'It was more of an agitation, strike'

Updated: Jan 09, 2020, 09:08 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

A total of 20 protests, led by Central unions and Left parties on Wednesday, had people voicing their dissent against Centre's pro-corporate policies and violence against educational institutes

CPI and housemaid union members protest at Dadar on Wednesday. Pic/Ashish Raje
CPI and housemaid union members protest at Dadar on Wednesday. Pic/Ashish Raje

Two days after students were attacked in the JNU campus in New Delhi, 20 different protests, agitations and demonstrations took place in Mumbai not just in support of the student victims, but against various other policies of the Central government. The agitation was called for primarily by 10 central trade unions and supported by over 208 federations and organisations.

"Central Trade Unions, along with federations from Oil, Defence, and Postal Services have, as well as labourers and employees of various state and Central industries joined today's nationwide agitation with more than 25 crore people participating," said CPI Mumbai general secretary Prakash Reddy, adding, "We have a list of 12 demands. Social Security is the first one, followed by a minimum pension of R10,000 and minimum wages of R21,000. The government is also changing labour laws to make them pro-employer. They don't want unions to be recognised. This pro-corporate and fascist government wants to silence anyone raising questions."

People with their children protest in solidarity with JNU students at Carter Road on Wednesday. Pic/Shadab Khan
People with their children protest in solidarity with JNU students at Carter Road on Wednesday. Pic/Shadab Khan

He further spoke about the JNU incident, saying "the ABVP is completely exposed."

The biggest demonstration of the day took place at Azad Maidan attended by over a 1,000 people. A much smaller anti-CAA protest, led by Muslim women, also took place at the grounds. "Today is more of a strike and agitation — not a bandh as such," said Milind Ranade, 57, a CPI office bearer and also national secretary of New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI).

In the evening yesterday, protesters in large numbers gathered at Carter Road, which was called for by the group 'Voice of the People'. About 100 policemen were made to line up in attention at the steps of the Carter Road amphitheatre.

While cops largely remained spectators, a senior officer instructed his junior "to capture all the placards." Organisers too asked protesters to put away placards regarding Kashmir. A woman from the crowd shouted "Freedom of Speech," to which the organiser said, "Not at the cost of sabotaging our movement."

10
No. of central trade unions that called for the agitation

Students' demands

A student delegation comprising Fahad Ahmad (of TISS) met Home Minister Anil Deshmukh and have reiterated their demand for a judicial enquiry into the violence at educational institutions. They told Deshmukh that they felt "wronged with the FIRs filed against them" during the protests at Gateway. Deshmukh assured them that the Maha Vikas Aghadi is "committed to constitutional rights and believe dissent is important in a democracy."

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