Condemn the brutal police lathi charge on workers outside Delhi secretariat

On 25 March, 2015, the AAP government of Delhi carried out a massive unprovoked attack on peaceful workers, students and women, who had gathered at the Delhi Secretariat to demand that the new government fulfill the promises it made to the electorate in its election manifesto. The Communist Ghadar Party of India condemns the AAP government of Delhi for the brutal police attack on the protestors. Below we reproduce excerpts of an eyewitness report of the events of March 25, as written by an activist who participated in the protest action and was a victim of the police brutality, which was carried by Countercurrents.org on March 28, 2015.

Excerpts of the report:

On 25th March, we witnessed one of the most brutal, probably the most brutal lathi charge on workers in Delhi in at least last 2 decades. It is noteworthy that this lathi-charge was ordered directly by Arvind Kejriwal, as some Police personnel casually mentioned when I was in Police custody. It might seem surprising to some people because formally the Delhi Police is under the Central Government. However, when I asked this question to the Police, they told me that for day-to-day law and order maintenance, the Police is obliged to follow the directives from the CM of Delhi, unless and until it is in contradiction with some directive/order of the Central Government. The AAP government is now in a fix as it cannot fulfil the promises made to the working class of Delhi. And the working class of Delhi has been refusing to forget the promises made to them by the AAP and Arvind Kejriwal. As is known, on February 17, the students of School of Open Learning, DU went in sizeable numbers to submit their memorandum to the CM. Again, on March 3, hundreds of DMRC contract employees went to submit their memorandum to the Kejriwal government and were lathi-charged.

 

​“From tDemonstrators brutally attackedhe beginning of this month, various workers' organizations, unions, women's organizations, student and youth organizations have been running 'WADA NA TODO ABHIYAN', which aims at reminding and then compelling the Kejriwal government to fulfil its promises to the working poor of Delhi, like the abolition of contract system in perennial nature of work, free education till class 12th, filling 55 thousand vacant seats in the Delhi government, recruiting 17 thousand new teachers, making all the housekeepers and contract teachers as permanent, etc. The Kejriwal government and the Police administration had already been intimated about the demonstration of 25th March and the Police had not given any prior prohibitory order. However, what happened on 25th March was horrendous and as I was part of the activists who were attacked, threatened and arrested by the Police, I would like to give an account of what happened on March 25, why did scores of workers, women and students go to the Delhi Secretariat, what treatment was meted out to them and how the majority of the mainstream media channels and newspapers conveniently blacked out the brutal repression of workers, women and students.

Why did thousands of workers, women and student go to the Delhi Secretariat on March 25?

As mentioned earlier, a number of workers' organizations have been running 'Wada Na Todo Abhiyan' for last one month in Delhi to remind Arvind Kejriwal of the promises he and his party made to the working people of Delhi. These promises include the abolition of contract system on work of perennial nature; filling 55 thousand vacant posts of Delhi government; recruiting 17 thousand new teachers and making the contract teachers as permanent; making all contract safai karamcharis as permanent; making school education till 12th free; these are the promises that could be fulfilled immediately. We know it will take time to build houses for all jhuggi dwellers; however, a roadmap must be presented before the people of Delhi. Similarly, we know that providing 20 new colleges will take time; however, Mr. Kejriwal had told the media that some individuals have donated land for two colleges and he must tell now where are those lands and when is the state government going to start the construction of these colleges. It is not as if Kejriwal government did not fulfil any of its promises. It fulfilled the promises made to the factory owners and shop-keepers of Delhi immediately! And what did he do for the contract workers? Nothing, except a sham interim order pertaining to contract workers in the government departments only, which ordered that no contract employee in government departments/corporations shall be terminated till further notice. However, newspapers reported a few days later that dozens of home guards were terminated just a few days after this sham interim order! That simply means that the interim order was just a facade to fool the contract workers in the government departments and people of Delhi at large. These are the factors that led to a suspicion among the working people of Delhi and consequently various trade unions, women's organizations, student organizations began to think about a campaign to remind Mr. Kejriwal of the promises made to the common working people of Delhi.

​“Consequently, Wada Na Todo Abhiyan (WNTA) was initiated on March 3 with a demonstration of contract workers of DMRC. At the same day, the Kejriwal government was informally informed about the demonstration of 25th March and later an official intimation was given to the Police administration. The Police did not give any prior prohibitory notice to the organizers before the demonstration. However, as soon as the demonstrators reached Kisan Ghat, they were arbitrarily told to leave! The police refused to allow them to submit their memorandum and charter of demands to the Government, which is their fundamental constitutional right, i.e., the right to be heard, the right to peacefully assemble and the right to express.

What really happened on March 25?

Around 1:30 PM, nearly 3500 people had gathered at the Kisan Ghat. RAF and CRPF had been deployed there right since the morning. Consequently, the workers moved peacefully towards the Delhi Secretariat in the form of a procession. They were stopped at the first barricade and the police told them to go away. The protesters insisted on seeing a government representative and submit their memorandum to them. The protesters tried to move towards the Delhi Secretariat. Then the police without any further warning started a brutal lathi-charge and began to chase protesters. Some women workers and activists were seriously injured in this first round of lathi-charge and hundreds of workers were chased away by the Police. However, a large number of workers stayed at the barricade and started their 'Mazdoor Satyagraha' on the spot. Though, the police succeeded to chase away a number of workers, yet, almost 1300 workers were still there and they continued their satyagraha. Almost 700 contract teachers were at the other side of the Secretariat, who had come to join this demonstration. They were not allowed by the police to join the demonstration. So they continued their protest at the other side of the Secretariat. The organizers repeatedly asked the Police officers to let them go to the Secretariat and submit their memorandum. The Police flatly refused. Then the organizers reminded the police that it is their constitutional right to give their memorandum and the government is obliged to accept the memorandum. Still, the police did not let the protesters go the Secretariat and submit their memorandum. The workers after waiting for almost one and a half hours gave an ultimatum of half an hour to the Police before trying to move towards the Secretariat again. When the Police did not let them go to the Secretariat to submit their memorandum after half an hour, then the police again started lathi charge. This time it was even more brutal.

 

​“I have been active in the student movement and working class movement of Delhi for last 16 years and I can certainly say that I have not seen such Police brutality in Delhi against any demonstration. Women workers and activists and the workers' leaders were especially targetted. Male police personnel brutally beat up women, dragged them on streets by their hair, tore their clothes, molested them and harassed them. It was absolutely shocking to see how several police personnel were holding and beating women workers and activists. Some of the women activists were beaten till the lathis broke or the women fainted. Tear gas was used on the workers. Hundreds of workers lied down on the ground to continue their peaceful Satyagraha. However, the police continued to brutally beat them. Finally, the workers tried to continue their protest at the Rajghat but the Police and RAF continued to hunt them down. 18 activists and workers were arrested by the Police including me. One of my comrades, Anant, a young activist was beaten brutally even after being taken in custody in front of me. The police abused him in the worst way. Similar treatment was meted out to other activists and workers in custody. Almost all of the persons taken in custody were injured and some of them were seriously injured.

Four women activists Shivani, Varsha, Varuni and Vrishali were taken into custody and particularly targeted. Vrishali's fingers got fractured, Varsha's legs were brutally attacked, Shivani was attacked repeatedly on the back by several police personnel and also sustained a head injury and Varuni also was brutally beaten up. The extent of injuries can be gauged by the fact that Varuni and Varsha had to be admitted again to the Aruna Asaf Ali Hospital on 27th March, when they were out on bail. Women activists were constantly abused by the police. The police personnel hurled sexist remarks and abuses on the women activists that I cannot mention here. It was part of the old conventional strategy of the Police to crush the dignity of the activists and protesters.

The 13 arrested male activists were also injured and five of them were seriously injured. However, they were made to wait, two of them bleeding, for more than 8 hours for medical treatment. During our stay in the Police station, we were repeatedly told by a number of police personnel that the order to lathi charge the protesters was given directly from the CM's office. Also, the intent of the Police was clear from the very beginning: to brutalize the protestors. They told us that the plan was to teach a lesson.

The next day four women comrades were granted bail and 13 male activists were granted conditional bail for 2 days. The IP Estate Police station was asked to verify the addresses of the sureties. The police was demanding 14 days police custody for the arrested activists. The intent of the administration is clear: brutalizing the activists again. The police is constantly trying to arrest us again and slap false charges on us. As is the convention of the police administration now, anyone who raises their voice against the injustice perpetrated by the system is branded as "Maoists", "Naxalite", "terrorists", etc. In this case too, this intent of the police is clear. This only shows how Indian capitalist democracy functions. Especially in the times of political and economic crisis, it can only survive by stifling any kind of resistance from the working people of India against the naked brutality of the system. The events of 25th March stands witness to this fact.”

. . . .

Further on, the activist passionately declares: “The trade unions, women organizations and student organizations and thousands of workers have refused to give up. They have refused to give in. They are already running exposure campaigns around Delhi, though most of their activists are still injured and some of us can barely walk. Kejriwal government has committed a disgusting betrayal against the working people of Delhi who had reposed a lot of faith in AAP. The working people of Delhi will not forgive the fraud committed by the AamAdmi Party.”

. . . .

Anger is simmering among the DMRC workers, contract workers of other hospitals, contract teachers, jhuggi-dwellers and the poor students and unemployed youth of Delhi. The working class of Delhi has begun to organize to win their rights and oblige the Kejriwal government to fulfil its promises; the desperate attempt of the Kejriwal government to repress the workers will definitely backfire.

Workers', students' and women organizations have begun their exposure campaign in different working class and poorer neighbourhoods of Delhi. If the AAP government fails to fulfil its promises made to the working poor of Delhi and fails to apologize the disgusting and barbaric attack on thousands of women, workers and students of Delhi, it will face a boycott from the working poor of Delhi. Each and every of the wounds inflicted on us, the workers, women and youth of Delhi on March 25 will prove to be a fatal mistake of the present government.”

The fascist attack on workers and students by Delhi police is a sign that the class struggle is intensifying. This attack is one more example of the state terror that is routinely unleashed on the people in order to crush their fighting spirit and break their unity. The bourgeoisie knows that the working class and youth and students of Delhi are going to step up the struggle for their rights. The Communist Ghadar Party of India calls upon all communists, all the workers, youth, students and women’s organizations in Delhi, to come together under one banner in defence of the rights of the working class and toiling masses, against state terrorism.

 

 

 

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