Majid Kapra

CITU protests against privatisation of PSUs, installation of smart meters

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Tarigami asks govt to revoke order banning employees’ protests

Srinagar: The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) on Monday staged a protest here against the privatisation of electricity, railways, public sector undertakings and the installation of smart meters across Jammu and Kashmir besides the recent order banning protests and strikes by the government employees.

During the protest demonstration at the Press Enclave here, CITU president and senior CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami expressed concern over problems being faced by the working class, including the government employees.

“The strike is part of the continuous struggle against the anti-worker and anti-people neoliberal policies of the BJP-led government. The present government is pro-corporate and is reversing the hard-earned rights of the labour unions,” he said.

Terming the government’s recent directive against any protests by its employees, Tarigami alleged that the UT administration was trying to silence the employees’ voices through authoritarian directives rather than finding a solution to their long-standing problems.

“What have they left behind in Kashmir? Did they take long to steal our liberties — basic and/or constitutional?” Tarigami asked, adding that they (Centre) promised on the floor of the Parliament that J&K’s statehood will be restored as soon as the situation normalizes there, “now it has been four years, nothing of the sort has been implemented on the ground.”

Tarigami accused the BJP of having adopted a ‘totalitarian’ attitude towards the people of J&K.

Dozens of Tarigami supporters, besides retired employees, participated in the protest demanding immediate withdrawal of the order.

The protesters also carried banners and placards in their hands, seeking an end to what was alleged as the “totalitarian approach” of the government in J&K.

“This protest is aimed at highlighting the issues confronting government employees, consolidated and daily-rated and contractual workers. Has the BJP led Centre been able to resolve any of their issues till date?” Tarigami questioned.

The CPI-M leader asked the UT administration to revoke the order immediately, failing which the protests will be intensified across J&K.

Tarigami also said the privatisation of electricity posed the risk of establishing monopoly control over consumers through the market.

The Central government’s preferred approach of “unbundling” is essentially a move towards privatising the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity, he added.

The CITU president said the government aims to dismantle state-owned distribution companies, handing over the entire public asset to private players, both domestic and foreign.

If the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2022 is passed, private distributors will not have to invest in creating their own distribution infrastructure to obtain a parallel licence for electricity distribution, he added.

The privatisation of railways would affect the dangerous consequences of unbundling the Indian Railways and separating the roles of policy, production, regulation and operation to promote privatisation, which is the core strategy of the ruling class, Tarigami said.

He added that electricity consumers in the Union Territory are aggrieved as they cannot afford the inflated bills generated by smart meters. “Despite resentment, the administration is going ahead with the move. We need adequate electricity and not meters only,” he said.

The CPI(M) leader said the recent order of the Jammu and Kashmir administration warning employees to stay away from strikes and subsequent disciplinary action is “arbitrary” and demanded its immediate rollback. (With additional inputs from PTI)


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