December 11, 2009

Stand by the Struggle for a Separate Telangana!

Once again the people of Telangana have come to the streets with their age-old demand for separate statehood. Like any other democratic movement is dealt with by the Indian ruling classes, the AP government is resorting to massive repression of the struggling people. Students are brutally assaulted and illegally detained; several false cases are registered against them. Educational institutions such as the Osmania University, Kakatiya University and Hyderabad Central University, which have been the epicenters of the struggle, are being forcibly vacated and virtually turned into police barracks. "A holiday has been declared in all the colleges in the region till Dec 18 and there is no reason why any student should stay on campus," the AP Inspector General of Police said (Economic Times, 9th Dec). Prohibitory orders have been imposed by the state government over the entire Telangana region under the draconian and colonial Section 144 to prevent any mass mobilisation demanding separate statehood. Hundreds have been arrested and even journalists are being brutally lathi-charged in an attempt to silence any voice which stands for a separate Telangana. DSU condemns the brutal repression of a people’s movement by the state, and reiterates its solidarity with the aspirations of Telangana people for separate statehood.

Separate Telangana Movement: Geographically, the state of Andhra Pradesh consists of three regions: Rayalaseema, Coastal Andhra and Telangana. Telangana remains the most under-developed among the three after being systematically exploited by the dominant classes of the other two regions. Telangana is a land of poor people with rich natural resources. The people here have been historically denied their rights over resources, deprived of opportunities for political, economic, and cultural autonomy. The demand for a separate Telangana state is a long standing one, with the majority of the people from the region firmly supporting its creation. However, this democratic aspiration of the people of Telangana has been trampled underfoot by the various ruling class political parties in power, be it in Delhi or Hyderabad. Given the popular support for the demand, parliamentary political parties have been making promises for creating Telangana, especially before elections. However, this promise has been routinely broken by all the political parties after coming to power. There is also the hostility of the ruling classes from Coastal Andhra against carving out of Telangana from present Andhra Pradesh. Therefore, none of them has taken any concrete step to materialize it. In this respect, the present Congress government too is no exception. But despite the denial of separate statehood after a prolonged struggle, it refuses to die down. The Separate Telangana movement continues to live on, now with renewed vigor, and will continue until the Indian government is made to fulfill the demand.

Historical Background: The present Telangana region was under the rule of Nizam’s Hyderabad state before 1947. Hyderabad state consisted of three regions of the present AP state, along with five districts of Marathwada region and three districts of Karnataka region. Nizam surrendered both coastal and Rayalaseema districts to the British as part of settling debts with colonial rulers in 1788 and 1800 respectively. The districts that constitute present Telangana remained under Nizam State. Telangana was not under direct colonial rule, whereas the other two regions were exposed to British colonialism, reform movements and English education, among other things. Several irrigation projects were constructed during colonial rule in Andhra region whereas till the date Telangana does not have any major irrigation project. People were exploited and suppressed by the feudal regime of the Nizam. The appropriation of surplus that created through the sweat and blood of people of Telangana made Nizam’s state among the wealthiest of princely states in India. While there were social reform movements in Andhra and Rayalaseema to free the people from its societal shackles, the Nizam state reinforced class and caste hierarchies in Telangana. The seeds of uneven development and regional difference were implanted much before transfer of power in 1947.

People of Telangana waged relentless mass struggles against feudal oppression, at times with arms. The Telangana Armed Struggle is a glorious chapter in the history of revolutionary peasant movements in the subcontinent, which fought the feudal Nizam, the Indian Army as well as the opportunist CPI leadership at the same time. When the Nizam understood the impossibility of continuing as monarchial ruler given the massive opposition from people, he made an agreement with the new Indian ruling class and agreed to join the Indian Union in 1948. When Indian government put forward the proposal of Telangana joining the Andhra Pradesh state, there was widespread opposition from the people. But this was completely ignored by the rulers by once again violating the political aspirations of Telangana people. Andhra Pradesh state was constituted, and this was the first state to be established on linguistic basis. Whether it is feudal oppression or it is in the name of democracy, the nature and response of the ruling classes has been one and the same. The people of the land, both in feudal and the so-called democratic rule have remained targets of state repression. People were in no way party to the decisions ruling classes had taken before and after 1947. Voices have often been raised in favor of separate Telangana by parliamentary political parties. They were silenced by ruling class strategy of offering them some positions and they had also betrayed the cause repeatedly. Several opportunistic leaders tried to take advantage of the genuine aspirations of people without taking the movement for statehood forward. Such leaders varied from right wing parties to parliamentary left parties. All these parties used the aspirations of the people and gained out of it.

Underdevelopment of Development: For the present economic system it is necessity to keep certain regions underdeveloped which gradually becomes peripheries, in order to develop some other regions which emerge as centers. The material and natural resources of Telangana region has been diverted for the development of Andhra, while Telangana region has been pushed to a position of continuous dependency due to lack of development. From the time of united Andhra Pradesh Telangana people has been kept socially, culturally, politically oppressed and economically looted by a combination of feudal and comprador-capitalist forces of Andhra ruling clique. All the major cities in Andhra region have been developed by concentrating the wealth of Telangana there. Even the city of Hyderabad was taken over by the powerful families of Andhra whereas Telangana till the date does not have a single city or major town except Hyderabad. In view of the crucial interest of Andhra ruling class in the city of Hyderabad and the big landlords of Andhra in major water resources of Telangana, they are hell-bent on crushing the democratic movement of Telangana by using force.

Historic injustice towards Telangana: Telangana waters have been diverted to irrigation projects in Andhra. Successive governments have blatantly violated the water-sharing agreements between the two regions. In the name of homogenization of state culture, Andhra rulers have tried to impose its culture particularly in terms of language and food habits. The government public distribution system in Andhra supplies only rice whereas the rain-fed areas of Telangana cultivates bajra, jowar, raagi and such other food grains. This has resulted in extra pressure on Telangana peasantry to grow only rice at the expense of their indigenous crops. Telangana youths have also been deprived of opportunities in government services. At the level of culture, even the cinematic representation of Telangana is extremely biased and prejudiced, whereby the Telangana language and names are mostly projected negatively in Telugu cinema. Print and electronic media considers only the heartland Andhra language as the official language. Telangana water resources are diverted to Andhra even if the proposed Polavaram project which is intended to supply irrigation water to Andhra is going to engulf 13 mandals of Telangana with adivasi inhabitants. There have been attempts to divert waters from Telangana to Rayalaseema through the Pothireddypadu project by holding water more than dam’s capacity in Sree Sailam through ‘Jala Yagnam’, resulting in unprecedented floods in Rayalaseema and Telangana districts in the recent past. The huge revenue extraction from Telangana was invested in Andhra region for its development, while Telangana was deprived of basic infrastructural facilities needed for industrial growth.

Parliamentary opportunism and the betrayal of Telangana: The CPI and CPM has taken a stand against separate statehood for Telangana in spite their cadres taking active part in movement, violating the leadership’s decision. These parties cherish the utopia of united Andhra Pradesh even when there is a widespread mass movement for separation. The Telugu Desam party has been keeping silent on the whole issue since the formation of state is going to harm the interests of its supporters from Andhra. Telangana Rastra Samithi, yet another regional party, opportunistically raises the slogan of Telangana whenever they are politically cornered. The misery of Telangana and the exploitation it faces was conveniently forgotten by it when it was enjoying power in center government. Now once again the TRS chief has sat for a ‘fast unto death’ for Telangana. In the ruling Congress party, some of the Telangana elected representatives wants a separate state where as Andhra representatives are vehemently opposing the demand. Andhra representatives are lobbying with the Congress central leadership not to allow Telangana state in order to safeguard their huge capital investments, and SEZs in and around Telangana. This is supported by some of Tealnganas MP’s too, since they hold land in and around Hyderabad for SEZs.

What is happening in Telangana at present: While there is a democratic demand from various sections of society for separate statehood, the state is responding in the only way it knows to deal with popular movements: by unleashing fascist force. Andhra Pradesh government has deployed huge forces in the state to curtail the movement. Paramilitary forces, Grey Hound squads, Rapid Action Force etc are deployed in the university premises without the knowledge of Vice Chancellors of Osmania University, Agriculatural University, Kakatiya University, University of Hyderabad etc. University students were beaten and two students lost their lives in police crackdown. More than 28 students have committed suicide. Even media personal were attacked. The elected representatives who went to express solidarity with the movement were also brutally beaten up. The Chief Minister has given orders to the police officials to take action on the spot without waiting for any order. In the girl’s hostel premises of Osmania University, women students were chased by the police for giving slogans in favor of separate state. Students were chased out of the campus and dragged to the neighborhood areas where huge force was deployed. These forces are attacking not only students but also the residents. At present more forces are being brought from different states and deployed in Hyderabad. In the view of the call for “Chalo Assembly” on 10th December by the Joint Action Committee, the government had ordered close down and mass evacuation of students from universities. The state government has blocked different roads to Hyderabad to prevent protesting students form reaching the city.
Fight for an autonomous and democratic Telangana! We know that the mere formation of a separate state does not lead anywhere until and unless there are revolutionary changes in the society. It is not just about achieving a terroritarially separate Telangana. It is about creating of a democratic Telangana free from social, economic and cultural oppression by demolishing relations of caste and class, which can only be achieved by combining this struggle with that of the other oppressed masses of the subcontinent for a revolutionary social transformation. DSU stands by the people of Telangana who fought the historic armed struggle against feudal oppression and continue to struggle for a separate state

December 8, 2009

What difference does a Revolution make? A Contrast of China and India

The Indian ruling class opened the floodgates of globalized imperialism in 1991, almost fifteen years after China entered the path of capitalism and after the death of Mao Tsetung in 1976. In India, this move has resulted in massive assaults on the working class as well as the peasantry was exposed to the unbridled exploitation and vulnerability characteristic of the phase of Liberalisation-Privatisation-Globalisation (LPG). At the same time, this has also helped in drawing the class contradictions more sharply in the Indian society, thereby intensifying the class struggle manifested throughout the country today. This militant assertion of the masses against the imperialist dictated policies of the Indian government is perceptible in a diversity of ways, with people’s movements breaking out in all corners of the country. The most potent and politically advanced of these movements which has organised and consolidated the worst victims of the state-big corporate-landlord juggernaut has been the Maoist movement in India. While it has been identified by the ruling classes as the ‘biggest internal security threat’ and the biggest hindrance in the way of implementing LPG, the movement has been able to voice the aspirations of the fighting multitude.

This intensifying crucible of resistance is bound to reach new heights as global capitalism is facing its gravest challenge with the deepening of the present economic crisis. As the attempt of the state and big business is to characteristically pass the burden of the crash onto the working class and the peasantry to tide over the crisis, it is also opening up new grounds for the larger unity of the struggling masses across regions and countries, garnering their energies against the repressive states, ruling classes and imperialism. It is this threat from the resilient masses that has forced the Indian state to launch a full-scale offensive the Operation Green Hunt on behalf of the MNCs and to implement the MoUs, in the vast stretches of central and eastern India.

The developments in China after more than three decades of ‘market socialism’ under the aegis of the Communist Party of China have traversed somewhat different trajectory. The revolutionary socialist policies in China that had been carried out under the leadership of Mao has been steadily dismantled over the years by the present ruling class under the garb of ‘Communism with Chinese characteristics’. The set-back of socialism and return to the capitalist Road has left the working class as well as the peasantry in an increasingly precarious situation. This has been manifested in a widening polarization of classes in the Chinese society with workers and peasants at the bottom facing extreme hardships after the breakdown of the communes, collective ownership and the loss of state and political power by the working class. The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few who uses their hold in the Communist Party and the state to exploit the growing ranks of the working people has deprived them of their entitlements won during the days of the Great Leap Forward and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. In this regard, the insights provided by the path-breaking works of Professor Robert Weil are very inspiring.

What is most notable in this context is the tendentious but growing assertion and emergence of the revolutionary forces in China and the rising unity of consciousness among the various sections of the working class, the peasantry as also the youth. The Chinese working classes, as Professor Weil shows, has been far from passive in the face of their deteriorating conditions and the loss of rights won over decades through struggle and sacrifice in the socialist revolution. Class conflict and social turmoil have surged to levels not seen for decades. The workers, peasants, and migrants in China today are mounting some of the largest demonstrations anywhere in the world, at times involving tens of thousands.
Much like in India, violent clashes with the authorities is growing in China too, as the state and the ‘Communist’ Party tries to cope with the present economic recession with the same technique of cushioning the capitalists by hitting hardest at the working class. But in spite of the above similarities in the trajectories of the two ‘Asian Giants’, there is something that definitely demarcates the two. And it is in this context that we look into the question as to ‘What difference does a revolution make?’ A significant section of the working class in China as well as the peasantry has the advantage over those in India of actually experiencing and being a part of the rising tide of socialism during Mao’s leadership. They had enjoyed the resultant social security, pride and power that the Great Revolution endowed on the working class. Older workers understand the present historical context and most of them who went through the Mao era and the Cultural Revolution and experienced Mao’s Thought, today wants to bring China back to ‘Mao’s Road’, or Socialism. This experience of a successful Revolution gives them the vantage position to understand more clearly the dynamics of a “two-line struggle,” as a clear demarcation between the socialism of the revolution and the capitalism of the present, which is now coming out primarily from the working classes themselves, and not mainly from the intellectuals.
As the working class in China is increasingly showing the historic maturity to roll back the reactionary reforms of the post-Mao era and re-engaging in a heightened spirit with Maoism, we too, being in largely similar objective conditions must comprehend the significance of and strive towards the building a larger revolutionary unity of the toiling masses as taught by Marx, Lenin and Mao. This is imperative not only for China, but also for India and a larger international struggle to tread the socialist path fighting the onslaught of imperialism.

December 4, 2009

Convention Against War On People

Convention Against War On People
Venue: Speaker’s Hall, Constitution Club, Rafi Marg, New Delhi
Date: 4 December 2009 (Friday) Time: 10 am—7 pm

As you read this invite, Indian state’s ongoing war on people that began on the 1st of November, will already complete several weeks. The body-count of the adivasis –the prime victims of the Indian government’s ‘hunt’– also started to mount. As per the sporadic news from the Ground Zero trickles in through the media, the casualty is escalating by each passing day, as grow the number of burnt villages, persons displaced, injured or arrested. We hear of battalions of CRPF, COBRA, C-60, Grey Hounds, ITBP, Anti-Naxal Task Force and a whole assortment of armed paramilitary and police forces stepping up their operation in Dandakaranya and adjoining regions, backed by air force helicopters and US intelligence satellites, commanded by army top brass. As reports are pouring in already thousands of adivasis have been displaced from their homes as the ruthless state repressive machine has let loose a reign of terror in these areas. The renewed offensive by the joint forces in Lalgarh too has left hundreds of protesting adivasis homeless. There is every possibility that the number of dead and injured people, along with the displaced and destroyed villages will only mount in the coming weeks, if the Indian government does not call for an immediate halt to this all-encompassing military offensive. As has been the case with nationality movements in Kashmir and the North East, the Indian state’s endeavour to find a ‘military solution’ through war will only endanger the lives and livelihood of lakhs of citizens.

Indian government has been preparing for this massive military operation for months, lining up nearly one lakh troops and arming them with sophisticated weapons, mobilising the air force for aerial strikes and involving the Indian army not only for training and logistical purposes, but for operational command and even active combat if required. There are also reports of US intelligence and security officials ‘advising’ the Indian government in conducting this war. As reported by the media, the entire forested regions of central and eastern India have been divided into seven Operating Areas, which the government wants to ‘clear’ within the next five years of all resistance, including that of the Maoists and other Naxalite organisations. An outlay of Rs.7300 crores has already been earmarked for this war.

None is in illusion as to the objectives of this war against the people. This war is being fought by the Indian government at the behest of the corporates and for their benefit, targeting the life and livelihood of the adivasis. The worldwide imperialist economy presently faces its most severe crisis after 1929. The military-industrial complex, which includes multinational and Indian big business interests, is looking for wars that have the potential to artificially generate the much-needed demand for their products in a crisis-ridden market. Moreover, both domestic and foreign corporations desperately want to lay their hands on the minerals worth billions of dollars deposited in the vast forest regions of central and eastern India. Once accessed, this can guarantee the corporations super-profits for several decades. Hundreds of agreements and MoUs that allow free plunder of people’s resources have already been concluded by mining corporations with the central and state governments. The corporations easily cleared all the legal hurdles between themselves and the natural resources. The only barrier that now stands between them and their prize is people’s resistance, whether unarmed or armed. From Nandigram to Niyamgiri, Lalgarh to Dandakaranya, Koraput to Kalinganagar, Dadri to Narayanpatna, people have refused to be mere victims of state-sponsored policies of Liberalisation-Privatisation-Globalisation (LPG) in the name of ‘development’.

After trying all forceful measures from police repression to Salwa Judum which have failed to deter the people’s movements, the Indian government is now waging war not only against the Naxalite and Maoist movements which have been termed as the ‘biggest internal security threat’, but against all people’s movements that challenge its policies. By doing so, it not only is trying to bulldoze all kinds of dissenting voices and democratic rights, but is also aiming to exterminate the aspirations of the exploited and oppressed people for a better society, a life with dignity.

Forum Against war on People invites you to this All-India Convention which is an effort to examine the ongoing war on people in all its dimensions. More importantly, it seeks to become a strong voice of resistance against this war. We urge you to participate in the Convention and make it an occasion to collectively demand that the Indian government must immediately and unconditionally stop this war, waged in our name against our own people.

Convention Against War On People
Venue: Speaker’s Hall, Constitution Club, Rafi Marg, New Delhi
Date: 4 December 2009 (Friday) Time: 10 am—7 pm

Inaugural Address: Randhir Singh (Retd. Professor, Political Science, DU)

Justice AS Bains
BD Sharma
Vara Vara Rao (Revolutionary Poet)
PA Sebastian (CPDR, Maharashtra)
Prof. Jagmohan (AFDR, Punjab)
Arundhati Roy (Writer)
Bullu Bahan, (Chhattisgarh)
Madhuri (MP)
Prof. Amit Bhattacharyya
Ajit Bhuyan (Editor, Asomiya Pratidin)
Prashant Bhushan
Shashi Bhushan Pathak (PUCL Jharkhand)
Bernard D’Mello (Deputy Editor, EPW)
Lachit Bordoloi (MASS, Assam)
Dr. N Venuh (NPMHR)
Sudhir Patnaik (Lok Pakhya, Orissa)
Prof N K Bhattacharya (Jan Hastakshep)
Malem Ningthouja (CPDM, Manipur)
Harish Dhawan (PUDR)
Shamsher Singh Bisht (Uttarakhand Lok Vahini)
Lateef Mohd. Khan (Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee)
Gautam Navlakha
Kavita Krishnan (CPI-ML [Liberation])
Sheomangal Siddhantkar (CPI-ML [New Proletarian])
SS Mahal (CPI-ML [New Democracy])
SAR Geelani (CRPP)
GN Saibaba
Prof. Jagmohan Singh (Voices for Freedom)
Santosh Mahapatra (Orissa)
Arjun Prasad Singh (PDFI)
Dr. Animesh Das (IFTU)
Raminder Singh (NBS)
Alok (KYS)
JNU Forum Against War on People
DU Campaign Against War on People

Correspondence, Campaign Against War on People, Committee Against Violence On Women (CAVOW), Naga Students Union Delhi (NSUD), Navjawan Bharat Sabha (NBS), KRALOS, Krantikari Yuva Sanghathan (KYS), Manipur Students Association Delhi (MSAD), PDSU, PUCL, MKP, Campaign for Peace & Democracy Manipur (CPDM), DSU, CRPP, DGMF, People’s Front (PF), Mazdoor Ekta Manch (MEM), Left Democratic Teacher’s Front (LDTF), RDF, PDFI, CPI (ML) (Liberation), CPI (ML) (New Proletarian), Kashipur Solidarity Forum, Nari Mukti Sangh (NMS), Mehnatkash Majdoor Morcha (MMM), B D Sharma, Arundhati Roy, Tripta Wahi, Vijay Singh, Neshat Quaiser, Laltu and others

November 29, 2009

Punish the police officers guilty of brutalities on protesting students! Remain vigilant against further victimization of students by Administration!

One full week has passed by since the brutal lathi-charge by Delhi Police and RAF on the students of JNU. They very next day, after the protest demonstration at the ad-block an all-organisation delegation along with the JNUSU met the administration. That day, showing a rare exception to his longstanding apathy towards meeting students, the VC too attended the meeting and expressed his ‘concern’ and ‘sympathy’! A few direct questions were put to the VC: ● Who gave the permission to the RAF armed with lathi to enter the campus? ● Why did nobody from the administration except the associate dean come to the scene, even after the lathi-charge? ● Where was the ‘Chief Security Officer’, who was conspicuously absent throughout the incident? ● What steps the administration taking to ensure punishment to the four culprits who had ‘high connections’ and for whose security hundreds of riot-control police was let loose on protesting students? ● Why hasn’t the administration implemented the pointed suggestions regarding security arrangements for the campus, including in the 24x7 dhaba, which were suggested by the students a year back?

The administration including the VC had no clear answer.The VC said that he has not given the permission to the RAF to enter. When we pointed out that in that case he must file a case against the Delhi Police for flouting the autonomy of the university whereby the administration’s permission has to be sought by the police to enter the university premises, the VC simply qualified his statement saying, the police can enter the campus if it is a riot-like situation! So, was it a ‘riot-like situation’ that day within JNU? To determine this, the administration constituted an enquiry committee with Prof. Harjit Singh, which was supposed to submit its report by last Friday morning but has failed to do so.

But as it came clear by Friday, the ‘Enquiry Committee’ chose to call itself a ‘fact finding Committee’ and was clearly interested in finding out what led to the lathi-charge, and not the incidents of eve-teasing and intimidation by the four outsiders, the subsequent police brutalities and shielding of the culprits by the Delhi administration. The enquiry committee is apparently looking into the ‘provocations’ from the students, trying to implicate and put the entire blame on the students for the lathi-charge that evening. The Committee did not give any public notice asking for witnesses, which is the usual norm, but rather selected a few witnesses on its own. To those witnesses also it asked highly problematic and leading questions like ‘who damaged the car of the accused?’ ‘who threw the first stone?’, etc. and asking the witnesses to identify individual students by showing photographs and footages of the incident. Clearly the propensity of the committee is more anti-student than being anti-police and RAF, which it should have been. Although it is not yet clear to the students what are the contents and conclusions of the report, with such a mode and orientation of the enquiry, the Committee is very well trying to establish that there was indeed a ‘law and order breakdown’ within the campus and that the students have ‘taken law into their own hands’, therefore the police action was justified! We must remain vigilant against any attempt by the administration to implicate and further victimize the students. The students of this campus will NOT accept such blatant twisting of reality to shield the barbaric police action.

The police must be held accountable on the following points: ● The Delhi administration and the police mobilised such a huge force including more than 300 RAF to safeguard four drunk lumpen harassers who had ‘high connections’, and what were those connections ● It took more than three hours to even file an FIR, much pressure and intimidation was exerted on the people who went to file the FIR! ● In whose permission did the police and armed RAF enter the campus ● There was no need of Lath-charging so brutally to disperse the crowd. ● The police didn’t give any warning to the students before lathi-charging, as per the protocol, despite having a public address system. ● The police threw stones helter-skelter at the students although throwing projectiles by the police is not permitted under any law. ● The male police charged, beaten up, physically manhandled women students and they had no female constabulary. ● The police which is supposed to beat up only below the waist were beating students on their head and shoulders which could have caused fatal injuries. ● when a handful of students and a professor went to close the gate for the second time, the police resorted to brutal lathi charge once again, although the crowd was already dispersed. This time they selectively picked up students and shelled tear gas after lathi-charging!

The university must file a case against the police, especially implicating DCP Dhadiwal and DCP Chhaya Sharma, who were in charge! There can be no ‘balancing act’ in this case, and we must resist the singled out victimization of any student in this regard. We call upon the students, teachers and staff and karamcharis of the university to unitedly resist this police brutality or further attacks on students. The JNUSU must break its silence and inaction in the name of ‘introspection’ to proactively lead a militant and uncompromising struggle against these attacks. Some organisations like SFI which have so far not brought out any public position against the atrocities condemning the administration and police, is maintaining in All Organisation meetings that the ‘students could have avoided the situation’. We warn them not to indulge in such anti-student propaganda and refrain from being an agent of the administration. We must take this struggle for campus autonomy and security, and for the punishment of the guilty to its logical conclusion fighting all forms of intimidation, slander and betrayals.

Rise up against the massive police-RAF crackdown on protesting students! Ensure safety and security of the campus community!

Last night, around 600 students were brutally lathi-charged inside the university by the Delhi police and Rapid Action Force in a most shocking, gruesome and unprecedented manner. Indiscriminate lathi-charge was resorted to by the police twice, while four rounds of tear gas shells were also burst. Girl students were brutally beaten up and manhandled although there was not a single woman constable. Students were hit above the waist, on head and shoulders which could have caused fatal injuries. The forces also threw stones helter-skelter on the students. Many students, some faculty members and G4S guards got badly injured. Around four students had to be hospitalized. Around five students were picked up by the police; they were dragged on the road, kicked in their faces and badly beaten up, and were later release only due to student’s protest. All these were done to shield four lumpens, Ankit Nanda, Amit Chauhan, Nitin Kapoor and Gagan Kumar, who came to the campus in a car completely drunk, who abused and teased a girl student. When stopped at the gate by the G4S, they drew a gun to threaten and intimidate the G4S in the gate.

The sequence of events: The students of the campus have been facing such incidents of lumpenism by outsiders, teasing and harassment of girl students for quite some time now. Yesterday it crossed all limits. When these four lumpens were intimidating the guard, the police van (PCR) that was standing just outside the North Gate did nothing. As soon as some students gathered and tried to confront the lumpens, immediately the police van came inside and gave ‘safe refuge’ to them. These hooligans had ‘high connections’ which they proudly flaunted to the students present there. No wonder, within an hour, more forces were called into the campus, not to apprehend the guilty but to provide security to them. The ACP came along with the SHO of Vasant Kunj Police Station. Soon afterward more than 300 troops of Rapid Action Force, fully armed with shields and lathis gathered outside the gate. After the students protested, they were only removed from the vicinity of the gate but kept ready nearby. The students collectively decided to lock the gate from inside so that the RAF can not barge in and the culprits cannot abscond. The father and sister of one of the goons appeared in the meantime and proclaimed that the culprits had all the rights to carry a gun!

More students gathered and immense anger generated who witnessed the shielding of the goons by the police. The anger was justified, as it took the police around three hours to even file an FIR. While the FIR was being filed, the students who went to the police station faced pressure, intimidation and coercion from different quarters to dilute the case.

The students were peaceful till the end.
The anger of the students was taken out on the lumpen’s vehicle! While a few students wanted to set it on fire, the overwhelming majority of the students prevailed upon them and the fire was soon extinguished. Many opinions were coming about the future course of action and debated on the spot, and after deliberations it was decided that they will not be allowed to go out of the campus unless they tender a public apology. If needed their faces would also be blackened. The JNUSU president himself declared this decision from the top of the police van, and barring only a few students, majority present there agreed to it. Accordingly, a voluntary human-chain was formed by the protesting students keeping distance with the car, so that the public apology could be facilitated.

The police was not yet ‘confident’ to take the lumpens out of the car and therefore waited for the DCP (south Delhi) to arrive. The DCP arrived and told that any public apology by the accused is against the law! However, this was not conveyed to the students properly and many people were in confusion as to what is going to happen. What followed this from the police was extremely shocking. Instead of making any attempts to control the situation inside, or even to explain the situation to the students, the gate was suddenly opened (which was so far locked from inside to keep the RAF away) without letting the hundreds of students know about this decision, and the impending police crackdown. The Associate Dean as well as the JNUSU leadership agreed to open the gate unilaterally without first consulting, or even informing the students. The Dean is now claiming that he had asked for ‘ten minutes from the police to remove the students’ before opening the gate! Even this ‘agreement’ was not informed to the students. It was an absolutely irresponsible decision by the administration and JNUSU leadership to open the gate without removing the RAF from the other side first. This made more than 600 protesting students vulnerable to the assault by the ruthless RAF. We strongly condemn this irresponsible decision.

After the police and the RAF started lathi-charging, some students started pelting stones in self-defence. But that lasted merely for few minutes, as instantly the ruthless lathi charging started. After one round of lathi-charging the RAF retreated. A few students and two professors got down to the street and asked the RAF to go out of the campus and tried to close the gate. The RAF immediately returned to a second bout of attack. This time it was much more ruthless and completely unprovoked. Women students were particularly targeted this time and some of them were dragged by their hair. Students were randomly picked up and taken away. Tear gas shells were also burst. No where ever police bursts tear gas after already lathicharging!

In this entire episode, the administration was shockingly absconding. The Registrar made a token visit in the beginning and the Associate Dean vanished as soon as the lathi charge started. A few Professors tried to negotiate with the police and RAF while the rest of the administration kept away. Other faculty members, barring a very few did not feel it important enough to even see in what condition the students were even after such a massive assault. The shameless VC far from coming to the students while they were being beaten up stationed RAF infront of his own house to safeguard himself! The Chief Security Officer who has completely proved himself to completely incompetent by now, appeared in the scene long after everything was over. In none of the incidents of harassment, abuses, beating up etc that have taken place in the campus at night in the last few months, was he ever present. Yesterday was no exception. W Demand the immediate dismissal of this worthless, irresponsible officer. The administration must take responsibility of the entire incident. The case against the four lumpens must be pursued from the university too and university must take a strong position against the DCP under whose order such assault was orchestrated.

Why didn’t we sign the Joint statement of the JNUSU and few other organizations? After such a massive assault on the students, the first response that comes from the students’ community should be to strongly and unequivocally condemn and protest the police atrocities and the administration’s complicity and failure to prevent the police from such a crackdown. However, the statement ended with a call for ‘introspection’ on behalf of the students’ community over certain ‘developments during the protest’. This statement by itself implicates the student community in the entire incident along with the police and administration. Why should the student community take responsibility of this massive assault on an unprovoking mass? Such statement dilutes the spirit of the entire protest and it was completely counter productive at this point of time. It strengthens the version of the police that students provoked the attack. Even the media quoted the statement and said ‘students believe they have overreacted’! The Joint Statement is definitely not the platform to ‘introspect’. It should have rather been an all-out attack on the perpetrators of this massive violence. There are other platforms and means to introspect and debate on mode of protest. To impose ‘introspection’ even when there are opinions to the contrary is nothing but shunning of responsibility on the part of the leadership and thereby shifting the onus to the common students. This has happened at a time when the historic role of the JNUSU leadership should have been to stand by the student community which has received the brunt of such massive crackdown.

Let us unitedly ensure that the perpetrators of such violence by the state machinery be punished. The administration now must come out with a concrete mechanism to ensure security of the students on campus.

November 27, 2009

Massive militant protests by students of Germany, Austria, USA and Canada against fee hike and privatization of education!!

The students across Germany, Austria, parts of USA, Poland and Canada have launched massive movements against fee hikes, withdrawal of funds from education and gradual privatization of education. Implementing the neo-liberal policies, these countries have gradually withdrawn funds from education, especially higher education. Following the economic crisis the governments have been more stringent in spending money in education, which has led into massive fee hike, especially in the past couple of years. The examination systems have also been made stricter, making it impossible for most students who also work to pay for their education, to clear them. These movements of the university students in different cities and countries which have now spread across continents have been supported widely by the workers and trade unions too.

Since late October this year, massive students movements erupted across many countries against fee hike and for a more equitable and democratic education. On Thursday October 22, students at Vienna University occupied their main lecture hall, Auditorium Maximus. 6 days later, the occupations have spread to other Austrian universities and cities like Graz, Klagenfurt, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Linz and many other cities in Autria and Germany. On October 28, 50.000 students in Vienna and 400 in Salzburg took to the streets to march against a lack of resources, space and finance and for free education. Their main demands are, for an increase in funding to the universities instead of giving money to the banks, no to tuition fees, the bologna process (European directive furthering moves towards marketisation of education) and “knock out” the exams. One of the main slogans on the demonstrations was “Money for education – not for the banks and big business!” The students are occupying the universities and the lecture hall and running communes and people’s kitchen. Plenaries, meetings, alternative lectures and classes are going on inside these occupied halls since the past one month.

Almost 250,000 students took to the streets of over 40 German cities since first week of November, protesting against a number of ongoing reforms of third-level education in the Federal Republic. Students protested primarily against the introduction tuition fees as well as the introduction of a combination Bachelor-Masters study programme, and difficult and limited access to graduate programmes. The biggest demonstrations of the students was in Berlin (nearly 30,000 participants), Stuttgart (15,000) and Hamburg (13,000). Smaller manifestations took place in over 100 cities and towns all over the country. Here too students have started to occupy universities and lecture halls making the institutions dysfunctional till there demands are met. There have been crackdown on many of the protests and yet they have not died down. In some places the governments were forced to come up with some negotiations and paltry reforms which the protesters have rejected.

The movement has spread to the USA too: In University of California Berkeley, University of California Los Angeles, San Francisco State University, University of California Davis, CSU Fresno and UCSC--students took over buildings to reclaim space and send the message that they won't tolerate an exorbitant fee increase, fund-cuts, layoffs, and an increasing reliance on private funding and free-market logic in place of public financing and support. The police acting on the orders of the authority have cracked down on the students in several campuses of California. The police charged them with batons and even rubber bullets. Riot cops and the notorious SWAT team of police were also brought in to disperse the students. The movements however continue with escalated protests and demonstrations. The students here too are taking over administrative buildings and lecture halls to continue their struggles. In Los Angeles for example, the students have taken over, Campbell Hall, renaming it "Carter-Huggins Hall" in honor of two leaders of the Black Panther Party, Bunchy Carter and John Huggins, murdered there in 1969. Similar actions are taking place in other campuses too.

Education has been one of the worst hit sectors worldwide after the recession. In India too, education has been massively affected. That is precisely why these movements of the students in different countries are being ruthlessly censored by the international media. It is only through the internet and other informal/alternative means of communication that these movements are connecting with each other. DSU extends its solidarity with these students movements of the students which are being fought for the most just demands for equitable and democratic education. It is only by such militant and uncompromising struggles we can fight the imperialist powers and win our basic right of education.