Thousands of women marched on Delhi’s rain soaked streets on Tuesday afternoon to protest against the Centre’s “failure” to check violence against women and highlight the “lack of job opportunities.”
Another massive protest by farmers and workers is slated to be held in the national capital on Wednesday. The protest will be organised by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and the All India Agriculture Workers’ Union.
AIKS leader Hannan Mollah said it was the first time that workers and farmers would march together. He said 300,000 workers and farmers will assemble at Delhi’s Ramlila Ground for the protest march to Parliament Street against the central government’s policies.
On Tuesday, leaders of students’ unions affiliated to some of the Opposition parties also met here to announce coordinated protests against the Centre in the weeks to come. The Congress said it was talking to other Opposition parties to launch a joint agitation against the steep petrol and diesel prices.
In several districts of Madhya Pradesh, Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Court (CrPC), which prohibits a gathering of four or more persons, was imposed to prevent the ‘Bharat bandh’ call to protest against Parliament passing amendments to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act.
As many as 35 organisations have given a call for a strike on Thursday to protest against the government pushing the amendments in Parliament after a March 20 Supreme Court order diluted the arrest provisions of the SC and ST Prevention of Atrocities Act. Madhya Pradesh is slated for assembly polls by December, and the upper castes are a key support base of the BJP in that state.
But the day belonged to a 28-year-old student in Tuticorin. A day after her arrest for raising the slogan, “fascist BJP down down” onboard a domestic flight and in the presence of BJP Tamil Nadu unit chief Tamilisai Soundararajan, the student Louis Sophia was granted bail by a local court.
Sophia, who hails from Tuticorin and studies in Canada, was arrested on the complaint of Soundararajan on Monday. The BJP’s Tamil Nadu unit and Soundararajan received flak for “crushing” the freedom of expression. The ruling AIADMK defended the police action but DMK chief M K Stalin repeated the slogan raised by Sophia and demanded that he be arrested. Sophia’s father has lodged a counter-complaint against Soundararajan and her supporters. He has accused them of holding out threats.
Tuesday’s march by women was held under the banner of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA). Wednesday’s protest march by CITU and AIKS has put forth a 15-point charter of demands.
The chief demands are universal public distribution system, minimum wage of not less than Rs 18,000, stopping anti-workers labour law amendments, implementing Swaminathan commission recommendations on agriculture pricing, debt waiver for farmers and agricultural labourers as well as halting forcible land acquisition.