The workers of Ankur Udyog Ltd., a factory in the Bargadwa industrial area in Gorakhpur, eastern UP were attacked by goons called by the factory owner the morning of 3 May. At least seven workers were seriously injured in firing by the goons. Apparently, the factory owners of Gorakhpur have been very angry with the workers for attending the May Day rally at Jantar Mantar, Delhi and one of them suspended 18 workers as soon as they went to resume work. The workers protested against this and the factory owner sent hired goons who fired on the workers injuring 19 of them. The workers had cornered the goons inside the factory but the police came and took them away and let them free. FIRs have been registered from both sides.
As the tension and repression of the factory owners and the district administration mounts, the workers have planned to go on Satyagraha from May 8 (tomorrow) and the administration is determined to not let it happen. We have received messages saying that trade union organizers fear for the life and safety of the workers and their leaders. The voice of protests from many forums and due to the incident being covered by the local media, the administration has refrained from taking any one sided action till now. But conspiracies are being hatched behind the scenes. Its not a distant reality that the leaders might be killed in fake encounters, or slapped with false charges or lynched by mobs instigated by the factory owners or Adityanath’s goons.
The workers had laid siege to the factory and had not allowed the goons to escape for quite some time. The police force reached the spot and just stood near the factory gates, refusing to act. They also delayed registering a FIR. Not surprising, considering that the district administration is under the thrall of the rabid BJP MP Yogi Adityanath.
The injured workers have been admitted in the district hospital. Names of some of them are: 1. Vinod Singh s/o Ramsarup Singh; 2. Virendra Yadav s/o Matilal Yadav; 3. Indradev s/o Bilas Das; 4. Amit Kumar s/o Bhure; 5. Ramanand Sahni s/o Shitla Prasad; 6. Shailesh Kumar s/o Ramashray; 7. Pappu Jaiswal; Ram Janm s/o Gullu Bharati; 9. Vinay Srivastava s/o Tej Narayan; 10. Devendra Yadav s/o Vijay Nath; 11. Vinod Dube s/o Kedarnath; 12. Dhruv Singh s/o Ramroop Singh; 13. Srinivas Chauhan s/o Bachha Chauhan; 14. Sandeep Mehta s/o Babulal Singh; 15. Rajesh Gupta s/o Laxmikant Gupta; 16. Krishna Kumar s/o Ramkishor; 17. Shivkumar s/o Girija Rai.
This is evidently a well-planned attacked by the industrialists. A campaign of lies was launched in the media a few days before saying that the workers agitating for their basic rights are instigated by “Maoists” from outside. It may be recalled that this same canard was spread exactly 2 years before when thousands of workers from 7 factories in Bargadwa had started an organized movement on their demands. The factory owners are openly backed by Yogi Adityanath who has been consistently opposing the workers movement and issuing statements calling their leaders “Maoists bent upon spreading violence” and saying that the movement is “funded by the church”.
The administration is brazenly siding with the factory owners. The commissioner of Gorakhpur issued a statement 5 days before that “outside elements instigating the workers will not be spared and the police will take strictest action against them.” This statement came immediately after the meeting of industrialists having units in the GIDA (Gorakhpur Industrial Development Authority) area which called for the same. They even named three prominent activists Tapish Maindola, Pramod Kumar and Prashant as “Maoists” and called for action against them. These three were also arrested in 2009 and were released after a massive protest in Gorakhpur which almost paralysed administration work in Gorakhpur district magistrate’s office for 4 days.
The industrialists had been using various tactics to prevent the workers from participating in the May Day rally in Delhi organized by the Workers’ Charter Movement (WCM). About a dozen workers were arrested in false cases and a factory VN Dyers Ltd was even locked out. But the workers responded by going in large numbers for the rally. About 2000 workers from Gorakhpur took part in the May Day demonstration in Delhi. This has further infuriated the factory owners and their political backers who are trying to teach the workers a lesson.
Some friends from the media have warned that the administration is planning to implicate the labour leaders and active workers in the violence and slap serious cases against them to remove them from the scene so that the movement can be crushed.
Local trade union leaders associated with the Workers’ Charter Movement have issued an appeal to the public to put pressure on the state and district administration to arrest the factory owner and his goons and prevent them from falsely implicating the labour leaders.
This report has been compiled on the basis of statements issued by WCM leaders and some information provided by Jai Pushp