People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
November 14, 2004
Protest Actions Begin Against Petro Price Hikes
A SERIES of dharnas, rallies and massive processions have begun to take place throughout the country in opposition to the recent hike in petroleum product prices. Organised by the CPI(M), these rallies and other actions were a clear indicator of the growing anger against the move. And this mood pervades all sections of the people.
Torchlight protest jathas were taken out by the CPI(M) at various places throughout the state on November 7 evening. All trade unions have jointly called for a motor vehicles strike to start from November 17.
In areas there were protests throughout the day.
The recent abnormal and irrational hike in the prices of petroleum products drew sharp reactions throughout the state of Tripura, and the CPI(M) has directed all divisional and lower level committees to organise protest marches and demonstrations in as many places as possible, covering all the rural market places and urban areas, between November 8 and 10. By November 10, the concluding day of the programmes, all the local committee areas had been covered by protest rallies and other actions.
It will be noted that the protest demonstrations that were organised on November 8 and 9 were very well responded. In some subdivisions, party workers, without waiting for the state committee’s directive, brought out spontaneous protest marches and demonstrations.
The Tripura Motor Shramik Union organised a protest march in Agartala town on the very next day of the declaration of hike in petroleum products. In subdivisions also, they organised such protest rallies separately.
Except a formal statement protesting this price hike by BJP state unit, no other political party had undertaken any worthwhile campaign programme.
On November 6, CPI(M) activists in Guwahati organised a dharna at the Judges Field in the city and took out a procession to the deputy commissioner’s office in protest against the price hike. But the police prevented the protesters from advancing towards the DC’s office. The slogan shouting protesters then squatted on the main road and blockaded the busy roads for some time. Party state secretary Hemen Das and Central Committee member Uddhab Barman also participated. Both print and electronic media gave wide publicity to the CPI(M)’s protest action.
On November 7, a protest demonstration was organised at Rangia in Kamrup district. Similar protest actions were also organised at Sorbhog and Kayakuchi in Barpeta district. Street corner meetings were also held in these places. The Barpeta district committee of the party has decided to organise a district level demonstration on November 17 at the district headquarters.
Protest demonstrations were also held at Jamugiri in Sonitpur district on November 9. The Sonitpur district committee has decided to organise a demonstration at Dhekiajuli town on November 13 and district level action at Tezpur on November 18. On November 9, street corner meetings were held at seven places in Nalbari district.
On November 7, street corner meetings were also held and on November 8, demonstration was organised at Jorhat. Similar demonstration was also organised at Tinsukia in upper Assam on November 9.
Actions against petro price hikes have started in various parts of Karnataka. On November 8, the Srirampuram area committee under Bangalore district organised a protest demonstration at Devayya Park. On the same day, the Bangalore district committee of Janwadi Mahila Sanghatane also organised a separate protest demonstration. On November 10, protest demonstrations were held in Bangalore and Udupi districts.
The state secretariat decided to hold more protest demonstrations, dharnas etc on November 12, on which day other district and taluk centres will also observe protest.
The Tamilnadu state secretariat of the CPI(M) has asked the district committees to organise protest meetings against the price hike of petroleum products. More than 20 districts held protest meetings. In Chennai, a protest meeting was organised on November 9, in which state CPI(M) secretary N Varadarajan and state secretariat member V Meenakshi Sundaram also participated. On this issue, a call jointly with the CPI was given for rail roko on November 14.
On November 8, the CPI(M) organised a protest demonstration at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi against the increase in prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas, effected by the central government. Hundreds of people participated in this demonstration. Some carried placards demanding immediate roll back of the price hikes.
The demonstration was addressed by CPI(M) state secretariat member Baldev Singh, some members of its state committee and by leaders of the Janwdi Mahila Samiti and DYFI. All of them condemned the recent hikes and demanded immediate rollback, dubbing the so-called argument of an increase in international crude prices as bluff. If the government had been sensitive to the people’s need, it could well have decreased the excise and customs duties to absorb the crude price increase, as was suggested by Left parties.
Such a hefty increase in the prices of petroleum products is part of the government’s anti-people policy to increase the burden on the people while giving concessions to the corporate houses. This is not acceptable. The protest meeting ended with a call to mobilise people against the price hike. (INN)