Adivasi Adhikar Manch Holds State Convention
THE Adivasi Adhikar Manch organised a state level convention at Dumka in Jharkhand on November 24, 2013 at Shahid Siddhu-Kanhu Nagar, while the stage was rechristened as the Birsa Munda Manch. The convention was filled with zeal to unify the tribals against the various fundamentalist and opportunist groups that are trying to drive a wedge between tribals on religious grounds, i.e. between the Christians and the followers of the Sarna cult. The convention commenced with flag hoisting by the state president of the organisation, Rajendra Singh Munda. The inaugural speech was given by Pulin Behari Baskey, MP and a member of the organisation’s central committee. Baskey strongly condemned the pro-capitalist, neo-liberal policies of the UPA government at the centre. He said that on the one hand the central government was giving crores of rupees to the big corporate houses in the name of tax exemptions while on the other hand there have been cuts in the allocations made for the welfare of the tribals. The country today faces rampant corruption, price rise, poverty and unemployment. Though claiming to provide an alternative to the Congress led UPA government, the BJP is no different but for the fact that it plays divisive politics to polarise the voters on communal lines. Baskey also spoke on the situation in Jharkhand where the plight of the tribal population is worse. Jharkhand lags behind most states in grant of pattas of forest land to the tribal masses, unemployment under the MGNREGA, literacy among tribals and provision of education in tribal and regional languages. On the contrary, Tripura ruled by the Left Front is at the top of the list on most of these indicators. This is shameful for Jharkhand which has a sizeable tribal population and where all the five chief ministers to have ruled the state to date belonged to the tribal communities. Besides, Jharkhand is at the bottom on the human development index though it has about 40 percent of the nation’s mineral wealth. He urged the tribals and other downtrodden sections of the society to unify for a struggle against corruption, against atrocities on women, casteism, communalism and pro-imperialist policies. A 20 point charter of demands was placed before the convention and accepted after discussion. The convention elected a 37 member state committee with Rajendra Singh Munda re-elected as the president of the organisation. Other elected office bearers included Subhash Munda (convenor, Chhota Nagpur), Manju Munda (joint convenor Chhota Nagpur), Subhash Hembrom (convenor, Santhal Pargana), Anita Soren (joint convenor, Santhal Pargana) and Sukhnath Lohra (treasurer). The convention also elected 25 delegates for the all-India conference scheduled to take place at Bhuwaneswar in January 2014. About 190 delegates from 10 districts of Jharkhand attended the state convention. GOVT AWAITING DISASTER AT JHARIA: BRINDA KARAT A REPORT on the underground fire and resultant landslides in Jharia (Dhanbad) has been prepared by Smita Gupta. The report, Fanning Fire in Jharia: Reap Windfall Profits and Loot the Coal, was released by Brinda Karat, member of the CPI(M) Polit Bureau, at Satya Bharati Hall in Ranchi on November 24, 2013. Speaking on the occasion, she said that the coal companies operating in the area have been paying no heed to the underground fire which has been continuing for decades, despite the sufferings of the local inhabitants. In fact, in the name of providing rehabilitation to the affected seven lakh people, there has been large scale mishandling of funds, thus exposing the dubious intent of the administration. She demanded that the incident must be declared as a national disaster. Both the union and the state governments are simply waiting for a disaster to unfold in the region, the CPI(M) leader said. The nationalised company, Coal India Limited, too is working in the interest of the corporate houses and shirking its social responsibilities. A copy of the report was handed over to the chief minister of Jharkhand, Hemant Soren, seeking his intervention in the matter. CPI(M) state secretary Gopikant Baksi, researcher Smita Gupta, CPI(M) state secretariat members Prakash Viplav and Mohd Iqbal and the party’s Dhanbad district secretary Suresh Gupta were among those present on the occasion.