NALANDA UNIVERSITY, BIHAR: Retrenched Guards Fight for their Reinstatement
Arun Kumar Mishra
THE ancient International Nalanda University in its new incarnation has started functioning from 2014 in a new campus in picturesque town of Rajgir, which happens to be a tourist spot and seat of Buddhism and Jainisim in Bihar.
The peasants of the surrounding areas have been forced to part with their multi-crop land for the construction of Nalanda University and the Bihar government had promised to provide jobs to their wards and announced that the all round development of the 14 villages adjacent to the university campus, will be ensured.
Subsequent developments have belied the hope of the peasants of the area and even their sons-daughters who have been working as guards in the university for the last two to four years have been retrenched by the new contractor, who heads a company in the name of ISI and supplies guards for government and non-government organisations on contract basis.
He is the third contractor to be employed by the university. The earlier two contractors had not retrenched any one of the serving guards. ISI is a big company having political connections with the ruling dispensation of Bihar.
The retrenched guards contacted the CITU leaders and since November 13, the 139 male and female guards have been sitting on dharna under the leadership of Parmeshwar Prasad and Surendra Yadav.
On November 20, a big precession was held in the town, highlighting the demands of the agitating guards. The district magistrate invited Parmeshwar Prasad, Surendra Yadav and Rajeshwar Pandey of CITU, Bihar to talk on the issue. They along with the representative of the agitating workers met the DM in his chamber and submitted their demands.
The delegation apprised the DM about the promises of the government, but the DM bluntly told the delegation that the peasants have been paid as per the decided price of the land and their demands for jobs in the university is untenable. He further appealed the delegation to withdraw the agitation which was then rejected by the delegation members.
The DM however directed the university authorities to talk to the representatives of the agitating retrenched guards and resolve the issue. It was informed that university authorities will meet the representatives of the agitating guards on November 30.
In the meantime, the MD Anil Kumar, who is solely responsible for the present mess has been alleged to have sexually assaulted a female guard on duty. She has formally lodged an FIR in the Rajgir police station. The incident has further aggravated the situation and now along with the demands of reinstatement, the guards on the dharna, have started demanding the removal of the MD and justice for the victim of sexual assault.
The movement which had initially started on the demand of reinstatement of the retrenched guards has now snowballed into a mass movement.
It is to be noted here that the agitating guards are the sons and daughters of the peasant families whose lands have been acquired for the purpose of building modern international university in the memory of glorious legacy of old Nalanda University, the seat of learning in Gupta period.
The peasants of the area and their wards feel cheated as the government has failed to fulfill the promises made during the acquisition of land.
CITU and CPI(M) have started mobilising the peasants of the area to not only come in support of the agitating guards but fight for the all-round development of the 14 villages adjacent to the university as promised by the government.
Night meetings are taking place and people are responding overwhelmingly in support of the guards and also for their own demands.
Kisan Sabha staged a massive demonstration before the University Office on December 4; they have also decided to carry on the struggles under the banner of Kisan Sabha in favour of the guards and their own demands.
Parmeshwar Prasad, CPI(M) state committee member and a mass leader of Rajgir, along with Surendra Yadav, Raj Kishore Prasad, president of Kisan Sabha, Rajeshwar Pandey, state vice president of CITU, Tilak Chand Prasad, Paras, Bijendr are leading the movement.
CITU state committee member Arun Kumar Mishra camped at Rajgir and participated and guided the movement.
The workers of ordinance factory and Veerayatan Eye Hospital have come in support of the movement on November 25. State president Dipak Bhattacharya addressed the workers of Nalanda University and extended solidarity on behalf of CITU state committee.
DEMONSTRATION AT NALANDA UNIVERSITY OFFICE
As per the decision of the struggling guards, a massive demonstration of youth, women and peasants of the area, took place before the Nalanda University Office on December 4 and the authorities were forced to talk to the representatives of agitating guards. The local SDM intervened and it was fanalised that the guards on dharna will be paid their dues within three days and their retrenchment will be annulled. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi and Arun Kumar Mishra addressed the demonstrators.
In the mean time, the state labor commissioner has summoned both the representatives of agitating guards and the university authorities and the contractor concerned to resolve the issue in his presence on December 12.