Protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Population Register (NPR) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) have gathered steam after protests on the lines of Shaheen Bagh like have begun across the state. Workers of Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) have served a strike notice insisting on their charter of demands. Rubber plantation workers in Kanyakumari began an indefinite strike after their wage agreement lapsed close to 39 months ago. The Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) held state-wide protests seeking jobs and inquiries into scams in the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC).
The controversial Akshaya Patra Foundation has been handed the responsibility of supplying breakfast to around 27,000 students of Chennai Corporation schools. NewsClick brings a round-up of all the happenings across the state this week.
ANTI-CAA RALLY AND PROTESTS
The state-capital Chennai and all district headquarters saw massive gatherings opposing the CAA, NRC and NPR on February 19. Crowds poured in to protest unmindful of restrictions imposed by the police and a ban put in place by the Madras High Court. Leaders of various political parties and Muslim organisations addressed the public meeting held after the rally concluded. The organisations planned to lay siege to the state assembly which was in session, only for the plan to be dropped after the HC passed a ban order. Protesters demanded that the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government passes a resolution opposing the CAA. The ruling AIADMK government, in cahoots with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is sitting idle on the demand. The speaker of the assembly denied permission for introducing a bill demanding a resolution against the CAA.
Anti-CAA protests gathered momentum after the state government resorted to the manhandling of a protester in Washermanpet near Chennai on February 14. After the news of injuries to women and children broke, protests instantly erupted across the state at midnight.
METRO WORKERS, UNION LEADERS DETAINED
Workers of CMRL issued a strike notice on February 8 after the management failed to keep its promises following the strike in April 2019. The management has refrained from deputing responsible officials for the reconciliation talks on two instances. With the next round of talks scheduled on February 22, CMRL workers under the leadership of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) tried to hold a protest near CMRL headquarters and submit a memorandum on Thursday.
The ever defiant management sought police protection, resulting in severe barricading of the venue while the Managing Director refused to meet workers and trade union leaders. Seven workers were dismissed from work, nine permanent workers are still under suspension and many have been issued with show-cause notices for participating in the strike. The action was taken during conciliation time and was hence invalid, the workers claim. The metro workers’ fight for justice is nearing a year.
RUBBER PLANTATION WORKERS ON STRIKE
The workers of the Arasu Rubber Corporation (ARC) are on strike after the Department of Forests and the ARC management failed to finalise their wage settlement. Over 2,000 workers are on strike from work since Monday after 47 rounds of talks since the fag end of 2016 have not yielded any result. Three more rounds of dialogues held this week have also failed in ending the strike as the offer made by the management has been termed ‘insufficient’. The workers also allege that the forest department had wilfully issued a government order terming the interim relief of Rs 23 as the final settlement.
The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) the biggest trade union in the sector has demanded the withdrawal of the order and increase the wage by Rs 100 per day. The unsafe working conditions and conflict with wild animals result in risk of life for the workers. The policy of increasing import of rubber is another crucial factor affecting the workers and the government organisation. (Read More)
YOUTH RALLY FOR JOBS
The Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) held rallies and protest demonstrations across the state demanding jobs. The protest was held on February 18, the day of Royal Navy Revolt of 1946. DYFI cadre condemned policy decisions of the BJP government which privatised many public sector undertakings (PSU). Privatisation will result in increasing unemployment and will affect the socially and economically backward youth, the organisation said. The BJP government, who had promised to create two crore jobs every year in 2014, has succeeded in increasing the unemployment rate to a four decade high.
Recent scams unearthed in exams conducted by the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPPSC) have sent shock waves among youth striving for government jobs. Use of ‘magic ink’, tampering of official seals and corrections in answer sheets has led to aspirants losing faith in the TNPSC.
COUNSELLING FOR ANTI-CAA PROTESTERS
The Pondicherry University (PU) has decided to ‘counsel’ students for participating in anti-CAA rally in the campus in December last year. Heads of departments and deans were made aware of the bizarre move through a circular on February 18, resulting in students revolting. The Pondicherry University Students’ Council (PUSC) led by President Parchay Yadav burned the circular in front of the administrative block. The PUSC has demanded for an immediate withdrawal of the circular and a halt on students being threatened for expressing dissent.
Meanwhile, the PUSC is continuing an indefinite ‘Occupy Admin’ protest against the exorbitant fee hike, imposition of transportation fee and refusal to implement 25% quota for students from Puducherry. A committee set up by the administration offered to reduce fees by 20% for only selected students on Monday. The move was rejected by the PUSC. Students’ and youth organisations have decided to greet the Vice President with black flags during his visit to the University.(Read More)
AKSHAYA PATRA TO SUPPLY BREAKFAST
The Akshya Patra Foundation of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) has been deputed by the Chennai corporation to provide breakfast for 27,000 more students in Chennai. The organisation will set up two more centralised kitchens in prime locations of the city inviting wrath of the opposition parties and progressive organisations. The foundation has been accused of redirecting rice allocated for mid day meal scheme in Andhra Pradesh. The organisation does not include onion and garlic in its food and the move is being seen as a tool to impose a food culture on the student community.
The state government has necessary infrastructure for the successful Nutrition noon meal scheme which has been referred to as a pioneer model across the country. The agreement with TAKF has bee put down to the inability of the government to extend and strengthen the existing system and inviting the controversial organisation into the social welfare project.(Read More)