Protests, agitations are common at the Jantar Mantar. We journalists make regular visits to the venue to cover political rallies, mass agitations over social issues. Past two days Jantar Mantar witnessed a different kind of protest. Over 500 state government employees working across various offices in West Bengal staged an agitation at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar demanding the Dearness Allowances (DA). Their agitation entered into 75th day on April 11, 2023 (Tuesday) in Kolkata where protesters are sitting on a dharna at the iconic Shahid Minar (Ochterlony Monument). The first batch of ‘Sangrami Jautha Mancha’ members comprising of around 300 people left for Delhi by Howrah Rajdhani Express on Saturday and another 200 members left for Delhi by Sealdah Rajdhani Express on Sunday. “The members of ‘Sangrami Jautha Mancha’ will sit on a dharna at the Jantar Mantar on April 10 and 11, 2023. We are compelled to take this decision as our state government is in a complete defiance mood,” Informed Bhaskar Ghosh, convener of the Sangrami Joutho Mancha. The Delhi Police had issued permits from 10 am to 4 pm for both days.
Demands at a glance:
1) Demand for the Dearness Allowances (DA).
2) Permanent job for the contractual workers.
3) Focus on the teachers’ recruitment scam.
Besides their demand for DA, the agitation also focused against the alleged teachers’ recruitment scam that has ashamed Bengal. Former Education Minister Partha Chaterjee, a close confidant of Trinamool Supremo Mamata Banerjee and nephew turned party General Secretary Abhiskek Banerjee, was the first catch by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). One of the biggest scam ever, numerous Trinamool leaders – From Kuntal Ghosh, a youth wing Hooghly district leader to party leader Shantanu Banerjee, the list is endless. Close confidant of the Banerjee’s, SujayKrishna Bhadra was served a notice asking him to appear before the investigating agencies at Nizam Palace in Kolkata. Bhadra who was once the all-in-all of nephew’s company, ‘Leaps & Bounds’, was mentioned as ‘Kalighat r Kaku’ (Kalighat’s Uncle) by Ghosh during the interrogation. Infact, Kuntal had named Shantanu who raised money from the job-seekers.
However, the members of the forum had to postpone their plans to meet and submit a memorandum to President Draupadi Murmu, Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharama and few other politicians as they were out of station. According to members of the forum, the meeting will commence later. On Tuesday, they went to submit the memorandum at the respective offices.
“We have come to Delhi not just for the DA but we also want to raise our voices against the teachers’ recruitment scam. We stand beside them. So many deserving candidates were deprived of their jobs because they could not pay the money,” said Debabrata Mukherjee, member, Sangrami Jautha Mancha: (See the video)
Mukherjee also mentioned the attitude of the state government and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who had once said, “gheu gheu kore laabh nei. aami gheu gheu ke bhoi paina…aami jaani ki korte hobe…” (Don’t bark, it will not help…I am not scared of barking…I know what to do). “She compared us with barking dogs…We are asking for our rights not begging,” added Mukherjee: (See Video)
Slogans like, “Sangrami Jautha Manch long live” or “khela mela shob e holo, DA r taka kothai gelo… artho montri jwabab chai…jwabab dao” made Jantar Mantar ‘hot’, their voices could be heard from the main road leading towards the venue. Their slogans, songs and poems reflected their conviction to fight out till their last breath.
Snehashis, member of Sangrami Jautha Mancha had a hard hitting message for the Chief Minister, “We run the government and you are depriving us of our genuine demands. We know everybody’s secrets. Stop this at once else get ready to face more intense agitation in the coming days.” Another member of the forum, Shantanu Mondal said, “Our demand is DA and we want to show Mamata Banerjee that we are united and are capable to fight for our rights.”
The agitation in the capital ended on Tuesday on a strong note. The state government may call them “barking dogs” or “cheats who had managed to secure their jobs by palm greasing of the Left”, but the members of the Sangrami Jautha Mancha will stand united for their rights and they will see an end to their already 75-days ‘dharna’ at the Shahid Minar in Kolkata. “We are ready to sit for many more days,” said S Som. Mamata Banerjee may call this “choto ghotona” (petty incident), “sajano ghotona” (concocted incident) or “bohiragoto der kaaj” (work of aliens), her three cult ‘catch phrases’ but the spirits of the forum is quite high and they are ready to take the state government’s ‘defiance’ head on.
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