By Sudhir Katiyar That sections of the Indian ruling clique comprises of a mafia type nexus of money making politicians, real estate brokers, corrupt and compliant officials, and, crony capitalists/money making enterprises is well known. This reality c …

Andrew

By Sudhir Katiyar

That sections of the Indian ruling clique comprises of a mafia type nexus of money making politicians, real estate brokers, corrupt and compliant officials, and, crony capitalists/money making enterprises is well known. This reality confronts us once again in Bhilwara.

It is now four days since the attack took place and we are yet to get the First Information Report (FIR) filed in police. The police say that they have complaints against us as well and will file the owners’ report first. Today we went to meet the highest police official of the district – the Superintendent of Police (SP). He almost got us arrested on the spot blaming us for spreading unrest. In fact one member of the delegation was sent off to the local police station for a brief while under Section 107 of CrPC, a draconian provision that allows police to detain almost anyone for 24 hours.

It is now very clear that the whole official apparatus is fully in control of the local political clique that has decided that the Union cannot be allowed to function. It must be beaten out of the place. Apparently the orders/ the consensus have come from the very top, represented by a powerful Central Minister. So there is no use of appealing to district level authorities. The struggle must be waged at higher up levels. The various steps being mulled are

  • Press Conference in state and national capital

  • Meeting the state Chief Minister who is also the Home Minister

  • Meeting the powers that be at the Centre

The strike is completely over now. All workers have returned back to work under threat of stoppage of food allowance and denial of basic necessities like firewood and drinking water. The issue of wage hike promised by owners is not very clear.

The carriers (redhi wallas) have definitely got a hike from Rs. 80 to 90 and were the first to get back to work. The position for patheras (brick molders) who are the most numerous and most exploited, is not clear. From one brick kiln, where there was a complete strike and also an incident of violence, there is news that their wages have been hiked to Rs. 400 (from 300 earlier). At other places, the owners are promising to pay the market rate, as usual.

For grass root mobilization and reestablishing contact with workers, the ideas are to

  • Start casual meetings at roadside, in hotels

  • Have a big bang meeting of a major public figure at Haripura Chauraha, the centre of brick kilns. The names being considered are Swami Agnivesh, known nationally for espousing the cause of bonded workers, Kirori Lal Meena, a maverick state leader who is on a drive to establish a third front in the state with himself a Chief Mnister, and, Amra Ram, the state CPM MLA.

Today, the Union held a Press Conference at Bhilwara and presented its side. Hopefully some media will visit the kilns and look at the situation, something they have not done so far. Efforts are also being made to ensure visits of Statutory Bodies created to protect interests of the vulnerable sections of society like Child Rights Commission (the visit of the National Commission is already fixed from before prior to the events), the Scheduled Caste Commission, and the Human Rights Commission. Contacts have been established with some national newspapers who are promising a story.

– Sudhir Katiyar on behalf of Rajasthan Pradesh Int Bhatta Majdoor Union


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