US President George W Bush was greeted with massive protests from all over India during his recent trip. The protests were the culmination of a massive all India campaign launched by many organisations. Different sections of the working people, youth and women came together and the one message was loud and clear – Butcher Bush was not being welcomed by the Indian people. It is estimated that over thirty million people took part in protest actions across the country.
At the initiative of the Lok Raj Sangathan, several organisations got together, as early as January ’06, to launch a joint campaign opposing Bush’s visit. The aim was to establish one united mass opposition on an all India scale to Bush’s visit and the Indo-US alliance; we also aimed to go to the broad masses of people to raise consciousness on the dangers to peace and sovereignty from the path being pursued by the Indian political leadership in forging a strategic alliance with the US.
It is a matter of enormous pride for this land that the Indian people, through so many organisations of diverse hues, as well as individual personalities responded very positively to this campaign. Bush and Manmohan may have signed various deals and continued on their anti people course, but India and the world know that over 30 million Indians protested in just the three days – March 1 to 3, when Bush was on Indian soil. From villages to towns to cities to metropolises, the woman and man on the street, irrespective of political affiliation, class background, or religion, declared with one voice – "Bush is a butcher, and he is not our guest"; there was also clear condemnation of the government for ignoring the voice of the vast masses.
The campaign initiated by the Lok Raj Sangathan was joined by the Azadi Bachao Andolan, Jamiat Ulema – i – Hind, Communist Ghadar Party of India, Hind Naujawan Ekta Sabha, INSAF, Purogami Mahila Sangathan, Asha Parivar, Janpaksha, Human Rights Law Network, UTUC (Lenin Sarani), AIFTU, Kashipur Solidarity (Mumbai), New Socialist Movement, Nepali Jan Adhikar Suraksha Samiti Bharat, Peoples Front, Gatividhi, National Alliance of Peoples Movements, Delhi University Forum for Democracy, CNDP, Sanatan Dharm Parishad, Mazdoor Parishad, Kaam Ka Adhikaar Abhiyan Samiti, Manipuri Association of Delhi, We for Bhopal, Plachimada Solidarity Committee, Nirmaan Mazdoor Paachayat Sangam and other organisations. Writer-activist Arundhati Roy, lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan and other personalities played an important role in the campaign.
Colourful posters declaring "George Bush, you are not our guest!" in English and "Bush Haiwan, Kiska Mehmaan?" in Hindi were put up all over the country. Tens of thousands of copies of the joint statement of the campaign were distributed among all sections of people. The leaflet stated that :
"All over India , political parties, trade unions, peasant and women’s organisations, writers, film personalities and legal luminaries are demanding that the government of India revoke its invitation to the terrorist Bush. At stake are the very futures of India and the other countries of this region, the cause of peace and sovereignty.
"If the government of India does not heed the voice of the people, let us prepare to "greet" this enemy of the world’s peoples with a united show of strength to make it clear to one and all where India and her people stand!
"Let us, through protests, demonstrations and meetings show to one and all that Butcher Bush is not welcome in India .
"Let us, the people of South Asia rise up as a mighty united force against US imperialism.
"Let us actively participate in the campaign against Bush’s visit!"
Youth activists of Hind Naujawan Ekta Sabha demonstrated with banners denouncing Bush’s visit at prominent street corners in Darya Ganj and Chandni Chowk, at the Hazrat Nizamuddin dargah, at Batla House, at several locations in Jamia Nagar, as well as at several market places.
Auto-rickshaws, buses, taxis and other vehicles plying through the busy areas of the city could be seen bearing colourful stickers that read "Keep Bush Out!", "Bush Haiwan, Kiska Mehmaan?" "Bush Quit India", and other catchy slogans. In the major railway junctions of Mumbai, Mughal Sarai, Delhi , tens of thousands of stickers were pasted in the trains passing through these junctions.
A signature campaign was carried out with collection of signatures on a giant white banner expressing opposition to Bush’s visit. Beginning from Rajghat on the morning of February 20, the campaign was taken to many places in the city including Jantar Mantar and the three central universities.
On February 26, hundreds of activists – from Lok Raj Sangathan, of different religious communities, and prominent individuals including Arundhati Roy, Sucharita, Father George and Prof Banwari Lal Sharma participated in a joint all religion prayer meeting at the Rajghat to protest at killer Bush coming to Rajghat during his official visit. Youth of the Jamait Ulema-E-Hind, Jain Munis, as well as priests and nuns in their habit participated in this protest.
A historic rally was held at the Ramleela grounds in Delhi on Wednesday, 1 st March 2006 , the day Bush landed in India . Several lakh people participated in this rally and the route from the Ram Lila Maidan in all directions outside the city was chock-a-block with rallyists still making their way to the venue, in buses and vans, even as the rally was drawing to a conclusion. Organized by the Jamait Ulema-E-Hind along with a host of other organizations including Lok Raj Sangathan, the rally was marked by the firm determination and discipline of its participants, who patiently heard the speeches delivered by several prominent activists and leaders of the people’s movements. The demonstrators carried colorful banners and posters, depicting the crimes committed by the US government, and slogans such as "Go back, Bush", "Bush is the greatest terrorist", "Bully Bush, buzz off", "Punish Bush for war crimes" , etc.
Another historic protest action was organized in Mumbai on March 2, 2006 . Hundreds of thousands of protestors from various organizations including the Jamait-e-Islami-Hind, Lok Raj Sangathan, the All India Ulema Council, the Mumbai Aman Committee, the Communist Ghadar Party of India , Communist Party of India, the National Railway Workers’ Union and many others thronged the Azad Maidan. The rush of people at this event was so great that the whole of Mumbai south of Byculla completely came to a stand still. The LRS statement bore the by-now-popular slogan – "Bush haivan, kiska mehmaan" and found instant echo in the hearts of all present at the rally.
On March 2, a second mass rally was held in Delhi organised by the Committee against Bush Visit. After assembling at the Ramlila Maidan, the rallyists marched to parliament alongside a colourful float and carrying placards and banners expressing the opposition of Indian people to Bush’s visit. This Committee included the CPI, CPIM, CPIML, AIFB, RSP, SP, JD(S), IJP, CGPI, Lok Raj Sanghathan, AITUC, CITU, AICCTU, TUCC, UTUC, AIBEA, BEFI, NZIEA, GIEAIA, DUCKU, Democratic Karamchari Front, Janvadi Shikshak Manch, Democratic Teachers Front, JANAM, IPTA, PWA, Janvadi Lekhak Sangh, NFIW, JMS, Purpogami Mahila Sangathan, AIPSU, AIYF, DYFI, RYF, AIYL, Yuva Janata Dal (S), Lord Buddha Club, Hind Naujawan Ekta Sabha, AISF, SFI, AISB, JNUSU, JMISU, AMS, BKMU, JSM, AIALA, COC, Navdanya, RFSTE, IDPD, CNDP, INSAF, PEACE, SC/ST All India organisation.
The joint statement issued by this committee declared —
We oppose Bush visit because he is
- A war criminal
- Responsible for killing of millions
- Breeds and spreads tensions and conflicts in all parts of the world
- A leader of imperialist globalisation
- A racist and communalist
- A violator of human rights
Massive rallies were also held in Pune, Allahabad , Bangalore , Cochin , Chennai, Calicut , Bhubhaneshwar, Hyderabad , Kolkatta, Lucknow , Srinagar and many other cities and towns all across India . The rally in Pune was organised jointly by the Lok Raj Sangathan together with LNP(Leninist), CPIM, NAPM and other organisations.
The massive protests all over the country show how much the Indian government’s policy of building closer military and strategic links with the US government is disliked by the Indian people. While the powers-that-be wish to build these links in order to fulfill their dream of becoming a ”world class power”, the masses of people will have nothing to do with this. At the same time, it is clear that the Indian ruling class, in defiance of the will of the people, is marching headlong into the embrace of the US imperialists and forging a dangerous strategic alliance.
Great dangers confront the Indian people, the people of South Asia as well as the people of the world as a result of the course being pursued by Indian and American rulers. The signals are pointing to the US preparing for a third world war and embroiling all the peoples and countries of Asia in this war. The US is trying to play India and Pakistan against each other to strengthen its military encirclement and stranglehold over South Asia as well as carry out its plans against the people of Iran , Iraq , Afghanistan , Central Asia , and the rest of Asia . In these complicated times, great vigilance is required of all the political forces who are fighting for peace and in defence of the sovereignty of peoples and nations against imperialism, fascism and war. The situation demands that the unity that has been forged during the course of the campaign against Bush’s visit be further strengthened and all the people of our country and region be rallied against the aggressive imperialist war mongering plans of the US imperialists and the alliance of the rulers of India with the US.