September 20, 2020

HP: Three days, three protests outside the Vidhan Sabha

THE Himachal Vidhan Sabha is convened for a short period of 10 days at Shimla. For three consecutive days from September 14 to 16, there were three protests held by SFI, CITU and DSMM respectively.

On September 14, the SFI state unit held a demonstration outside the state assembly and banged plates as a form of protest to wake up the government. The protest was organised against the new education policy(NEP) and its implementation in the state without even discussing it amongst the students' community.  Later a delegation met the chief minister and submitted a memorandum of demands. While addressing the protest demonstration, state secretary of SFI, Amit Thakur reminded the government that the implementation of RUSA was a big failure in the state and lessons must have been learnt. Speaking about autonomy to the educational institutions, he said that in the guise of autonomy actually the government wants to go for hedgehog privatisation of education.

The demands raised in the demand charter include: implementation of the reservation roster while appointing teachers in the university; withdraw the NEP; take action against the VC of Himachal University who is misusing the funds and resources; release of the scholarship of SC/ST students; promote the students on the basis of marks obtained in previous exams; the UGC formula of 65:35 be used for the appointment of college lecturers by the Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission and revamp the scrutiny committee for the appointment of teachers in the university.

The Himachal Pradesh state committee of the CITU held a demonstration outside the state assembly on September 15. Before that, a procession was taken out through the Cart Road culminating in a sit-in dharna outside the assembly. The protesters were addressed by Kashmir Singh Thakur, former general secretary of state CITU, Vijender Mehra, state president and Prem Gautam, state general secretary. The workers demanded immediate withdrawal of the amendments brought in the labour laws in the state. The state government had brought ordinances that have changed the working hours from eight to 12 and have destroyed the social security net, especially for the contractual workers. A delegation of the CITU later met the chief minister and submitted a memorandum to him.

According to the memorandum nearly 3,50,550 workers working in 5,175 registered factories or workshops will be severely affected through the changes brought in the labour laws. Lakhs of industrial workers will be rendered ‘support less’ and would virtually be transformed into bonded labour.

Other demands of the memorandum include: scrap the amendments done in the Factories Act 1948, sections 2,65,85  and 106 B; changes done in the Industrial Dispute Act 1947, sections 22, 25F and 25 k be withdrawn; scrap the fixed term category in the Industrial Employment Act 1946.

The DSMM Himachal unit held a massive protest demonstration outside the state assembly on September 16. A procession was taken out in the Shimla town which marched through various streets and later assembled at the Vidhan Sabha Chowk. The protest demonstration was addressed by Rakesh Singh, CPI(M) MLA from Theog, Jagat Ram, state convener of DSMM and Vivek Kashyap. DSMM delegation led by Rakesh Singha met the chief minister and apprised him of the challenges that the dalits are facing in the state.

While addressing the protest demonstration the speakers pointed out that everything is being hushed up under the carpet in the state of Himachal Pradesh as the state is called ‘Dev Bhoomi’(deity’s land). In this guise a picture is made to emerge that everything is very fine in the state and very peaceful, whereas under this guise there exist large scale atrocities committed on dalits and differentiation being practised especially in the rural areas.

A 14 point demand charter was submitted; some of the demands include reservation roster be implemented in all the jobs, be it regular, outsourced, contractual or private; implement the 84th Constitutional amendment in the state for promotions and fill the backlog; effective implementation of SC and ST sub-plan; Act against atrocities of SCs and STs be implemented sternly; formation of an SC and ST Commission in the state; release scholarship to SC and ST students.