The Delhi Committee of the CPI(ML) New Democracy demands that the Modi Govt. answer the people whether its electoral promise of ‘creating jobs’ meant poorly paid casual, contractual, temporary jobs, finishing employment assurance for apprentices, pushing down pay and job security by privatizing and commercializing and giving hollow slogans . That is all that this Govt. has done, leading to tremendous restlessness among the youth with rising unemployment and sky rocketing prices of all essential commodities. Now even changing the baseline of GDP cannot camouflage the rising impoverishment of the majority of the people, the attacks on their land, their wages and their jobs.
Delhi Committee CPI (ML) New Democracy condemns the attempts, especially of the ruling party and also of other parliamentary parties, to divert the anger of the youth and the people on caste lines against the reservation policy. The reality is that there are no jobs worth the name at all, what exist are being made non regular, wages are being depressed. Production is export driven, the world is in the grip of economic depression and Indian rulers since 1947 have refused to develop the home market by radical land reforms. Modi Govt.’s pro corporate drive is further intensifying the attacks on the people. The anger of the people is being misdirected by the parliamentary parties and especially the party in power at the centre for electoral purposes and away from questioning of the pro corporate policies towards demanding scrapping of reservation policy. Keeping Bihar in mind, upper caste mobilization is being promoted and also attention is being diverted from the pro corporate attacks on the people.
Youth, students and common people of upper castes are being mobilized to demand inclusion in reserved sections to actually make a mockery of reservations. In this propaganda blitz people fail to realize that firstly there are no jobs and that government educational institutions are hardly increasing. Commercialization has driven education out of the reach of the majority of people. Instead of raising democratic demands for jobs for all and equal educational opportunities for all, youth and people in Gujarat have been mobilized by Hindutva forces. The leader of the agitation openly displays arms and is free to do so for many days though state repression is let loose on those fighting peasants who are forced to armed resistance in self defense. The situation is deliberately escalated by police violence and the VHP jumps in immediately suggesting a review of the reservation policy. Under attack is the issue of affirmative action for castes who have faced discrimination for centuries and are at the receiving end even in modern India.
The Delhi Committee of the CPI (ML) New Democracy calls on the people of the city to respond with vigilance. How is it that the religion based census was released overnight at this juncture despite being ready for long? Not only is polarization for Bihar Elections being attempted, there is also determined, all out effort at caste and communal polarization to distract from real issues. People’s anger has forced postponement of the changes in land acquisition laws while working class is poised to go on a daylong united strike against pro corporate attacks by Modi Govt. In Delhi and elsewhere students are fighting communalization, commercialization of education and the move to include education under GATS in WTO.
Delhi has seen repeated attempts by Hindutva forces in past one year to attempt communal polarization. We call on the people of Delhi and on all democratic and progressive forces to speak out against pro corporate policies, to forcefully demand policies for self-reliance for creating jobs for all and against casteist and communal polarization. Not end to socially affirmative action of reservation but pro people, anti-imperialist policies are the need of the hour.
CPI (ML) New Democracy
The judicial hanging of Yaqub Memon, an accused of Mumbai blasts of 1993, and the undue haste in which this was carried out on July 30, 2015 has once again highlighted the discrimination practiced by the different wings of the Indian state towards sections of Indian citizens. It has raised many questions and large sections of people have protested against this. A large attendance at the funeral of Yaqub Memon which has been dubbed as anti-national by BJP and Shiv Sena, testifies to the growing unease among large sections of people against the brazenness of such exercise.
Besides, the debate on desirability and efficacy of capital punishment, which has been going on for a long time and which gets particularly sharp whenever any capital punishment is going to carried out, the hanging of Yaqub Memon has raised two important sets of questions. The first of these relates to whether Yaqub Memon’s culpability in the blasts has been correctly assessed, whether mitigating factors like his cooperation with investigative agencies have been given due weightage and whether Indian agencies had promised him lenient treatment in exchange for his cooperation; in all, whether it qualified to be the “rarest of rare” case deserving capital punishment as repeatedly enunciated by the Supreme Court. Yaqub Memon’s culpability is based on a single witness; moreover his role has been ascribed to be only supportive. It is not only the gravity of the crime but the alleged culpability of the accused in that which has to be the basis of such assessment. The Supreme Court has sought to overcome this in Afzal Guru case by resorting to “conscience of society” a new addition to the principles of jurisprudence. Based on the hard evidence, neither Afzal Guru nor Yaqub Memon deserved capital punishment even under the existing law.
Equally relevant is the total disregard of his cooperation with law enforcement agencies and the commitment made to him by the intelligence agencies which were instrumental in arranging for Memon family to come back to the country. This aspect so disturbed the former Anti-Terrorism Division chief of R&AW, B. Raman who supervised the whole operation and which apparently had drawn appreciation from the then Prime Minister Mr. P. Narasimha Rao, to pen his opposition to the death sentence to Yaqub Memon. It is strange that Indian authorities who were in full knowledge of this, chose not to mention it before the Court.
Second and the even more disturbing question, relates to the communal bias in disposal of such cases by the judiciary and authorities dealing with disposal of mercy petitions of death row convicts. Courts have adopted different yardsticks in disposal of different cases. Uniformity is an essential quality of law where even differentiation also aims to serve the equality before law. Maya Kodnani convicted in Gujarat riots case and Amit Shah accused in cold blooded murder of a number of Muslims by Gujarat police have been dealt differently and shown leniency. ‘Conscience of the nation’ is not stirred when perpetrators of anti-Sikh genocide of 1984 and culprits of anti-Muslim killings and mayhem in Gujarat in 2002 go scot free, when Govts. conspire to defeat justice in such cases. Intervention of higher judiciary in these cases has not ensured punishment to the culprits of such heinous crimes. Judicial interpretation of ‘conscience of the nation’ has been quite pliable to say the least.
This aspect also stands out when one considers how Justice Srikrishna Commission Report into Mumbai anti-Muslim violence in January 1993 was consigned to the dustbin. Justice Srikrishna had held Bal Thakrey responsible for orchestrating killings of Muslims. Not only no action was taken against him, he was given a state funeral. Reports into Bhagalpur violence against Muslims too was also thrown aside and culprits were not brought to book. Recently, all the accused PAC personnel in Hashimpura killings were acquitted by the Court.
The undue haste with which Courts have disposed off Yaqub Memon’s appeals and executed the capital punishment has also been subject of people’s disquiet and anger. His mercy petitions were dismissed by Maharashtra Governor and President of India on the same day. Supreme Court sat the whole night ostensibly to clear the way for his hanging at 7 AM the same day. Even the customary reprieve of 14 days after the disposal of his last legal recourse before the hanging was not granted to him. It showed that the Govt. was in tearing hurry to hang him lest some new facts may come out to put a spanner in its works. While in Afzal Guru’s case many of these legal rights were given a go-by, in Yaqub Memon’s case the motions were gone through reducing them to a farce in the process.
The hanging of Yaqub Memon is a pointer to the direction in which RSS-BJP dispensation wishes to lead the country. It wants to drive home to minorities that they should not expect equal treatment at the hands of organs of the state. They are cynically deepening communal division in the country in order to intensify attacks against the people and disrupt the unity of the people against these attacks. RSS-BJP are helped in this by deep communalization of the state agencies particularly those constituting the deep state. BJP-RSS is also helped in this by the role of most of the parliamentary opposition parties, particularly main opposition party Congress, who have never confronted majority communalism, who recognize its utility in dividing the people and consolidating their votes among different sections of the people. Response to Yaqub Memon’s hanging has brought this out clearly.
It is the people of the country who should rise against this blatant discrimination practiced against the minorities, who should recognize and fight against this ploy to disrupt their unity against attacks on their lives, land and livelihood, who should realize that these attacks are part and parcel of the attacks against the Indian people who are groaning under poverty, destitution, backwardness and reeling under the heavy burden of price-rise, unemployment and corruption, who are denied even basic human existence by the ruling dispensation and who should refuse to facilitate the rulers to annihilate their meagre rights.
On 1st August newspapers were full of reports that there were ‘clashes between two groups’ in Khajuri Khas area of north east Delhi and that the Delhi police had acted to restore law and order. We were also contacted by several workers residing in the kuccha colony of Khajuri Khas, a poor and working class colony, that the area was communally disturbed. As this is an area where both Hindus and Muslims reside and also because the memory of incidents in Trilokpuri and Seelampur in the past few months are there, the Delhi Committee of Indian Federation of Trade Unions sent a team to investigate the incident. Com Rajesh, Secretary of the Committee, Com. Jai Prakash Joint Sec. and Com. Raja of West Delhi IFTU Committee accordingly visited the area on 2nd August 2015.
Location and Background
The team found that the area comprises of Khajuri chowk, less than half a kilometer away from which is a traffic light termed the kuchcha- pucca colony red light. To the left is the kuchcha Khajuri Khas colony and to the right is the main or pucca colony. The kuchcha colony comprises of five blocks. Muslim families predominate here who earn their living by selling fruits, vegetables and other items from redis or by plying rickshaws. Workers from other states like UP, mostly from majority community, have also purchased land here and live in houses they have built. There is one govt. primary school and one private school (up to 8th) in the area. The pucca colony houses mostly Gujjar families who are govt. employees, traders or do their own business. Here there are two big govt. schools where children from the kuchcha colony also come to study. These schools have a morning shift for girls and an evening shift for boys and are overpopulated. According to residents of the kuchcha colony, there are regular disputes regarding eve teasing of girl students by the youth of the colony. There is also a private school here where few students of the kuchcha colony also study. Overall, there is a significant class difference between the two colonies.
At the Khajuri Khas chowk there is a PCR ‘heading’ point where a PCR vehicle is stationed and just a small distance away, a police beat box which remains manned. Local people said there are normally up to four policemen there. The chowk is chock full of redi patri sellers, there is a bus stand, a regular market, a small mandir and autos and jeeps stand around the chowk. Thus it is a very busy and crowded square.
Around 500 yards away from the kuchcha pucca colony traffic light is situated the Thana of the area.
Events on 31st July 2015
On 31st July, at around 2:30 Am in the morning, near the Khajuri Khas Thana, police stopped a tempo carrying animal skin. This skin has subsequently apparently been sent for testing while drive and helper are in police detention though it is reported that they have appropriate licenses.
The same morning, at about 11 AM, at the kuchcha-pucca khajuri traffic lights, some vehicle slightly injured a cow which probably also fell down but later got up and limped away. This created a jam for some time as the light was not working. Around 40 youth of the majority community came from the side of the pucca colony and started saying that the Muslims have ‘cut up’ a cow. In a group, and blocking the road, they walked the less than half a kilometer distance to the Khajuri Chowk, which at that time of the day is specially crowded. The crowd, on seeing them, got confused and while some started gathering, other started trying to go away. The youth reached the chowk, stopped a Muslim youth coming on a bike and began beating him. An old Muslim (reportedly 65 years of age) tried to intervene and was also beaten up. The youth set fire to the bike. Another bike also belonging to a Muslim was also set on fire a little distance away. All this occurred in the proximity of the police beat box and the PCR point where eyewitnesses who have redis in the area and maintain that they were present on that day, maintain that the PCR van and police were standing. In the middle of this, word spread that Hindus had killed four butchers in the kuchcha colony and also a child. This further added to the ferment in the crowd. It later turned out that no one was killed and one child sustained accidental burns in a shop in the kuchcha colony that morning.
It is only after the burning of the bikes and by when the crowd had swelled further in number that the police appeared on the scene. The police then tried to force the crowd to disperse but made no attempt to arrest the youth who had tried to provoke a communal situation and who melted away into the crowd, despite there being two burning bikes, and at least two people having been assaulted. Police also resorted to caning- the crowd was apparently argumentative and agitated but mostly not organized and after a while drifted away. Thus it was mostly the good sense of the people there that prevented the situation from aggravating. Though people got agitated for a while due to the severe provocation, yet they did not succumb. People went and calmly picked up their children from school. However the market shut down and redis closed shop and returned to their homes. Police then maintained a heavy presence at the chowk.
Police has registered an FIR against ‘unknown persons’. The youth who tried to incite communal violence can be easily identified and are untouched. Both the burnt bikes are still standing a little away from the police beat box at the chowk, on the day the IFTU team visited the area. The rest of the area was normally going about its work; in fact due to the Sunday bazaar there was more crowd than usual and consisted of all communities.
It is absolutely clear that there was an attempt here to use a totally unrelated incident to provoke communal violence and at least communal polarization. The pattern resembles the Trilokpuri incident a few months earlier, wherein a group of youth from majority community marched into the area unchecked by police, indulging in violence and inciting others. However here, despite the youth burning bikes of Muslims, the crowd did not lose its good sense and that is why the situation did not result in mad violence like it did in Trilokpuri. However this is not for want of trying by Hindu communal forces. It is known that RSS is active in the pucca Khajuri colony. Yet such incidents do create communal polarization. The Muslim families and the Hindu workers have been living peacefully in the kuchcha colony. The workers had left in the morning for their work place that day and returned only at night. However they told the IFTU team that some incident had occurred because people protested as the Muslims ’had cut up’ a cow. When asked if they had met anyone who had seen this, or whether this routinely happened etc., they retracted.
The police is fully hand in glove with those Hindutva elements who attempted to provoke communal violence. With a police beat box, a PCR van present in the area, a crowd cannot un-noticed block a road and march up to the chowk and then beat up two Muslims and set two bikes on fire. The police chose not to intervene. Similarly, none of the youth has been detained for deliberately trying to incite communal violence by several provocative acts. Rather the police has put out a story that the incident happened because a tempo ‘carrying animal skin was detained by the police on information given by a member of the public’, in the daytime. This tempo was stopped by the police several hours earlier, in the middle of the night. The police must have passed on this information to elements in the pucca colony. There is no connection at all in time between the two events. Rather, now to go along with their story, the police have kept the driver and the cleaner of the tempo in their custody. The team could not ascertain their identity. The majority communal nature of the police is once again clear in this incident, as it was earlier in Trilokpuri, Seelampur, and other such incidents in Delhi in the past few months since the Modi Govt. came to power at the Centre. Such incidents have also taken place in areas surrounding Delhi in Gurgaon and in other parts of Haryana and in Uttar Pradesh.
The AAP Govt. of Delhi has made no comment on the incident. Always ready to take on the police and the Central Govt. when AAP legislators or their appointees are involved, this Govt. has not demanded that the Central Govt. enquire into the police being hand in glove with the Hindu communal elements in this incident. It has not even questioned the veracity of the police story, let alone condemning the role of the Delhi police. This is in keeping with the role of this party in earlier such incidents in Delhi especially in Trilokpuri, where there was an AAP MLA. They did not say a word against the police or the Central Govt. in the earlier such incidents.
The team demands that an enquiry be conducted by a sitting High Court Judge into the role of the police in the events in Khajuri Khas and for that the local police senior officers as well as the police personnel be shifted out of the area. The Hindu youth who attempted to provoke communal violence by spreading totally baseless rumors, by beating up innocent Muslim citizens and destroying their bikes in acts of arson should be arrested and charged. The bike owners should be compensated.
The team points out that this incident too is part of the series of incidents in Delhi where communal polarization has been attempted at the local level by Hindutva forces with police collusion. We call on the people of Delhi to remain vigilant, to pinpoint the trouble mongers and not allow our city, with its different religious communities, to be divided along communal lines.