On the morning of Thursday, September 12, thousands of youths started marching from Singur under the banner of Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI). The rally will end on September 13 at Nabanna, the building that houses the West Bengal state secretariat. Activists, students, and unemployed youth from across the state gathered in Singur on the night of September 11, and started gearing up for the long march.
The march has been organised by SFI and DYFI along with 12 Left students’ and youth organisations, demanding employment and education for all. DYFI state secretary Sayandeep Mitra told NewsClick, “We had not expected so much support from the people. Three thousand people started marching from Singur on the morning of September 12. More people will join us along the way. Tomorrow morning, the number will increase even further when we resume the march from Howrah Railway Station. This shows that the youth across the state have lost all hope in the state government.”
Singur has become the centre of people’s movement ever since Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) government came to power in the state. SFI and DYFI said in a statement, “Twelve years have passed since the automobile manufacturing unit at Singur proposed by the Left Front Government was cut at its roots. Mamata Banerjee has been sitting on the debris of industry in Singur, riding on the fake promises of agricultural development. Her promises of bringing economic development to Bengal have failed miserably. In spite of having organised several business summits, not a single investment has been made in Bengal. Instead, there has been a mushrooming of syndicates and extortionists across the state.”
The people taking part in the long march have demanded that the state government must stop the fee hikes in education, ensure transparent admission procedure without corruption in all educational institutions, ensure that democratic student elections are conducted in all colleges and universities and college campuses. They have also demanded that the government guarantee employment for all and recruit people in all vacant posts across the state. The other demands raised by the youth marching in rally are that the government must establish heavy industries in the state for employment opportunities and give unemployment allowance to people.
The statement released by SFI and DYFI went on to say, “Modi government at the Centre and Mamata Banerjee's government in the state have been instrumental in creating a situation of joblessness and underemployment across the country. The rate of unemployment has reached 6.17%. The state government is totally clueless about generating employment opportunities. On the other hand, the School Service Commission (SSC), Teacher Eligibility Test (TET), Public Service Commissions (PSC) scams have taken place. Corrupt practices in campuses have increased proportionately. Council model has been imposed upon the democratic students' unions in order to apoliticise the campuses and destroy the democratic environment.”
SFI state president Pratik Ur Rahaman told NewsClick, “The university and college campuses are not democratic. Education has become a commodity, only accessible to people who can pay for it. The government is not even able conduct examinations peacefully. Everywhere you look, the government is knee-deep in corruption. So, along with employment, we are demanding that the government make education more accessible for everyone.”
Talking to NewsClick, a student taking part in the long march said, “The education has become too expensive for the ordinary people, and there is no way to escape the grasp of unemployment. It is time we raise our voice, make sure that it is loud enough to echo through the state and reach the ears of the people who are sitting on the thrones. The government must address our burning demands.”