For a prolonged period of 18-19 years Bhojan Mata workers of Uttarakhand have dedicatedly served the schools, and are now unceremoniously being rusticated. They have been subjected to severe turmoil in recent times, being denied adequate wages, and paid a meagre Rs 2000 Salary. The administration has displayed sheer apathy to their plight. Displaying relentless spirit women food works lodged a gherao of the DM.
The Nainital High Court has issued orders to the State Government and the Central Government to file reply within six weeks after hearing the petition filed regarding various demands of food mothers working in the state. The hearing took place in a single bench of Justice Manoj Kumar Tiwari.
Progressive Bhojan Mata Sangathan filed a petition in the High Court. It was declared in this that the Bhojan Matas of the state undertaking task of cooking food in government schools for the last 18-19 years. The government still fails to give them the minimum pay scale.
Bhojan Matas also undertook tasks to cook food in schools, clean school premises, rooms, cut bushes, and collect wood for cooking. Food is also cooked by them in other programs including election duty.
On 5th January Pragatisheel Bhojan Mata Sanghatana in Haridwar prepared a long memorandum and sent it to the Chief minister of Uttarakhand.At 10 a.m , All Bhojan Mata workers reached 6 blocks of Haridwar.A rally was undertaken till the District magistrate’s office after assembling at Indira Ama centre which made the DM close is office. After waging a militant gherao the DM was forced to come out The Police now intervened and threatened to sabotage the protest, ridiculing the credibility of the activists. The activists rebuked them and relentlessly resisted, recounting their grievances. The DM again had to come out and now gave his consent to the demands in a letter to the education minister .In his letter he declared that welfare of all schools would be protected and all violators of welfare would be brought to the book.
During the rally leader Neta stated that minister Arvind Pandey assured Rs 5000 wages for the Bhojan women and sent a declaration to the government. However till now no action has been undertaken.
Leader Deepa stated that that the Uttarakhand government did not obey the orders of the Allahabad high court on passing demands for the food workers and that the ministers ‘only goal was to secure votes. She expressed that a struggle would have to relentlessly be waged to win demands and rights.
Leader Rajani spoke about supplying sufficient gas to schools and not rusticating Bhojan matas.
Lalita spoke about demands for Bhojan Women for wages,bonus,PF,ASI etc.I n 6 blocks of Khanpur,Laksar, Gurukul, Narsen, Bhagwanpur ,Rudki and Bahdarabad Bhojan workers assembled for the rally.
Positive to witness the resilience and class consciousness of the Bhojan Matas. A movement needs to be knitted around issues of fair wages, proper living conditions and opposing retrenchment. Commendable work initiated by Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra.
Participating groups constituted Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra,Krantikari Lok Adhikar Samiti,Bhel trade Union, C and S Mazdoor Sanghatana (Siemens group),Raja Biscuit Mazdoor Sanghatana, Hindustan Unilver, Karmachari Sangh Satyam auto and Devbhumi Shramik Sanghatana.
Harsh Thakor is freelance journalist who has covered mass movements around India