Joint statement on Afghanistan
We the undersigned Marxist Leninist Organisations of India, Iran and Pakistan welcome the expulsion of US occupation forces from Afghanistan. We oppose the aggression and occupation of countries under any pretext whether, “humanitarian" or "revolutionary" and we consider the nature of colonial aggression and occupation, in whatever form it takes, as reactionary.

The US occupation of Afghanistan did not bring about democracy or emancipation of women and instead through intensive US and NATO military operations harmed all sections of society except their puppets. It is does not make sense to talk about democratisation of society and the liberation of women when the country is occupied by imperialist forces.

The people of Afghanistan persistently fought imperialist occupation whether by the revisionist erstwhile USSR or the USA. In Afghanistan, US imperialism has suffered a catastrophic defeat that has strategic consequences for the people of the world and especially of the region. This defeat and expulsion of occupation forces of USA from the region is in the interest of the people and the development of their countries. The return of peace to Afghanistan will enable refugees presently living in the neighbouring countries to return to their homeland.

The regime that emerged from these struggles, the Taliban, is not a puppet of the United States of America, contrary to the views of conspiracy theorists. In its long negotiations with the United States, the Taliban has always called for the withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan and has never agreed to negotiate with the US installed puppet regimes in Afghanistan. The attempts to establish relations with the United States and European countries does not make the Taliban a puppet regime.

It is at the same time important to recognise that the Taliban has historically been based on religious fundamentalism, which is against democracy and especially rights of women and ethnic and religious minorities.

Afghanistan has a small number of urban centres, but the economic structure of Afghanistan society is mainly tribal in which the relations of feudal production and herding prevail. The culture that governs people’s lives is tribal and feudal in nature drawing inspiration from religion. Fighting the backwardness of Afghanistan requires preserving the territorial integrity and national sovereignty; the broad participation of women in the political, economic and cultural institutions of society; resolving the question of land reform, and recognising the rights of nationalities, etc.

Calling a Constituent Assembly based on universal adult suffrage with adequate representation of all sections of the society including women and minorities to draft a democratic constitution is the precondition for ensuring independence, ethnic unity, democracy, peace and just development in Afghanistan.

The presence of imperialist forces in Afghanistan was a barrier to progress and development in Afghanistan and the region. Recent developments have freed Afghanistan from the grip of the occupying forces. This is a great achievement for the people of Afghanistan. We support any effort in Afghanistan to form a national and united government, to create security in the region that prevents the growth and strengthening of imperialist-sponsored terrorism, to strengthen the friendship between the nations of the neighbours and of the region, and so on.

The government of Afghanistan can use the experiences and resources of Pakistan, India, Iran, Russia, and China to develop the country. Foreign investment in Afghanistan can be positive for the growth and development of the country provided that it does not violate the national and strategic interests of Afghanistan and does not have a neo-colonial character. Opposing colonial domination does not mean opposing economic relations, nor does it mean forbidding foreign investment in the country. It is imperative to promote friendly relations between the people and the governments of the region based on principles of equality and non-interference and mutual cooperation.

We, the communists, together with the revolutionary and progressive forces of the world, defend the struggle of the Afghan people for the right to self-determination, the right to national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and good neighbourliness. We oppose any intervention by the imperialist forces in Afghanistan and in the fate of its people. We defend the struggle of the communists and the revolutionary and democratic forces of Afghanistan for democratic rights, freedom of association, freedom of expression, women's freedom, modern universal education and healthcare.
Organisation ‘Revolutionary Democracy’, India.
Party of Labour (Toufan), Iran.
Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaz.
24th January 2022

Wooing Punjab Dalits
No prizes for guessing why all political parties in Punjab ran to the Election Commission of India seeking postponement of the assembly election by six days in the wake of Guru Ravidas Jayanti, when his Dalit devotees flock to Varanasi, his birthplace, to pay obeisance.

The faith in the Guru apart, the parties wanted sufficient time to woo the Dalits who constitute one-third (32%) of the state’s total population of three crore.

There are other straws in the wind. Immediately after snapping ties with its old ally the Shiromani Akali Dal, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), had joined hands with the Bahujan Samaj Party and announced that if elected they would have a Dalit deputy chief minister.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA government, which had already gauged the Dalits’ might and hence not only made Vijay Sampla, a Dalit, a Union minister but also had a Dalit minister in the coalition government led by its erstwhile ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), before 2017.

In September last year, the Congress, too, in a smart move made Charanjit Singh Channi, the state’s first Dalit (Ramdasia) chief minister, after removing two-time chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, a Jat Sikh, because of bad blood within the party.

However, there is a catch in the poll matrix—despite constituting a huge vote chunk, Dalits continue to be a divided house.
Prof Ronki Ram, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Chair Professor of political science, Panjab University, Chandigarh, who is a visiting professor (Faculty of Arts, Business and Social Sciences), University of Wolverhampton (UK), puts it in perspective.

Despite the surge for two decades under the leadership of Kanshi Ram, who also hailed from the Ramdasia community, the key stakeholders had failed to throw up a dynamic leader in Punjab. Kanshi Ram, too, had shifted his focus to Uttar Pradesh in later years with Mayawati as his political heir.

Interestingly, the Dalits in Punjab are scattered over 39 castes and five religions—Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Muslims and Buddhists—besides being members of several sects and faiths, such as Ravidasias, Ramdasias, Kabirpanthis, Balmikis, Radhasoamis, Sacha Sauda to name some.

Among these 39 castes, two caste groups constitute about 80% of the total SC population (31.94%, 2011 Census). The two caste groups comprise four castes—Balmikis (sanitation workers) and Mazhabis (Dalits who have taken to Sikhism), chamars (leather workers—Ramdasias and Ravidasias), and Ad-Dharmis (a lower Dalit strata). Each of these two main caste groups consists of over 40% of the SC population.
Half of the 25% reservation in the state is for two castes–Balmikis and Mazhabis–and 12.5% for the remaining 37 castes, adds Prof Ronki Ram, who has also authored several books on Punjab Dalits.
Rajesh Moudgil, Punjab

‘Sudra Jagoran’
Swami Vivekananda greeted the ‘Sudra Jagoran’ because Baisya rule 'is awful in its silent crushing and bloodsucking power. He opined, ‘time will come when there will be the rising of the Sudra class and their Sudrahood’. At the same time, he doubted whether it would be lost later. He suggested that various social and economic experiments were being done. But these experiments did not sustain. ‘Sudra Jagoran’ would also be the same. In spite of it, this new experiment needed sincere consideration. Social scientists and economists, especially Karl Marx, experimented and guided for equity and justice through class struggle.

India is a model of parliamentary democracy where ‘Sudra Jagoran’ is only restricted within some reservations for ‘Sudras’/people of lower social strata (SC, ST, & OBC). In Indian democracy, leadership is under the control of the so-called upper classes. ‘Sudras’, or lower caste representatives, have rare space in decision-making, policy-making, and so forth. All political parties strengthen their face value by enlisting representatives from the lower castes. But their individual thoughts and decisions are rarely respected. Everywhere, ‘Brahmanism’ is being criticised by the representatives of the same category of leadership, while they still follow the rule of ‘Brahmanism’ in every action. They don’t provide space for the lower castes. Even so, they hate lower caste representatives holding top decision-making positions in administration (academic and administrative institutions). Every decision is criticised by the upper classes (and occasionally by members of lower castes). ‘Brahmanism’, or division of labour, emerged for society's social and economic disciplines. But it was the cause of economic deprivation and social backwardness.

Socialism is the best practice to establish a balanced society of equity and justice. Today's democracy has failed. Daily, different incidents are happening against the lower castes. Only a few of them are reported. The death of Rohith Chakravarti Vemula, an Indian PhD scholar at the University of Hyderabad, is an example. ‘Sudra Jagoran’ is only limited within reservation politics and it has become an agenda for every political party to raise its face value in society in every election.

Leftist politics has given the real shape to ‘Sudra Jagoran’. But it lost its uniqueness. The Left uses it only for political gain. It has failed to generate leadership from this particular social and economic stratum. One sees that the leadership is under the control of the so-called upper castes. Many times, the left ignores their voice. They are disorganised and the rate of education is not high enough. Domination and negligence are everywhere. The so-called lower castes that have a major share in electing a democratic government have less priority to living with dignity and justice.
Harasankar Adhikari, Kolkata

Caricature of Democracy
New Delhi was beautified for the Republic Day celebrations. Armed troops paraded the newly built central vista displaying their advanced weaponry and military capabilities while hundreds of people cheered them on. As a part of the Republic Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made some new promises amid the charade of accosting the people of this country to perform their duties in his shameless bid to curtail democratic rights. At the same time, this gimmick of democracy is exposed each day by the struggling people in various parts of the country who continue to resolutely assert their rights through their fight against Modi’s tyranny.

This democratic spirit continues to spark mass struggles all across the subcontinent even in the midst of severe state repression. The country-wide protests against the communally discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) saw the assertion of rights by the people of this country. These struggles were also met with brutal repression either in the form of anti-Muslim pogroms in north-east Delhi and different parts of Uttar Pradesh that killed many and destroyed the livelihoods of many others or the arrests of hundreds of Muslim youth and activists who continue to languish in jail under the draconian UAPA. That Hindutva leaders and ministers from the BJP were not only complicit, but also triggered the genocidal calls that preceded these attacks is known to all.

While Kashmir is seething under the violence of the state, protests have erupted in various parts of Manipur, Nagaland and Assam against the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) after the heinous killings of civilians by the elite Para Special Forces of the Indian Army in Nagaland. While action has not yet been taken against the Special Forces who were involved in the merciless killing of the workers returning from a coal mine, arrests under draconian laws, torture and fake encounters have become everyday occurrences in these regions. In the face of this militarisation, people are marching together demanding the repeal of AFSPA and other draconian laws like UAPA which are being used to suppress the democratic aspirations of the people.
Campaign Against State Repression
(Organising Team: AISA, AISF, APCR, BCM, Bhim Army, Bigul Mazdoor Dasta, BSCEM, CEM, CRPP, CTF, Disha, DISSC, DSU, DTF, IAPL, IMK, Karnataka Janashakti, KYS, Lokpaksh, LSI, Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, Mazdoor Patrika, Mehnatkash Mahila Sangathan, Morcha Patrika, NAPM, NBS, NCHRO, Nowruz, NTUI, People’s Watch, Rihai Manch, Samajwadi Janparishad, Satyashodak Sangh, SFI, United Against Hate, WSS)

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Vol 54, No. 33, Feb 13 - 19, 2022