February 27, 2010

Maoists Unleash Orgy of Violence


THE Maoists unleashed an orgy of violence when they attacked the East Frontier Rifles (EFR) camp at Silda in the West Midnapur district of West Bengal. Of the 36 jawans present at the time of the attack, the Maoists massacred 24 and left 7 others injured. Their main motive appears to be to loot the armoury apart from terrorising the area and making a blood-soaked statement with impunity that they shall defy all joint operations by the central and state forces to restore peace and normalcy in the area. The Maoists looted around 40 sophisticated firearms.

The attack took place in broad daylight on the day of the weekly bazaar, “haat”, that assembled near the camp. West Bengal director general of police has gone on record to state that the jawans found it difficult to retaliate fire in the fear of collateral damage as thousands had gathered for their weekly purchases. The West Bengal state government has ordered an official enquiry to establish if there was any case of intelligence failure or other factors which could have possibly prevented such an attack. This attack has only redoubled the resolve to put an end to this mindless violence that has gripped the area generating terror and anarchy.

On February 9, the union home minister had convened a meeting of the chief ministers of West Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar at Kolkata to discuss joint operations that need to be launched by the respective state forces along with the central forces to combat Maoist violence. By now it is clear that Maoist squads move across the borders of the adjoining states in order to avoid confrontation with the police and paramilitary forces of one particular state after they mount an attack in the other state. Since law and order is a state subject, the forces of one state cannot operate in the other except when explicitly permitted to do so. In order to prevent the Maoists from taking advantage of this situation to carry out their violent terrorist attacks it is necessary that all the four state governments and the centre act in unison to combat this menace. Media reports suggest that even in this attack on the EFR camp in Mednipur the Maoist squads returned to their hideouts in Jharkhand after the attack.

After the February 9 meeting the union home minister had publicly told the Maoists, “Once you halt violence, we are ready to talk to you. My earlier appeals were spurned by them and we had to continue with the operations and if the appeal is spurned again we will again start operations”. With this outrageous attack on the EFR camp it is clear that the Maoists have once again spurned the appeal of the union home minister. Repeatedly in the past the prime minister has stated both on the floor of the parliament and in public that Maoist violence constitutes the gravest threat to India’s internal security. It is time to meet this threat squarely in the interests of the nation and the people.

The Trinamul Congress continues to play footsie with the Maoists as clearly demonstrated by its chief unwilling to name the Maoists as being responsible for this attack. This despite the fact that the Maoist leaders themselves have publicly acknowledged in the media that they are responsible for this attack and this was their answer to the joint operations to be launched by the centre and various state governments. That the Maoists reciprocate the Trinamul Congress’s softness became clear when their spokesman informed sections of the media that the Maoists “will not attack or target the Trinamul Congress”. Two days before this attack on the EFR camp, the Maoist leader of West Midnapur announced, “We have decided that there will be no action or punishment of any kind against Trinamul functionaries”. A few days earlier Maoist leader Kishenji had extended support to the Trinamul and welcomed its leader’s move to demand the withdrawal of security forces from West Midnapur. (Asian Age, February 17). By now it is well-known that the Trinamul Congress has openly called for a halt of all operations by security forces against the Maoists so that the latter can continue to terrorise the people through their violence and browbeat them into opposing the Left Front in the forthcoming elections to the state assembly in 2011.

The union home minister had earlier sounded a little sympathetic to the Trinamul Congress demand when he said on February 9 that “she (Mamata) is concerned that the general people would be affected by the joint operations and it is a genuine concern. We have to take note of her concern and we would act accordingly.” With this latest outrageous attack it is clear that the Maoists are bent upon perpetuating their violence and are finding a high degree of solace and comfort to carry out their murderous attacks given the stand taken by the Trinamul Congress. The Congress Party and the UPA-II will have to take a call on explaining to the people how a union cabinet minister can act in defiance of the prime minister’s public utterances that the Maoist violence constitutes the gravest threat to India’s internal security.

While the Maoists have decided that they would not take any action or punishment against Trinamul functionaries, they have so far since the general elections murdered in cold blood 168 cadre belonging to the CPI(M). All these comrades belonged to those very exploited and oppressed classes whose interests the Maoists claim to espouse. The targeting and killing of key CPI(M) cadre is part of the gameplan to terrorise the general public and in turn favour the prospects of the Trinamul Congress in the forthcoming assembly elections. The Trinamul Congress is pursuing such a diabolical electoral agenda at the immense cost of human life and spread of anarchy.
Way back on January 15, the Trinamul Congress chief told a public meeting that she was giving a seven day ultimatum to the Maoists to come to the negotiations table. “Or else, I shall launch padayatras to restore peace and rule of law.” Even after six weeks there has been no padayatra and it is clear that such utterances were only for public consumption. Revealing the real motive she said at the same meeting: “if necessary, I shall try my best to prevail upon the union government to meet your demands including withdrawal of joint forces from Lalgarh.” (Telegraph, January 16)

It is clear that such political maneuvering at the cost of bloodshed and at the expense of loss of human life, spread of terror and anarchy, posing a grave threat to peace and normalcy as well as to India’s internal security cannot be allowed to succeed in the interests of our country and the future of our people. It is imperative that the joint operations with the central forces and a coordinated action by the four concerned state governments must be intensified to ensure that peace and normalcy returns to these areas and the threats to internal security are squarely met.

(February 21, 2010)


KOLKATA: The assault led by trained gunmen on the Silda camp of the eastern Frontier Rifles, mostly Gorkha personnel are members of the EFR – has been much in the headline-making lurid thoughts of the bourgeois media. The attack and its aftermath has been covered in what we can only call a fashion ‘more-than-in-depth,’ concocted tales dovetailed to facts - and ‘factions’ added in good measure to bolster the anti-Communist frame of mind of the scions of the ruling classes whose interests the craven and cowardly ‘Maoists’ faithfully subserve.

The attack, we would declare, was not a failure of the state government as Mamata banerjee would love to have us, well-nigh force us, to believe. When things become complex, one side of the two at difference with each other, become fraught with desperation.

Nonetheless we find it necessary contextualise the event, undoubtedly an incident of a very, very tragic variety, in a summary form. The Silda EFR camp has about 100 personnel. They are equipped with SLRs as well as .303 rifles plus other sharp assault weapons. They wear light gray-and-deep gray fatigue style uniform and wear protective headgear. Bullet proof vests are de rigueur only whenever they go out on patrol.

The attack came in the busy market day afternoon of 15 February. This is a common enough tactics of the ruling classes-sponsored ‘urban guerrillas; of the Latin American and the sub-Saharan African countries where, as in the case of the ‘Maoists,’ the gurilleros have always maintained a network of connection with the ruling élite of the respective regions, catering to the political command faithfully. During market time, we shall underline, the ruthless attackers can fire away, but not the police nor the para-military forces or ‘paras,’ as they are commonly known as.

The attackers had made repeated recce of the camp grounds, we learnt, posing variously as nautch girls, beggars, ‘disabled’ persons, and even ‘folk singers.’ Sources tell us that this they had carried out for months on end. Thus, the feed-back would be large enough to produce a thick folder of documents including photos. The attackers were at least 100-odd in number, including 20 women, and each armed with sophisticated assault rifles fitted with bayonets, as we found out during our visit to the spot, looking at the dead with multiple injuries, and a series of sad and tragic sights met us, leaving us atremble with pure rage.

Silda is tucked away in between Lalgarh and Belpahari, clearly a zone dominated by the presence of a large stretch of cover-giving forest and foliage, ever-green, so that winter makes no change to the skyline. An afternoon is the time when the morning patrol returns to base, the personnel take off the uniforms, and vests, and helmets, sling up the weaponry on the closets, remove the heavy-soled leathern jackboots, and nurse sore bodies and legs. The evening patrol goes out and away on foot tagged along and preceded by mine-sweeping four-wheelers, deep into the forest bridle paths.

This was the time when the ‘Maoists’ struck. They lobbed a series of patrol bombs or ‘Molotov cocktails,’ on the eastern and southern sides of the camp. As the panic-struck people ran helter-skelter, the killers opened up with whatever they had on hand. The area having been cleared, they then moved in rapid strides inside the camps.

The counter-firing from inside left at least twelve ‘Maoists’ dead, but that did not deter the attackers who shot and bayoneted to death 26 of the paras, systematically looted the armoury, went running to vehicles that had zoomed in from the fringe areas via perhaps a harsh command over Sat-Phones, piled the weapons and the dead murderers on the min-vans, and fled, one group towards Bankura, the other towards Jharkhand. They dragged off the dead attackers as is usual for them.

Seven ministers of the Bengal LF government led by Dr Asim Dasgupta went to the EFR base HQ at Salua the next day, the minute the clearance came from the police. They spoke to the bereaved family members. They assured them of all help, and despite provocation being made by a section of the people there who clearly owe allegiance not to the LF government, there was no such incident of jostle as blared on the television channels and splashed on the media headlines.

The more difficult enigma to unfold is the ‘reason why’ the left sectarians and their lackeys in the rainbow opposition coalition took the political decision to go on such a big-scale military action? Consider the following facts, if you will.

Over the past fortnight, 20-odd top-ranking ‘Maoist’ leaders and at least 50 ‘Maoist’ activists have been taken into custody and interrogated. Raids on hideout had produced laptops full of data on the outfit and its plans of action in the days to come. There has also been a clear caste-based split in the ranks of the killers of late, the Amiya Kundu fraction opposing, with arms, the Karan Hembram splinter. In the echelons of the higher castes, the Mahatos opposed all other high-caste compradres, especially the Vaishyas.

‘Kishanji’ no longer dares speak to the media openly. Another shadowy killer ‘Vikash’ has mysteriously disappeared, and sources believe that he may well have been killed or left seriously injured in a police action last month near Dharampur. The armed split between the now-incarcerated Chhatradhar Mahato-led PCAPA and the ‘Maoist’ squads of the Lalgarh block has come into the open. The metropolis-based ‘civil society’ would prefer Mamata Banerjee, Railway committees, fat perks et al, to the wilderness of politics, members of the ruling élite as they very much are.

However, certainly by far the most important factor is that the villagers are no longer fearful of the profile of the ‘Maoist’ gunmen whom they perceive on odd hours along the entire western part of the red clay zone of Bengal. It would be unhistorical to read too much into this as some well-wishers of us have done to the extent that the villagers are seen to be rebelling against the mightily armed marauders. This will ultimately happen – and this is what causes the killers an overwhelming fear to be felt creeping in. In between, the CPI (M) has been active in organising the mass protest leading into mass resistance here and there.

Economics is another factor. The ‘Maoists’ have carried on sans investment a lucrative trade in felling trees, logging them, and establishing a nexus with the forest mafia. This could only be done with at least a reluctant, fear-laden participation of the rural masses. This chain of exploitation has been snapped in very many areas as the tree-cutters, the headload carriers, and the forestry smugglers have learnt that getting cosy with the 'Maoists' was costing them too much—in terms of livelihoods as well as lives.

In the meanwhile, Mamata Banerjee has blamed the state government for the tragedy that unfolded at Silda. The central government in the respective ministry has wondered about a ‘failure’ of the state government. So, what is new?

What is new is the continuously rising curve of people’s anger at the killings going on. This shall be a vastly worrying factor for the guilty whose hands have been seen dipped in the blood of the innocent, too many times now.(INN)


KOLKATA: The demands of the para teachers who bear a bulk of teaching assignment in Bengal have raised certain legitimate demands. The demands have arisen in the backdrop of the decision of the Congress-led UPA government to draw the curtains on the total literacy campaign come 31 March of this year. The decision shall impinge on the financial arrangement and social position of the para teachers who number more than half-a-lakh in Bengal.

The para teachers have appealed to the state LF government to take up the financial responsibility of the teachers once the union governments sticks to its resolve to end the total literacy mission. Bengal CITU president Shyamal Chakraborty has said that he would raise the issue in the Rajya Sabha at the earliest opportunity.

CITU secretary Dipak Dasgupta spoke in some detail at the rally held by the para teachers’ organisation held on 18 February at Dharamtolla. Dasgupta said that in Bengal, the attacks being organised on the para teachers by the goons of the Trinamul Congress and Pradesh Congress added to the ‘norm’ that these two outfits have adopted for te para teachers in the way of not renewing the contract of the teachers in areas where the local bodies are under the thumb of these people.

Dipak Dasgupta also said that the state education minister had already written to the district magistrates and the TLC officials to renew the para teachers’ contract immediately. The state LF government shall ensure that the para teachers do not stand to lose their livelihood. Dasgupta also condemned in strong terms the physical attacks on the para teachers by the lackeys of the political outfits the ruling classes sponsored.

Other CITU leaders and LF government ministers spoke at the rally where financial assistance was extended to the families of the two para teachers whom the ‘Maoist’-Trinamuli hoods had killed at Midnapore west recently.

February 15, 2010


SILIGURI, 14th February, 2010: Over the past week, Bengal chief minister and CPI (M) Polit Bureau member, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has addressed a series of rallies in north Bengal, at Siliguri, Coochbehar, and Falakata in Jalpaiguri. Each of the rallies was packed with people from all sections of the society with women present in notably large numbers. They hung to Buddhadeb words of hope, of development, of poverty alleviation, of peace, and of units of the masses and lustily cheered his simple approach to the issues of the day. 12 February was the date of the assemblage.

The Siliguri rally was held under the auspices of the Darjeeling Left Front. Speaking strongly for the unity and integrity of the nation, Buddhadeb pointed an accusing finger at the separatist moves initiated by the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM), and said that there must not be a separate carved out of Bengal, reminding the mass rally that these were the words that he had earlier communicated to the Union Home Minister when the latter had come Kolkata to discuss the ‘Maoist’ issue with chief ministers of the eastern region.

Buddhadeb recalled that the present set up where the three hill subdivisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong, and Kalimpong were under the Hill Council, more power could be transferred to this autonomous body. That did not mean that there would be separate state, especially obnoxious and cunnings the idea being floated in separatist and divisive circles that a part of the dooars and terai, too, must be included in the ‘hill council.’

Buddhadeb reminded the big audience that whenever there had been attempts, in the past and more recently to divide up states along lines of language or other regional predomination feature, the political parties of the ruling classes themselves had split in a dangerous and fissiparous move. Buddhadeb exhorted upon the people of the plains and the hills to remain united and to work for the development of the region for the purpose of which a divisive move would be disastrously counter-productive. Other speakers at the rally included CPI (M) leaders Sandopal Lepcha, Ashok Bhattacharya, and Jibesh Sarkar.

The basic theme on which Buddhadeb wove his address at Coochbehar was the need, now and here, to organise mass protest against the evil acts of commission by the violent thugs in the pay and protection of their chieftain. The rally was another mammoth affair as people streamed in from far corners of the district on to the big sized Rashmela maidan. This was on 13 February.

While bitterly critical of the anti-people Trinamul Congress and its rainbow coalition of lackeys, Buddhadeb also commented on the separatist groups like the ‘greater Coochbehar,’ and the KLO-KMP, reminding the people how these oppressors could be made to go far back into the oblivion of history as the people’s protest and resistance mounted across the districts and elsewhere. Buddhadeb also briefly summed up the [principle points of attack on the central government on the issue of price rise, point of debate that must be taken to the masses wide and deep -- in order to strengthen the ongoing struggle against the UPA régime up in Delhi. Buddhadeb recalled how the Bengal LF government despite adversarial circumstances could keep the price of a few basic commodities to a reasonable bind over the years, Rs 2 per kilo rice being a prime example.

Next whistle stop for the rallying chief minister was the Falakata town maidan where he addressee yet another big gathering on 14 February. Here he was seen and heard to launch another stinging attack on the union government for the hiking of prices. Buddhadeb explained in detail the need for the mass of the people of the country to descend on Delhi before the parliament come 12 march. This was necessary to let the ears of the central be filled with a roar of protest against all its anti-poor moves.

Buddhadeb repeatedly called for a greater and yet bigger unity of the masses of stand against the policies of union government, the depredations of the separatists, and the conspiratorial moves of the divisive forces. CPI (M) and LF constituent leaders of the district addressed the rally that was preceded by a cultural programme(INN).


KOLKATA, 12th February, 2010: The Bengal-wide one-day strike of casual and thika workers has been a grand success. The strike was a CITU workers’ action on a big scale. Months back preparations had started in the way of propaganda and campaign among the unorganised workers who comprise close to 90% of the total work force.

CITU Bengal general secretary Kali Ghosh clearly stated during the campaign that both the state sector (in the guise of central government institutions) and the private sector, especially the MNCs routinely continued to flout the contract labour act which stated inter alia that marks out the advantages of continuing employment of contractual work force, especially at the time of renewal of contract.

The entire informal sector struck work in Bengal. The bourgeois media propaganda notwithstanding a successful strike was seen in the IT sector, the BSNL, the VSNL. Mobile tower employment sector, banks, ATMs, petrochemical, power, steel, coal, and in the myriads of state and central government departments and branches, both in the urban areas and in the mufussil struck work during the hours as applicable.

The principal demand of the CITU is that perennial employment must be ensured for jobs of a perennial nature. Until such permanence is set in, the casual workers must be provided with employment benefits due to permanent workers. Another demand of course is the long-standing on of equal pay for equal work.

Kali Ghosh has assured that if the management fails to implement the contract labour act properly, the CITU will go in for bigger movements and struggles in the days to come.

February 13, 2010


When the Home Minister came to Kolkata to meet the chief ministers of Bengal, Orissa, and Jharkhand over the modus operandi to “tackle ‘Maoist’ violence,” Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee handed over to him a slim document that summed up the continuity of developmental work going on relentlessly, with the welfare of the poor firmly in sight, in the violence-affected jangal mahal.

We can briefly summarise the basic premises of the six page document, thus.

1. The expenditure of allocated amount of REGA for Midnapore west has increased by nearly 98% from 2008 to 2009 with an additional creation of close to 85% of man-days

2. In Purulia the concomitant figures are respectively close to 147%, and 180%

3. In Bankura by the same criteria, the figures that are arrived at are 80% and 94%

4. There has been a doubling or more of expenditure in the supply of potable water with other allocations for development of the supply-related infrastructure in these districts

5. The laal maati or red clay area has seen in this period creation of nearly 800 km of pucca and metalled road with 275 km about to be completed as an additional component.

6. Until December of last year, more than 30 thousand of the poor have been in receipt of shelter under the Awas Yojana

7. 50 thousand ST elderly have received pension as members of the BPL

8. Nearly 14 thousand forest patta have been distributed

9. The total amount of land under pattadari thus reaches 5300 acres

10. The three red clay districts witness the successful running of 74 ICDS projects afresh plus 18 thousand Anganwadi Kendras

The document clearly shows how the pro-poor developmental efforts could be carries on relentlessly by the popular Bengal Left Front government despite obstacles of every kind having been thrown on the path of progress, and the bourgeois media have been at their best (worst?) trying spread canards about how the red clay zones remain in the backwater of development(INN).


BURDWAN,10th February,2010: Comrade Ram Narayan Goswami, former member of the central committee of the CPI (M) and a veteran of the all-India kisan movement passed away 9th February night at Burdwan. He has been ill for a long time with geriatric-related problems. Biman Basu, secretary of the Bengal CPI (M) and Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee have expressed their deep condolences at the passing away of the Communist veteran.

Born at a village near Naihati in what was then undivided 24 Parganas, comrade Goswami became associated with the Communist movement when a student at the Burdwan Raj college. He became a party member as far back as 1957. The same year saw him incarcerated by the then Congress government for his taking part in the historic food movement that swept Bengal.

As a CPI (M) leader from 1964, comrade Goswami acted as the confidential assistant to the late comrade Harekrishna Konar in the first UF government. By then, comrade Goswami had become a Party wholetimer. He was elected as the all-India general secretary of the AIKS back in 1975 at Khammam.

Comrade Goswami was elected to the CPI (M) state committee in 1977, and until he passed away, he remained a member of the state committee although later on as an invitee member. He was elected to the CPI (M) CC in 1990 and was the chairman of the state CPI (M) control commission in 2003. In between, he was briefly the state health minister in 1983, and was a three-time member of the Rajya Sabha from Bengal(INN).


KOLKATA: 9th February, 2010: The two state governments of Bengal and Jharkhand would join forces to corner and isolate the ‘Maoists’ in the two provinces, and there would be joint ops with participation of the various categories of police and para-military forces. The meeting convened at the Writers Buildings by union Home Minister P Chidambaram was attended among other by the chief minister of Orissa and by the two deputy chief ministers of Jharkhand.

Asked by the media later whether there existed a link between the ultra left sectarians and the Trinamul Congress, the Home Minister was unequivocal in his response that no political party participating in the parliamentary democratic process could or should maintain such connections. There are seventeen companies of the para-militaries and the police in ops in the jangal mahal, we recall.

This slap in the face of an ally was sought be covered up with frantic desperation by the bourgeois media whose scions were now out to prove that the Home Minister did not mention the concerned political outfit by name. However, the Home Minister did concede that the union government was ready for a dialogue with the ‘Maoists’ provided the latter put a stop to their acts of ‘sabotage’ as the Home Minister put it(INN).

Muslims welcome 10 percent job quota in West Bengal

2010-02-09 18:30:00

The 10 percent quota in government jobs for backward Muslims in West Bengal is being welcomed by leaders of the community who say it's not really enough but add that something is better than nothing.

Maulana Abdul Hamid Nomani of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind described the move as a 'step in the right direction' for the welfare of backward Muslims in West Bengal.

'But it is not enough considering the pathetic socio-economic situation of Muslims (in the state). Nonetheless something is better than nothing,' Nomani, the Jamiat spokesperson, told mediapersons.

The Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind is one of the leading Islamic organisations in India founded in 1919 with its organisational network spread all over India.

The Communist government in West Bengal Monday announced 10 percent reservation in government jobs for other backward classes among Muslims.

The move comes years after a government appointed committee observed that in West Bengal where 25 percent population is Muslim, their share in government jobs was a paltry 4.2 percent.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on expected lines, has criticised the announcement, saying it was unconstitutional to give reservations on religion lines.

But Nomani differs. He said backward classes among Muslims can be granted the quota on their socio-economic status as it was legally possible.

'We need to invoke article 341 of the Indian constitution,' he said referring to the act that gives the president of India an authority after taking the advice of the governor of any state or union territory, to demarcate tribes, races or castes or a part of any group as Scheduled Castes, in accordance with the law of the constitution.

'We are not demanding quota for all Muslims. Muslims who enjoy a decent life and form a creamy layer don't need it and should be exempted. It should be reserved for those who need it the most,' he said.

Former MP Syed Shahabuddin of the Delhi-based National Movement for Muslim Reservation (NMMR) said it was an 'epoch-making' initiative.

'The NMMR welcomes it and facilitates the West Bengal government. Though more needs to be done but it is better than not being done anything at all,' Shahabuddin said.
The West Bengal government's announcement came on a day when in Hyderabad, the Andhra Pradesh High Court quashed a state law providing four percent jobs to certain identified backward classes among Muslims.

'That was unexpected. Some fundamentalist parties are opposing it to secure their vote banks. What else does the government need to prove Muslims are under represented and their economic condition is pathetic and much below than the national average,' Nomani said.

Shahabuddin termed the high court ruling as 'unfortunate and deplorable'.

'The judgment quashes the Andhra Pradesh act as being religion-specific and potentially an encouragement to conversion. The reference to conversion shows a streak of Hindutva mentality and is absolutely irrelevant,' he said.

The court, he added, 'has ignored the fact that under Article 15(1) reservation may be religion-specific or caste-specific or race-specific or language-specific if the social group concerned passes the test of backwardness.'

West Bengal announces reservation for Muslims in govt jobs


KOLKATA(INN): 8th February 2010-The Bengal Left Front government has decided that there should be as per the principal recommendations of the Mishra Commission, a 10% reservation of the economically handicapped sections of the Muslims. The reservation excludes the ‘creamy layer.’

The main aspects of the recommendations being initiated are:

· For eligibility, monthly income of the concerned person must be below Rs four lakh 50 thousand
· This is the first instance of reservation for Muslims in the country
· A decision has been kept in consideration for similar reservation for Sikhs and Christians
· Of the 66 communities marked up as OBC’s, 12 are Muslims.
· The OBC Muslims comprise 16 lakh 38 thousand or 8.3% of the total OBC population pool of Bengal.

The ore populous of the Muslim OBC’s include Jola, Fakir/Sain, Hawari, Dhunia, Kasai, Nashya sheikh, Pahadia Muslim, Shershabadia, Rayeen/Kunjra, Hajjam, Chaudhooli, and Patidar. Over and above this list, further, newer applicants are the Khotta Muslims, Sardars, and Beldars.

The cases of four other backward Muslim communities, i.e., Mahaldar, Abdaal, Baasni, and Kaankhalifa are under active consideration, the chief minister said at the Writers’’ Buildings whilst announcing the new category of reservation.
KOLKATA: PTI, 8 February 2010, 03:37pm IST -On a day when the Andhra Pradesh High Court struck down job reservation for Muslims, the West Bengal government on Monday announced 10 per cent quota in employment for the community under the OBC category. The state government declared the quota for the Muslims who were educationally, socially and economically backward in the state. "We have decided to accept the recommendations of the Ranganath Mishra Commission and will take steps to implement it," chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee told newsmen at the state secretariat without waiting for the Centre's decision on the report. He said like other states there was reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs in the state. The government, he said, had begun the process of identifying Muslims who were educationally, socially and economically backward. There was 7 per cent reservation for OBCs in the state. "After identification, we will provide reservation to them under the OBC category," the chief minister said. Earlier in the day, a Constitution bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court struck down a state law providing 4 per cent reservation in educational institutions and jobs to 15 groups belonging to the Muslim community. Soon after the court's order, Andhra chief minister K Rosaiah directed the state advocate general D S R Murthy to file a special leave petition in the Supreme Court challenging the verdict.

Panel to fast-track Muslim job quota
Swati Sengupta, TNN, 12 February 2010, 05:54am IST
The Left Front government is pulling out all the stops to woo the Muslims. With just around a year left for the 2011 assembly elections, the government on Thursday decided to appoint a panel to grant OBC status to different backward groups in the state. This was done to put its proposal for 10% job reservation for Muslim OBCs on the fast track. Interestingly, the new committee — to be headed by chief secretary Asok Mohan Chakrabarti — will be vested with powers to supersede the West Bengal Commission for Backward Classes that was appointed 17 years ago for the same purpose. "The new committee will revise the existing OBC list. This involves including new groups and excluding existing ones, though the immediate purpose is clearly to include more Muslim groups in the OBC category so that they can benefit from the government’s recent decision," a bureaucrat said. The formation of the panel is significant as it will now be executing the order as per the Left Front government’s stand. The commission, on the other hand, is an independent body comprising experts and may not necessarily tow the government’s view on who deserves the OBC status. Officials said the state government is well within its right to form the panel and has legal sanction. Under the West Bengal Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993, the state may "undertake a revision of the lists with a view to excluding from such lists those classes who have ceased to be backward classes or for including in such lists new backward classes". While the Act mentions the commission has to be consulted, officials indicated the new panel would have the final say. The committee’s decisions would also be cleared by the state cabinet. According to rule, the revision can be done only 10 years after the formation of the commission. So the state had the power to revise the list since 2003, but chose to do it now, evidently to woo the Muslim voters. In last year’s Lok Sabha polls, the CPM lost a major chunk of the Muslim votebank. After the polls, the party had identified the loss of Muslim votes as a key reason for the debacle. For the past six months, the Commission has been examining the cases of several applications from different groups of Muslims as well as Hindus on OBC status. Recently, the commission granted OBC status to four Muslim groups and more are expected to get the nod. But the government isn’t taking any chances. It wants to act at the earliest so that the benefit of 10% job quota may reach the grassroots before the elections. The largesse for backward Muslims is aimed essentially at the voters in minority-dominated areas of Malda, Murshidabad, and South 24-Parganas. The state’s decision follows the Ranganath Mishra Commission report that recommended 10% reservation for Muslims and 5% for other minorities on the basis of the Sachar Committee report.

February 10, 2010


KOLKATA, 7th February, 2010(INN): Numbers are important. Numbers are also a socially-determined paradigm in a situation of struggle. How many thronged the Kolkata maidan on 7 February 2010 is a determinate of the circumstances of the massive, overwhelming response - to the evolving political situation.

Just consider the backdrop, if you please. More than two hundred of the tested and tried valiants of the CPI (M) and the Bengal left Front have been butchered over the past year and the body count never stops growing. Thousands yet live in terror, in makeshift sheds of light polythene, in the unusually long and bitter Bengal cold. Leaders are targeted.

The bourgeois media is alive with an expectancy of, certainly, the very wrong kind. The opposition leader chortles on the TV screen about the ‘imminent’ transference of office in Bengal, and well, maybe elsewhere.

A section of the Bengal bourgeoisie is up-and-about spreading canards about how the spirit of the Party ‘has started to flag.’ Then the brigade rally came. The slogan rang out, loud-and-clear, from the masses of the people that a new phase of the struggle – of protest and of resistance – has commenced.

Well-known faces of the jangal mahal whom we had met before our brief bout of ill-health at the height of the killings at the hands of the ‘Maoists’ and their Trinamuli informers-at-work, greeted us with the clenched fist salute, thin arms quivering with rage – and a sway of happiness - as they mingled friendly with the massive people presence that was the rally of the 7 February.

People came from afar- some in token hundreds, but they came in endless, orderly streams across Bengal and then along the roads, streets, lanes, and by-lanes of Kolkata. Busy professionals mingled with the workers, students with the kisans, youth with the khet mazdoors.

We saw a doctor, literally run out, hastily tucking in a stethoscope into a large handbag, out of a eastern Kolkata medical institution on the CIT Road and catch up with her comrades-at-arms of the branch that she leads, and then she mixed seamlessly, happily into the slogan-shouting river of humanity.

The speeches were important in their political clarity. The message was clear. The masses must realise that the struggle for development and change must be stepped up. No places of complacency now existed in a class-divided society. The enemy of the people was on the move, at the gates, and the ruling classes, with their sponsored political outfits tagging along, were gradually making themselves geared up for a ‘Paribartan,’ (complete political transformation) -- of the wrong kind. The masses look to the vanguard Party of their own to lead the way in the struggle that unfolds across Bengal.

Chief Minister and CPI (M) leader Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was sharp in his argumentation against the danger that had both indigenous and foreign origin. The stakes here and abroad backed the ultra left -- and the outfits of the loot-and-scoot variety, like the Trinamul Congress -- with their anarchic bursts of anti-people atrocities.

Buddhadeb also reminded the packed gathering that covered every millimetre of the maidan, and beyond, that the time had come to build up resistance to the unholy efforts going on towards creation of social and political anarchy in Bengal, to bring back the days of the jackal of the seventies.

The Left Front was the consequence and the fruit of the long periods of struggle from the sixties of the last century, said Buddhadeb who went on to point out that it had been the LF and the CPI (M) that had struggled to give back to the masses the dignity they had lost during the oppressive régimes of the past. Buddhadeb spoke about the redistributive land reforms, the recognition of the share-croppers as land-holders, and he talked about the development of the rural sector even in the remotest parts of Bengal

Buddhadeb also spoke about the growth in the industrial sector as well in the infrastructural and services sectors in Bengal. Any Paribartan would now be aimed farther development of the mass of the people and of the poor in particular, for ‘we too want change, for the betterment of lives and livelihoods of the people,’ said the CPI (M) Polit Bureau member.

Buddhadeb denounced strongly the splittists’ acts of omission and commission for the nefarious plan here was the divide the people along lines of region, religion, languages, caste, and creed. The democratic movement must resist these efforts. Buddhadeb concluded with the words that while the CPI (M) and the LF had come far, there was plenty of mileage to cover with the goal of change for the better. The Party and the LF must stand firm in the effort to lead the masses towards that task that lay inexorably ahead.

Biman Basu who presided over this massive gathering of a militant nature had an underlying premise to his short, sharp address. The task was to isolate the forces of anarchy and unite the poor against the noxious attempts to destabilise Bengal.

Recalling the departed Communist leader Jyoti Basu, Bimanda said that a principal demand of the rally had been to protest and resist the efforts of the Congress-led UPA government to shift the economic and financial burden onto the groaning shoulders of the toiling masses. The essential commodities act must be revived and put in place and taken out from its present doldrums as a paper tiger, which the big tycoons might not laugh at it.

The price rise and the failure to control it was a deliberate exercise of the central government to add to the treasure chest of big capital and its lackeys in the venture capital market. Hoarding and racketeering was not looked to, and black marketing was allowed to go unbridled. The recommendation of the Kirit Parikh committee to increase the prices of such essentials as cooking gas and kerosene, plus the cascade of effects it would have on the economy as transport costs would go up with additional fuel surcharge, must be resisted through struggle and the people must take to the streets, throughout the country and not excluding the capital.

Bimanda also spoke at some depth about the economic aspect of the issue of employment or rather the lack of it thanks to the ill-gotten efforts of the central government to abolish and/or keep vacant lakhs of posts in all cadres of service. The youth is particular would see this as a cruel move. Protests were needed, and now, not later for the issue brooked no delay.

The concluding words of Biman Basu comprised a rousing call of a mass struggle against the moves by the forces of reaction and sectarianism to endanger the flow of pro-poor development in Bengal under the LF and the LF government. Also addressing the rally were CPI (M) leader Mohd Amin (who spoke in Hindi laced as usual with Urdu), Ashok Ghosh of the Forward Bloc, Manju Kumar Majumdar of the CPI, Kshiti Goswami of the RSP and by other Left Front leaders. CPI (M) Polit Bureau members Sitaram Yechury and Nirupam Sen were present at the rally.
By B Prasant