By Amarjeet Kaur
The unprecedented total shut down of the entire country — both urban and rural — on January 8, 2020 is really a historic one. If the RSS-controlled BJP government led by Narendra Modi still ignores the writing on the wall, it will be a big disaster for it as it will be digging its own grave by doing so. The entire country is up in arms against the communal, divisive and anti-people policies of the Modi government. It will be impossible to find any section of our population that is not hit and devastated by the policies of the government.
It may be recalled here that the national executive of the Communist Party of India had given a call for a week-long protest against the retrograde policies of the government from January 1 to 7. The call of the working class party was soon supported by other left parties who jointly held the protests. This was no doubt a great boost for the urban-rural shut down on January 8, 2020. The protest sentiments were further accentuated by the student-youth community which is still on the roads against the atrocities being committed on them. The working class party, CPI, as soon the strike turned a great success congratulated the working class and the CTUs as well as farmers, agricultural labourers and their organisations for making the one-day all India strike a grand success. In many cities across the country, the party pointed out that total shops remained closed and the shopkeepers and traders also registered their protest against Modi governments’ policies. Even in the Prime Minister’s constituency Varanasi and Yogi’s hometown Gorakhpur, shops and establishments were closed down supporting bandh.
According to preliminary reports reaching AITUC headquarters, the strike action by the working people in urban and rural India, small and big towns, in factories and farms, on streets and highways was tremendous surpassing the precious strikes. The anguish of various sectors of the society against the misrule of Modi government has added into their support to the general strike of workers.
There was total strike and bandh in Assam, Manipur, Kerala, Odisha, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Goa, Bihar, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Telangana, Haryana and Tripura. There was complete industrial strike in Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, West Bengal, etc. There were also massive processions and demonstrations taken out in most parts of the country.
There are reports received of Rail Roka, Road Roko from many parts of the country. There were reports of arrests of 2,000 workers in Chennai, 1,500 in Assam, 500 in Bhubaneswar. Reports are still pouring in. In Uttar Pradesh, the police did not allow processions of workers in many places.
There are reports of complete strike in banks, including in RBI and insurance sector, tea gardens, in oil marketing, refineries and pipelines, copper, power, defence production units, railway production units, water departments, education and health departments, etc. In coal sector there was complete bandh in some areas and partial in some areas, in Vizag steel plant was 98 per cent went on strike, Balco went on 100 per cent strike, BHEL 80-100 per cent in various places. The state government employees showed determined participation in strike in several states. The municipal workers and employees of income-tax departments witnessed 100 per cent strike in some states.
The road transport employees in government, public sector and many places in private sector also in several states were also on strike paralysing the normal life. The students and teaching community came out in support of the workers’ strike with their demands of roll back of hike in fees in various universities, end to commercialisation of education and against brutal attacks by the police and goons on students and teachers in some universities.
Scheme workers like Anganwadi, Asha, Mid-day meal, etc, all over India came out on streets with large mobilisations in the pursuance of chaaka jam, road jaam. The hawkers and vendors unions, those of construction, beedi and home-based workers as well as domestic workers unions mobilised the working force for demonstrations. In almost all the states the processions in industrial areas were carried out after strike. In several places these processions then proceeded for closure of the markets.
In Delhi also the industrial areas in all zones witnessed processions by workers and a meeting by public transport workers at IP Depot was held. A procession and demonstration by unions was taken out from Shaeed Park (Near Express Building), marched towards ITO crossing, but they were stopped by police before the barricades.
They were addressed by Ashok Singh (INTUC), Amarjeet Kaur (AITUC), Harbhajan Sidhu (HMS), Tapan Sen (CITU), Rajiv Dimri (AICCTU), Devrajan (TUCC), R K Sharma (AIUTUC), Manali Shah (SEWA), R S Dagar (UTUC). Binoy Viswam, member Parliament, Rajya Sabha, remained throughout in the procession. Dr Kanhaiya Kumar also reached and addressed the gathering extending full support of students and youth.
This was the biggest ever strike in the last two decades in which more than 25 crore workers participated and several lakhs of farmers and landless labourers joined with their Gramin Bharat Bandh Call. (IPA Service)
The writer is the General Secretary of the AITUC.