Left Organisations in Assam, West Bengal, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu Rally in Support of Protesting Wrestlers
A countrywide protest was called on Thursday by several left organisations—CITU (Centre of Indian Trade Unions), AIKS (All India Kisan Sabha), AIAWU (All India Agricultural Workers' Union), AIDWA (All India Democratic Women's Association), DYFI (Democratic Youth Federation of India) and SFI (Student Federation of India) in solidarity with the protesting women wrestlers at Jantar Mantar, Delhi and against the inaction by the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) government against those accused of sexual violence, one of who is an MP (member of Parliament) of BJP.
In Guwahati, a protest was organised at Dighali Pukhuri par; protestors participated in large numbers. The gathering in Guwahati was addressed by CITU state secretary Tapan Sarma, along with CPI(M) youth leader Nirangkush Nath. Tapan Sarma said the fight would be taken forward until justice was delivered to the women wrestlers.
In his speech, Left leader and former NLA, Hemen Das, said that, like the historic farmers’ movement, the government would also have to accept the demands of the women wrestlers.
“BJP MP Brij Bhushan has allegations of sexual harassment against him, and even then, the government is hell-bent on protecting him. Only after the Supreme Court’s directives that Delhi Police registered FIR against him.”
Niyoti Barman of AIDWA, Anuja Deka of SFI, Gajen Barman of AIKS, and Rituranjan Das of DYFI addressed the gathering, demanding immediate action against the culprits involved in the sexual harassment of the women wrestlers.
Apart from Guwahati, there have been protest demonstrations in several other parts of the state, including the districts of Tinsukia, Jorhat, Dhemaji, Bongaigaon, Nagaon, Hojai, Goalpara, Nalbari, Barpeta, Sonitpur, Cachar and Karimganj. The protestors were mistreated by police at Kayakuchi of Barpeta district and were detained.
There were similar protests in West Bengal as well.
In Kolkata, hundreds joined a gathering at Moulali crossing to protest against the sexual mistreatment meted out to the wrestlers by WFI President Singh.
Organised by the SKM (Samyukta Kisan Morcha), many organisations joined the protest.
Notable amongst those who joined included Biplab Majumdar, AIKS state president, and AIKS leaders Bhaktaram Pan and Paresh Pal. Abhik Saha of Jai Kishan Andolan was also at the rally and spoke in the meeting.
In a show of solidarity with the wrestler's cause, the farmer's organisations in the rally said that it is most unfortunate that the wrestlers who have brought laurels to the country are now being mistreated at the hand of the Delhi police.
"They have rightfully demanded that the culprit, WFI president, be brought into the book. This rogue WFI chief has mistreated the meritorious sportsman for too long, and the BJP government is maintaining a stoic silence on the whole matter."
In Bengaluru, around 50 members of CITU, DYFI and AIDWA held a solidarity protest outside Dasarahalli Metro station. The workers demanded the arrest of BJP MP, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
Mangala Kumari, 48, a CITU member, said the MP must be removed from his post as President of the Wrestling Federation of India. Speaking to Newsclick, she says, "Why should women go to the Supreme Court for the registration of an FIR? This shows that the promises of PM Modi to women are hollow. We have decided to hold a protest in solidarity with the women wrestlers who are protesting in New Delhi. Factory workers and domestic workers have joined us after their shifts. Members of the public have supported our initiative. If the government does not arrest Brij Bhushan, we will launch a bigger movement in the coming days."
On her journey in CITU, Mangala Kumari said in 2006 she used to work in a pharma company at Peenya industrial area, where the workers were paid Rs. 2000/month and hired on a contractual basis only. Due to the bad working conditions, she joined the CITU union and held protests against the company. Finally, the company had to increase the pay for all workers. However, she was fired for her union activities. She is now a full-time member of CITU, she added.
At a demonstration in Alappuzha.
In Kerala, CITU, AIKS, AIAWU, AIDWA, DYFI and SFI together held protest marches and demonstrations expressing solidarity with the protesting wrestlers. Indian football player C K Vineeth inaugurated the protest in Kannur, while CITU state general secretary Elamaram Kareem led the protest in Thiruvananthapuram. Hundreds of members of the organisations and sportspersons joined the protest held in all 14 districts.
A protest march in Kozhikode.
Protests and marches were organised in Theni, Vellore, and Sattur among other places in Tamil Nadu following the call where the demand for the arrest of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh was reiterated.
A solidarity protest held in Theni. Image courtesy: Theekkathir
(Inputs from Assam by Sandipan Talukdar, by Sandip Chakraborty from West Bengal, by Nikhil Cariappa from Karnataka, by Neelambaran A from Kerala, and by Sruti MD from Tamil Nadu.)
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