Days after farmers forced Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to cancel a public event in his own constituency, workers’ organisations ensure that the pressure remains high on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s coalition government in the state, that has found itself in a tough spot over the Centre’s recent decisions relating to agriculture and labour.
On Tuesday, January 12, district commissioners (DC) offices across the state were “gheraoed” as part of a protest that was jointly called by the state unit of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and Sarv Karamchari Sangha (SKS), a Haryana-based umbrella federation of over 108 government employees’ unions.
“DC offices in all the 22 districts in the state were gheraoed today,” CITU-Haryana state president Surekha told NewsClick, adding, “Our major demands included repeal of the three farm laws and rolling back of the four labour codes.”
The protest, that saw multiple mobilisation campaigns throughout last week, witnessed participation from various sections of the workers. “Anganwadi and mid-day meal workers, ASHAs (Accredited Social Health Activists), along with construction and rural workers – all came together today to voice their anger against the BJP government and its policy decisions,” Surekha said.
She said that the recent policy decisions of the Centre will have a wide-ranging effects on the “lives of everyone” and as such must be protested “by everyone.”
Tuesday’s protest, Surekha added, was part of the central trade union’s larger movement to press for its demands. Haryana’s CITU general secretary Jai Bhagwan informed that a call for next month – on February 6, 7 and 13, 14 – has been given, when the workers from across the state will “gherao” the residences of the Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister and other ministers of the state government.
Also read: CITU Organises Protest Demos, Submits Memorandums Against Labour Codes and Farm Laws to DMs Across Delhi
Sabita Malik, deputy general secretary of SKS, said that “over 1000 protesters in every district” had turned up on Tuesday to take part in the protest. These included, among others, the government teachers and Haryana Roadways employees, who all, according to Malik, “extended solidarity” to the protesting farmers in the national capital.
Major demands of these employees include regularisation of the contract workers and an end to the very system of contractualisation – rampant in government bodies in Haryana. Along with raising slogans to scrap the New Pension Scheme (NPS), the protesters also pressed the Centre to not go ahead with its privatisation spree.
A memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister, enlisting all these, along with local demands, was submitted to the district administration.
“Farmers are protesting against the corporatisation of Indian agriculture; the workers are fighting against privatisation. If we look at it in a larger perspective, both of their struggles are the same – against the private companies which will exploit our assets for its profits,” Malik argued.
She added that her federation is currently mobilising employees across Haryana to take part in the ongoing protests at the gates of the national capital. We are going to visit every border protest site, where the farmers are staying put, on January 20, Malik told NewsClick.
Meanwhile, the farmers’ protest, demanding the repeal of the three new farm legislations, has entered 48th day on Tuesday. NewsClick had earlier reported on how the demand to withdraw the four labour codes, that will subsume numerous existing central enactments, has also grown louder under the shadow of the agitation spearheaded with cultivators’ groups.
The agitations surrounding the two has also mounted pressure on the Haryana state unit of BJP and its coalition partner Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), with the latter especially receiving flak for extending support to its ally even in light of recent developments.
Leaders belonging to the two political parties are reportedly being followed up with protests, wherever they show up before the public in the state.
On Sunday, the target of this public anger became a Kisan Mahapanchayat programme in Karnal, where CM Khattar was scheduled to address to a farmers’ gathering. However, following protests and the eventual demolishing of the stage, the event was called off.
Also read: In Haryana’s Palwal, the Farmers Protest Brings Down Longstanding Barriers