Maha Dharani: Mega protest at Freedom Park continues today

The Dharani is a part of the All-India level Kisan Majdoor Mahapadav being organised by Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) and the Joint Committee of Trade Unions (JCTU). Notably, the Mahapadav will begin on November 26, and continue for three days; November 26 was also the day when the 13-month-long protests began in 2020 against the Centre’s farm laws.

Bengaluru: Close to 15,000 people so far participated in the Maha Dharani — a mammoth three-day satyagraha against the “Centre’s anti-farmer policies” at the Freedom Park on Monday. The entire protest has been organised from Sunday to Tuesday.

On Monday, November 27, at 11 am, a letter with demands was delivered to the Governor and the Chief Minister through the police officials. The collective demand on both present themselves in the protest spot and respond to the same. All day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m, the atmosphere at the mega protest was electric with speeches, songs and slogans. The idea was to create continuous pressure on both functionaries (one representing the union government, the second, the state government) to come and publicly declare their stand before all sections of the protesters, workers and farmers. Response from the state government has so far been positive.

After 5 pm, a fire pit will be lit and all the anti-farmer, anti-worker, anti-Dalit, anti-women, anti-minority laws brought forth by the pervious central and state governments will be placed in the agni kund / fire pit and set ablaze as a mark of condemnation and resistance. Thus will end the second day of the protest.

On Monday morning, hundreds of IT employees under the banner of the Karnataka State IT/ITeS Employees Union (KITU) joined forces with other sections of the working class on Monday to participate in a massive protest march against the anti-people policies of the central government. The protest, dubbed ‘Raj Bhavan Chalo,’ culminated in a demonstration outside the Raj Bhavan, the official residence of the Governor of Karnataka.

The protesters, carrying banners and placards, raised slogans against the central government’s policies, which they allege have resulted in rising unemployment, increasing inflation, and a deterioration in the living standards of the working class. They also expressed their solidarity with farmers, agricultural workers, and other marginalized communities who have been severely affected by the government’s policies.

“The central government’s policies are anti-people and anti-worker,” said KITU President Manjunath. “They have failed to address the key issues facing the working class, such as rising unemployment, increasing inflation, and the privatization of public sector enterprises.”

The protesters also demanded the repeal of the new labor codes, which they say have weakened labor rights and made it easier for employers to exploit workers. They also called for the implementation of the recommendations of the 12th Central Pay Commission, which would provide a much-needed raise to government employees.

The protest was peaceful but spirited, and the protesters remained undeterred by the heavy police presence. They vowed to continue their struggle until their demands are met.

The Karnataka IT industry is one of the largest in India and employs millions of people. The KITU is a well-established union that has been fighting for the rights of IT workers for over two decades. The union’s participation in the ‘Raj Bhavan Chalo’ protest is a sign of the growing anger and frustration among IT workers over the central government’s policies.

The Maha Dharani, being jointly organised by 58 organisations (including 8 farmers’ and 15 labour organisations), will be attended by farmers, labourers, Dalits, Adivasis, women and other activists from across the state. Alongside critiquing the Centre’s stance, the organisers will also pose questions to the state government.

Expecting over 30,000 people to participate in the Dharani over the course of three days, organisers have resorted to elaborate logistical plans. The ‘Annada Runa Swagat and Dasoha Samiti’, which is taking care of the food arrangements, estimates a sum of Rs 27,04,500 for food preparation and distribution over the three days. Finances are being raised by public funding and farmers’ initiatives.

Travel arrangements have been planned for participants through trains, buses and other modes of transport. Out-of-station protesters will stay at the venue on the first two days of the Dharani.“The first day of the programme was marked by flag hoisting on account of Constitution Day. With thousands of participants from across the state arriving on the Monday, November 27, deliberations against the 4 anti-farmer laws of the Centre will be held, along with questions being posed to the state government. After deliberations, a resolution will be passed about the Centre’s policies on the final day,” Veera Sangaiah, State Working president of Raitha Sangha (Puttannaiah), told the media.

While the organisers have obtained permission from the Bengaluru City Police for the programme, they are apprehensive of over-crowding at the venue which cannot host over 3,000 people. “Stating that this protest is not by political parties but instead by voluntary farmers, we repeatedly urged the government to provide proper toilets, drinking water and stay facilities for the protesters. However, we haven’t received any definitive response from their end,” rued Nageshwara Babu, working president of Karnataka Rajya Halli Makkala Sangha.


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