West Bengal: Protests Held Across State Following CITU Leader's Arrest
Kolkata: Protests were held across West Bengal in response to the recent arrest of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) leader Ziaul Alam by the West Bengal Police. The arrest of Alam has led to widespread demonstrations in various towns and districts of the state. Thousands of activists gathered in Jalpaiguri, staging a protest against the arrest.
Similar protests were organised in Burdwan, Durgapur, Ranigunge, Siuri, Siliguri, and Barasat of North 24 Parganas district. In Barasat, a rally was held from the All Bengal Teachers’ Association (ABTA) office to Chapadali More. Street corner meetings also took place near the Shrirampore station ticket counter.
Protest rallies were also conducted at the Krishnanagar Sadar Hospital and Siuri bus stand, where ABTA leader Ashis Sanyal and leaders of fraternal organisations participated. In Bankura town, teachers' organisations, including ABTA, led a protest program to criticise the arbitrary arrests of teachers by the ruling party leaders.
In Purulia, a protest rally was held at the town's taxi stand, where leaders spoke out against the ruling party for orchestrating false cases against Alam and ABTA leaders who were arrested that day.
Ziaul Alam, the General Secretary of the All India Plantation Workers Federation (AIPWF) and a CITU National Working Committee member, was arrested in front of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M) Jalpaiguri district party office on August 16. His arrest stemmed from an altercation with the Trinamool Chhatra Parishad (TMCP) after the alleged suicide of a minor student from Jadavpur University on August 10.
The TMCP members reportedly attacked the CPI(M) office in Jalpaiguri, leading to injuries among the Students Federation of India (SFI) and CITU members who attempted to intervene. The police subsequently arrested several individuals, including Ziaul Alam and other leaders, on non-bailable charges.
The arrest took place after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee blamed the CPI(M) and SFI for the student’s death. The family of the first-year student of Bengali Honours from Nadia district, who died after ‘falling’ from the second floor of his hostel, alleged that he was being ragged. Nine people, including students and alumni, have been arrested so far.
AIPWF Demands Unconditional Release its General Secretary
In a press release, the All India Plantation Workers Federation (AIPWF) condemned the arrest of Ziaul Alam, General Secretary of AIPWF, by the Bengal Police Administration on August 16, 2023, in Jalpaiguri. Alam and others arrested were produced in court on August 17, 2023, facing non-bailable charges. “AIPWF criticises this move as an onslaught on the working class, particularly tea workers,” the release stated.
It further said that the Joint Forum of Trade Unions Operating in the Tea Industry of West Bengal, a united platform of over 30 tea trade unions, has announced a series of protests, including demonstrations at police stations and tea gardens. “AIPWF supports this plan and urges its constituents to actively participate,” it added.
In line with this plan, AIPWF said it will hold one-hour gate meetings at all plantation units across India on August 21, 2023. A memorandum will be submitted to the Chief Minister and Home Minister of West Bengal, urging them to intervene and withdraw the false charges against the leaders.
AIPWF calls for demonstrations and campaigns among plantation workers to expose the attack on trade union movements. “The release of Comrade Ziaul Alam and other leaders is demanded, and broader support from the plantation society is sought to condemn and protest these actions. Release Ziaul Alam. Release our Leaders. Stop brutal Police Raj in West Bengal,” it concluded.
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