At dawn on 8th December 2019, 43 workers were killed in a fire that swept the 4-storey factory located in Anaj Mandi on Rani Jhansi Road. Large number of workers was injured in the fire.
A memorial was held in front of Filmistan Cinema on Rani Jhansi Road on 11th December 2019 to remember the victims of the factory fire.
The memorial meeting was jointly organised by trade unions of Delhi. AITUC, CITU, HMS, AICCTU, UTUC, INTUC, SEWA, AIUTUC, LPF and Mazdoor Ekta Committee were organisers of this meeting. Larger number of trade union activists and senior leaders were present. The local leader of CPI(M) Nathuram was also present. There were hundreds of local workers and citizens.
All speakers condemned the tragedy. The speakers demanded the harshest punishment for the concerned factory owner, authorities of the government departments and all those guilty of this crime. Timely judicial investigation was demanded. Another demand was that Rs.50 lakhs should be paid as compensation to the families of the victims.
Speakers also said that there were children among the victims and this is under further investigation. The workers had been sleeping at night in the factory exhausted by the day’s work. The shutter was drawn down. There was no exit other than the shutter in this four-storey factory building built on 600 square yard plot. The workers in the factory produced toys and plastic bags. The premises and work carried out here was totally illegal – it was neither licensed nor registered. Certification of safety was not obtained, nor were there any arrangements for fire-fighting. It was located in a narrow street where it was next to impossible to make rescue arrangements.
Speakers explained that at present there are lakhs of companies that have been violating mandatory safety rules. Thousands of workers are at risk of losing their lives if such disasters hit companies. They are not compliant with laws. However, the governments at the centre and state and their agencies have turned a blind eye to these violations. Such illegal companies are a source of bribes for all kinds of government agencies and political parties. Further, the government treasury also legally collects taxes from them.
This is the ugly face of this inhuman capitalist system. After every disaster, the government pacifies the workers with compensation, but the problem does not get resolved ever. Nor is there any guarantee that such disasters will not occur again. Workers must unite and oppose this.
Our country’s workers are its valuable resource. We must demand that for death of workers due to such disasters, the government and its agencies and all institutions of state that are responsible for ensuring our safety and they should be put in the dock.
Among those who addressed the memorial meeting were: Mukesh Kashyap of AITUC, Anurag from CITU, Rajendra from HMS, Santosh Rai from AICCTU, Manager Chaurasia from AICUTUC, Shatrujeet Singh from UTUC, Birju Nayak from Mazdoor Ekta Committee, Amjad Hasan from INTUC, Lata from SEWA, Mohan Kumar from LPF and Nathuram from CPI(M).
The meeting concluded with observation of silence for the dead workers.