Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh – Leader of Workers Movement Arrested

May 20, 2011

by Citizen’s Front in Support of Gorakhpur Worker’s Movement

Leader of workers movement in Gorakhur, Tapish Maindola, has been arrested and taken to an undisclosed locaton by the police today afternoon. About 500 workers have also been detained and are being held by the police near the Gorakhnath temple. The workers were taking out a peaceful demonstration in support of their demands to end the lockout in two factories, to reinstate 18 of their dismissed workers and to take action regarding the firing incident which injured 19 workers on 18 May.

All the 500 workers along with the 5 hunger strikers had tied themselves with long ropes and sitting on the road where they were stopped by a heavy police force ed by the DIG range. Tapish Maindola was arrested from another place – he was not with the procession at the time. The police has taken him to an unknown place and it is feared that he can be harmed. It is known that some police and administrative officers were threatening the workers leaders with “dire consequences”. They were particularly targeting Tapish, Pramod Kumar and Prashant and branding them as “terrorists-maoists.”

Earlier report

The condition of three workers has worsened on the fifth day of fast-unto-death by workers in front of the gates of two factories of V.N. Dyers Ltd. in Bargadwa area as part of the second phase of ‘Mazdoor Satyagrah’ which was started on 16 May. However the workers are unyielding and are preparing to heat up the agitation.

The hunger strike was initiated since the morning of 16th May on the demands of the arrest of the accused of the firing incident on 3rd May, action against the guilty officers, judicial enquiry of firing and repression, compensation to the injured workers and ending the lock out in the two factories of V.N. Dyers and reinstatement of all the 18 dismissed workers. Suheela Devi, mother of a worker, three workers – Bindweshwar Rai, Susheel Srivastava and Mahesh Pathak and women activist Shweta are sitting on hunger strike and among them the condition of Susheela, Shweta and Mahesh Pathak has worsened. On the night of 18 May the administration forcibly took away Mahesh Pathak and admitted him to the district hospital but he continued his fast even there and on the morning of 19th May he again came back and joined the hunger strike.

Hundreds of workers of the area also have been present day and night on the spot. Meanwhile the administration is acting in favour of the factory owners and is hell bent on ending the hunger strike and dharna and is not paying any attention to the demands of workers. Two rounds of unsuccessful talks were held on the first day in which the owners were adamant on not taking back the dismissed workers. After that the administration did not make any attempt for dialogue. Even last night, police force in the leadership of the top officials of police and administration was prepared to remove the workers from the spot. Sensing this, huge number of workers sitting on dharna tied each other through big ropes. When police saw that the workers could not be removed from the spot without the use of heavy force, it withdrew.

After the firing incident in Gorakhpur on 3rd May and the subsequent brutal repression of workers, the district administration and the owners of Ankur Udyog had to relent owing to the resolute resistance and heavy public pressure and thus the workers had achieved a partial victory. 18 workers of Ankur Udyog who were dismissed on account of taking part in the May Day Rally were taken back to the work and the factory started operating from 11 May. But the owners of V.N. Dyers are adamant on the issue of ending the lockout and reinstatement of 18 dismissed workers.

The workers staged a bicycle rally in the Gorakhpur city today to gather popular support in favour of the workers’ agitation. Even the workers of GIDA industrial area staged a demonstration in their area in support of the agitation. The workers of various factories of Bargadwa are planning to stage a huge demonstration.

Meanwhile an investigation team of journalists and social activists reached Gorakhpur to investigate the incident of firing on workers, their repression and the accusations of violation of labour laws. The members of the investigation team also went to the spot and talked to the workers.

The strong condemnation of the continued repressive attitude of administration towards the workers agitation going on for more than two weeks and its neglect by Uttar Pradesh government is building momemtum once again.

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Workers’ Struggle Continues

by Citizen’s Front in Support of Gorakhpur Worker’s Movement

May 17, 2011

The administration and owners had to relent in face of the massive public pressure and resolute stuggle of the workers after the 3 May firing and brutal police repression of workers in Gorakhpur, and the workers achieved a partial victory. All the 18 workers of Ankur Udyog who were dismissed after they went to participate in the May Day rally in Delhi have been taken back and the factory started from May 11. But the owners are adamant on the demand to end the illegal lock-out in two factories of VN Dyers Ltd. in Bargadwa area and reinstatement of the 18 dismissed workers from these two mills. Even the administration has made no attempt to call the owners for talks. Clearly, they want to break the movement by tiring out the workers. But the workers are also ready to fight it out. Due to the feeling of solidarity developed over two years among the workers of Bargadwa, workers from different factories are participating in the relay hunger strike.

The ‘workers satyagraha’ launched on 9 May was postponed after some of the demands were met, but the relay hunger strike is continuing since then. The demands include arrest of the accused of the firing, action against the guilty officials, judicial inquiry into the firing and repression, compensation to the workers and ending the lockout in VN Dyers and revocation of all dismissed workers. On two occasions the police arrested 5 and 12 workers sitting on hunger strike but released them after the workers protested.

Meanwhile, various democratic organisations and trade unions of Gorakhpur are preparing for a joint demonstration in support of the workers’ movement. Workers of several factories of the the GIDA industrial area have also announced their support to the movement. Preparations have been made to file a petition in the Allahabad High Court and Gorakhpur court to demand an inquiry.

In the meantime, condemnation of the repression of workers of Gorakhpur and support for their movement continues from all over the country.

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Partial victory for the labour movement

May 11, 2011

by Citizen’s Front in Support of Gorakhpur Worker’s Movement

New Delhi, 10 May – The resolute struggle of workers of Gorakhpur in the face of brutal repression by the police and administration and widespread condemnation and public pressure forced the administration and the factory owners on the back foot and ensured a partial victory for the workers agitation in Gorakhpur. The workers were agitating since May 3 when 19 workers were injured in firing by criminals hired by a factory owner.

The administration came under pressure after severe condemnation from all quarters of lathi charge on workers going for peaceful ‘workers satyagraha’ to the commissioner’s office, arrests and beatings and misbehaviour with women workers and hundreds of workers starting a hunger strike at the town hall. The officials released all the detained leaders and workers by late evening yesterday and brought the factory owners for talks. The dharna was suspended last night after the owners agreed on some demands and formal talks were decided to be held today. A group of 25 workers had symbolically continued the hunger strike which was to be rejoined by a large number of workers if the talks failed.

The owners agreed to take back all the 18 workers dismissed from Ankur Udyog and start the factory from tomorrow in talks held today in presence of the deputy labour commissioner. However the stalemate continued on the issue of the 18 workers dismissed from two factories of VN Dyers ltd.

The Joint Workers Rights Struggle Front spearheading the agitation has said that the agitation will continue on the demands to arrest the main accused of the firing and action against the officials who helped them, compensation from the government to the workers, revocation of all false cases on workers and a judicial inquiry into the incidents of firing as well as the brutal repression unleashed on 9 May. A second phase of ‘Workers Satyagraha’ will be launched if the demands are not met soon.

The brutal repression of the workers yesterday has attracted widespread condemnation from national and international forums and individuals. Eminent jurists, intellectuals, social activists and people associated with working class movements from all over the country expressed their anger to Chief Minister Ms. Mayawati through hundreds of faxes, emails, phone calls and memorandums and have demanded that the repression and victimisation of workers be stooped immediately, judicial probe be ordered into the incident, the demands of the workers be fulfilled and quick action be taken against the culprits. PUCL and PUDR have announced to send their enquiry teams to Gorakhpur and some independent investigative teams comprising senior journalists and social activists may also visit Gorakhpur for fact-finding.

This small victory against the oppression of the nexus of factory-owners-administration-communal forces has become possible due to the huge public outrage and public pressure but the workers of Gorakhpur have still a long battle to fight and they need the support of all justice loving people and social activists. The workers have obtained some relief from repression but their basic demands have still not been fulfilled. No factory in the region implements any of the labour laws. The workers are deprived even of basic facilities like minimum wage, ESI, PF, Job card and are forced into long hours of overtime. The labour department keeps its eyes shut against such oppression and lawlessness. Unless these basic demands of the workers are addressed their resentment will keep coming to the surface in form of such movements from time to time.

Joint Workers’ Rights Struggle Front has warned that if the factory owners try to renege on their words and fail to give the workers their constitutional rights like they have done before or if they try to victimise worker’s leaders then they should be ready to face the consequences.

The front expressed gratitude to the jurists, journalists, intellectuals and social activists for their timely help and has appealed to all to support the workers of Gorakhpur in their struggle for justice.

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Brutal repression of workers in Gorakhpur – assault and arrest of workers going for peaceful ‘Mazdoor Satyagrah’

Gorakhpur, 9 May – A new black chapter was added in the history of brutal repression of workers in Uttar Pradesh as the police action unleashed by the district administration to crush the peaceful ‘Mazdoor Satyagrah’ beginning from today to demand justice for the 3 May incident on firing on workers resembled action by the colonial police.

As soon as the workers assembled in the FCI ground near the Bargadwa industrial area to proceed towards the divisional commissioner’s office for the Mazdoor Satyagrah announced four days prior, they were charged with canes and water cannons by the police and PAC and their leader Prashant was arrested. Despite repeated attacks the workers kept on trying to reach the collectorate peacefully but throughout the day the police resorted to beatings and chased wherever they saw 10-12 workers together. Even workers going by public transport were stopped and beaten or threatened.

Still, more than 200 workers managed to reach the district collectorate which was already turned into a police camp. After dispersing the workers by lathicharging them, around 100 workers along with 30 women workers and a girl student accompanying them were taken into custody which are still untraced.

Sangeeta, the wife of Pappu Jaiswal who was critically injured in the May 3 firing had also reached the collectorate for the Satyagrah and lost consciousness during the police action. When there was no help from the administration, the workers somehow took her to the hospital.

Wherever the police see even a small group of workers they are stopped. Despite this 200 workers assembled at the Gandhi statue near Town Hall and have started a hunger strike as part of the Mazdoor Satyagrah. A heavy contingent of police and PAC are surrounding them and are threatening to arrest. New teams of workers are trying to reach there and skirmishes with the police are continuing in several parts of the city.

This incident has attracted widespread condemnation from every corner of the country and eminent jurists, journalists, intellectuals, civil right activists etc. have demanded that the repression be immediately stopped, the incident be duly probed and immediate action be taken against the culprits alongwith fulfilling the constitutional demands of the workers.

It should be remembered that on May 3 hired goons of the factory owners of Ankur Udyog Ltd. in Gorakhpur had fired upon the workers injuring 19 workers and a girl student. The workers were protesting against the termination of services of 18 workers for participating in the May Day rally at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Even after a week after the incident the police and administration have taken no action against the culprits of the firing incident, instead they are proactively and continuously targeting the workers and their leaders. The workers had announced to launch a worker’s Satyagraha from today due to which the factory owner-police-administration-politician nexus had gone into a frenzy and a series of statements had been issued warning the workers of dire consequences and threatning to arrest their leaders under NSA.

Soon after the news of this incident spread intellectuals, activists, journalists, social and cultural activists have condemened this incident and demanded action against the culprits. Several worker’s unions from Punjab and Delhi have announced their intention to join and support the Satyagraha launched by the workers of Gorakhpur till their legal demands are fulfilled.

Meanwhile, jurists, human rights activists, journalists, social activits from the country and abroad have signed a petition to the Chief Minister of U.P. Ms. Mayawati in support of the demands of the workers and have urged her to order a judicial enquiry into the incident. Eminent personalities who have signed this petition include among others poet Manglesh Dabral, Dr. Binayak Sen of PUCL, documentary filmmaker Anand Patvardhan, Ram Puniyani, Justice Rajender Sachhar, social activist Medha Patkar, Illina Sen, Vandana Mishra, Chitranjan of PUCL (U.P.), Shabnam Hashmi of Anhad.

In the meantime, 81 year old veteran social activist and a leader of U.P. teacher’s movement and president of Anurag Trust, Kamla Pandey has said that she would herself demonstrate against the repression of the workers in Mayawati’s regime and sit on fast unto death unless justice is done to the workers. She has challenged the Mayawati Govt. to arrest her. She said in a statement that she has spent more years in social struggles since the freedom movement and teacher’s movement than the age of Mayawati and she won’t hesitate in joining the struggle once again if the situation demands..