New Delhi: On April 17, Nasik City Police issued an externment order to Dhondi Ram Limbaji Karad, National Vice President, and President of Maharashtra State Committee of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), who leads the Nasik Workers’ Union, barring him from visiting three districts – Nasik, Thane and Ahmednagar. The externment order was issued under Section 51 of Maharashtra Police Regulations, 1951.
Condemning the move, CITU general secretary, Tapan Sen, has written to Maharashtra’s Chief Minister, terming it an “utterly vindictive action by the concerned police administration at the behest of handful of industry-owners against thousands of poor industrial workers targeting their leader, Dr. D L Karad.”
The charges against Karad, narrated in a four-page long externment order dated April 17, are mostly related to organising morcha of workers, agitations on their demands and complaints of labour law violations, all of which are very much within the ambit of the constitutional rights of the workers and their trade unions.
According to CITU, the narrative of these activities listed in the order is packaged with manufactured complaints of threats of violence supported by the statement of one unnamed secret witness. The trade union has accused the police department of issuing the externment order under the influence of the employers’ lobby. A statement issued by them said, “The entire exercise by the concerned police administration is visibly non-transparent thereby exposing its utterly vindictive intent.”
Talking to Newsclick, Mahendra Singh, Maharashtra State Vice President of CITU and Central Committee member of Communist Party of India (Marxist), said, “These kind of actions are generally taken against hardened criminals who terrorise people. Right from the nineties, when Dr Karad started working with the trade unions, various false complaints have been registered against him, mostly related to trade union activities. He has never been convicted so far. He was convicted in one case, by that order was stayed after an appeal to High Court. This is not the first time something like this is happening.”
“The externment order even cites an offence that was registered against him in the year 1990, almost three decades ago. This order was issued at the instance of a section of employers of Nasik, who are not observing any labour laws, and have faced agitations by the workers led by Dr. Karad,” he added.
Singh said, “The BJP government is also interested in demobilising Dr. Karad before Parliamentary elections 2019. The CPI(M) candidate from Nasik district, Jeeva Pandu Gavit is the main competitor of the BJP candidate, Bharti Pawar, and Dr. Karad had been on the campaigners for him. There is no substance in this particular case itself, but the police will pretend to make an enquiry into the matter so that they can stall Dr. Karad from campaigning.”
The Trade Union Joint Action Committee approached the additional director general of police of the state April 18, and explained the situation to him, who listened to them, and assured them that the issue will be looked into.
Tapan Sen, in the letter to the Chief Minister, has urged him to intervene in the matter and rescind the externment order, and to make sure that the local administration acts democratically and impartially to ensure pursuit of the democratic and trade union rights of the workers who are always at the receiving end of oppression.