17 October, 2004  
THE 14th state conference of the Tripura unit of AIDWA ended on October 2 giving a clarion call to the women of the state to intensify struggle in the coming days to resist terrorism and secessionism, to eliminate dowry system, atrocities on women, for introduction of one-third reservation for women in the law-making bodies and for economic upliftment of the women of the state. The conference also resolved to integrate AIDWA with the movements of all sections of the society in strengthening democracy in the state.
The state conference began on September 25, following a mammoth women rally overflowing the BKI playground at Belonia Town. In the first session a presidium comprising Anjali Debbarma, Manjulika Bose, Chapala Biswas, Purnima Sinha, Pabitra Bala Das and Arfuti Khatun, and a steering committee comprising Rama Das, Chhaya Bal, Basana Das, Minu Saha, Alo Bhowmik, Kiranmala Debbarma, Sukhamati Debbarma and Krishna Rakshit were formed.
The venue of the conference was named as "Satirung Reang Manch", remembering the martyrdom of Comrade Satirung Reang, an women activist, who was gunned down by the anti-national mercenary extremists at a far-flung tribal village of Gandachhara Sub-Division, when she was organising Hajagiri festival, a yearly festival of Reang tribal community. The Belonia town which hosted the conference was named after veteran women leader Comrade Sushila Gopalan, a pioneer of the women movement in the country.
At the outset, a condolence resolution was read out in the conference by Anjali Debbarma remembering the women veterans who passed away during the period since last conference, leaving behind their immense contribution towards strengthening the women movement and women organisation.
Banani Biswas, AIDWA's all India assistant secretary inaugurated the conference. In her inaugural speech she praised the heroic role of the women of Tripura who were fighting the terrorist menace shoulder-to-shoulder with their male counterparts. She said Tripura occupied an important place in the high tradition of democratic movement. She emphasised that the fight against terrorist menace in the state is a fight against US imperialism, which has an evil design to get foothold in the region.
The state committee's draft report was presented in the morning session of September 26, by the state secretary Rama Das. In her presentation, she briefly narrated the steady progress made by the AIDWA in terms of organisation as well as the mass base by taking up the problems faced by the women folk of the state.
Baidyanath Majumder, CPI(M) central committee member and state secretary, in his address to the conference briefly explained the national political situation to the delegates. He criticised the UPA government at the centre for not exhibiting concern for the common man's interest despite the government being in existence due to the outside support of the Left parties. He said even after 56 years of independence, 36 crore people in the country remain unfed, 26 crore of them live below the poverty line and 40 crore of them are illiterate. Our peasants are committing suicide because of crop failure and unbearable debt burden. This plight, said Majumder, was the outcome of pursuing the capitalist path of development.
Referring to the situation in Tripura, Majumder pointed out that since pre-independence days, tribal women of Tripura were fighting tooth and nail against the military regime and for democracy. Kumari-Madhuti-Rupshrees of those days sacrificed their lives for democracy and Satirungs of today are courting martyrdom for the same cause, for safeguarding the democracy, national integration, ethnic amity and protecting the Left Front government. Since 1978 a total of 1,773 comrades were killed by the anti-Left Front conspirators. Of those who lost lives, 170 were women and 66 were tribal women, informed Baidyanath Majumder. As there was no scope of redress or justice in the capitalist system of society, women must carry on their struggle for socialism by gathering bigger number of allies and strengthening the organisation, said Majumder. He called on the AIDWA members and leaders to expand the organisation, while at the same time equipping each and every member with class-consciousness.
While addressing the conference, Brinda Karat, AIDWA general secretary, said the women's movement was an integral part of the movement for transformation of the class-based society into a socialist society. Asking the cadre to note that the socio-economic, cultural and literary condition of the women of our country vary from place to place, Karat said they must concretely study the problems facing the women and accordingly pick up the issues.
Hailing the strong women movement, particularly, the resistance movement of women against the terrorists in Tripura, Karat emphasised that AIDWA should address the problems of all sections of the unorganised women working in agriculture, roads, bridges, brick-fields etc. She asked the cadre to plunge into action whenever and wherever suppression of women's rights comes to their notice. "We must carry on a sustained struggle to eliminate superstition, to raise the women above the caste and clan bonds, and, to develop material outlook among women", said Karat.
Shyamali Gupta, AIDWA president, in her speech stated how women folk are being organised in bigger number in different states under the umbrella of AIDWA. One-third women reservation in Panchayat bodies in Tripura and West Bengal wass an inspiration to the women of the whole nation, opined Gupta. She stressed that a nationwide women's movement must be built on the issue of one-third reservation to women in legislative bodies.
In all, 28 delegates participated in the discussion on the general secretary's report and put forward their views and experiences. Some delegates regretted that Tripura despite being one of the bastions of democratic movement in the country, still could not eliminate the incidents of witch-hunting, dowry death and superstition etc from the state. They suggested more vigorous campaign movement on these issues.
Apart from condolence resolution, nine other resolutions were moved and passed by the conference. These were: demanding one-third reservation of women in Parliament and Assemblies; condemning the incidents of dowry deaths and atrocities on women; demanding employment generation for women in greater number; demanding materialisation of eight immediate demands for state's progress by the centre; protesting the imperialist aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan; condemning the terrorism, communalism and fundamentalism; decrying the superstition, religious racism etc; and eliminating illiteracy and expansion of female literacy.
While replying to the discussion, Rama Das applauded the delegates for pointing out some drawbacks and weaknesses in the report, which would be very helpful in enriching the final report. Then the resolution with some additions and amendments was put to vote for adoption. It was adopted unanimously amid loud cheers.
As per the credential report, a total 501 delegates attended the conference. Among them octogenarian Hemanga Prava Datta, who happens to be mother of a martyr late Gautam Datta, is the oldest delegate and Mary Malsum the youngest. Class representation of the delegates are: from peasants family 110, agricultural workers 16, day labourers 40, workers 56, lower middle class 95 and middle class 184.
A 75-member new state committee with 22 new faces was elected unanimously. Thereafter, a 19-member state executive committee headed by Anjali Debbarma as president and Krishna Rakshit as secretary, were elected by the conference amidst high applause. The other office bearers of the executive committee are Rama Das - working president, Manjulika Bose, Chhaya Bal, Basana Das and Sabitra Debbarma - vice presidents, and Minu Saha, Kiranmala Debbarma, Rupa Ganguli and Hasi Rani Bhattacharjee - assistant secretaries of the organisation.
A 70-member delegation was also elected by the conference to attend the all India conference to be held on November 28-31, at Orissa this year.
In her concluding speech, Manjulika Bose heartily congratulated the preparatory committee, volunteers, and the people of the host town for their contribution and cooperation in making this conference a success. (INN)