During Maharashtra Legislature’s Monsoon session in August 2017, protestors from different parts of Maharashtra gathered in South Mumbai demanding the state government to resolve their problems. Demonstrators were not allowed near the legislature to protest, and their slogans were only limited to Azad Maidan.
The state assembly session started on July 24 with the debate to increase the funds for farmer’s loan waiver. The primary focus during the whole session was on the farmers. However, in Azad Maidan, the protestors included displaced people, and a huge amount of Anganwadi teachers protested saying that a decade has passed and they still haven’t got any salaries. These protestors came from areas far from Mumbai just to voice out their demands. A group of people travelled for 13 hours in the train and came all the way from Jalana district in Maharashtra.
Anganwadi teachers and workers have been protesting since 2010 demanding the hike in their salaries and to get paid on time. One of the Anganwadi teachers, Sachin Mohite, said, “I have been working for seven years, and I haven’t got any salaries since then.” Protesters said that despite not being paid for their services, they spent from their pocket so that the education of their students is not hampered. “There are teachers who work unpaid in 36 districts of Maharashtra’s government schools,” said Vinod Tawde, an Anganwadi teacher. He also highlighted that there are only nine teachers for 670 students in Zila Parishad Schools.
Earlier 2016, a Morcha carried out by the Anganwadi teachers in Aurangabad took a violent turn when police started a lathi charge. Many protestors were hurt in the rally including policemen. Rameshwar Dhopte M.Sc, who came from Parbhani, told that during the Aurangabad Morcha, police instigated the violence while the teachers were silently protesting to demand their salaries to be paid on time. He blamed the Aurangabad’s Commissioner of Police for the same. He further added that media reported the death of a policeman but did not talk about the protestors who died. “One of the protestors just had bypass surgery and was severely injured in the lathi charge. Gajanand Kharat passed away in the Aurangabad Morcha on October 4, 2017, because he had a heart attack,” said Dhopte.
Several protestors said that the Secretary of Education is giving false promises for so many years and they have not been paid for their work. They further informed that their demand is never heard and the police are unresponsive too. However, if the same continues, they will walk to Delhi.
All across India, in the name of development, several people are displaced from their homes by the government and are never rehabilitated, despite their promise. Teena Vir Singh Thakur, a 32-year-old window, with a few members of her community was without a home for 45 days.
Teena, a mother of two young children, said, “Refugee get houses in India, but we don’t.” She informed that the police did not allow the people of her community to protest in the Azad Maidan. The police told her that “you have filed a PIL in the court. Thus, only you are allowed to sit here to protest.” However, she managed to get a few people from her community with her, and all others were forced to sit outside.
While narrating her plight, she showed the documents and even Aadhar card of every member whose houses were destroyed. She said that “with all the documents including Aadhar card and house papers intact, they were forced to leave their homes.” She admitted that she has lost the will to live and wanted to commit suicide.
Maharashtra government needs to address these situations as soon as possible. It is the government’s duty to fulfil the demands of the people, at least their basic needs which drives their livelihood. The teachers who teach the upcoming leaders of this country should be paid for their services, and the people who are displaced should be rehabilitated, according to the policies of the Indian government. The state needs to take up responsibilities for their actions as they are accountable to the people who have put them in power. The state is meant to liberate and solve problems, but in the current scenario, it seems like that the state is the real enemy of its people.
Note: I write this post in the light of recent ‘Morcha’ (March) carried out by nearly 50,000 farmers in Maharashtra. In solidarity with people’s struggle for their rights.