Indefinite fast: Demand to raise minimum wage to Rs 440 a day for farmers, labourers

Photo credit: Rajeev Yadav
[हिंदी] Noted social activist and Magsaysay Awardee Dr Sandeep Pandey began an indefinite fast in support of demands of farmers and labourers of unorganized sector and underprivileged children on Sunday, 23rd December 2012 in Lucknow opposite Vidhan Sabha. One of the key demands is: Rs 440 daily minimum wage for labourers of unorganized sector. In last 20 years, although the wage of service class has gone up by twenty times, the wage of labourers of unorganized sector has hardly risen by three times. Just like the labourer is unable to get reasonable wage, the farmers too are unable to get the minimum support price for their crop.

This indefinite fast and massive demonstration is organized by Socialist Party with support of many other civil society and political organizations such as Lok Rajniti Manch, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Bhoomi Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, Rihai Manch, Special Teachers and Guardian Association, and Dentist Welfare Association.

This fast is also raising the demand to conduct inquiry into wheat and paddy purchase scams. Hundreds of special teachers for differently-abled children (children with disabilities) also took part in the fast demanding their appointment. The UP High Court has asked Secretary (Basic Education) in one of its orders whether orders dated 5th December 2012 regarding appointments have taken cognizance of the amendments made to the rules on 4th December 2012.

Another demand is to release innocent people who are jailed in name of terrorism as UP State Government had promised so when it came to power earlier this year. Sadaf, Wife of Shahbaz who is presently in Jaipur jail, also took part in the agitation. Shahbaz was arrested in 2008 from Maulviganj, Lucknow. Another demand was to make RD Nimesh Investigation Report public which probed the false arrest of Tariq-Khalid. Demands to conduct judicial inquiry into CRPF Camp incident and to establish an inquiry commission on arrest of Shakeel were also raised.

Many people from rural parts of Hardoi and Unnao took part in large numbers. Women and children from Gram Panchayat Purvaman, Hardoi, also participated in the dharna raising issues related to closed Anganbadi centre, not getting hot cooked food or other nutrition.

Rajaram, Gram Pradhan of Gram Panchayat Jajupur, Hardoi, informed that Lekhpal is doing illegal land allotment in his village. Dharna participants said that ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) was unable to protect interests of common people in the state.

Dr Sandeep Pandey, who is also the national Vice President of Socialist Party, is on an indefinite fast since 23rd December and other social activists such as Munnalal Shukla and Sanjeev Pandey are on relay fast.

Girish Pandey, State President of Socialist Party, Umashankar Mishra, State Vice President, Mohd Suleiman of Indian National League, Advocate Mohd Shoaib, President of Rihai Manch, Mahtab Alam, PUCL Delhi, Usha Vishwakarma, Balmanch, Khalid Shabbir, national President of Muslim Mazlis Delhi, Jaid Farooqui, Ram Babu, Shankar Mishra, Anil Mishra, Bhagwan Deen, Rajaram - Pradhan of Gram Panchayat Jajupur, Rupesh Singh, Gufran Siddiqui, Sajeevan Lal, Ram Bharose, Shreeprakash, Shehla Ghanim, Rajeev Yadav were among hundreds of others who took part in the agitation.

Bobby Ramakant, Citizen News Service - CNS
December 2012