People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
September 10, 2006
AIAWU Victory In Mirzapur
MIRZAPUR is one of the most backward districts in UP as well as one in which people are organising themselves in struggle. The rally at Sukra Dak Bunglow at which nearly 500 people gathered in driving rain to voice their grievances was proof of it. The area is considered one of the ‘disturbed’ areas of the Kaimur range, where the central and state governments are spending crores of rupees on police equipment and operations against Naxalites and doing nothing to address the terror of land mafias seizing the lands of the poor and having them registered in their own names.
The torture that the poor are subjected to is evident from what happened in just one village, Sikta on August 5, 2006. A farmer, Radhey Shyam, a middle-aged man who was a Kisan Sabha activist, was charged by one Lakshmikant Tiwari, of letting his buffalo graze in his field for which he was beaten by Tiwari and his sons and paraded naked in the village. Similarly, other men and women came forward with evidence that he had done the same to them. Also cases of how he had illegally seized the land of poor people and transferred it to his and his wife’s name came to light. Hearing the evidence, the CO and other officials promised to have him booked under the Goonda Act. He has not been able to enter the area openly because of the public outcry against him. It was a victory for AIAWU local unit which pursued the case vigorously.
Unfortunately, this is not the only case of its kind in Sikta village. Some years ago 374 bighas of Gram Sabha land was turned over to the forest department to prevent it be taken over by landless adivasis who had been allegedly fooled by a lawyer Shitla Prasad (now a munsif magistrate) that the land would be theirs if they paid him a fee. They occupied the land but finally were forced to give it up under pressure of legal actions. The hapless adivasis then approached the district CPI(M) which has taken up their case. The forest department then promised to take back the cases as the adivasis had given up the land but they broke their promise. 64 adivasis have had to suffer police atrocities and a month’s imprisonment in this matter and their torture continues. The AIAWU demands their cases be taken back at once.
Addressing a rally in Mirzapur, Suneet Chopra, joint secretary of AIAWU told the people that the CPI(M) would not tolerate the manner in which the police was terrorising the poor who dared to organise themselves by branding them as naxalites. The naxalites for their part, forced poor villagers to feed and harbour them and the police did nothing to protect them although they knew about their presence. They only sent officials to their homes the next day and threatened to book them or pay a bribe. He pointed out that in this process neither the police nor the naxalites faced each other. Only the people and their democratic rights were the victims.
Suneet Chopra urged them to fight back by building mass organisations of agricultural labour, kisans, women and youth in the area. He urged them to build organisations that were based not on caste that divided the rural masses but on those that did the same kind of work. The emergence of class organistions alone would help them ensure their rights and livelihood. They would also help them fight for implementing the NREGA, schemes of the UP state for the poor and backward, widows pensions, BPL cards and struggles for land and house-sites.
Mirzapur has decided to launch mass movements for land, food, and justice with a mass rally to be held at the district headquarters on September 11, under the banner of the CPI(M) and its mass organisations.
The rally, presided over by Prahlad Kumar, the local panchayat president, was also addressed by CPI(M) district secretary, Pyarelal Jaiswal, Kisan Sabha leaders Anuj Pratap Singh and Dhananjay Singh and advocate Arvind Kumar, among other.