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Unions chorus protest cry
- State staff line up show of strength to underline right to rally

After student representatives, it’s the government employees. Following in the protest path of the SFI and DYFI, the CPM-dominated coordination committee of state government employees on Tuesday announced that it, too, would hit the city streets on October 14 and rally to protest Justice Amitava Lala’s “undemocratic” order.

Tuesday’s rally — the day after SFI and DYFI members make their presence felt and heard — will be attended by employees owing allegiance to Left trade unions in schools, banks, the insurance sector and the railways.

“We will protest the order by a high court judge that seeks to curb people’s right to protest. The protest is to show that we do have the right to hold rallies,” Smarajit Roy Chowdhury, general secretary of the coordination committee, said at Writers’ Buildings on Tuesday.

The protesters will convene at Shahid Minar around 5.30 pm on October 14, before taking out a rally — defying the high court restriction on such processions between 8 am and 8 pm on week days — in central Calcutta. “We have not yet charted out the route of the rally. That will be discussed with all trade union representatives,” Roy Chowdhury added.

When it was pointed out that the peak-hour rally would only inconvenience commuters, Roy Chowdhury retorted: “Even Tuesday’s heavy showers inconvenienced so many pedestrians, as cars filled up waterlogged streets. Can a high court judge give an order to pull cars off the streets whenever they are waterlogged as vehicles inconvenience pedestrians'”

The state coordination committee general secretary also made it clear that seeking police permission for Tuesday’s rally was far from its members’ agenda. “What is this permission business'” he demanded, insisting that the protest rally would be peaceful.

“If that means going against any order of the court or the police, so be it. If they arrest us, we will still go ahead with the rally,” said Roy Chowdhury.

Six Left trade unions — Citu, AITUC, UTUC (Bowbazar), UTUC (Lenin Sarani), TUCC, AICCTU and 12 July Committee — are propping up next Tuesday’s protest rally.

And this will be just the beginning, warned coordination committee members. State and central government employees under the Left banner will organise a strike by January 2004 to protest the Supreme Court order against government employees’ right to strike.

The women’s wings of Left parties, meanwhile, will meet on Wednesday to decide on a rally to protest Justice Lala’s rally- restrict verdict.

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