Skip to main content

Police detain 170 Ahmedabad sanitation workers for participating in cultural programme in posh city area

Cultural programme at Vastrapur lake
By Pankti Jog*
About 170 sanitation workers (safai sarmachari) of the huge New West Zone of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), on strike for nearly three weeks, demanding fair wages and permanent status, were detained on Sunday for participating in a cultural programme organized by the Gujarat Jan Andolan (GJA).
They taken away by the Gujarat police in three buses, even as they were silently sitting and watching the cultural expression, held in front of the gate of the posh Vastrapur Lake area's open air theatre. The GJA was not allowed permission to hold the cultural function at the theatre, where many high-profile, including government-sponsored, events have taken place.
The detention took place when a cultural group was singing songs in support of the safai karmacharis, with artist Pravin Mishra displaying paintings of manhole sanitation workers and their aspirations of permanency, residence and health.
A conglomerate of aware citizens and civil rights organizations, GJA simultaneously carried out a signature campaign in an open appeal in support of the safai karmacharis around the time when the detention happened. 

A painting by Pravin Mishra on display
“Considered one of the richest zones with maximum tax collection, the New West Zone of Ahmedabad, there is no reason why Ahmedabad residents would want sanitation workers, who clean up the manholes and keep our city clean should be paid less, or should not get housing or health facilities,” Mishra said.
There are around 6,000 sanitation workers in Ahmedabad without any job security , with wages below the bare minimum, Rs 6,000 per month. As the safai karmacharis were being asked to sit in the police buses called to pick them up, people from the New West Zone joined in large numbers and expressed their solidarity.
In the New West Zone, overwhelming majority of the safai karmacharis have been working on contract for the last 15-20 years. They are known to wake up before the entire city does while it is still dark, even during winter days.
Failing to send their children in decent schools, safai karmacharis in Ahmedabad, as elsewhere in Gujarat, end their day asking for food from the neighbourhoods they work in, and eat whatever food they get -- good, bad, mashed, spoiled. And then the next morning, they start their routine again.
When they approached the AMC authorities to make their jobs permanent, based on the official rules and regulations, according to which those who work for more than 900 days in a 5 year period are required to be made permanent, they were denied the right.
The union they have formed was sought to be broken. Despite several representations and peaceful protests, the authorities have refused to heed to their demands. With no choice left but to fight for their rights, they gave a call of 'No Rights, No Work', and stopped work till their demands were met.
Signature campaign in favour of sanitation workers
Meanwhile, to break their struggle, the corporation began firing the protesting workers. It is against this backdrop that the GJA called for a cultural evening in support of the the safai karmacharis.
In a statement, GJA said, the safai karmacharis are “ready to fight to the hilt, and their fight will get a huge boost if residents of Ahmedabad come forward and express their support and solidarity with this struggle. The solidarity of fellow Amdedabadis will go a long way in this struggle and force the authorities to react and remedy the current situation.”
---
*Senior Ahmedabad-based activist

Comments

Alok Bansal said…
Safaikaramcharies need a decent living and should be provided all facilities similar to other AMC workers. Why were they arrested for watching an entertainment show. Such acts of the government causes people to take violent course.

TRENDING

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda Aïnouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview: ***
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal p…

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”