Open letter to Deputy Speaker Himachal Jagat Negi on siding with private companies, mocking at labor laws
My Dear Jagat Negi Ji,
For quite sometime, certain issues have been agitating my mind, therefore this letter to you. I, also choose to make it public.
You are well aware, under the Parliamentary form of democracy adopted by us, the office of a Speaker and Deputy Speaker of a Legislative Assembly is a honorable position. They are given to those who are not partisan in their conduct. In public discourse, a person holding this high position is expected to be judicious, fair and must direct his conduct clear above any narrow partisan interest.
I do not know what were the compelling circumstances which forced you to side with the Patel Engineering company in an industrial dispute with its workers. This dispute has a background of more than 120 days strike since 17th March, 2016. Remember the genesis of the dispute has a longer history. It goes back to September 2013. You would recall in early 2013, the workers of Patel Engineering had built up courage to demand the enforcement of the law of your govt.
The law of payment of minimum wages declared and notified by your govt, the law to provide earned wages before the 7th day of each month, the law to provide the wages in presence of an officer of the principal employer to be counter signed by him accompanied by a documentary evidence of a wage slip, the law of providing a weekly off, the law of providing the social benefits attached to the Provident Fund Act, the law of providing accommodation and living conditions as per the various provisions of the contract labour (regulation and abolition) Act etc.
Just examine how justice was done with the workers. Instead of directing the company to implement law, the leadership of the workers was terminated from service. The management in order to ensure that the workers do not raise the demands again, terminated Jeet Negi the president of the union, Rajvansh the secretary, Baldev the vice president, Soam Dev an active member of the union along with two other activists. Their only crime was to organise the workers so that the labor laws could be implemented.
I am grateful to the judicial system of this country, those who knocked on its door against this unjust act were provided justice. The labor court ordered in the month of May 2016 that the termination of Jeet Negi, Rajvansh and Baldev was illegal and directed their reinstatement. Soam Dev Negi did not have money to fight a legal battle and after having faced humiliation by the sub-contractors he decided to end his life. He committed suicide on 18th Nov 2013 by jumping into the Satluj river. His body was recovered six months later on 24th April 2014. The painful death of Soam Dev the only earning hand of the family, becomes even more painful when one learns that the cause of his death has not been investigated till date.
I want to know from you, are you the MLA of only the Rich, the Patel’s, the JP’s, the Jindal’s, the contractors etc. How long will the poor have to suffer and die like Soam Dev died.
Is the version of the people correct? They say in order to protect the pecuniary interest of your brother Mohinder Negi who is a big contractor under the Patel Company, you have become totally intoxicated by the ill-gotten money. Is it correct the stone crusher belongs to your brother? Is it correct people have complaint against the illegal mining being done for this stone crusher? Is it correct that he is illegally operating it by violating the condition attached to its operation? You may be correct to state why your brother and relatives are not allowed to make money when the others are doing so.
You and your brother want to treat the police as your personal army. Do you know in an industrial dispute the police cannot take sides, either with the industrialists or with the workers. But you desire that they should stand with the exploiters. Are you not ashamed you ordered a few days back to arrest 95 workers under a false and fabricated case of attempt to murder. Once the workers were in police custody you ordered their home to be raised to the ground by plying of a bulldozer. They have become homeless with all their lifelong savings having been destroyed, their bedding, their clothes, their utensils and all the little savings they had made in their life time, all have been buried under the mud. Even tyrants do not carry out such inhumane acts. The bulldozer has buried their life long earnings, but it cannot burry their history.
I can assure you, you have broken their homes, but you and your government cannot break their courage to fight back the ruthless exploitation. The fight will continue till they get justice.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Himachal Watcher.