Monday, June 29, 2009

Farmers seek ‘mercy killing’

NEW DELHI/RANCHI, 28 JUNE: Union agriculture minister Mr Sharad Pawar said today that there is no drought-like situation in the country, even though the monsoon rains have been delayed, but there are thousands of farmers in Jharkhand who beg to differ.
Hit by drought for the fourth successive year and fed up of the government's apathy to their woes, thousands of farmers of Chhattarpur block in Jharkhand's Palamau district have launched a signature campaign seeking "mercy killing" from President Pratibha Patil.
"In the 2006 drought, farmers sold their bullock cart, goats and other things. In 2007, we sold our land. In the 2008 drought, we were forced to sell our wives' jewellery. Now what should we sell in the 2009 drought. Should we sell ourselves? We may have been deprived to lead a respectable life but we should be allowed a respectable death," reads the four-page letter addressed to the President.
Mr Devanand Mahato, one of the farmers who launched the campaign in Chhattarpur, said 2,000 farmers have already signed the letter. "We will get the letter signed by 5,000 farmers, then it will be sent to the President."
"Farmers are fed up of the successive droughts and are voluntarily coming forward to put their signatures and thumb impressions on the letter," he said.
The letter said: "Chhattarpur block farmers are facing successive drought since 2006. This area lacks basic facilities like irrigation, health facilities, food security. Our crops were destroyed due to scanty rainfall and we did not get crop insurance money."
Reacting to reports of the signature campaign, Jharkhand Governor Syed Sibte Razi said: "The government is serious about addressing the concerns of the farmers and no one will be allowed to die due to the drought."
Mr Sharad Pawar, meanwhile, told a television today: “There is no drought like situation because of the delay in the monsoon and the losses would be compensated in the months of July and August... There is no need to worry.” Mr Pawar also discounted rumours of price rise and said that food procurement this year was better and the government had “enough stock of seeds and food grain”. ;SNS & IANS

Source: The Statesman, 29 June 2009

They have no grievances against Maoists...

Anjan Chakraborty
SHIARTALA VILLAGE (near Ramgarh), 28 JUNE: Just two kilometres from Ramgarh, Shiartala village wore a deserted look as the security forces marched by in their advance towards Ramgarh yesterday.
This tribal village has about 30 households, but its inhabitants were nowhere to be seen. Three families have stayed on, but their members were all above the age of 60 and they are reluctant to give out much. The younger lot have gone ‘somewhere' which the older lot won't disclose.
They are visibly uneasy at the presence of security forces and their combing operation at the village. They have no grievance against Maoists and say that they have never felt threatened by them. So, have all the villagers who have left their household at Shiartala turned Maoist sympathisers and supporters of the Police Santras Birodhi Public Committee (PSBPC) ?
Mrs Ahladi Murmu, who had stayed back at the village, was quick to dissociate herself and her family members.
“No, no my elder son stays in Dibrugarh, Assam along with his wife and two children. My younger son has gone to visit his in-laws along with his wife. I am staying here with my husband now .” she said.
But the story of neglect and apathy comes out when she is asked what they do for a living.
”My elder son sends us some money. We collect tree branches and leaves from the forest and sell them in the town. But we haven't been able to do that for some months now. The rice that we have in the house will only last three days. The local ration shop doesn't give us anything. It is only for the rich people .Our people have no jobs here” said Mrs Murmu, who seemed comfortable talking about her grievances.
So have all these grievances turned them against the government to join the PSBPC? “The government has done nothing for us. If anything happens in these areas, our village is raided by police as if all criminals stay in our village ? The rich people of Ramgarh town are very good people and they cannot do any wrong. They continue to make money, while we have none,” came her strong reaction. But is that why you support the PSBPC who claims to fight against police atrocities and government's apathy, she was asked.
Mrs Murmu was non-committal as she said, “We have nothing to do with anybody. We haven't done any crime here.”
A few houses away, Mrs Janaki Hembram, another woman in her 60s, refused to talk and shut the doors as she saw the advancing forces with fear writ on her face. The only other family at Shiartala village was that of Mr Rabi Murmu and his wife, both of whom are in their 60s.
The only statement that they would make was: "We have lost all hope.”
Source: The Statesman, 29 June 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

Killing an airline

Who benefits from A-I’s woes?

[Following is the editorial of the Statesman, 24 June 2009 that describes how Air India is being made sick. This is one of the lots of examples how the government of India help siphoning of the hard earn money of tax-payers to the pockets of big companies.]

Air-India employs more people than it needs to; indeed if there is an airline around the world that needs to slash jobs, it is India’s national carrier. With the same number of employees as Air China, it flies less than a third the number of passengers the Chinese carrier does. Lufthansa has thrice as many employees, but flies six times as many passengers. With less than half of Air India’s employees, Singapore Airlines flies one-and-a-half times as many passengers. Thai has 5,000 fewer employees, and flies nearly twice as many passengers. Air Canada has nearly as many employees, and flies thrice as many passengers. Based on these numbers, Air-India has at least twice as many employees as any international carrier.
In addition, Air-India has accumulated losses of Rs 4,334 crore, huge debts to repay, and no clear plan for survival. Worse, it has a minister named Praful Patel who has proved to be its worst enemy, a man who forced the airline to embark on one misadventure after another and after being re-appointed for reasons we are unable to fathom announced plans to shed a part of its equity to fund operations. Now, the man handpicked by the minister to head the airline says he wants employees to “rise up to the challenge” and accept wage cuts.
Is there method to the continuing madness? First, Air-India and Indian Airlines ordered lots of planes, one from Boeing and the other from Airbus. Then, Indian Airlines became Indian. Next, and amid orchestrated reports in the business papers that economies of scale could be achieved by merging the two carriers, Indian, which at the time seemed to be turning the corner, became part of Air-India. Minister Patel supervised this merger, with the support of the parliamentary committee for civil aviation that included Rahul Gandhi and Vijay Mallya, owner of rival Kingfisher Airlines.
The merger actually added to costs; IA managers were transferred from their former headquarters in New Delhi to A-I’s base at Mumbai, but preferred to maintain two establishments incurring huge costs by jetting between the two cities, using company cars and accommodation. Mishap followed misadventure. One plane backed off from the terminal without the aero-bridge having been disengaged. Another avoided a collision narrowly. The image of the airline plummeted; the once-proud Maharaja looked as shaken as on the day privy purses were abolished.
Now salaries are delayed, and Air-India’s new boss wants employees to accept wage cuts. The employees have threatened to strike work from 1 July. Who will benefit if this happens? Clearly, the airline’s competitors and leading the pack are Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines, headed by Minister Patel’s friends. Air-India’s financials will be hit, which will mean that the price of each share that the minister decides to offload will drop further. Who will buy these shares? Clearly it will be another airline, as it can benefit from Air-India’s new fleet, its extensive landing rights and other facilities. Air-India is being killed slowly. For whose benefit, we must ask.

Source: The Statesman, 24 June 2009.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mahasweta Devi condemned the para-military operation and state repression in Lalgarh

[In a press release, noted writer, Magsaysay awardee and social worker Mahasweta Devi condemned the para-military operation and state repression in Lalgarh. We publish the English translation and the original Bengali press release.]

Stop Repression in Whole Junglemahal Including Lalgarh

Snatching the natural resources from People of Binpu 1 and Binpur 2, two regions of West Midnapur district, which are surrounded by hills and jungles, the constitutional government of West Bengal, has been depriving the people from all civil rights. Not only has the scarcity of health-education-food, the government always has kept the dignity and rights of people under its feet. On protest, severely cornered People have demanded the remedy. With empty promises and ugly-false-propaganda the government tried to stop the spontaneous movement of Jangalmahal. Failing to do so, the government has brought shameless state repression against the people. We have noted with surprise and shame that the government has almost declared war against a section of people of our country. We deeply condemn the heinous para-military operation of the government. We demand that government must immediately withdraw all repressive measures, and accept all demands of the people for dignity and development.

We do believe that in the sphere of repression the voice of common down trodden people is being suppressed. We appeal to the both sides to sit in the discussion retraining from all clashes.

Mahasweta Devi
(On behalf of democratic citizens)

22 June 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

Llgarh: Repression vs. Resistance

The paramilitary forces, West Bengal state police and Calcutta police have started their Lalgarh operation. According to the government they are going to flush out Maoists from a vast area of 18 police stations. A movement which has been started in November 2008 in protest of police atrocities now again becomes the target of state repression in the name of Maoist flush out. Surprisingly, to the demands of a popular movement, which simply seek apology from responsible police authorities before people of Lalgarh, the government not only turned a deaf ear, but also intensified the root cause of the movement—the state repression. Obviously, flushing out of Maoists is an excuse of the state machinery—the sole aim is to protect the repressive regime—to continue and aggravate the repression.

In a democratic society, the demands of the people are supposed to be considered by the state machinery and the government policy is supposed to be determined by the demand of people. In Lalgarh, where, what people want has already been clear, the state and central government do not even bother to show respect to the people. Instead of positively responding to the popular demands by asking responsible police officials to apologies before people of Lalgarh, both the state and central government preferred to take preparation a fresh bloodbath.

In the last seven months, people of Lalgarh showed their support to the demands of the People's Committee Against Police Atrocities. With time people have learned to identify the enemies and have built up resistance against them. This is what makes the government so repressive. The popular movement of Lalgarh has already taken the form of mass upsurge and is spreading in new areas everyday. Obviously, the paramilitary operation in Lalgarh will show the true repressive and exploitive face of the government to the people of not only Lalgarh, but also of whole West Bengal and India. The consequences can not be good. The acceptance of government, whatever still prevails among people will vanish soon. Repression only results resistance and fierce resistance.

From the very beginning of the movement of the People's Committee Against Police Atrocities, we expressed our solidarity. We are still with the side of the people.

We condemn combing operation and state repression in Lalgarh.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lalgarh rage refuses to die down

MIDNAPORE, 16 JUNE: Today, several thousand Adivasis demolished the CPI-M’s double-storied Lalgarh zonal committee office, near the Lalgarh police station. Later, they set fire to the office building.

Having reduced the CPI-M’s Lalgarh zonal committee secretary Mr Anjuj Pande’s two-storied palatial home at Dharampur, the party’s local committee office and two police camps to rubbles the Maoists have thrown up a direct challenge to the CPI-M, but the rage of the Adivasis is yet to die down.

CPI-M cadres, (tucked away in the Kespur-Garbeta belt), paramilitary forces and the promulgation of prohibitory orders could not counter the ingress of a Maoist squad from Jharkhand where the “Cobra brigade” has been reportedly kept on a stand-by to watch the border.

Meanwhile, bodies of two unidentified CPI-M activists wrapped in gunny bags were found near a canal at Salpatra village in Jhargram of West Midnapore today. The bodies are likely to be those of CPI-M activists abducted in Dharampur of Lalgarh by the Police Santras Birodhi Committee (PSBPC) members last week, said Mr Dahareswar Sen, the CPI-M’s district committee member. So far, 18 Marxist cadres of Lalgarh area have been killed at the hands of the PSBPC, he alleged.

The delay caused by the state government in formulating a solution to the eight-month long Lalgarh issue has made the entry of the Maoists smooth.

The situation has worsened with no action being taken against the then SP, Mr Rajesh Singh and the Lalgarh I-C, Mr Sandip Singha Roy, over alleged police atrocities on innocent Adivasi women of Lalgarh in connection with the landmine blast targeting the chief minister’s convoy.

Source: The Statesman 17 June 2009.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

CPI-M office torched, 2,000 cadres leave Lalgarh

Kolkata, June 15,
An office of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) was torched Monday and 2,000 of its cadres were forced to flee West Bengal’s troubled Lalgarh in West Mindapore district after clashes with a tribal body.
The tribals, led by the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), also allegedly set afire the house of Anuj Pandey - a top CPI-M leader in Lalgarh - and also forced the police to wind up three camps set up in the area.
“At least 2,000 CPI-M men have fled Lalgarh. All their top leaders have also left the place. They have been sheltered in camps at Bandhgora in nearby Jhargram”, said a district police officer.
The PCAPA brought out big rallies throughout the day Monday as the police and the administration seemed to have virtually seized toe exist there.
“We are concerned over the situation in Lalgarh. We have asked for reinforcements,” said West Midnapore district magistrate N S NIGAM.
Three CPI-M members were killed in the clashes with the PCAPA Sunday following which the tribal body has virtually established a free zone in Lalgarh.
Meanwhile, a Maoist leader Bikash admitted to visiting journalists in Lalgarh that their cadres were playing a key role in the “resistance” against police and CPI-M there.
Lalgarh has been on the boil since last November following a landmine explosion targeting the convoy of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and two union ministers.
The tribals, backed by suspected Marxists, have been on a collision course with the administration over alleged police atrocities in the wake of the explosion.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Support Aila victims of Sunderban

[Red Barricade visited Aila afftected area of Sandeshkhali, Sunderban on 7 June 2009. We like to share some photos of that region with our readers. The devastation is huge and difficult to estimate the damage. Next couple of years, most likely the region will remain infertile--as the flood has already increased the salinity of the land.
The peasantry of Sunderban have been fighting revolutionary struggle since 70s. A vast areas of land have already been distributed among landless tillers. Now the revolutionary peasantry have to fight the devastation caused by Aila. In their struggle, support from all democratic and progressive people is needed. For sure, the revolutionary peasantry will enjoy that support.

Readers of Red Barricade are requested to extend their support to the victims of Aila of Sunderban.]

Under makeshift shelter after losing everything.....

If anything escapes devastation....

A breached embankment.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Extend Your Support to Aila-victims


A severe cyclone Aila on 25 May hit Sunderban of south Bengal, India . You may be aware of the current state of Aila victims of Sundarban. But, the picture which is being reflected in media hardly presents the reality. In reality, the remote areas still remain out of reach.

On 31 May, last Sunday our ten-member team went to Bhandarkhali (Hingalgunge) of Sundarban to handover the relief already collected. We were first asked "How many days you are going to stay?" by local people working for relief work. We were obviously embarrassed as we had to return on the same day. Then we requested to accompany us to visit some areas. However, we were not able to visit areas which are severely affected, such as Samsernagar—we visited Hatgachha, which is at the border of Hingalgunge and Sandeshkhali.

What we have seen is difficult to describe; almost everything has been wiped away—we have not seen any hut in the affected area—all have been destroyed either completely or severely; but here people have managed to have some food and started making makeshift shelters. Shelters were being made with materials came from flood. Some were using plastic sheet. They said that they used to receive food-stuffs from different groups engaged in relief-work, but it is mostly confined to places very close to rivers.

In this particular place, there is one tube-well which remains at a dry place, so people can collect drinking water from it. We have seen group of people coming Lebukhali through votvoti (a sort of motor driven boat) just to collect drinking water.

We distributed some medicines, mostly Metronidazole and Norfloxacin to the villagers. But, it was almost nothing compared to the demand. People complained that no Panchayet (local administrative body) leader had bothered to visit them. It is the place where MLA Gopal Gayen was hackled by local people later, and Chief Minister faced tough questions.

We were amazed by the spirit and confidence of the people. Right now they do not mourn, rather keep on their struggle. We have heard how people have saved Bhanderkhali. Three to five individuals laying down one above another at different places on embankment, from where water could enter saved the village. They are the real heroes. We were fortunate to meet a boy who was working in relief at Chhotomollakhali, where they used a fishing troller to provide shelter to flood-hit people. To support the struggle of the people of Sunderban, we have formed a committee along with local people. We have already appealed to different mass organizations to support our initiative. In response, Sanhati Udyoug is going to send its tem on next Thursday. A tem is going on Sunday (7 June). Sramajibi Swahtha Udyog (A groupf of doctors working for workers) has already started their visit. We have a plan to visit either on coming or next Sunday with sufficient relief. People of Aila hit Sundarban now need medicines, foods, drinking water and clothing.

We request your support as well.
Sibabrata Sana

on behalf of
Committee to Combat Natural Disaster in Sunderban

Contact: +91-9330074586