THIS IS A SPECIAL APPEAL TO JOIN US IN PETITTIONING THE GOVERNOR OF
CHHATTISGARH FOR THE RELEASE OF OUR YOUNG TRADE UNION LEADER AND ELECTED JANPAD MEMBER - BHAGWATI SAHU - INCARCERATED IN BALODA BAZAR SUB JAIL SINCE 18TH MAY 2011 IN A PATENTLY FALSE AND FABRICATED CASE FOISTED BY THE AMBUJA-HOLCIM MANAGEMENT.
RELEASE TRADE UNION LEADER BHAGWATI SAHU
Comrade Bhagwati Sahu led the agitation of hundreds of contract workers in the Ambuja- Holcim plant at Village Rawaan, Tehsil Baloda Bazar, district Raipur and it was only after the struggle of the CMM Union - Pragatisheel Cement Shramik Sangh that these contract workers started getting even minimum wages and their proper PF dues (earlier the company would deduct its own share also from the workers wage and not even deposit it regularly!!)
He also led the struggles of peasants in the area against the
company’s encroachments on village commons, inadequate compensation,the gross violation of the state’s Rehabilitation Policy in not providing permanent jobs and the neglect of local youth in employment, as well as excessive use of water earmarked for irrigation.
When on 18th February 2011, in conciliation meetings before the Assistant Labour Commissioner at Raipur, the Ambuja- Holcim company was warned that the licenses of contractors would be cancelled and it was exhorted to take back retrenched contract workers on a dispute raised by the Pragatisheel Cement Shramik Sangh, the company
retaliated against the Union leadership.
An incident of altercation between villagers and the notorious
Security Officer of Ambuja-Holcim YP Singh (against whom complaints had already been lodged earlier by villagers and workers that he used to brandish his pistol and threaten them), in the Rawaan village market on 6th March 2011 provided the excuse. By a second FIR as an afterthought, another Security Officer Nand Lal Choubey, filed a complaint against Union leaders Bhagwati Sahu, Lakhan Sahu and two other union activists implicating them in a case of ‘loot’ and criminal assault. The Gram Sabha of Village Rawaan has given a written resolution to the company that Bhagwati was never at the spot, and all non-police witness deny his presence, yet he remains under arrest since 18th May 2011.
The police under the influence of Holcim have claimed that Comrade Bhagwati has “criminal antecedents” and has listed 18 cases against him which turn out to be 5 cases listed over and over again – 4 cases of Sections 107/116 Cr.P.C. and one under Section 341 (Chakka Jam) –
all for trade union activities. On this basis Justice TP Sharma of the Chhattisgarh High Court refused him bail. Suprisingly and most unfortunately, on 9th November 2011, the Supreme Court also declined to interfere with this Order.
In the trial court the well tutored company witnesses are breaking down under cross examination and there are contradictions, exaggerations and impossibilities galore. The witnesses claim many injuries of the complainant whereas the medical examination, conducted with great promptitude, shows only one bruise under the eye; Rs 3500 of “loot” from a purse has become “bundles of notes”; as the story
unfolds of 4 security guards standing around at convenient distances only to testify as eye witness and failing to intervene while their officer is looted and beaten by 4 union leaders! One search witness – who turns out to be another ‘loyal’ company employee – claims to have chanced upon the police interrogating Bhagwati at the bus stand at 6am
in the morning when he went for a morning walk, where he managed, at a distance, to overhear Bhagwati’s confession, and then of course obediently went along to recover the weapon – a typical peasant’s stick – from Bhagwati’s residence.
I Demand immediate release of Trade Union Leader Bhagwati Sahu