Sunday, March 09, 2008

Chengara and Deshabhimani's turn as Manhappathram

It was not long ago that one prominent CPM leader in Kerala, himself the general manager of the party's Malayalam newspaper Deshabhimani, called Mathrubhumi a yellow journal (Manhappathram).

Now it is Deshabhimani's turn to do some real yellow journalism. After Kairali and People TV channels (they claim not to be party channels, and let us buy that) spied on some men and women late night at a vigil extending support to Chengara land struggle and aired some hot clippings that featured some of my friends, Deshabhimani today carries on its front page scenes from those clippings.

The news piece also claims that it was found that those who came for the struggle are Naxal, Maoist activists feigning themselves as human rights activists.

CPM knows that it may not be too long before Chengara becomes another Nandigram so this could be just a frustrationary measure. If they really think they have won some points with this one, I can only wish them get well soon.

[The news is available on their web edition right now here].

Below is a trailer of a video on Chengara struggle, for those who did not know about it.


Anonymous said...

thanks for posting this sudeep, jenny

Anonymous said...



sudeep said...

A press release by some people who were present at the venue is posted on reader list.

There is also a pdf file that gives more details of the night vigil. I find the language of this report defensive, and feel that such "myth and fact" reports give some credibility to this kind of journalism when it does not does not deserve it. The Kairali/People/Deshabhimani show can only be boo-ed.

Anil Tharayath Varghese said...

Please look at these links

♫ The Chengara Land Struggle

Anonymous said...

the struggle is

Anonymous said...

chengaraa was politicaly motivated strugle..
i have a question is the dalit other than bangal and kerala are safe and having lands???
then why not this type of strugle not happening in there..
what is in this video!!
land is for labours...

sudeep said...

This post was more about how Kairali, People and Deshabhimani tried to attack the supporters of the struggle in the cheapest means possible. Here is another post addressing the Chengara land struggle in a little more details. However, I am trying to answer this question here.

What is the political motivation you are talking about? Anti-CPM? It is true that these forms of struggles are happening in Kerala on the background of the land reforms. I think the communist parties should feel good about it rather than try to suppress it. For that, they have to come out from the illusion that we have had the land reforms, so everything is fine here. We have to know who all we left out when we did that, and what has been their position in the Kerala model of development.

Let me post parts of an e-mail discussion in response to the 'labourer' part. It may be long, but I think it is work it. I am not publishing names, as I am not sure if they would like to have their names here.

V: "this did come up in a discussion in an earlier context - I think it is important that within the struggle, as well as within protest and solidarity groups like ours - we locate the workers. As much as many of these unions do have party affiliations, and many of them aren't even trade unionists and simply hired gundas, there are workers who have been consequently deprived of their jobs, and i think it will only strengthen the struggle to actually address this issue and this contradiction that the left in kerala has been successful in creating and bringing to a confrontation.

maybe we should all sit and discuss this.

R: the hegemony of the left has always been successful in bringng the "worker" in btn whenver they wanted to protect the interst of the landlords, MNCs, capitalists. Plachimada, Mavoor, Singur, Chengara are all examples. the question of worker need to be addressed in this context. The claim for legitimacy of "worker" over all forms of struggles is a left ploy to hijack social movements,i feel.

The Dalits and Adivasis fighting their in chengara are also 'workers'. They survived more than a year of struggle by going out to WORK. they are the WORKERS. why can't we see that? wht abt their right? their livelihood? poverty? dreams? education? are they not citizens of this democratic country? ARE THEY OR NOT?

V: I do still think it will only strengthen the struggle to locate the position of the worker - not those who are going to march into chengara on september 3rd - not those hired goons of the left - but the regular worker. To LOCATE them within this struggle for land rights - and not transfer the right of protest from landless dalits to 'conventional' workers.
and workers outside of the context of the organized left.

R: (quoting a comment from J Devika at a blog post by her): At Chengara, they (the workers of estate) are not claiming land in the Harrion estate — they claim that they want to protect their employment. There are but 80 workers there and the struggle committee was open to them joining in!

R: (quoting someone else):

facts about workers of harrison:

1. the present struggle begun by occupation of the land In Kurumbatti by 500 families. As they realised that plantaion work was on, they retreated.

2.At present site, only 70 workers were employed.When harrison
attempted replanting, the forest department issued an order banning them from it.It said
that the land was notified as forest land.

3.If harrison or government is really concerned about the workers, why don't they employ them at other estates? Why don't the government pay compensation?

4.At Aralam farm, 350 workers were given VRS .

5.At Alakkode, 100 wokers were paid 2 lakh each by way of compensation from tribal fund.

6.The above given informations (4 and 5) were obtained through right
to information by Sreeraman Koyyon.

B: This was the concern rightly repeated by Naveen all the time when we met at DU as well as other places. I would like to say that the real workers, the starving and the attacked are neglected as' illegal people' by the official

. For many decades, a special social class (a category that has common properties like diction, appearance, smile and gait) has taken over the leadership of the official left forces' public activism. The caste hegemonic social order is replicated by this sober, acceptable, approachable, usually upper order bunch. This was the case from NGO
unions to Trade Unions and even the Agricultural workers. The real
worker was alienated from leadership. That's is why plantation workers families starve, while the unionists inflate.

It is time how we could work and create an intervention in the context of chengara struggle, condemning the acts of the 'trade unionists' embargo and create a new discourse among the people in kerala on the mission of this goonda forces.

If anyone has information on the so called efforts by the kerala
government attempt identify landless people please circulate that.

V: Just a quick response to the 'workers' issue:

1. There is no logic in the CITU argument that the workers are being starved by the struggle. The reasons being: HMP has not pid the workers regularly for the past several years; testified by the court case in HC filed in 2002 against the company by the workers unions. It is in this case that HMP pleaded in as late as 2007 December tha they are not able to pay the workers due to the encroachment by SJVSV!!! Thats what the HC verdict was about; get the encroachers out and then respond to the issue of non-payment of workers

2. Since the company has been a defaulter in wages of all the Kumbazha estate (within which Chengara comes) workers even before 2002, there is no point in the argument that the struggle has been starving workers.

3. The initial demands of the SJVSV also included the demand to vaccate the illegal holdings by HMP in Kumbazha and Laha estates and to pay the pending wages of all the wrkers and to accommodate all workers in the legal holding of HMP. THere was a discussion by SJVSV held with the worker's union (CITU and AITUC) in as early as September 2007 on this.

4. It goes without saying that it is CPM interest being reflected through the fresh demands of the CITU lead workers' unions now and that CITU is blindfolding the others due to their majority stake in the HMP unions. However, the moment the discussion comes up on the issue of making the daily wage workers permanent in HMP, the unions are bound to split with management - as was evident in the talks between the unions and HMP management in 2006, mediated by the then collector.

5. The struggle and the rubber tapping were 'co-existing' till February 2008, when the HMP decided that their argument will get weakened if that continues and then they went on to declare that no rubber-tapping is possible without the remval of encroachers.

B: V's inputs actuaaly indicates the root of the problem for the plantation workers, thanks for the response. Again, whats happening in Kerala and how do we prepare to respond to it?

J: (quoting another e-mail):

A section of people under the leadership of CITU, INTUC, BMS etc. are continuing racists attacks on a social section peacefully struggling for justice.

They have announced that they will march to Chengara and 'emancipate' the land ( for Harrison!!)

They have pasted posters all over
Pathanamtitta calling the Dalit protesters "Moshanakkoottam" .

Everybody trying to go to the site are being blocked by the goons/police combine.
(interestingly , not a single
'cultural activist' has till now even tried to visit the site)

this is not a cynical question posed to others. (I am addressing myself)

What image should we have about ourselves if this pre--meditated racist attack
succeeds on September 3rd?

True, there is a new enthusiasm and unity among the solidarity workers. But is it strong enough to counter the violence of organised parties?

I will stop here for now. We can take this forward if any of the anonymouses are interested.

Vish said...

Commomorate this onam as a 'day of defamy' in solidarity with the struggling masses in chengara.

Boycott all Onam celeberations. Do away with the hypocrisy of celeberating onam; eating and drinking when they are in an economic blockade.

Boycott it. Come out in solidarity..

sudeep said...

See: A film that talks to the people and also discusses the historical context of the land struggle in Chengara, directed by C. Sharatchandran.

The situation in Chengara seems grim, as the blockade continues.