The All-India Central Council of Trade Union (AICCTU) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) CPI (ML) held a protest dharna at Jantar Mantar demanding immediate justice for Gangaram Kol, a popular leader of the tea community in the Dibrugarh-Tinsukia region.
Koul was not only a popular leader among the tea garden workers, he was also their crusader who stood up to the corrupt practices in the region. Koul had been fighting against the corruption in the Public Distribution System (PDS) meant for the tea labourers in Tinsukia and neighbouring Dibrugarh district.
The protesters are demanding immediate arrest of Congress MLA from Chabua Raju Sahu and CBI enquiry instituted by the government of Assam.
On March 25, Koul was attacked by a group of people wielding machetes and iron rods, who first beat him up and then hacked him to death.
Here is the statement by AICCTU and CPI (ML):
A protest demonstration was held today by AICCTU and CPI (ML) at Jantar Mantar and a memorandum addressed to the Governor of Assam was submitted at Assam Bhawan under the call of All-India Protest Day against the brutal assassination of Gangaram Kol, a popular leader of the tea community in the Dibrugarh-Tinsukia region, the General Secretary of Asom Sangrami Chah Shramik Sangh and central working committee member of AICCTU.
He was a member of Assam State Committee of CPI (ML) and CPI (ML)’s candidate in the Lok Sabha polls from Dibrugarh in 2009, and twice MLA candidate from Chabua in 2006 and 2011. He was killed on 25thMarch2013 near his home at the Gutibari tea garden in Tinsukia district while returning home at around 8 pm on his motorbike.
*The demonstration was addressed by CPI (ML) General Secretary, Dipankar Bhattacharya and General Secretary of AICCTU Swapan Mukherjee. Addressing the demonstration, CPI (ML) General Secretary said that Gangaram Kol was at the forefront of protests against large-scale corruption in gram-panchayat schemes and in the public distribution system, including a successful struggle last year to get the licence of a corrupt ration agent cancelled.
He was killed at the behest of the corrupt nexus of panchayat representatives, government officials, and politicians with direct involvement of Congress MLA from Chabua, Raju Sahu whose interests were threatened by relentless activism of Gangaram Kol. Only recently, leaders of the ACMS (the tea garden union affiliated with INTUC- the union associated to the ruling party) were heard publicly declaring that Gangaram, who challenged their role as agents of the Congress and the tea industry, should be killed. The ruling party is adamantly protecting the Congress MLA Raju Sahu and other killers which is clear from the fact that these killers have been named in the FIR, but are yet to be arrested.
He further said that his heinous political assassination has sparked off a massive state-wide protest in Assam, and under the pressure of powerful peoples’ movement on this issue including 12 hour state Bandh the Tarun Gogoi Government of Assam has been forced to finally order a CBI enquiry into the assassination, but it is not time-bound.
He further said the attacks on and even elimination of tea garden leaders and activists raising their voice for workers and against rampant corruption in PDS are continuously growing. In 2000, Daniel Topno, a popular student leader from the tea community who contested as an independent MLA candidate and got substantial votes, was killed. This apart, several CPI (ML) leaders and activists in tea garden areas have been brutally attacked.
Assassination has been a notorious stock-in-trade for the mafia of industrialists and politicians threatened by trade union movements. Trade Union leaders such as Shankar Guha Niyogi and Darasram Sahu in Chhattisgarh, Datta Samant in Mumbai, Gurudas Chatterjee and Jagdev Sharma in Jharkhand are some of the popular workers’ leaders who were killed at the behest of the powerful vested interests. Comrade Gangaram’s courageous struggle will be continued by his comrades – because murder never can and never will silence workers’ struggles for their rights and their dreams of an egalitarian world.
The demonstration was also addressed by AICCTU Delhi vice-president,Mathura Paswan; AIPWA national secretary, Kavita Krishnan, RYA general secretary, Ravi Rai, AISA leader, Sandeep Singh and AICCTU\\\’s Kapil Sharma.
The demonstration demanded:
*1.Immediately Arrest Congress MLA from Chabua, Raju Sahu and ruling party backed goons for **assassination of Gangaram Koul.
*2. CBI enquiry instituted by the government of Assam in the case of assassination of Gangaram Koul be made time-bound.
*3.Immediately institute a high level and independent judicial enquiry into large-scale corruption in gram-panchayat schemes and in the public distribution system.