Mass organisations including Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), All India Agriculture Workers Union (AIAWU), All India Women’s Association (AIDWA), Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), and Student’s Federation of India (SFI) organised on April 21 a countrywide protest demanding that the Modi government provide food and wages instead of just promises to the people who are suffering immensely due to the national lockdown. The organisations called upon people to show placards and raise slogans for 5-10 minutes at 10:30 am while maintaining social distancing.
The national lockdown imposed by the Centre to contain the outbreak of COVID-19 has made it extremely difficult for a huge chunk of the population to arrange even two meals a day to survive. A statement by CITU reads: “The BJP government has been totally apathetic and insensitive to the miseries of the workers, particularly the unorganised sector workers, migrant workers, contract workers etc. Even while announcing extension of lockdown up to 3rd May, the Prime Minister failed to even refer to the plight of the workers.”
The mass organisations alleged that Prime Minister Modi hasn’t done anything to provide relief to the people who are struggling to survive; instead, he has resorted to give only bhashan (speeches). “Instead of providing adequate financial resources the Prime Minister is limiting himself to only words and PRABACHANS. None of the issues of the migrant workers are addressed, letting them to die out of hunger,” read the statement.
Also Read: Country-wide Protest Day: For Wages, Food, Jobs and Safety
They also alleged that the Modi government “has given out around 15.62 lakh crores to the corporates”, but “is not ready to even give Rs.7500 per non income tax paying families. The peasantry, agricultural workers and even MSMEs are being neglected.”
While the whole world is struggling to minimise the impact of the novel coronavirus, the neo-liberal politics is still working with full force to curb workers’ rights. The CITU statement also points out that the Modi government is reportedly, “going ahead with anti worker measures like increasing working hours from 8 to 12 per day”.
The ongoing lockdown has also become an excuse for many IT firms and media companies to terminate people. The casual workers are also being let go. The protesters demand that retrenchment of contract, casual, outsourced and other workers, employees, journalists, IT/ITES employees be stopped.
Many people across the country participated in the protest, holding placards and demanding that the Modi government immediately provide relief to the suffering masses of the country. The majority of our population is facing the danger of starvation. Mr. PM, you call yourself ‘janata ka sevak’ (people’s server), well your janata is hungry and they can’t sustain themselves on the mere words of your promises. Well, you, on the other hand, may have to eat your words if you fail in ensuring food, shelter, jobs and security for the people.
Here are some photographs of the people protesting from across the country: