Workers killed on their way home

Inhuman System and Insensitive State

Early in the morning of 16th May, at least 24 workers were killed and several others severely injured when the trucks in which they were traveling collided in the Auraiya district of Uttar Pradesh, about 200 km from Lucknow. This is the latest in a series of accidents in which workers have been killed while desperately trying to reach their homes.

On 14th May, six workers were run over by a bus in Muzaffarnagar district of UP. These were workers walking to their homes in Bihar all the way from Punjab. Earlier in the week, four workers including a woman and her daughter, were killed in road accidents.

It may be recalled that 16 workers of a group of 20 were killed after a cargo train ran over them while they were sleeping on the tracks in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra.

While the central and state governments have promised to organise buses and trains for the workers wishing to return to their native villages, it is clear that the arrangements are woefully inadequate. In some cases, workers with empty pockets have been asked to pay for railway tickets.

Why is it that millions of workers from all over India are trying to reach their native villages under the most difficult circumstances, mostly on foot, braving the hot sun, without sufficient food or water or medical aid? The reason lies in the inhuman capitalist system in our country and the insensitive State which maintains this system, in which there is no security to the workers who toil and create all the wealth.

As expected, the Chief Minister of UP came out with a statement condoning the deaths and promising relief and medical aid to the injured. Politicians from the Congress Party have shed crocodile tears and accused the BJP.  However, both these parties compete to serve the interests of the capitalist class.

A few days earlier, the Government of UP had passed an ordinance suspending almost all labour laws for a period of three years, thereby eliminating all legal protection of workers’ rights. Other states, including those ruled by the Congress Party, have also enacted similar measures, including permitting a 12-hour working day and suspending trade union rights. This makes it abundantly clear that both these parties wish to serve the capitalists and fulfil their greed for maximum profits through the super-exploitation of workers.

The Supreme Court of India has dismissed a petition which asked that the Central Government be directed to provide food and water to workers on the move. The highest court in the country has ruled it cannot do anything about this problem.

These events expose the reality that the entire state machinery, including the executive, legislature and judiciary, are committed to protect the capitalist system of unbridled exploitation, and not to serve the interests of the toiling majority of people.

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