New Delhi: The general strike that was called on January 8 and 9 by 10 central trade unions to protest against the “anti-people and anti-worker” policies of the Narendra Modi government is considered one of the most successful strikes in recent times.
In West Bengal, despite attacks from the Trinamool Congress-run government and police, trade unionists, protesting workers and Left activists rallied in large numbers to make the strike a success. But, now many of those who participated are facing a backlash from the TMC government, including slapping of false cases.
Many Left activists were detained while picketing in Jadavpur and other areas. But, while most of the protesters arrested on January 8 were later released, the activists and leaders who were arrested on the second day have had false cases filed against them.
As per sources, workers in several districts are being harassed for participating in the strike. Talking to NewsClick, Pankaj Roy Sarkar, district secretariat member of Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU) from Paschim Burdwan, said, “The contractual workers and workers from the unorganised sector who participated in the strike are not being allowed to go back to work. In factories, workers are being forced by TMC leaders to give away their gate passes, without which they won’t be able to go back to work.”
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Sarkar said Sujit Chakraborty, a fruit-seller who sits outside the Durgapur station, had decided to keep his shop closed during the strike. He is now being threatened by the local TMC leadership and has been asked to not open his shop again. Tiger Dubey, a 50-year-old man whose rickshaw was hired during the strike to carry microphone and speakers, has been threatened, too. They are not the only ones. “But the silver lining is, the threats have not scared these men. They have refused to close their shops and keep their rickshaws off the road. They are fighting back,” said Sarkar.
In Kolkata, the state capital, Left activists said that even the right to protest was being taken away from the people by the TMC government. Kalatan Dasgupta, West Bengal state joint secretary of Democratic Youth Federation of India, told NewsClick, “We had organised a protest demonstration at College Street, Kolkata, on Thursday, and were told by the police that we did not have the permission. They told us that according to the orders from higher levels, we were not allowed to burn effigies or even stand at the corner of the street holding a flag. However, no official order has been released by the government notifying us about these new rules.
Refusing to listen to the police, the protesters burned an effigy of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The protest demonstration had been organised against the attack on the workers by the TMC government during the two days of the strike.
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Indrajit Ghosh, a member of CITU, told NewsClick, “The TMC government has become desperate to break the unity shown by the workers during the strike. They are scared because people have started asking real questions, and this fear has forced them to break the facade of being anti-BJP and anti-Modi.”
“People have the democratic right to protest, or not protest. The state government cannot take away that right by arresting and filing false complaints against the protesters. It’s unconstitutional,” added Ghosh.
Left activists alleged that TMC member had been attacking CPI(M) supporters in several districts. In the Behala Purba Assembly constituency, three CPI(M) offices were attacked and demolished on January 10.
In protest against growing attacks by the TMC government, a joint rally was organised by trade unions on Friday from the Lenin’s statue in Dharmatala, Kolkata, to Entally market. Thousands of people walked together in protest of the attacks by the state government on the people who participated in the strike. This protest was a warning to the state and the centre government that the workers will not stop their protests until their demands are met, said activists.
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