People's Democracy

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


No. 45

November 10, 2013




AMM Leaders Stand by Road Tunnel Workers


ON November 4, addressing a well attended rally of workers of the Chenani-Nashri four-lane road cum tunnel project at Chenani in Jammu area, leaders of the Jammu and Kashmir People’s United Front (JKPUF) [in Urdu: Awami Muttahida Mahaz or AMM] said the right to organise peaceful protests is an inalienable right of the people in a democratic polity and that the workers of the said project were being deprived of their democratic rights. These leaders included CPI(M) state secretary Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, Samajwadi Party state president Shiekh Abdul Rehman and IDP president I D Khajuria. Thy said the workers are also denied basic statuary facilities while being subjected to unlawful victimisation in terms of rampant dismissals when they protest.


While condemning the police crackdown against these workers, the AMM leaders said the way the right to peaceful protests was being stifled would only encourage the emergence of autocratic and violent forces in society. They demanded immediate release of the workers who had been detained by the police in false cases.


The leaders said the democratic process is not confined to electioneering; it also means protection of the democratic rights and civil liberties. They asked the management of the project to carry the workers along and not take them for a ride. They warned the government that it must avoid confrontation and find out an amicable solution to the issues through negotiations with the representatives of the workers’ unions and associations. The long pending genuine demands of the Chenani-Nasari workers should be given a patient hearing so as to end this stalemate, they demanded.


The AMM leaders flayed the fact that workers of the Chenani-Nasari road cum tunnel project were not being paid even minimum wages or allowances for overtime, were not covered under the Employees Provident Fund Act, and no proper safety mechanism was available to them. They also demanded that the workers who have been terminated by the Leighton Company should be reinstated without any further delay and be provided facilities under the labour laws.




Saying that the right to organise peaceful protests is an inalienable right of the people in a democratic polity, CPI(M) state secretary Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami appealed to all political parties and trade unions irrespective of affiliations to rise against the denial of democratic rights in the state.


Addressing a press conference at Jammu on November 1, Tarigami condemned the police crackdown against workers of Chenani-Nasari four-lane road cum tunnel project in Jammu region. He demanded immediate release of the workers who were detained by police in false cases.


While dwelling on the broad conception of the democratic process, the CPI(M) leader said it also involves protection of the democratic rights and civil liberties of the people. These included the right to protest as well, he said. He asked the project management to carry the workers along, “listen to them, talk to them, engage them, allow them to protest and accommodate their long pending demands.”


Tarigami recalled that during the recently concluded autumn session of legislative assembly in Srinagar, the employees staged a protest outside the assembly premises for their long pending demands. It was only then that the state government felt compelled to issue a statement which, however, did half-heartedly.


The CPI(M) leader asked the government to avoid confrontation and evolve an amicable solution to the issues through negotiations. “The house committee on environment had visited the project spot but found the working conditions of these workers deplorable. There are no sufficient protection or safety measures available to the workers who are supposed to work under hazardous conditions,” Tarigami observed, reiterating the demand for prompt reinstatement of the workers who have been terminated by the Leighton Company.


He also demanded that the company must accept the workers’ demand for classification and categorisation on the basis of their skills and the nature of jobs.




On October 30, the AMM held its first public meeting at Sher-e-Kashmir Park in Srinagar; it was attended by thousands of people who had come from different corners of the valley.


Addressing the gathering, Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami of the CPI(M) urged the leadership of India and Pakistan to jointly work for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan which will prove to be beneficial for both the countries and especially for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Tarigami said the USA’s exit from Afghanistan next year could provide a chance to India and Pakistan to show statesmanship in regard to course correction and betterment of their strained relations.  


He also criticised the deliberate erosion in credibility of institutions like legislative assembly, saying that the fate of the resolutions passed in the house is known to one and all in the state and the country. “The government of India promised return of power projects but what happened to those promises is known to all. The rest of damage was done by a retired general who levelled serious allegations against political mainstream in the state. We have already demanded a thorough probe into these allegations, failing which the government of India cannot blame the people of Kashmir for any negative consequences,” he added.


Tarigami also expressed concern over the escalation on borders, saying that war is no option and the two countries must work for cessation of hostilities as soon as possible. “The families living near borders are the worst victims of these skirmishes and the tension on borders have a direct bearing on the people of the state and the two countries,” he observed.


PDF president Hakim Mohammad Yasin, MLA, expressed serious concern over the prevailing socio-economic and political situation in Jammu and Kashmir. He said the endeavour of the political leadership must be to seek political stability, development and a dignified future. Unfortunately, the people of Kashmir have all along been exploited by political forces for their votes. While the people should realise that such forces have their own interests, he said the political forces too must know that they cannot now befool people with hollow political and emotional slogans.


The PDF president observed that the double standard adopted by several political parties is responsible for the prevailing mess in the state. “Had these political forces worked fairly calling spade a spade, things would have been entirely different in this state,” he added.


Abdul Rashid Kabuli, a former member of parliament, highlighted the people’s sufferings, saying that India and Pakistan can no longer ignore the vexed Kashmir issue. “People here cannot tolerate any more sufferings. Time has come for India and Pakistan to sit and resolve this issue by taking the people’s aspirations in consideration. People of the state are primary stakeholders of this issue and should be taken on board. Now that the leadership of India and Pakistan are talking peace, we the people of Jammu and Kashmir wish them success in their peaceful endeavours,” he added.


Kabuli said that a large number of people in the state have been killed and hundreds of youth detained, tortured and tormented during the ongoing conflict. “Time has come to make India and Pakistan understand the need for dialogue and resolution of this long pending issue,” he added.  


Sheikh Abdul Rehman, former MP and Samajwadi Party state president, criticised the Congress and the BJP that both have caused huge damage to the country in terms of malpractices, corruption and communal disharmony. He said the CAG findings have exposed how the Congress party is neck deep in corruption. On the other hand, “the BJP is fomenting communal frenzy. However, both the parties are being funded by corporate houses which have large stakes in the economy,” he added.


Sanjay Saraf of Lok Janshakti Party lamented that the chief minister Omar Abdullah was a young leader; nothing tangible was done for the unemployed youth of the state. “People had expected a lot from this young man but he proved to be a failure. What his government did is evident from the fact that over a 100 youth were killed in 2010 but not a single case has reached to any logical conclusion.”


Saraf also said the youth of the state are being fed with drugs for the benefit of the vested interests who use our youth for their narrow politics.


CPI state secretary Abdul Rehman Tukru said it is the common people who bear the brunt of the faulty policies of the state and central governments. “We daily witness how the common people are being pushed from pillar to post for their genuine issues,” he said, asking “What type of policy it is that peasants, who are our backbone, are being neglected to the hilt?”


Meanwhile, Tarigami observed that the above leaders had pledged to work jointly and reached the consensus that now onward they would work to further strengthen the People’s United Front (AMM). Tarigami said, “We know our efforts are inadequate vis-à-vis the challenges facing us but nevertheless it is a humble beginning from our side to work for our people. In future we will also seek support from certain civil society groups, intellectuals and political leaders to strengthen this front so that people get some sort of relief in their daily life.”


He appealed to the people not to misconstrue the AMM as yet another seeker of power. “People of this state are confronted with many grave issues including corruption, misgovernance, unrest, poor development, unemployment. We don’t claim to have any magic wand to change this scenario in a jiffy, but we will seek people’s support for alternative policies which can bring some change. This is what we pledge to work for,” he assured.