ON July 2, the state of Tamil Nadu witnessed massive protest actions involving more than 20,000 cadres belonging to CPI(M) Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, Thamizh Puzhigal, Adhi Thamizhar Peravai, Adhi Thamizhar Katchi, Thanthai Periyar Dravida Kazhagam, Diravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam and 65 other Dalit, Periyarist, Minority welfare organisations functioning at state, district and local levels. The protest took the form of rail roko in 60 centers throughout the state.
INITIATIVE OF CPI(M)
The initiative was taken by the state committee of CPI(M) and a meeting was convened at its head quarters in Chennai on May 28. The meeting was chaired by P Sampath, president, TNUEF. K Balakrishnan, CPI(M) state secretary underlined the need to bring together Left, democratic, Dalit and other progressive organisations to demand rescission of the order passed by the Supreme court on the Prevention of Atrocities Act. The meeting adopted a resolution criticising the inaction of the central government in filling up the void created by the said judgment. It demanded issuance of an ordinance to nullify the dilutions in the said order of SC and also inclusion of the Act in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution. The meeting gave a call for rail roko programme on July 2.
CAMPAIGN ENLISTING BROADER SUPPORT
A month long campaign was launched in June and efforts were made to enlist the support of political parties and various organisations for the rail roko programme.
As a sequel to the state level meeting, similar meetings were arranged at every level – district, taluk, panchayat union and village. Lakhs of leaflets were distributed in residential areas. 100 campaign meetings, van jatha in certain districts, 1000 village meetings, door to door interactions were carried out in order to sensitise the people and to mobilise them for the protest action. The leaders of all organisations participated in the meeting. These campaigns created good impact at the grass roots level.
Apart from this campaign, a joint statement was issued by the participant organisations appealing to all political parties to extend support to the rail roko.
THIRTEEN THOUSAND ARRESTED
On July 2, hundreds of cadres participated in every centre and resorted to rail roko despite constraints created by the police in many centres. The programmes were led by K Balakrishnan and Vanniyarasu, deputy general secretary, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) in Chennai; G Ramakrishnan, Polit Bureau member of CPI(M), Athiyaman, (Adhi Thamizhar Peravai) Kovai Ramakrishnan at Coimbatore; P Sampath, Thiruvalluvan, (Thamizh Puzigal) and K Jakkaiyan (Adhi Thamizar Katchi) at Madurai; K Samuel Raj, general secretary, TNUEF at Erode and Kolathur Mani at Salem.
The number of youth participating in the programme was quite significant. The initiative of CPI(M) was lauded by the participant organisations. The state committee of CPI(M) thanked all the organisations and thousands of participants for making the programme a grand success.
The role of TNUEF deserves a special mention here in establishing contacts with organisations at the grass roots level. Its cadres left no stone unturned in making it a broad based campaign. The experiences are to be reviewed in the state committee meeting of TNUEF to be held on July 20-21 at Coimbatore.
This protest action has generated lot of enthusiasm and confidence among the democratic sections in general, and the oppressed masses in particular. Surely it has created a solid ground for bringing together these organisations in future too on many other issues affecting the rights and livelihood of the toiling masses and socially oppressed.