People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 27

July 03, 2011




Miners Protest Police Repression, Privatisation Moves


THE June 24 strike in the Raniganj coal belt of West Bengal and elsewhere has been a big success. The strike, called for by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and the All India Coal Workers’ Federation (AICWF) was meant to register protest against the police lathicharge against coalminers and localresidents on June 21.


Earlier, through a statement issued from Kolkata on June 22 by its general secretary, Jibon Roy, the AICWF congratulated the coal workers in the Raniganj coalfields and the residents around, for holding a strike in Raniganj and surrounding in protest against the said lathicharge on the coal workers and the common residents in Hansidiha colliery. One notes that this colliery of Pandeveswar region comes under the Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL).


While the June 21 police action caused injury to around 30 miners and local residents, Gouranga Chattererjee, a coal workers’ leader of all-India stature and the local MLA, was also seriously injured. Nor did the police spare Bansagopal Choudhury, a member of parliament and a former minister in West Bengal. See People’s Democracy, June 20-26 for details.


The AICWF statement noted that the protest strike and bandh had been total in all the coalfields of Raniganj, Jamuria and Pandeveswar regions in the Ranganj coalfields.


While condemning the police atrocities, the AICWF expressed anguish and indignation against the reversal of the state’s policy regarding labour by the current regime. The latter has given a go-by to the policy earlier followed by the Left Front government on the matter of the state’s role in the disputes between labourers and employers. Incidentally, the June 21 lathicharge on workers was the first of its kind after the Left Front government was installed in June 1977.


On this occasion, the AICWF reaffirmed its resolve to fight against the policy the Coal India Limited (CIL) is following on the issue of land acquisition for green-field mining and has demanded that such acquisition be followed only after a negotiated settlement on the issue of provision of alternative lands, monetary compensation and employment to the land-losers.


The AICWF has also reaffirmed its resolve to fight any such policy as may lead to privatisation in whatsoever form. The ECL management’s move on Hansidiha was ostensibly aimed to hand over the patch to a private contractor. In no time in the history of ECL has such a transfer taken place without prior settlement between the management and the trade unions. The AICWF has complemented the local residents around the patch for having joined the miners, which would obviously help against the land acquisition around the Hansidiha patch. If the identified patch is transferred to a private contractor, the AICWF noted that it would affect 11 villages which are inhabited mostly by the tribal population.


In such a situation, the AICWF has urged upon all its affiliates in the country to protest the police action through demonstrations and other actions; unite the miners against the privatisation, disinvestment and outsourcing; and fight for adequate compensation to the land-losers.