Arrested leaders released, movement postponed after written assurance of implementing all worker’s demands within 10 days
Under mounting pressure from the workers and the general public the district administration of Gorakhpur had to finally bow down and yesterday night (22 October) the administration was compelled to enter a written agreement accepting all the demands of the workers. The night before that (on 21 Oct.), the administration had unconditionally released all the four arrested leaders.
In protest against the brutal assault and arrest of the four leaders a strike was called in five factories of the Bargadwa Industrial Area on October 20 and more than 1500 workers started a dharna and hunger strike at the DM office. The district administration was under tremendous pressure after the announcement of “Citizens’ Satyagrah” in the city by the Citizens Front In Support of the Gorakhpur Worker’s Movement organised under the leadership of social activist Katyayani. An overwhelming number of striking workers braved the huge deployment of police, PAC, RAF personnel surrounding them and showed no sign of relenting. After a strong demonstration in the city on October 21, and under pressure from various civilian groups and organisations the administration released all the four arrested leaders after daylong hectic negotiations. But the workers continued their dharna and hunger strike demanding quashing of all false cases, action against officials guilty of beating their leaders and to conclude a written agreement meeting all their demands.
On October 22, the workers of two more factories joined the strike at the DM offce. The mounting pressure forced the administration for a written agreement to take back all the false cases, send recommendation to the state government to take action against the guilty officers and to address all the demands of the workers within a period of 10 days and the senior officers of the administration themselves made these announcements in front of the striking workers. After this the workers decided to defer their movement.
Under prevailing circumstances when the workers have been facing defeat after defeat against the combined force of industrialists-state-politician nexus, this victory of the workers of Gorakhpur is very significant. It could not have been possible without the extensive support of intellectuals, human right activists and labour organisations all over the country.
Apart from whole-hearted supported of activists and intellectuals of Gorakhpur, large number of writers, journalists, peoples rights activists and mass organisations of Lucknow, Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Patna, Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Allahabad, Kanpur, Varanasi, Badaun, Chhattisgarh, MP etc sent memorandums to the district and state administration, called the concerned officials to register their protest, issued statements and held meetings and demonstrations in our support. We have received hundreds of phone calls, emails and letters. We cannot reply to all of you individually right now, but we are grateful for your support and thank you on behalf of all the struggling workers.
However, we are not going to sit back and relax. We know by experience that despite the written agreement we will have to fight at each step with the administration and the factory owners to get the demands implemented. We will keep you posted about further developments. You can visit this blog for the news, reports and pictures of the workers movement: http://bigulakhbar.blogspot.com.
With revolutionary greetings,
On behalf of Steering Committee,
Joint Front for the Struggle for Workers Rights