A powerful Sri Lankan people’s movement, Janatha Aragalaya, has shattered the legitimacy of the ruling establishment of the country and has come to pose a serious challenge to the imperialist powers that have been backing the corrupt regime. Functioning from the Colombo’s Galle Face and numerous other centres which have surfaced across towns and villages, the movement amply reveals that the Sri Lankan people are questioning the misuse of the popular mandate by the country’s ruling elites. One can easily glean that the people’s aspirations go beyond the simply dethroning a few powerful politicians.
This guest post is an investigative report by MAYA JOHN, SUNITA TOPPO and MANJU MOCHHARY, who are associated with Gharelu Kamgar Union and actively involved in organizing domestic workers.
Recently, the otherwise docile workforce of domestic workers – most of whom are migrant labourers from the poorest states in the country – showed remarkable collective zeal against their wealthy employers in Noida (Uttar Pradesh). On the morning of 12th July 2017, a confrontation broke out between wealthy residents in a posh housing society, Mahagun Moderne in Noida Sector 78, and a gathering of agitated domestic workers and their families. The rampant exploitation of domestic workers, and the huge antagonism between their interests and those of their employers was directly exposed with the outbreak of this agitation.
The 12th July incident and subsequent developments have also revealed the sickening nexus between the police, employers, and right-wing politicians who have extended support to the wealthy residents. Within hours, an obvious labour issue, and the struggle of workers against the alleged illegal confinement of a female domestic worker was projected as a communal confrontation. With the accused employers and their sympathizers identifying the protesting workers and the missing domestic worker as ‘Bangladeshis’, the social media exploded with communal diatribe and messages of hate. Conditions for communal discord were consciously sown by Mahagun residents, putting at risk the lives of hundreds of workers living in neighbouring slums.