People's Democracy

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


No. 52

December 25, 2011




50 Thousand Arrested in Anti-Price Hikes Picketing


S P Rajendran

MORE than 50,000 of CPI(M) workers across Tamilnadu were arrested by the police when they staged road roko on December 5 actions to register their protest against the steep hikes in milk prices and bus fares and against the proposed power tariff increase. In many places, they had had confrontations with the police personnel.


These statewide protest actions took place in response to the call of the CPI(M) state committee.


In South Chennai, CPI(M) state secretary G Ramakrishnan led the cadre during the protest action. While the cadre tried to move forward, the police personnel arrogantly stopped them and used force against them. Addressing the cadre on the spot, G Ramakrishnan urged upon all the democratic forces to come together to fight against the price rise, which has severely affected the life of the poor and the middle class. “The government is making huge profits through sale of liquor and sand quarrying and the money could be used to fill the deficit. There is no need to increase the prices,” he said.


In North Chennai, the protest was led by the party's legislative party leader A Soundararajan. The presence of a large number of party workers here caused a heavy traffic jam near Kuralagam in Parry's Corner. Soundararajan and others, arrested by the police, were released in the evening.


At Dindigul, Central Committee member N Varadharajan and Dindigul MLA K Balabarathi led hundreds of the CPI(M) cadre  during the picketing on AMC Road. They strongly condemned the steep hikes in bus fares and milk prices.


Addressing the gathering, N Varadharajan said the people elected AIADMK and made Ms Jayalalithaa the chief minister as an alternative to the DMK, in the hope that she would ensure better governance. But Ms Jayalalithaa has now started adopting anti-people policies. The recent sudden hikes have added much to the woes of the already burdened people. The proposed revision of power tariff would further burden the people, he added, demanding that the government should immediately withdraw the hikes it has effected and desist from hiking the power tariffs.


At Madurai, more than a thousand people staged picketing in front of the district collectorate, demanding immediate rollback of the recent hikes in bus fares and milk prices. The action was led by the party's Madurai urban district secretary D Vikraman and state committee member and MLA, R Annadurai.


Shouting slogans against the state government, the protestors demonstrated how frequent power cuts were affecting the everyday life of the people. They also demanded that the Tamilnadu government must withdraw the tariff revision application filed with the Tamilnadu Electricity Regulatory Commission.


In Coimbatore district too, the police arrested more than a thousand activists of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) at 13 places including Coimbatore city on the day when they staged picketing actions. In the city, P.R. Natarajan, Lok Sabha member from Coimbatore, led the demonstrators. More than 500 activists were arrested by the police during the picketing.


More than a thousand CPI(M) members courted arrest after they blocked roads in various parts of Tirupur district. Tirupur South MLA, K Thangavel, who was among those arrested, debunked the government's lame-duck justification that the milk prices and bus fares were increased and power tariffs were to be increased in order to reduce the losses the Tamilnadu State Transport Corporation, Tamilnadu Cooperative Milk Producers Federation Limited and Tamilnadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) were suffering. “When private buses, to take one example, are running in profit even at the older ticket rates, how come the state-owned TNSTC was registering losses year after year?” he asked.


In Tiruchi, hundreds of people were arrested by the police near the Chathram bus stand while picketing. This protest was led by the party's district secretary S Sridhar.


The party’s cadre including large numbers of women were also arrested at Thirunelveli, Salem, Erode, Thoothukudi, Nagercoil, Virudhunagar, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Manachanallur, Thuraiyur, Uppiliapuram, Musbiri, Thottiyam, Tiruvberumbur, Manapparai and Lablgudi.