Minor Threats And Attacks – 45 years of political experience in India

Minor Threats And Attacks – 45 years of political experience in India

These are auto-biographical notes from comrades in India, around the group previously known as Kamunist Kranti, who still publish Faridabad Workers’ News (Faridabad Majdoor Samachaar). Some of us worked with them, we reflect on these experiences here. They also feature in this documentary. For us it is still outstanding that the comrades managed to overcome some of the short-comings of Marxism-Leninism (capital ML) by attaching themselves closely to the experiences of the class. On the other hand, and perhaps that is not a contradiction, it seems that their group and their working class constitution needed to go through the initial phase of classic political organisation (‘Marx reading circles’, vanguard intervention, de-classification, cadre discipline etc.) in order to develop the cohesion and political commitment to work together for the coming decades.

These are incidents from the last forty-five years, largely recounted from memory. Our interpretations will certainly be there.

I left studies in opposition to the declaration of Internal Emergency in 1975. It was akin to jumping in the ocean without knowing how to swim. Maoists-Naxalites were said to be the real opponents of emergency. I came to know slowly that the CPI(M-L) had broken into 32 factions. Debates were denunciatry. Now and then unity amongst two/three groups also happened but the process of further divisions continued. Death of Mao in 1976 engendered more splits.

In lieu of security, had to break relations with the family, change one’s name, and secretly impart knowledge to the masses. After roaming from village to village in Sriganganagar district of northern Rajasthan, I spent time amongst Bhils and Raibaris on the Rajasthan-Gujarat border in the south. Something seemed wrong. At three-four month intervals, I had to go to Delhi to meet the group leader.

At the time of leaving studies in Delhi, I had left my books with a classmate, Govind Ram Gupta from the Science Faculty in Birla Institute Pilani. Govind was working in Bajaj International company and lived in a rented room in Seelampur, a trans-Jamuna slum. With doubts from southern Rajasthan, I reached Delhi a few days early and in Govind’s room read Marx’s Capital volume one. Things seemed right.

On meeting the group leader, I was told to work for some time in the Mewat-Faridabad area near Delhi. Passionate activities began anew. After some time I was told by the group leader to move to Madhya Pradesh, which was seen as an apt place for Mao’s protracted people’s war. Arrangements were made by contacts in Gwalior for me to reach the Sahariya community in the Kuno-Kunwari-Chambal hills-forests-riverine region. After working in a hostel in a town for Sahariya students, I moved to a forest hamlet of Sahariya’s in the name of teaching alphabets to the children, to preach protracted people’s war. And, there was a sudden about turn by the group leader: not Mao’s but Lenin’s path is the right path; instead of preparing the rural poor for revolution, factory workers’ consciousness in urban areas was the prime need for revolution.

## From the 1940s, Comrade Sumer Lal in Murar and Comrade Kishan Lal in Gwalior were workers in Jiyajirao Cotton Mill in Gwalior. Arrangement for my food and lodging was made in Sumer Lal ji’s house in Nadi Santar street in Murar. The focus became activities amongst J C Mill and Gwalior Rayon factory workers. And discussions with students in Lashkar. (Note : Murar, Gwalior, and Lashkar constitute Gwalior). At that time, SFI, student wing of CPI(M) was very active among students there. Mr. Shailendra Shaili was their leader. Discussions with Medical College students were taking place. It seems that the SFI had problems with this. Deceptively, Mr. Shailendra Shaili was called for a discussion. I did not know him. Reading of Marx and Lenin was on. In the discussion, a somewhat over articulate person kept interrupting. But the discussion was proceeding in such a way that others found weight in what I was saying. In this scenario, the one in opposition began denouncing me and then openly started threatening. But because of the other students sentiments, things did not go beyond threats. The one opposing-denouncing-threatening was Mr. Shailendra Shaili who later became a significant leader in the CPI(M).

## In Madhya Pradesh, Indore was said to be the main industrial area. With contacts provided from Gwalior I went to Indore. But at that time all the textile mills in Indore were almost shut down. Arrangements for my food and lodging were in a factory workers’ residential area, Pardesipura. I stayed with a textile mill workers’ family that had been very active in the CPI. Textile workers had played a pivotal role in the parliamentary election in 1971 getting CPI state Secretary Homi Daji elected, defeating a Congress Party strongman from Indore. The CPI supported the emergency in 1975. In textile mills in Indore, police was used to impose on weavers to operate four looms instead of one loom. And, the CPI hosted a World Anti-Fascist Conference during the emergency in Patna, Bihar in which besides the Russian party, the Communist Party of Vietnam also participated. Many CPI members/supporters distanced themselves from the party and when Homi Daji stood again from Indore in the 1977 parliamentary elections, he lost even his security deposit.

The youngest brother, Comrade Tarachand’s portion in the house was where I stayed. He was doing tailoring at home and was a member of the CPI(M). Tarachand ji’s behavior with me was very good. Besides the routine political discussions, conversations with workers in a nearby upcoming new industrial area of small factories were on. The elder in the family took me to Dewas city, a short distance from Indore, to meet an old comrade who had been a while timer in the CPI. He then was the general manager of a major steel pipe factory in Dewas. He met us with great respect but when he told me to leave revolution-vivolution and work for workers welfare, the elder was greatly pained.

The elder’s friends from BHEL(Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited), a government of India factory in Bhopal came to Indore to meet him. They suggested that I go with them to Bhopal. They would arrange food, lodging, meetings with the workers. Big factory, at that time there were nineteen thousand workers in BHEL Bhopal factory. Very attractive in the leninist framework. Reached Bhopal with them. Unions affiliated with INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU were recognised by the company. BHEL had given a flat with a telephone for office to each union. Union presidents were central leaders and the general secretary etc. from amongst BHEL workers. Important discussions about BHEL were held in the company’s corporate office in Delhi. Tiruchirapalli factory in Tamil Nadu, Haridwar factory in UP, Bhopal factory in MP unions’ presidents were given airfare and union leaders from amongst factory workers were given railways fare by the company for travels to Delhi. In that railway journey from Bhopal to Delhi there was a saving of five hundred rupees, a significant amount in 1981, and tussles happened on who would go to Delhi. Unions had made 51 member executive bodies. And, BHEL workers were so distant from unions that in joint demonstrations by the unions, there were not even 300 workers. Those workers who had played leading roles in militant struggles earlier and were office bearers in the unions in 1981, were very sad. (Note — The main central unions to whom most of the unions in India are affiliated : INTUC is of the Congress Party; AITUC belongs to CPI; CITU is of CPI(M); HMS belongs to “Socialists”; BMS is of the Bhartiya Janta Party).

Comrade Manohar Lal Verma’s tailoring shop, near one of the factory gates, was where I stayed. It was an adda, a meeting point of union leaders and politically active workers. Educated and active workers repeatedly said that Marx and Engels 1848 Communist Manifesto was very difficult to understand. It seemed that more than the language of the translation, it were the contexts of history-culture of Europe that were the problem. So with contexts from the Indian subcontinent, “A-B-C of Worker” was prepared. It was published as a fifty page booklet from Gwalior. BHEL workers liked it. Some workers gave the booklet to Homi Daji who was central general secretary of AITUC and president of a union in BHEL, besides being MP state secretary of the CPI. Homi Daji denounced the booklet. Imprinted in memory is what a young worker of BHEL said in 1981 : “Without our consent the management cannot get production from us. The machines will be running. We will stand at the machines for eight hours. The cuts will be in the air.”

In BHEL Bhopal, I read lots of Lenin’s writings. In view of the stress of Lenin on the importance of party program, I prepared a “Draft Program of the Marxist-Leninist Workers Party”. In December 1981, I went to Delhi to meet the group leader. At a pre-decided place and time, I met Mr. R.P. Saraf in the park in front of Delhi Railway Station. Gave the draft to him. It was extremely surprising for me to see him almost lose his balance. He was active from the 1940s : in the Democratic Conference during the king’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir; then a significant leader in CPI, CPI(M), CPI(M-L) and … [Essence : And this kid has brought a counter draft!!! Blasphemy!] Shocking for me were Mr. Saraf’s allegations that I was forming a separate party, I was not telling him about contacts in Madhya Pradesh, I was preparing to go back to the family. Then his last weapon: There and then he broke all relations with me.

After that meeting, I did not go back to Bhopal. For years I did not go to Madhya Pradesh. I decided to make industrial city Faridabad, situated at the neck of Delhi, the place for my activities. This became a point of departure. I still remember the cold of January 1982 winter.

Discussed the situation with Pilani classmate, Govind. Unfolded my plan and told him to give me ten thousand rupees. Govind gave ten thousand. And, on the basis of “Draft Program of the Marxist-Leninist Workers Party”, in March 1982, publication of the monthly “Faridabad Majdoor Samachar” commenced.

## One thousand copies of one page cost 165 rupees. Very rapidly a hyperactive group of 15-20 workers of some factories emerged. Between Delhi’s Badarpur border and Ballabgarh, at ten-twelve places during morning shifts time, groups of eight-ten on roads sold copies at one-fourth of a rupee, 25 paise per copy. Active comrades also contributed 25 rupees each month. In 1982, from the bonus at Diwali festival, each one contributed 100 rupees. At that time, these were quite significant amounts.

With head office in Germany, production in six factories in India, and export of toolkits to automobile manufacturing companies in the USA, wages in Gedore Hand Tools factories were significantly more than in other factories.

In a 1982 gate meeting of three thousand five hundred workers of the three plants of Gedore Hand Tools company in Faridabad, the union president talked of global recession and in that scenario asked the workers to choose one of these three : 600 workers leave their jobs, or accept 25 percent reduction in wages, or else go on six months special leave. Workers rejected all the three. The union president was also the president of CITU in Faridabad. A handbill opposing this, with the names of two workers from each plant, was printed. In these six names, Hari Lal of the second plant’s name was also there.

Born in a village in Jaunpur district in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Hari Lal after working in brick kilns on the East Pakistan border, plying rickshaw in Benaras, breaking iron in Bareilly, loading-unloading trucks in Delhi, working in a bicycle factory in Faridabad, had joined Gedore factory in 1973. One day during lunch break in A-shift, Hari Lal ji questioned the union president about soap etc. not being given by the management. The president asked him his name. And, as soon as he heard the name Hari Lal, the president attacked Hari Lal ji.

## With the address of a rented room in Shiv Colony in Sector-22, publication of Majdoor Samachar was going on. At that time in Faridabad, weekly day off in factories was prevalent due to power shortage. On a Wednesday, reading of Engels “Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State” was going on in a factory workers’ group. A person came on a scooter. Introduced himself : he was head of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) in Faridabad. And left.

After Majdoor Library/office was established in a rented room near Mujesar railway crossing, the IB person at regular intervals came to “meet”. With a heavy heart he told about his transfer to Assam as it was a very dangerous place for him then. Before leaving, he came with the new IB chief of Faridabad for “introduction”. The new IB chief’s mouth used to be red with chewing paan, his name was probably R.K. Singh, and once he just said : poor chap was an M.Tech. student in I.I.T. Kanpur (name taken was probably Lahiri). He is no more … Once Faridabad IB chief came with Rohtak IB chief. A postcard with words like : “Come sometime. Will chit chat over a cup of tea.” had been intercepted. It was from an acquaintance in state administrative service. The Intelligence Bureau chiefs of two districts had come to enquire about the chit chat over tea …

## In 1982, comrades from Gedore factories went to localities to obtain signatures of their co-workers for holding elections of Gedore Hand Tools union. Bhupender, worker of the first plant, during lunch break went to the union office to give fifteen hundred workers signatures to the president. Union office bearers sitting in the union office said : “Are elections held in any communist country?” They tore the papers with workers’ signatures. And, punched Bhupender’s stomach. Then, a tall-strong worker complained to the management, ” In the factory, Bhupender had forcefully obtained his signature.” On the basis of that complaint, the management suspended Bhupender.

Born in a village in Garhwal in the Himalayas, Bhupender had studied up to M.A. Did not get a job. On the basis of class twelve certificate, he became a helper in Gedore factory in 1978.

## During the Internal Emergency, the government demolished shanties on a large scale in Faridabad. Earlier staying in a shanty, a short distance from the factory, Gedore’s second plant worker Chintamani after the demolitions had to cycle eight kilometres to the factory. There were three eight hour shifts in production. In 1982, it was the time when opposition to union leaders in the factory had greatly increased. One night after duty in B-shift, Chintamani was going home on bicycle on Mathura Road at twelve past. Suddenly two persons on a motorcycle attacked Chintamani with hockey sticks and left.

Born in a village in Sultanpur district in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Chintamani had got a government job after doing his high school. Chintamani beat up the person who had insulted him on the basis of his caste, and fearing reprisal, left the government job. Reached Faridabad. After working in many factories, in 1972 he joined the Gedore factory.

## During Gedore workers increasing opposition to the union leaders in 1982, one evening Vijay Shankar had just crossed Mujesar railway crossing when ten-twelve persons ambushed him, beat him and went towards Gedore factories.

After the lifting of the Internal Emergency by the government in 1977, there was a flood of strikes in Faridabad. It was halted in 1979 by the Central Reserve Police Force firing in which many workers were killed.

In that wave of strikes, Vijay Shankar had led the strike in the Delhi-Faridabad Textiles factory on Mathura Road. He was dismissed by the DFT management.

Vijay Shankar was very skilful in putting things in perspective. He was a very articulate speaker. He used to read a lot in Hindi language. He had joined the maoist group in which I was also there. Vijay Shankar had put up a paan-cigarettes wooden structure at Mujesar railway crossing and made it a meeting place for political activities. Workers of many factories in the nearby shanties joined Vijay Shankar in the study of Marx and Lenin books. The maoist group leaders maintained secrecy and talked to workers in meetings convened by Vijay Shankar.

I met Vijay Shankar in January 1982. Group leaders told him not to meet me but he continued meeting me. The group then severed relations with him and Vijay Shankar openly joined Majdoor Samachar. After some time he left the paan-cigarette work and began giving all his time to Majdoor Samachar.

## About the Bata shoe factory. Mentioning the resolution passed in an all India congress of AITUC : “Struggle to make temporary workers permanent workers”, the union in 1983 made 300 temporary workers to sit at the factory gate. The union put up the tent and every day leaders made speeches. After three months, one day in the morning shift Bata union general secretary in a speech to the permanent workers said that the union had nothing to do with the temporary workers sitting at the factory gate. The union had reached an agreement with Bata management regarding permanent workers. The next day before lunch break in the Bata factory, we pasted a handwritten note on the Bata union notice board outside the gate. Then Hari Lal and I stood beside it. As a norm, at the sound of the hooter, a crowd of Bata workers rushed out of the gate. Only a few workers had read the note before it was torn up. “Why did you stick the paper on our board?” “The board is of workers.” Some started pushing us while some others started protecting us. In the push and pull, from the Bata factory we reached Bata Chowk.

The piece had not been read so we printed 100 copies and next morning at seven am Hari Lal and I stood on two sides of the Bata gate and distributed the handbill. And, Bata management replaced that wooden notice board with an iron frame board. In the new notice board, on one side was written Bata Union, on the other side Bata Company, and for protection there was a net of thin steel wires with lock.

## Escorts union office and HMS district office are in the same building besides the Neelam flyover. Jailed during Internal Emergency, Mr. Dalip Singh Advocate, was HMS district president. On becoming a HMS office bearer, Satish Kumar also used to sit there. Active in CPI(M)-CITU, Satish Kumar had also been president of the union in the Goodyear Tyre factory. Worker Struggle Committee was formed during the greatly enhanced workers activities following the lifting of Internal Emergency in 1977. Satish Kumar was amongst the eighty union leaders who dissociated from central unions to join the Committee. After police firing in 1979, the Worker Struggle Committee vanished. After being dismissed from the Goodyear Tyre factory, Satish Kumar had joined HMS.

Now and then in 1983 we used to go to meet Dalip ji and Satish ji. Once by chance we met a leader of trotskyists Militant Tendency from England there, his name probably was Silverman. He was very happy to know about Majdoor Samachar and a meeting was decided.

Balvinder and I reached on time. We were naive not to understand the meaning of “Busy in meeting”. We waited. Finally, the leader of Militant Tendency came with Escorts union leaders to meet us. It was then that we came to understand the meaning of “Busy in meeting”.

The President of Escorts union, Mr. Subhash Sethi was the main person. HMS was dependent on him. Militant leaders were dependent on him. Whereas in Majdoor Samachar there used to be sharp criticism of him. It seems that the Escorts leader had briefed the Militant leader about us and that had botched up things. We had been called, so initially the effort was to avoid us. Failed. Our stubbornness. Finally, to demolish us, the “hallo” of the international leader …

Discussion began. The Militant leader criticised us for our criticism of the Escorts leader. We presented the facts. When we said that in a dispute in a factory between workers and management, the district police chief had been made arbitrator … The Militant leader launched an all-out attack on us : “What is wrong in that? They operate eighty unions in Faridabad! Workers will beat you …”

In 1983, we went with copies of Majdoor Samachar to Delhi University in a program organised by maoist intellectuals and cultural performers. A middle aged man with a serious demeanour met us and in a threatening tone he said: “Stop criticising Escorts union.” His name is not in memory.

Revolting against his father, Balvinder had gone to Kanpur. Cut his hair. He used to go to the Current Book Depot, a centre of worldwide left literature. He came in contact with the maoist group of which I was also a part. He came to Faridabad and became a supervisor in the Orient Steel factory. Once when I had come from Madhya Pradesh to meet the group leader in Delhi, I stayed with Balvinder in his room in Sihi village. In 1982, Balvinder was amongst the hyperactive in Majdoor Samachar. He went to Kanpur and from Current Book Depot brought International Communist Current (ICC) literature also.

## With a loan of rupees twenty five million from IDBI, automation in the electroplating department of Gedore factory had been completed. Company’s plan of large scale retrenchment got stuck due to workers’ opposition.

New plans were made. Management started delaying wages and CITU donned the cloak of militancy. In 1983 the union announced a tool down strike in all the three plants. Workers came in shifts and left after eight hours of idle sitting in the factory. After one month of tool down, the union president announced an agreement at a gate meeting but the workers rejected it. Tool down continued. After two months of production shut down, again the president announced an agreement but the workers rejected that agreement also. Tool down by three thousand five hundred workers. The company and union were trapped. It was three months of production stoppage when meeting was called again. As per plan, people from other factories were also brought. Without bothering about workers rejecting the agreement announced by the president, some persons had run inside the factories and started the machines. The president and general secretary had jumped in the second plant to start the machines. Instead of cursing and going to their plants, thousands of workers ran after the president and general secretary in the second plant. Caught them. Thrashed them. Both the leaders ran away. Tool down continued.

Comrades in Gedore factory called a general body meeting the next day, weekly off day, in the park in front of the Escorts motorcycle factory. Amongst thousands of workers agreement was reached to form a committee to obtain resignations from the union leaders. Comrades took over the union office. Tool down continued. After three days, the union president called a meeting. Under heavy police presence, the president announced his resignation and asked the meeting to elect new leaders. Gedore comrades’ plan of constituting a struggle committee failed. A person who had been general secretary of the union presented names and they were accepted as new leaders by the workers. Immediately after the meeting, the two comrades whose names were amongst the new leaders, informed their co-workers about their resignation in three posters put up at the three plants. The workers were very angry with the comrades and even came to Majdoor Samachar office in protest. Machines in the three plants started running.

The retrenchment that was hanging, continued hanging. The management made plans anew. The latest plant, third plant to be shut down in the name of maintenance and workers to go on leave while production was to continue in the two older plants. To subvert the management plans, comrades began a hunger strike at the third plant gate. Fearing precipitation, the management acted immediately. Before lunch break, the musclemen of the CITU president suddenly reached the third plant gate and forcefully removed the comrades from the factory gate.

Then the committee formed by the CITU president attacked the new union leaders forcing them to flee. The committee took command. Forcing workers inside the plants to resign. Attacking Gedore workers on their way to the factory and taking their resignations. The police post in Sector-11 and the police in tents inside Gedore factory were openly in support of the CITU committee. Comrades were threatened: tonight your hands and feet will be broken! But no one resigned. It took Gedore management and CITU committee one and half years to remove one thousand and five hundred workers from the plants.

Name of Gedore Hand Tools changed into Jhalani Tools. And, in management’s words : from six factories of the company in India, 2300 workers had taken voluntary separation.

## Our experiences were raising questions on the role of unions. Balvinder had brought publications of International Communist Current (ICC) and other fringe left literature from Kanpur. The German-Dutch Left and Italian Left’s criticisms of unions seemed right to us. We contacted ICC via post. Their publications started reaching us. In the April 1984 issue of Majdoor Samachar, we printed the basic premises of the ICC. And issue 26, May 1984 Majdoor Samachar reported suspension of publication.

Question was one of the material bases of the ongoing social process. If not Lenin’s conception of imperialism, then what in its place?

The ICC mentioned Rosa Luxemburg’s book, “The Accumulation of Capital”. And, in the very beginning Rosa’s book says that Marx’s analysis of enlarged reproduction was wrong! Whereas, the ICC called both Marx and Rosa’s analysis as correct!! And, a member of the ICC, Van who had come from Europe seemed extremely naive when he told us that it was not necessary to read Marx’s Capital and Rosa’s Accumulation. But it seems that the problem is very deep rooted. Conception amongst many people in Europe-USA seems to be that in the rest of the world, something is wrong.

After the suspension of Majdoor Samachar’s publication, I decided to stay in Lala Ram ji’s orchard on milk plant road in Ballabgarh. From morning to evening, before the attacks by mosquitoes commenced, I read and reflected on Marx-Rosa-Lenin-Bukharin-Solidarity group pamphlets-Mattick.

In 1985, a three member ICC team came from Europe. To participate in the discussions, Vijay Shankar had come from Baburipur village in Sultanpur district in eastern Uttar Pradesh. Chintamani, Dudhnath, Bhupender, Hari Lal, Mahender from Mandkola village in Palwal, Balvinder with a co-supervisor in Orient Steel factory, Anthony, participated in the discussions. Language was a handicap.

The last discussion took place in Balvinder’s room at NH-1(Nessan Huts, NH-1to 5 had been built for refugees from Pakistan post-1947). The ICC team asked us to join their organisation. Balvinder was in agreement but I had reservations. Finally, the ICC team threatened me that if we did not join them we would be internationally isolated.

Balvinder joined the ICC.

In the quiet of the night, walking on empty roads from NH-1 to Jawahar Colony, Vijay Shankar, Bhupender and I discussed a lot. Vijay Shankar and Bhupender’s considered opinion was that we must keep a distance from the ICC.

A new basis began to emerge from here. A new terrain and new paths started taking shape.

Lala Ram, was a singer in a religious sect, Arya Samaj. He joined the CPI and then the CPI(M). Then he became an active supporter of the CPI(M-L). He was a tenant on commons land in Ballabgarh. He planted an orchard with a lot of labour. During my Faridabad-Mewat period, Lala Ram ji had kept me in the orchard with himself. His wife’s behaviour was very good. When monetary difficulty was extreme then again in 1984-85, I stayed in Lala Ram ji’s orchard.

## In 1986, the first issue of Kamunist Kranti in Hindi and English was published. Then publication of the new series of Majdoor Samachar started.

From one page to two pages, but the number of copies remained one-two thousand. It was at the end of 1993 that four thousand copies were printed. All the space in the issue was covered by “Some Chit Chat with Escorts Workers”. Like each month, the issue was distributed. Bata worker Dudhnath and I were distributing at the last factory of Escorts group, Escorts Motorcycle Division (Rajdoot plant) in B-shift when four-five young workers came from the factory side . They used strong language, pushed-pulled, and snatched around fifty remaining copies from us.

In “Some Chit Chat with Escorts Workers” the material was on management-union agreements during 1982 to 1992, the context being the negotiations for a new long term agreement. It had been prepared in a very interesting way by young friends from Delhi. Those young friends were Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Monica Bhasin, Amit Mahajan.

The indispensable need of at least five thousand copies per month in Faridabad had emerged. Majdoor Samachar’s distribution in the adjoining Okhla Industrial Area of Delhi began.

## Normally in Majdoor Samachar, each month, reports of twenty to twenty-five factories are printed. With the increase in number of copies, one factory workers report began spreading among more factory workers.

■ For a report in Majdoor Samachar, the management of Nuchem Limited with factories in the Industrial Area and on Mathura Road in Faridabad sent a defamation notice to us.

■ One day a slim well-built youth came to Majdoor Library and said, “I am the boss of this area.”

“Take a seat.”

Taking the name of a nearby factory (it was a small factory, the name is not in memory), it was in front of East India Cotton Mill, he asked : “Which worker has given this report (published in Majdoor Samachar)?”

“Names are not disclosed.”

“Have to tell.”

“Brother, names are not disclosed.”

“Nothing will happen by doing this. Nothing will change here.”

“It behoves to be done.”

“You are like my father. I am from Mujesar village. (Name he said was probably Pawan Chaudhary). Hence on, reports of this factory are not to be printed.”

For ten-fifteen minutes such an exchange took place and then he left on a motorcycle. Came to know later that he had done three-four rounds of Majdoor Library earlier.

■ In the shanty in front of Majdoor Library, Ramesh of Gedore second plant lived. In 1988 when we were looking for a room in Autopin Jhuggis (shanties), then Ramesh ji had got us the place. We had bought a locked room for five thousand rupees with each contributing a hundred rupees and some friends five hundred. Ramesh ji was illiterate, lived in a mud room, cooked with passion, on Sundays with love he fed me with lentil filled fried wheat flour (pranthas). During his B-shift duty, Ramesh was also involved in the distribution of Majdoor Samachar. One morning at the end of night shift, union leaders caught Ramesh ji in the factory and took him to Sector-11 police post. In Ramesh ji’s name a complaint was made against me that I was forcefully making him distribute Majdoor Samachar.

■ In Baba Shoes factory in Sector-25, Faridabad, work of Bata Shoe Company was done. Angry at a published workers report, three management personnel in rage had come to Majdoor Library to threaten us.

■ Rajnarain’s father was living in Milhard shanties near the union office in front of Gedore second plant. He was a worker in the Gedore factory, used to clean the union office, and make tea for the leaders. The union president had his son employed in the factory. And, on leaders’ directions, Rajnarain went with CITU muscle men with covered faces to beat up targets given by the leaders.

Reduction in wages, many months’ wages outstanding, and after observing Gedore comrades behavior for years, young Rajnairan started coming for distribution of Majdoor Samachar. In 1999, a flyover was constructed on the Bata railway crossing. One day, Rajnarain was also amongst us, distributing Majdoor Samachar in the morning shift on a side of the construction. We were some distance from one-another and not visible to each other due to the construction taking place. There was a sudden commotion. I ran and found Rajnarain being attacked. In the scuffle, I fell down and the fifteen-sixteen persons who had come to beat Rajnarain went back towards Gedore factories.

Rajnarain told us some internal information about CITU leaders. In 1983, the CITU president had taken the contract to get rid of 500 workers in Lakhani shoe factory through a strike in lieu of rupees 37 thousand. In this vein, in 1988 the Lakhani management engineered another strike, this time through INTUC and got rid of 800 workers. Then in 1996, Lakhani corporate management engineered a strike in group factories through HMS and all the 1600 permanent workers lost their jobs.

## Kamunist Kranti published in Hindi and English in 1986 and 1988 increased our global contacts. Two members of Communist Workers Organisation, with roots in the Italian Left, came to Faridabad. Elderly Frank Girard, publishing Discussion Bulletin in the USA as a platform for anti-state and anti-vanguard left currents, came to Faridabad. And, with the publication of “a ballad against work” (1996), “Reflections on Marx’s Critique of Political Economy” (1997), “Self-Activity of Wage-Workers : Towards a Critique of Representation & Delegation” (1998) contacts in the world increased further. Schaff pair from France, Paresh Chattopadhyay from Canada, Loren Goldner from the USA, Vincent from Australia, John Clegg from England, Todd Goodnowe from the USA had come to Faridabad. In this scenario in 2000, Ziggy Melamed, feminist born in South Africa and living in England had come to Faridabad with Marco, a militant internationalist worker, born in Germany.

The police brutality on Honda Manesar two-wheeler factory workers in 2005 had become a global news. In 2007, Marco came to Gurgaon on a three months’ work visa as German language worker in a call centre. Every weekend, he started coming to Faridabad. We were satisfied with taking five thousand copies each month amongst factory workers in Okhla and Faridabad. Marco pulled us to Gurgaon. After he left, one morning with 500 copies of Majdoor Samachar we reached Peer Baba Road, Udyog Vihar Phase-1, Gurgaon. Saw women-men workers flowing like a river for more than an hour. Seven thousand copies became an indispensable necessity. Started printing 7000 copies.

■ On 7 March 2008, Bhupender was alone in Majdoor Library when two angry directors of a company in Udyog Vihar, Gurgaon came to threaten us. This is covered in the April 2008 issue of Majdoor Samachar.

■ Management personnel of Radnik Garments Export factory in Udyog Vihar, Gurgaon first came to Majdoor Library to threaten us and later came twice to placate us.

## Some copies of Majdoor Samachar were sent by post. The paper reached R.S.P.I.(M-L) central office in Allahabad by post. Mani Bhushan, who was in-charge of the office, read Majdoor Samachar.

In 2009, Mani Bhushan reached Gurgaon. Started working in a factory. Mani Bhushan ji started distribution of Majdoor Samachar in Industrial Model Town, Manesar. We began printing eight thousand copies per month. In June 2011, workers’ activities in the Maruti Suzuki Manesar factory made printing ten thousand copies of Majdoor Samachar per month necessary.

■ After June 2011, besides distributing Majdoor Samachar each month amongst Maruti workers, Mani Bhushan ji and I started going to Aliyar village regularly to meet Maruti workers at their residences. After Maruti management launched a premeditated attack on workers in end-August, for the whole of September, 1500-1500 workers in two twelve hour shifts sat outside the factory gate. Political parties, activists of social-cultural organisations, students from Delhi came there. In the tent in front of the factory gate, loudspeakers had been installed. Those who came went to the tent, met the leadership, prominent ones gave speeches. This used to happen throughout the day. In September, almost every day we went there but instead of visiting the tent, we sat at a distance amongst the workers sitting in groups. Because of our June onwards visits to their rooms in Aliyar-Dhana, we were acquainted with a number of Maruti workers. Regular sittings with them in September increased our acquaintances. One day we were sitting with two girl students of Delhi amongst the workers when two-three agitated workers came and threateningly began asking questions : “Who are you? Why are these girls sitting here? These girls will create a ruckus and get us trapped.”

■ On the publication of a report regarding late wage payment etc. in the Auto Decor factory in IMT Manesar, the factory manager tried to placate us on the phone. Then the factory union president made a phone call :

“On whose instructions did you print this report?”

“This is a Decor workers report.”

“About the factory you can publish only what the management or the union says. Union will take action. After consulting district leaders we will file a case against you.”

■ After Maruti workers revolt in July 2012, one morning Majdoor Samachar was being distributed in Sector-3 of IMT Manesar. Two-three middle aged men came from the nearby village Khoh and threateningly said : “This will not be distributed here. You will get the factories shut down. We will not allow you to distribute here.”

■ Since June 2011, after distribution in the morning in IMT Manesar, we started going to the Maruti Suzuki Gurgaon factory to distribute Majdoor Samachar in the B-shift there from two pm. Due to obstructions by Maruti management through its guards, we began distribution far away from the factory gate, on Mullaheda road via which large numbers of Maruti workers walk to the factory. Two years ago, one day we had just reached there when we received a phone call from someone that they were on the way to Faridabad to meet us. We informed them about the place near Maruti Gurgaon where we were and gave directions. Three persons reached in a car. Maruti B-shift workers were going to the factory. While asking them to wait and giving copies of Majdoor Samachar to read in the meantime, it was very obvious that they were very angry.

In the twenty minutes before the arrival of Maruti A-shift workers :

“Even in major newspapers, names of factories are not printed. You have given names of so many companies.”

“Has something wrong been published?”

“Everything is wrong “

They were threateningly talking in such a manner that we could feel the pressure that an individual worker would feel when called by them in the office in the factory.

They had come from IMT Manesar but they did not tell the name of the factory despite our repeated asking.

■ Matter on page two of the April 2017 issue of Majdoor Samachar : “In Frick India factory (NHPC Chowk, Faridabad), there are 30-40 permanent workers and 550 temporary workers. 100-125 helpers are given a break after three months and the same are rehired but after three months. More than four hundred skilled workers are hired for 6 months, then again for 6 months, and after that they are hired on a yearly basis.”

Frick India management found this matter defamatory to the company. On 18 April 2017, Frick India management sent us a million rupees legal notice for the defamation of Frick India Company.

## During 1982-84 a one-page copy was sold for twenty five paisa. In 1986 two pages of a new series of Majdoor Samachar began and on the front page was printed “1/” but it was free. After 1993, when we started printing five thousand copies per month, then also on front page “1/” was printed but for a year it was stamped “Sample Copy, Free”. After that “Free” was printed on the front page. We had obtained postal registration so it cost less to send Majdoor Samachar by post.

In 2007, mentioning the audit objection to free distribution of Majdoor Samachar, the Department of Posts sent us a letter to deposit 72 thousand 499 rupees. Then onwards, “1/” was printed on the front page but free distribution continued. After Chintamani ji’s death in 2015, despatch of Majdoor Samachar by post was stopped.

Maruti Manesar factory workers activities in 2011 had made ten thousand copies per month necessary. Then increases took place and the number stabilised at fifteen thousand copies. According to shift timings, Majdoor Samachar was distributed amongst factory workers in Delhi’s Okhla Industrial Area, Noida Phase-2, Udyog Vihar Gurgaon, IMT Manesar, and Faridabad. It was by and large done by Majdoor Samachar comrades. From distributors on roads, for years some workers had been taking two-four-ten copies for their co-workers. Number of such workers had been increasing and in 2018 very significant changes began. Readers of Majdoor Samachar in Noida, Okhla, Udyog Vihar Gurgaon, IMT Manesar, and Faridabad very rapidly started becoming onwards transmitters of Majdoor Samachar. The fifteen thousand limits vanished. Leaps in printing. Copies of Majdoor Samachar printed each month went up from 15 to 18 thousand, twenty thousand, twenty-five thousand, 28 thousand, thirty thousand … 35-36 thousand per month. And, free distribution of Majdoor Samachar has been continued.

## A turn became indispensable by March 2020. We decided not to print the March 2020 issue of Majdoor Samachar. We decided to experiment. In March, we printed “Majdoor Samachar Booklet One”. We took it amongst factory workers in Faridabad and IMT Manesar. The first responses were very encouraging. And, the government of India imposed a complete lockdown from 23rd March. Booklet preparation has continued during the lockdown and PDFs are distributed online.

Interactions in Hindi on Whatsapp during March to October have been collected as a 180 page book. Printing this book as our first publication after March 2020 has started.

— 23 November 2020

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Aug 15 2021 13:01


  • Born in a village in Jaunpur district in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Hari Lal after working in brick kilns on the East Pakistan border, plying rickshaw in Benaras, breaking iron in Bareilly...

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