People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 18

May 02, 2010



Country Witnesses Total, Successful, Peaceful Hatal


THE all-India hartal, that took place on April 28 as scheduled, scored massive response from the people all over the country. The action was a follow-up of the Left parties� national level rally organised in New Delhi on March 12 and the Jail Bharo (Fill up Jails) campaign all over the country on April 8. We have already carried the reports of these actions in these pages.

All these actions, including the hartal on April 28, were meant to register the people�s anger and protest against the skyrocketing and unending rise in the prices of all the essential commodities across the board, and against the administered hikes in the prices of diesel, petrol and fertilisers.

Though it was the Left parties which had initially called for the all-India hartal, the people�s mood against the price rise was such that nine more non-Congress, secular parties extended support to the hartal call and joined the actions on April 28.

Below we publish a cross section of the reports that we have so far received from various parts of the country on the success of the hartal call, accompanied by rail roko (halt the trains), rasta roko (block the roads), demonstrations, processions, dharnas (squat-in), court arrest and other protest actions.   



THE nationwide hartal on demands affecting the cause of the people was a glorious success in West Bengal. There was spontaneous participation by the people everywhere. We saw innumerable red flags fluttering in the capital city, Kolkata, and the surrounding districts, as marches were taken out in support of the people�s demands. Wall writings were done in view of the upcoming civic polls.

Shops downed shutters. The chimneys no longer belched smoke. The furnaces were cold. The rice paddies were deserted. Trains, Duranto or otherwise, halted, stopped in their tracks. Passengers were provided with food packets and cold water plus hot tea at numerous stations, and mothers were supplied with milk pouches for them to feed the babies. CPI(M) and the Left Front workers attended to the affected people.

In Kolkata, the entire city, as one bourgeois news channel mournfully put it, turned into a vast football ground, interspersed by with numerous cricket �pitches.� Children as well as youth had a great �field day.� Government offices, banks, post offices, ports and docks, airports remained devoid of activities. The Kolkata metro had a kind of �trial run� in the morning and then the staff joined the rank of the strikers.

There were occasional notes of discordance. Particularly unfortunate was the incident at the Pandua railway station in Hooghly where Trinamul miscreants snatched food packets from CPI(M) volunteers and threw the precious food and milk onto the tracks. Altercations ensued and the goons soon made themselves scarce in front of the popular wrath. Three CPI(M) workers received injuries.

In the terai region and dooars areas, an unholy alliance of the GJM and the so-called Adivasi Vikas Parishad (AVP) saw some work being forcibly done in a few tea gardens. The percentage was small enough to be insignificant. 

As Biman Basu, state secretary of the CPI(M), put it during a crowded press conference in the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan, the hartal was total, successful and peaceful as well. Elsewhere, Pradesh Congress goons beat up Trinamul counterparts and vice versa over �tickets� for the civic body polls. The people chose to ignore the antics.

B Prasant



THE hartal was complete in Kerala as well. People fully cooperated with the call for hartal. All the shops and commercial establishments remained closed. Road and rail traffic were paralysed. LDF workers halted the trains at several places and then the rail traffic was completely paralysed from Kasargode to Thiruvananthapuam. Ministers did not go to the office. Ministers who are the members of the CPI(M)�s Kerala state secretariat walk down all the way from their respective residences to the AKG Centre to attend the secretariat meeting. Attendance in government offices in Kerala was very nominal. The hartal was a total success in the state and resembled a bandh to a big extent. In major cities and towns, LDF workers held demonstrations in support of the hartal.



THE 12 hour hartal called by 13 political parties scored total success in Tripura. All over the state, people participated in it spontaneously and brought normal life came to a standstill in all the subdivisions of the state. All the shops and markets were closed excepting the ones that were exempted as parts of emergency services. Roads and highways wore a totally deserted look as buses, autos and rickshaws did not ply. All the bus stands including the inter-state bus terminus were totally empty. Trains were off the track; the otherwise busy Agartala railway station too was completely deserted.

Schools and colleges throughout the state were closed. Attendance in government and private offices was nil. Picketing was organised at the gates of numerous offices. The hartal was a complete success in the tea gardens of Sadar North area and in North Tripura district. A complete shutdown was observed in the Bodhjungnagar industrial growth centre near Agartala.  Courts, banks, insurance companies and other financial establishments also remained closed. Transport workers� organisation and other mass organisations took out processions at different places. All over the state the hartal remained totally peaceful, with no untoward incident reported from any corner of the state.

The Tripura Left Front Committee heartily congratulated the people of the state for making the hartal a complete success. In a statement, it termed the hartal as spontaneous and unprecedented in the recent times. The huge response of the people was, maintained the Left Front Committee, an outburst of their anger over the spiralling rise in the prices of essential commodities and the centre�s negative attitude towards keeping a check on it. At the same time the committee appealed to the masses to thoroughly rebuff the anti-people forces in the ensuing general election to the TTAADC on May 3 by ensuring the victory of the Left Front candidates in all the seats with a greater margin.

                                                                                                 Rahul Sinha



NEARLY 10,000 activists including state leaders belonging to Left parties were taken into custody when they tried to block trains and buses at different places in Tamil Nadu as part of nation-wide hartal protest against price rise.

THE hartal was a total success in the western, eastern and southern parts of the state. In Tirupur, the western Tamilnadu city of garments and hosiery items, the general strike scored total success with almost all shops and commercial establishments downing their shutters. More than 1,000 garment and hosiery manufacturing units remained closed, as majority of the workers belonged to the unions affiliated to the Left parties.

In Coimbatore, nearly 50 per cent of the shops and commercial establishments, particularly in busy market areas, remained closed while traffic was thin on the road. A majority of private buses and auto-rickshaws stayed off the roads.

The Shoranur-Coimbatore Passenger, Kannur-Coimbatore Passenger and Coimbatore-Kannur Passenger were cancelled altogether due to the hartal, railway sources said. The Coimbatore- Thrissur Passenger was also cancelled between Coimbatore and Shoranur stations.

In Karur and Erode districts also, which are in the western part, textile manufacturing units remaining closed. Tens of thousands of workers participated in the strike.

In the eastern Tamilnadu, Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts witnessed total strike. In Kumbakonam, most of the shops remained closed and vehicular traffic was thin. In Cuddalore, private buses did not ply in the district while shops and business establishments downed their shutters.

In the southern part of the state, there was total hartal in Kovilpatti, Rajapalayam, Sankarankoil, Srivaikundam, Thoothukudi and many parts of Kanniyakumari, Thirunelveli, Virudhunagar and Sivagangai districts. Textile industries, match box and crackers manufacturing industries remained closed due to workers going on a strike. In Dindugul district, all 40 leather factories were closed and nearly 2500 workers struck work.

In the capital city of Chennai, more than 500 activists were taken into custody at the Central Railway station when they tried to block the Navajeevan Express. More than 500 cadre were arrested when they tried to disrupt the suburban rail services at Guindy station. Another 500 workers were held when they tried to stage a demonstration at the Tiruvottiur post office.

In many other parts of the state, activists of the CPI(M), CPI, AIADMK, MDMK and AIFB staged road roko actions and hundreds of them were arrested by the police. Auto-rickshaws in many parts did not come out on the road. Transport workers belonging to the CITU, AITUC and other unions participated in the strike. Nearly 10,000 medical representatives also struck down their work.

In many parts including Dindigul, Vatthalagundu and Palani, DMK goons unleashed attacks on CPI(M) cadre. These attacks took place in the presence of the police. In Trichy and some places, DMK men attacked the traders also and forced them to open their shops.

CPI(M) state secretary G Ramakrishnan and CPI state secretary D Pandian condemned this anti-democratic attitude of the ruling DMK and appreciated the grand response of the strike call coming from the people from all walks of life.

Meanwhile, opposition members, including those of the AIADMK, were evicted en masse from the Tamilnadu Assembly after they stalled proceedings for about 15 minutes as they sought to raise the price rise issue over which the Left and other parties had called for a nationwide bandh. The problem started when the AIADMK, CPI(M), CPI and MDMK members wanted to raise the issue during the question hour but were declined permission by the speaker R Avudaiyappan. However, the members did not relent and shouted slogans. Despite repeated appeals by the speaker to resume their seats, they continued slogan shouting. After about 15 minutes, the speaker ordered the marshals to evict them en masse. The evicted members continued to shout slogans against price rise outside the house also. CPI(M) floor leader K Balabharathi told reporters that the speaker had denied permission to raise the price rise issue.

S P Rajendran



LEADERS and activists of the Left parties and Telugu Desam Party held demonstrations in towns and villages across Andhra Pradesh in support of the all India hartal on April 27. They also staged sit-in in front of depots of the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC), leading to curtailment of services in many places, including Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Vishakapatnam and other districts.

Government offices, both central and state, were closed in most districts along with banks and other offices. Owners of shops and other business establishments voluntarily shut down in support of the hartal throughout the state. The hartal was near total in Khammam district. Even the cinema halls remained closed till evening.

The industrial centre in Vishakapatnam, which houses the Vishakapatnam Steel Plant, the Bharat Heavy Plates and Vessels (BHPV) etc, was deserted with workers and employees striking work. Express trains passing through were obstructed. Similarly, there was total bandh in the Singareni collieries in Ramagundam.

CPI(M) and CPI state secretaries, B V Raghavulu and K Narayana respectively, and the leaders of the Forward Bloc, RSP and TDP led the protest at the busy RTC Cross Roads Junction in Hyderabad, bringing traffic to a grinding halt. Amidst resistance, the leaders and scores of Left activists were arrested by the police and taken to the police station in Gosha Mahal locality. Telugu Desam chief N Chandrababu Naidu met the Left leaders there. Speaking to newspersons, he said the failure of the Congress governments at the centre and in Andhra Pradesh to keep the prices of essential commodities under control has made life difficult for common people.



BRAVING the scorching heat of the summer season, thousands of activists of the CPI(M) and other Left and secular parties conducted militant actions like rail roko and rasta roko in several districts of Maharashtra on April 27 to denounce the UPA central government�s hike in the prices of diesel, petrol and fertilisers and to protest against the central and state government�s neo-liberal policies that have led to astronomical rises in the prices of essential commodities across the board.

In Solapur, a huge rally of nearly 20,000 people, led by the CPI(M) and CPI, marched to the district collector�s office and blocked all the roads on the way. There had already been a Solapur bandh on April 8, coinciding with the Left parties� nationwide Jail Bharo stir. This was the largest protest rally in Solapur since the state assembly elections last October and the lion�s share of participants had been mobilised by the CPI(M). They included a large number of unorganised women workers from the beedi and domestic work sectors, powerloom workers, big sections of the Muslim minority and also the peasantry.

In Thane district, thousands of CPI(M) activists conducted militant rasta roko stirs at 10 centres in the Talasari, Dahanu, Vikramgad, Jawhar, Mokhada and Wada tehsils and thus brought all traffic in the tribal belt of Thane district to a complete halt for several hours. Over 5000 activists were arrested and then released. The prestigious Mumbai-Delhi National Highway No 8 was blocked for nearly two hours at two places --- at Dhundalwadi in Dahanu tehsil and Talasari in Talasari tehsil --- leading to serpentine queues of traffic that stretched for over 25 km on both sides due to the blockade. In the other eight centres, it was the state highways that were blocked for over six to eight hours. They included the Dahanu-Nashik and Thane-Manor highways. Here also there were huge traffic snarls due to the blockade.

Rail Roko actions were held at three places in Maharashtra --- Igatpuri in Nashik district where over 800 of the CPI(M) took part, Nandurbar in  Nandurbar district where 286 of the CPI(M) took part and Hatkanagale in Kolhapur district where over 200 of the Republican, Left and Democratic Front (RLDF) took part.

In Nashik district, a 2500-strong rasta roko stir was held in Dindori tehsil and a 1000-strong rasta roko in Chandwad tehsil. Rasta roko stirs were held in several other districts also.

In Parbhani district, a total bandh was observed in the tehsil centres of Selu and Manvat and rallies were organised there. In Parbhani city there was a big joint rasta roko stir that was eminently successful. In Nagpur, Hingoli, Latur, Kolhapur and other centres, rallies and demonstrations were held.

In Mumbai, big demonstrations were held at Andheri, Bhandup and Wadala. Reports from some other districts are awaited. Most of these actions received excellent publicity in the local print and electronic media.

At Nandurbar, a gathering of more than 500 people, wielding placards and shouting slogans, walked through the streets with red flags. The militant demonstration stared from Hutatma Shirish Chowk, moved through various routes and went up to the Nandurbar railway station. In spite of the presence of a large police force, the peaceful action programme by 286 CPI(M) cadre staged a rail roko agitation and stopped the Ahmedabad-Puri Express while shouting slogans on the tracks. Shahada also saw 239 people conducting a rasta roko agitation, thus paralysing the traffic. At Prakasha, shops remained closed. There was a demonstration and rasta roko agitation, causing traffic jam. Here the CPI(M) members were joined by the slogan shouting local people of Prakasha, shouting slogans. The successful protest action covered the whole of Prakasha, including the busy  market place. In Taloda, a rasta roko agitation was conducted, affecting the traffic on the Aamlad Junction Road.

In Dhule city, the CPI(M), CPI, CITU and Satyashodhak Communist Party conducted took out a procession through the main market which includes the area of Old Agra Road. All the shops pulled down their shutters.



THERE was a successful bandh in Orissa on the day, paralysing all the central government offices, central public sector undertakings, post offices, BSNL offices, the Reserve Bank of India branch office, headquarters of the East Coast Railway, banks and insurance offices. In most of the districts, the states government offices including block and tehsil offices also remained closed. The judiciary, including the High Court, did not function. Road transport and railway traffic were paralysed. Shops and commercial establishments kept their shutters down. About 2,000 activists of the CPI(M) alone were arrested. In Orissa, seven parties, viz the Biju Janata Dal, CPI(M), CPI, Forward Bloc, Samajwadi Party, RJD and JMM, organised the hartal in response to the call given by 13 Left and secular parties at the national level.

Janardan Pati    



THE nationwide hartal called for by 13 parties including the Indian Nation Lok Dal (INLD) elicited encouraging response from all sections of the people, making the action an overwhelming success. In fact, people expressed their anger through a general strike in all the districts of Haryana state.

The strike was complete in all the main bazaars and other markets in Rohtak city. In other cities and towns as well, slogan shouting workers and activists of the sponsoring parties took out processions against the rise in the prices of essential commodities and demanding the roll-back of the enhanced prices of petrol, diesel and fertilisers.

Leaders of the INLD, CPI(M) and other parties have warned the UPA government that it must learn a lesson from the widespread bandh and reverse its anti-people policies.

                                                                  Inderjit Singh



THE call for an all-India hartal by four Left parties and nine other non-Congress secular parties against the relentless rise in prices evoked a very good response all over Punjab. Rail roko, chakka jam, demonstrations and dharnas took place at more than 30 places all over the state, and more than 20,000 people participated in these actions. The protesters shouted slogans against the anti-people and pro-rich policies of the UPA-2  government.

The actions took place at Ludhiana, Dhuri, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, SBS Nagar, Garhshankar, Mukerian, Rajpura, Jalandhar, Gurdaspur, Batala, Pathankot, Anandpur Sahib, Tarn Taran, Bathinda, Mansa, Budhlada, Muktasar, Moga, Patran, Shahkot, Nakoder, Sultanpur, Sardulgarh and Mohali, among other places.