Taking advantage of the COVID19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown, Central and state governments have brought in many anti-people laws, amendments and policies. These include labour laws, Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC) Laws, Essential Goods Act, Land Reform Acts, Environmental Impact Assessment regulations, Electricity Act.
On the occasion of the anniversary of the “Quit India Movement” many farmer and labour organizations along with trade unions across the country had called a “Save India” campaign.
Protests and demonstrations were also registered in many districts of Karnataka including Bengaluru, Tumakuru, Bellary, Raichur, Mandya, Chitradurga, and Kampli.
Almost 2000 people representing various organizations gathered at Bengaluru’s Freedom Park against the anti-minority, anti-people, anti-student, and anti-labor moves of both the Union and State Government. Many Trade Unions, Dalit, Farmer’s, Students’, Women, and other progressive, secular, and democratic organizations joined the ‘Safe India’ campaign in with their respective demands.
Trade Unions :
The Workers Unions and Trade Unions opposed the labour law amendments and have demanded that the government must take necessary steps to provide employment job security to the workers. They have demanded that the government must immediately stop privatizing the public sector undertakings in the country and assist millions of workers in the unorganized sector.
The workers union also demanded that other regulations including minimum wages and workers’ safety at workplaces must be enforced with utmost care to secure the interests of the workers. They have also raised concerns that the Department of Labor has deliberately neglected enforcement of labour laws and has remained silent about complaints against employers on pertinent issues including lay-offs, retrenchment, and closures.
Protests were also held elsewhere supporting the ‘Save India’ campaign jointly by Karnataka Janashakti, AIKSCC, Dalit Organizations including Dalit Sangarsha Samiti, We the People of India (Naavu Bharatiyaru), Farmer’s Organization and Tumakuru District Slum Residents’ Welfare Association.
Committee for Landless and Shelterless People also extended its support for the campaign demanding that the state government must allot lands and houses to the needy at the earliest.
Students’ organization like Karnataka Vidyarthi Sanghatane have demanded the government must provide an equitable education for all students, especially the ones hailing from the marginalized communities. They have demanded the withdrawal of the National Education Policy – 2020 and have staunchly opposed the moves by the RSS backed BJP Government to Saffronize Education.
For Farmer’s Organizations, loan waivers and issuance of fresh loans along with the repeal of the amendments brought to the Land Reforms Act was the major issue. Speaking about the same, District Convener of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), C. Yatiraju, urged the government to waive all agricultural loans and to provide the farmers with yet another set of loans.
Farmer organisations demanded that all families within the income tax payment threshold must be provided a monthly compensation of at least Rs 7500 for the next six months and free rations should be distributed to them. He also demanded that the working days must be increased to at least 200 days under the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
Dalit Organizations including the Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (DSS) has noted the rise in incidents of atrocities against Dalits and Minorities. They also raised voice against the inaction of the government to prevent such atrocities and how elected representatives of the BJP and its RSS associates have been inciting violence against minorities in Karnataka and across the country.
Noting the issues faced by women in times of COVID pandemic and increased communalisation, Convenor of AITUTUC, Manjula noted that incidents of violence against women, Dalits, and minorities have increased during the COVID period. Cases of domestic violence have been on the rise since the first lockdown was imposed. She also noted that the governments have completely failed to control these incidents of violence and that a united fight of the oppressed communities was the need of the hour to fight out the anti-people policies of the government.
Social worker Tajuddin Sharif brought light to the attack of the government on public intellectuals and dissenters across the country. He noted that dissent was very important and such attacks on dissenters are unacceptable. He demanded that the governments must immediately stop the retaliatory act of detaining the country’s top thinkers, luring them into false lawsuits, and must free all political prisoners.