As the state government continues to ignore the striking midday meal cooks, they launched satyagraha at all the district headquarters in Bihar, demanding minimum wage and other benefits like social security.
Hundreds of striking midday meal cooks under the banner of Bihar Rajya Midday Meal Workers Union of CITU have been staging satyagraha at all the 38 district headquarters.
CITU leader Vinod Kumar, president of Bihar Rajya Midday Meal Workers’ Union, told Newsclick that striking midday meal cooks have decided to use satyagraha, a peaceful tool, to put pressure on the state government, which has ignored them so far.
In Patna, hundreds of striking midday meal cooks are staging satyagraha with red flags, banners and posters. They are also raising slogans in support of their demands.
Ganesh Shankar Singh, state general secretary of CITU, Bihar, said if the government continues with its stubborn attitude regarding the ongoing indefinite strike by 2.48 lakh midday meal cooks since January 7 across the state, it will push most of them on the verge of starvation. “Midday meal cooks, mainly women from poor and marginalised sections, have no other means of livelihood. Their strike has also deprived more than one crore school children, mostly from poor families, of nutritious meals.”
Manoj Kumar Chandravansi, another CITU leader working with midday meal cooks, said that their strike has resulted in direct impact on the attendance in the government-run schools. “Top officials of education department and officials of MDM scheme admitted that strike stalled the midday meals in the schools, and reduced the attendance”.
According to the government data, there are 71,000 primary and middle schools in Bihar, which are serving midday meals to 1.20 crore children.
Only three days back, thousands of midday meal cooks had gheraoed Bihar Assembly as a part of their protest, but the government has hardly responded to the agitation. On Feb 7, the indefinite strike by thousands of midday meal cooks had completed one month.
The striking cooks said that they have been fighting for their rights for a long time – for higher honorarium, government employee status, and minimum wage of Rs.18,000 per month till they are declared government employees. Last year too, the cooks had staged a protest in Patna and at other places in the state.