Lok Raj Sangathan (LRS) and Purogami Mahila Sangathan (PMS) jointly took the initiative to organise a seminar on 27th January 2013 on the above topic.
The public meeting was presided over by the President of Lok Raj Sangathan, S Raghavan, the All India Secretary, Prakash Rao, Senior trade union leader, Virendra Singh Sirohi, President of Rajasthan Sikshak Sangh, Com. Hanuman Prasad Sharma, Sucharita and Renu from the Purogami Mahila Sangathan, President of Subhash Yuva Morcha, Ghaziabad, Satyendra Yadav, Journalist Jarnail Singh, and R. S. Chatwal from the Sikh Forum.
Young students, intellectuals, political thinkers, trade union activists, teachers, professors, medical students, and journalists enthusiastically participated in the meeting. LRS’ representatives from Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan were also present. Activists of the organisations that enthusiastically participated in the seminar included Lok Raj Sangathan, Purogami Mahila Sangathan, Sikh Forum, Subhash Yuva Morcha (Ghaziabad) and Popular Front of India.
The President of the All India Council of Lok Raj Sangathan initiated the meeting.In his inaugural speech, he said that considering the recent upsurge of protests, the need for people to get organised in committees is evident. In the current times as well as in history, the role of the police can be seen to be not for providing security for the people but for crushing their struggles. The army and the legal system do not serve the ordinary people but only a select few.
He said that in order to malign the struggle of the people and to shirk its responsibility, the government is issuing atrocious statements. For example, the Chief Minister of Delhi, Sheila Dixit said that the police report to the Home Minister, therefore, the responsibility for the incident lies with the central government. She also accused the demonstrators of taking assistance from Maoists, whereas the truth is that the police and army personnel routinely use weapons like rape to crush the struggles of the people. As long as people face such attacks, they will have to organise themselves to protect themselves and their rights, he said.
Addressing the seminar, Prakash Rao exposed the nature of the political system in our country. He said that the Republic Day parade is dominated by display of weapons, which reveals the imperialist ambitions of our ruling class. People have been demonstrating at Jantar Mantar against the government to demand guarantee of their security. There are two categories of people in our country – ordinary people on one side and privileged people on the other side. The privileged people have all means of security at their disposal and they have all sorts of freedom. In contrast, Section 144 is imposed on the people to curtail their freedom. The British made such laws to break the struggle of the people and our government continues to use them today also.
Taking an example from the Northeast, he said that in Manipur and Kashmir, the army oppresses the people by violating their rights and crushing their struggles.Women are specially targeted – rape and sexual oppression is part of their training and standard operating procedure. The government has imposed Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in these areas for year on end under which the armed forces are free to act as they please.
He said that the existing republic is a colonial legacy; it was established for looting and suppressing the people and it cannot be made to serve the people with some superficial changes. We have to intensify the movement for it renewal. People must have the right to decide its economy and political orientation. For this it is essential to organise people in committees and these committees must struggle to ensure their security and rights. These committees will have to expose the machinations of the state. People have to become politically conscious so that they could rule themselves.
The spokesperson of PMS praised the bold movement of the youth of this city. There is a chasm between the people and the state. This shows that the people donot believe that the government can ensure the security of women.
Sexual exploitation of women is part of stand operating procedure for the state. The government had to constitute the Verma committee for recommending steps to stop the sexual oppression of women due to the pressure from the popular struggle. However, it is clear that the government will not be accepting the recommendations of Verma committee.
For example, the committee has recommended that there should be no immunity given to the armed forces for rape and sexual atrocities under AFSPA. However, this has been opposed by army chiefs and all parliamentary parties. The committee has recommended that the command be held responsible, but the officers of the police and security forces have opposed this recommendation. The committee has proposed that the members of the parliament and state legislatures be barred from standing in the election if charges have been framed against them for sexual atrocities, but this has been opposed by all parliamentary parties. From these, it is clear how eager our government and state authorities are to end oppression and atrocities against women and for ensuring the welfare and security of the people. We have to get ourselves organised if we have to ensure our safety and security. Through our committees, we have to empower women and all people.
Among the people who addressed the meeting were Renu from PMS, Com. Virendra Singh Sirohi from the Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Anurag Kejriwal from the Lok Satta Party, Satyendra Yadav from the Subhash Yuva Morcha, Soheb from the Popular Front, R.S. Chatwal from the Sikh Forum, Kailash from the Delhi Shramik Sangh, Women’s activist Poonam Sharma, Journalist Jarnail Singh, activist in struggle for rights of the people from Northeast, Bina Laxmi, Ranjit Kumar, Nirmala, Nikita Parmar, and Vice President of LRS ,Hanuman Prasad Sharma.
All speakers were of one view that the system cannot ensure the well being and security of the people. It has become an instrument to protect some privileged set of people. Therefore, if the well-being and security of all is to be ensured, then we have to change the system and we have to vest the power to take decisions in the hands of the people.
The existing democracy has to be renewed and we have to build a system whose main aim will be to ensure well-being and security of the working people. For this it is necessary to build and strengthen people committees rapidly.
A spirited skit presented by the youth from Ghaziabad showed the need for struggle to assert our rights.
Concluding the seminar, Shri Raghavan said that it was clear from the views presented in the meeting that if we have to ensure the well-being and security for all then we have to get organised in our committees. We have to remember that if one section of society faces attacks then we have to unite and defend them. We should not get divided on any basis. We have to keep the slogan, “an attack on one is an attack on all” as the mantra of our struggle.
The meeting concluded in a charged atmosphere.