In the last five days, the workers’ long march has covered 137 km out of the total distance of 283 km between Chittaranjan in Paschim Bardhaman district and Kolkata. In the remaining six days, the workers will walk 146 km, before the march culminates and a huge public meeting is held in Kolkata on December 11.
On the morning of Thursday, December 5, the sixth day of the march, thousand workers started walking from Galsi, Purba Bardhaman. Students, youths, women, farmers, and agricultural workers are walking in solidarity with the workers. Students’ Federation of India (SFI), Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), and All India Agricultural Workers’ Union (AIAWU) have all extended their support to workers’ long march that has been organised under the banner of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).
However, this is not the only long march taking place in West Bengal right now. Another march was started from Malda on December 1, and is heading to Siliguri, where a public meeting will be held on December 10. The streets across the state are flooded with workers as they march to Kolkata and Siliguri from all industrial belts in various districts.
Talking to NewsClick, Makhan Mullick, an unemployed youth, who has been walking in the Chittaranjan-Kolkata long march, said, “There are no jobs in the state. Young people have to travel to other states in search of work. This cannot go on forever. It’s time we do something and that’s why I am walking almost 300 kilometre to make sure that the government does not go on ignoring us forever.”
The long march has been organised with the slogan ‘Save Public Sector’, against the Modi government’s ongoing spree of privatising public sector undertakings (PSUs), and with the demands of industrialisation in the state and employment for all. The march is also a protest against the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) proposed implementation of National Registry of Citizens (NRC) across the country. The people taking part in the march have announced that they will not under any circumstances accept the NRC.
Ruptan Ruidas, a daily wage worker, told NewsClick, “I worked for 22 day straight, without taking a break so that I could walk in the long march for 11 days. I am a construction worker; I know the struggle. So, no one had to make me understand the importance of this march. We are fighting for our livelihoods every single day. This long march is also another fight, which once won, will make the lives of lakhs of workers across the state easier.”
Talking to NewsClick, Gargi Chatterjee, district secretary of North 24 Parganas CITU, said, “The state government has not even acknowledged this struggle that is going on. However, that has not discouraged the workers. If anything, it has only made them angrier, and more determined.” She added that every day, more people are joining the march as it passes through various villages and localities. She added, “The strength that these people have shown, and the determination with which they are taking part in the march should tell the state government that the people of West Bengal are fed up with the anti-people policies and fake promises. They want education, employment, and industrialisation.”
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