Outraged workers and union representatives voiced their protest against the brutal murder of Rajkumar, an NLC contract worker in Neyveli on March 17th by Central Industrial Security Force. Rajkumar was shot dead at close range by a CISF personnel who was supposed to have fired three rounds into the unarmed worker.
Rajkumar was one of thousands of contract workers who have been fighting for regularization of their employment and a wage level at par with the permanent workers under various unions including AITUC and CITU. An estimated 13000 workers work as contract workers in the profitable public sector company which has also been in news for Central Government’s initiative to privatize the public sector company.
Rajkumar, a member of AITUC and father of 2 children was said to have gone to NLC mine II to visit a friend. The CISF personnel did not allow the worker to enter as the worker had an expired ID following which there was a verbal altercation. It was not clear what transpired between the personnel and the worker when the personnel shot the worker in the head at close range causing the head to shatter and loss of life on the spot.
As outrage poured into the streets of Neyveli, local police were brought in to quell the workers protests who lathicharged the protesters. Several union members and workers were hurt and were hospitalized on March 17th. The outrage was further sparked by lack of arrest of the CISF jawan. As the mining workers went into 24 hour strike, workers and union representatives from AITUC and AICCTU gathered on March 18th near Valluvar Kottam in Chennai to condemn the gruesome act.
The representatives demanded immediate arrest of the CISF jawan and to withdraw the deployment of CISF at factory sites. Speaking on the occasion Comrade Waheeda Nizam, National Secretary of AITUC questioned the rationale for deployment of armed personnel at factory sites and the attitude that is fostered by the management among the personnel that causes such acts of violence against workers.
Echoing similar views, Comrade Mohan, AICCTU highlighted increasing police violence against workers and people of Tamil Nadu in Paramakudi, Dharmapuri and Neyveli. He condemned the lathicharge of workers in Neyveli where the district secretary of AITUC was seriously hurt. Mohan said ‘Governments have absolved themselves from guaranteeing livelihood to workers and now they are not even guaranteeing lives of workers’.
Comrade Srini of AITUC highlighted the inhuman conditions in which the CISF personnel were deployed in factories. Deployed mostly from North India, the CISF personnel do not have any benefits or regular working hours. ‘They are treated as army personnel with no holidays or leave in regions where language, food and culture are alien to them and where they are made to look on workers as enemies’ said Srini.
Speaking at the protest, Tha. Pandian, CPI demanded the immediate arrest of the personnel and compensation to the worker’s family. Comrade Munsamy, District Secretary of AICCTU demanded justice for the worker and his family and questioned the attitude of the state Government which had not even condemed the incident.
The unions made following demands to the management and the Government:
- Immediate arrest of the CISF personnel
- Rs 25 lakh compensation to the victim’s family and assured education for the children.
- Guaranteed Employment for victim’s immediate kin.
- Disarming and Withdrawal of CISF from factories.