Friday, June 16, 2006

Saffron witchhunt against CPI(M-L) in Jharkhand

The CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya is the latest target of the BJP Government's witch-hunt of CPI(ML) leaders in Jharkhand. Comrade Dipankar along with four others face the prospect of conviction under a range of charges including that of attempted murder.

Their crime? They led a March to the Assembly of the newly formed Jharkhand State on March 1, 2001 to protest against a spate of incidents of police brutality, including the infamous and unprovoked firing on Muslim youth at Doranda and on tribals at Tapkara protesting displacement by the Koel Karo Dam.

Charges have been framed before a fast-track court in Ranchi, charging CPI(ML) leaders and activists Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya (General Secretary, CPIML), Om Prakash, Harsh Narayan Singh and Sita Ram Singh as well as Motu Oraon, a labouring tribal youth who was a bystander, under Section 147, 114, 148, 149, 353, 323, 324, 307, 188, 431 of the IPC and Section 17 of the CLA (Criminal Law Amendment Act). The CLA is incidentally a draconian act (which came into force between TADA and POTA), which, despite being repealed, nevertheless continues to be frequently invoked in Jharkhand.

For the General Secretary of a recognised political party, leading a political protest to voice certain issues before a representative Assembly, to be charged with abetting attempted murder', is probably unprecedented in the annals of Indian politics. The only comparable precedent can be found in the arrests of political leaders during Emergency. How does one explain this outrageous event?

Protest Against Police Raj Meets Crackdown and Persecution

The BJP Government in Jharkhand in 2001 showed its true colours soon after its precarious rise to power, with its police unleashing terror not only against minorities but also against the very tribals in the name of which the new State had been formed. The police firing at Doranda, Kurpania and Tapkara sparked off anger not only in Jharkhand, but all over the country.

It was to express this spirit of protest, and to appeal to the people's representatives in the Jharkhand Assembly to uphold the aspirations and demands of the Jharkhandi people, that thousands of people under the banner of CPI(ML) marched to the Assembly on March 1. This mass act of public political protest, instead of meeting with a political response, was greeted with repression, political victimisation and witch-hunt.

The Assembly March was brutally lathicharged; newspapers carried photographs of dozens of CPI(ML) activists lying bloody and battered, and of the police dragging CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya and late Comrade Mahendra Singh (then CPIML's lone MLA in the Jharkhand Assembly) by their clothes and hair. Comrade Dipankar was detained in judicial custody in jail for a week, and false charges were slapped against the arrested activists.

Now, charges have been framed and the Jharkhand Government is pursuing these false cases assiduously. Note that the Jharkhand Government has dropped the cases against several activists of the Jharkhand movement, and even against leaders of the Ram Janmabhoomi agitation; in contrast, it is outrageous that it is choosing to retain and pursue false criminal cases against leaders of the CPI(ML).

Click on the link below for the full Article

Profile of Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya

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