh people participated in the agitation of picketing the central and state government offices demanding the governments to take immediate steps to reduce the prices. Reports of arrests were still coming at the time of writing this. This participation from the people was heartening given the fact that there were numerous marriages happening on the same day across the state as it was perceived to be a “good day” for muhurtam.
CPI (M) Polit Bureau member and state secretary B V Raghavulu, CPI deputy general secretary S Sudhakar Reddy and CPI state secretary K Narayana led the agitation in Hyderabad, where they picketed the central government's Auditor-General office. Addressing the gathering, the leaders of the Left parties warned the governments that if they do not act now, they would face intensified agitation by all secular non-Congress, non-BJP parties across the nation. They faulted the central government for repeatedly increasing the prices of petroleum products resulting in rising prices of essential commodities. They also demanded strengthening and universalisation of PDS so that middle class and poor people can get food security and some relief. They also condemned the attacks launched against Left parties and the Left Front government by Trinamul and other reactionary forces. The AP state government's attempts to drastically cut down the ration cards of BPL people in the name of weeding out of bogus cards was decried.
Earlier, the protesters raised loud slogans demanding reduction in prices, grant of house sites, strengthening of PDS etc. The slogan “Reduce prices or resign from chairs” attracted everyone's attention. Leaders of RSP and Forward Bloc also addressed the meeting, which was chaired by CPI (M) state secretariat member Y Venkateswara Rao. Mild tension prevailed as the protesters resisted police high handedness during the arrests. In fact, there were not enough vehicles to take the arrested people to the police stations. Later the protesters, including the leaders, were taken to Nampally and Gandhi Nagar police stations. The agitation in front of Ranga Reddy district collectorate office also saw good attendance despite the fact that Section 144 remained in force in both Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy districts in view of recent communal violence.
Elsewhere in the state, thousands of people courted arrest in district headquarters, divisional and mandal centres. The agitation in Vijayawada was a massive one which was led by CPI (M) central secretariat member V Srinivasa Rao and CPI state secretariat member E Nageshwar Rao. Central committee members of CPI (M) participated in the agitations in Tirupati (P Madhu), Srikakulam (S Punyavati), and Kurnool (M A Gafoor).
Upon the 'Jail Bharo' call of the four Left parties, over one lakh people had courted arrest in 25 district and tehsil headquarters. Thousands of people had participated in this programme that took the form of picketing infront of each of the central government offices. The biggest of all these programmes was held in Dahanau where more than 15,000 people had courted arrest. They were led by Sitaram Yechury, Member, Polit Bureau of the CPI (M) and leader of the Party in Rajya Sabha. A huge public meeting was held in the college grounds in Dahanau which was addressed by Yechury followed by a procession towards the SDO office. The demonstrators tried to force open the gates and march into the office of the SDO, wherein the police had arrested them. Apart from Yechury, state secretary of the CPI (M) Ashok Dhawale and secretariat members, Rajaram Ojare, former MLA Lahanu Kom, Mariam Dhawale and members of the state committee, Parikiat Mannat and Edward Ote led the demonstrators. Picketings were organised in four areas in Mumbai. Protests were held in all the tehsil centres of Thane and Nasik. In Sholapur, a huge procession was held after which all the demonstrators were arrested by the police.
The Himachal Pradesh state committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has congratulated response for the civil disobedience Movement followed by mass arrests against the neo-liberal policies, galloping price rise and bus fare hike. From all over the state, reports are pouring in, where thousands of common people along with the activists of CPI (M) participated. There was a near total bandh in Shimla town, hundreds volunteered arrest in Rampur, Thoeg, Shimla, Rohru, Bhawanagar in Kinnaur district. The district of Mandi witnessed massive protests and arrests at almost all block headquarters including Karsog, Jhanjhehli, Sarkaghat. The Dharamsala town saw hundreds of volunteers of CPI (M) courting arrest. Similarly arrests were offered in Anni, Sanj, Thalot, Kalle and Mandi. The national highway (NH) leading to Mandi was disrupted at several places. In Simour district, arrests were made in Nahan, Poanta, Nauradhar and Rohnaut. Similarly powerful actions were made followed by arrests at Una, Arki and Parwanoo in solan district and at Chamba and Bharmour in Chamba district. More than 10,000 people throughout the state participated in these arrests.
In Shimla town the vehicular traffic was brought to a standstill since the early hours of the day. The main highways leading to Mandi, Chandigarh and Rampur were blocked at several places. Care was taken to avoid inconvenience to the students as examinations for undergraduate classes were on during post lunch session. The CPI (M) has stated, the Party will continue with such actions in the future in case the government does not act immediately in controlling prices and act accordingly in the Vidhan Sabha.
The CPI (M) has stated that the BJP state government is only raising a bogey against the price rise, but the fact remains that it does not have the political will to take steps to check price rise in the state. It has wilfully allowed the increase of Rs 1 per kg in PDS rice and 50 paise per kg in wheat flour and reduced the quantum of food articles being provided through the PDS.
The Party has demanded the Dhumal government to withdraw the bust fare hike by bringing a resolution in the Vidhan Sabha failing which it will have to face protracted protests in the coming days.
JAMMU AND KASHMIR
The CPI (M) held protest demonstrations against price rise, unemployment and targeted public distribution System at Partap Park Srinagar, in which hundreds of workers participated. The demonstration was led by senior CPI (M) leader G N Malik, Mohd Afzal Parray, Ab. Hamid Wani and youth leader, Advocate Arshid Hussain Baba.
A largely attended dharna was also held in front of Raj Bhawan, Jammu by J&K CPI (M) protesting against unabated price rise and ever-increasing unemployment problem. The demonstrators were holding banners, placards and raising slogans against the repressive economic policies implemented by the state and central governments. While addressing the demonstration, M Y Tarigami, state secretary, J&K CPI (M) said that the prices of the essential commodities like food items have risen disproportionately putting common man, working class and low-income group to grave hardships. He emphasised for implementation of universalisation of PDS instead of existing targeted PDS which denies availability of ration items to majority of our population.
Tarigami criticised the proposed Food Security Legislation in its present form. Commenting over the employment situation in Kashmir, he said Sheri-Kashmir Employment and Welfare Policy is inadequate to tackle the menace of rising unemployment problem and procedure for providing unemployment allowance is complicated and limited to only small section of youth.
While addressing the rally at Srinagar, Senior CPI (M) leader G N Malik said that the prices of essential commodities have increased by manifolds, hitting hard at the budgets of the people at large. Considering that the vast majority of people do not have a fixed income and have no protection against inflation, he said that such a huge increase in the prices of essential commodities constitutes a regressive redistribution of income from poor to rich having a reverse impact on the lives and livelihood of the common people.
Malik said that the government’s callous attitude towards price rise would not be tolerated by the people and his Party has decided to intensify the struggle against price rise and for a change in government policies in this regard.
The Jail Bharo andolan by the Left parties got an enthusiastic response in Punjab all over the state against price rise, for land rights, employment and against the Maoist violence on the left in West Bengal. About 30000 volunteers of CPI (M) and CPI offered themselves for court arrest after holding effective road marches at various district headquarters, but the administration did not arrest them.
The action was held at Ludhiana, Sangrur, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Patiala, SBS Nagar, Gurdaspur, Ferozpur, Bathinda, Mukatsar, Moga, Nagal and Chandigarh.
Nilotpal Basu, central secretariat member of CPI (M), Joginder Dayal the central executive member of CPI, Charan Singh Virdi, state secretary of CPI (M), Bhhpinder Sambhar, state secretariat member of CPI were among the leaders who addressed the volunteers at various places.
Inspite of the state bandh call given by the Congress on April 8 against Dantewara Massacre by Maoists and the withdrawal call of Jail Bharo Andolan by CPI, we could organise the programme in five main places like Raipur, Bilaspur, Korba, Sarguja and Koriya. According to the initial reports, approximately 2000 comrades participated in the programme.
In Delhi, nearly 2000 people from the four Left Parties gathered at the Parliament Street demanding decisive and urgent steps against price rise from the UPA government.
The gathering was addressed by the national leaders of the four Left Parties – Prakash Karat, A B Bardhan, Debabrata Biswas, and Abani Roy.
Debabratta Biswas, general secretary, Forward Block emphasised the need for more militant struggles to build pressure on the UPA government to change its policies on price rise.
A B Bardhan, general secretary, CPI, condemned the government’s insensitivity on price rise and announced that over 25 lakh people will court arrest against price rise today. He also said that the Left parties will hold a meeting to co-ordinate with other secular national parties on April 12 in order to further intensify this movement.
Prakash Karat, general secretary, CPI (M), said that the prime Minister is holding a meeting with chief ministers on the issue of price rise. However, the UPA has been refusing to take decisive steps on the suggestions given so far. He reiterated the demand of the Left parties – withdraw increase in diesel and petrol prices, stop futures trading in essential food items, strengthen and universalise PDS and curb hoarding. He expressed the Left Parties’ resolve to focus on the Cut Motion on the budget inside parliament and intensify the struggle outside in co-ordination with other secular opposition parties in the coming days.
Abani Roy from the RSP said that unless the government accedes to these demands the agitation would be intensified further.
Nearly 2000 people, under the leadership of the national leaders of Left Parties, courted arrest at the Parliament Street. The people expressed their anger against the government by breaking barricades. The police used water canon at the agitators. One person was seriously injured and several others received minor injuries.
In Ghaziabad, over 600 CPI (M) and CPI activists courted arrest at the CGO complex at Hapur Road. In Noida, over 250 people courted arrest at DMs office at Surajpur, Greater Noida, after an effigy burning programme at Sector 8-9 Chowk.
The national leaders of the four Left parties courted arrest in Delhi
Source: People’s Democracy dated 11-04-2010