According to an article published in countercurrents.org under the title “Brutal Lathi Charge On Workers Outside Delhi Secretariat”, dated 28 March 2015, (read here), since the beginning of March, several workers’ organisations, trade unions, women’s organisations, student and youth organisations have been organising protest demonstrations under the banner of "Wada na todo abhiyan", at the Delhi secretariat, to put pressure on the Delhi government to fulfil its electoral promises to various sections of the working people of Delhi.
The demands have included issues such as the abolition of contract system in perennial nature of work, free education till class 12th, filling 55,000 vacant seats in the Delhi government, recruiting 17 thousand new teachers, making all the housekeepers and contract teachers permanent, etc.
On February 17, the students of School of Open Learning, Delhi University went in sizeable numbers to submit their memorandum to the CM. Again, on March 3, hundreds of DMRC contract employees went to submit their memorandum to the Kejriwal government. They were lathi-charged by the Delhi police.
On March 25, thousands of workers, women and youth assembled at Kisan Ghat, near the Delhi secretariat, to submit their memorandum and charter of demands to the Delhi government. According to the organisers of this action, the Delhi police had already been informed about the planned demonstration. RAF and CRPF personnel had been deployed in large numbers. At about 1:30 p.m., nearly 3500 people marched in a peaceful procession towards the Delhi secretariat. They were stopped at the first police barricade and ordered to turn back. When theprotestors refused and insisted on meeting a representative of the Delhi government to submit their charter of demands, they were brutally attacked by the police. While many of the protestors were chased away by the lathi-wielding police, nearly 1300 workers continued to stage a peaceful satyagraha at the police barricades. 700 contract teachers who had come to join the demonstration were detained by the police on the other side of the Delhi secretariat and prevented from submitting their memorandum to the authorities. They continued their demonstration at the place where they were detained.
After about an hour and half, when the protestors again attempted to proceed towards the Secretariat, they were brutally beaten up by the police, this time even more viciously than before. Workers and women activists were specially targeted. Male police personnel forcibly dragged the women by their hair, beat them till their lathis broke orthewomen fainted, tore their clothing, physically molested them and verbally abused them in a most shocking manner. Several of the women and youth activists had their hands, legs and fingers smashed. Many suffered head injuries as well.
The workers tried to continue their protest at Rajghat and hundreds of workers lay down on the ground as a sign of protest, but here too they were chased and beaten up by the police. Tear gas was used to break up the protest action. 18 workers and activists, including several women, were taken into police custody. Nearly all of them were injured, some of them quite seriously. They had to wait for several hours in that condition, before any medical treatment was provided to them.
The following day the women activists were granted bail and the male activists were granted conditional bail for 2 days. The IP Estate Police station was asked to verify the addresses of the sureties. The activists continue to be hounded and harassed by the police, labelled ‘Maoists’, ‘terrorists’ and ‘naxalites’.
The mainstream print and electronic media have completely blacked out any news of this incident.
Many of the activists have reported that during the police custody, they were told by the police personnel that the orders for the brutal lathi charge were issued directly by the office of the Chief Minister of Delhi. According to these reports, the police were ordered to beat up and brutalise the demonstrators, in order to make them cow down completely and not dare to raise their voice again.
However, the agitating workers, women and youth have refused to be cowed down by this vicious attack on their rights and dignity. In many parts of Delhi, they have begun to organise campaigns to expose the cruelty and blatantly unjust attitude of the Delhi government towards the working poor of the city.
Lok Raj Sangathan condemns this barbaric attack by the Delhi government, on the workers, women and youth who had gone to raise their just demands before the government, demands that had been promised to them by all the political parties in the run up to the Delhi elections earlier this year.
The attack on the protesting people reveals once again, a fundamental flaw in the existing political system and process. The role of political parties should be not to strive to keep power in their own hands but to enable the people to decide the course of their future themselves and play a central role in the day to day affairs of society. Whereas, in the present dispensation, political parties of the ruling establishment continue to promise what the people want to hear, but do exactly the opposite once they come to power. Swearing by ‘democracy’ and then unleashing fascist terror on those who organise to fight for their rights, has been the hallmark of these political parties of the establishment.
The right of people to select their own candidates for election, to hold their elected representatives to account, to remove them from their elected positions if they violate the people’s mandate, to make laws in the people’s interests and ensure their implementation, to punish those guilty of heinous crimes against the people – these are essential rights that we must continue to organise and struggle for, to ensure genuine democracy and empowerment of the people.