Stop the Witch-hunting of Trade Unionists and Human Rights Defenders

The New Trade Union Initiative condemns the baseless allegations, that are fabricated and
defamatory, made against Comrade Sudha Bharadwaj leader of the Pragatisheel Cement
Shramik Sangh and Jan Aadharit Engineering Mazdoor Union in Chhattisgarh of having
‘Maoist’ links, receiving funds from ‘Maoists’ and creating a ‘Kashmir like situation’ by
Republic TV Managing Director and anchor, Arnab Goswami.
A large section of the media, which should above all be the defender of democracy, has
placed itself at the disposal of rightwing political forces, the ruling BJP government and
agencies of state to serve an agenda that goes against the interest of the many and serves the
interest of the few.
The references to Sudha are part of an ongoing campaign both in government and through
regressive forces in civil society to create an atmosphere of fear amongst those speaking up
and standing against the attack on democracy, justice and equality.
Sudha, inspired by Sankar Guha Niyogi, joined the trade union movement three decades ago
in the difficult terrain of Dalli Rajhara and Bhilai. She has also been an active human rights
defender who recently spoke against the arrest of human rights activist and General Secretary
of Indian Association of Peoples’ Lawyers, Surendra Gadling, for his alleged link with the
Bhima Koregaon violence in Nagpur. Gadling has been unremittingly fighting cases against
human rights violations and false UAPA cases imposed upon Dalits and Adivasis while
providing legal aid to Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba and dalit rights activist Sudhir
Dhawale. Sudha also has been vocal against the arrest of Damodar Turi from Ranchi
allegedly as an activist connected to the unlawfully banned trade union Mazdoor Sangathan
Samity (MSS). Comrade Sudha has also challenged the ban of MSS is trade union
organisation, registered under the provisions of the Trade Union Act 1926 since 1989
unionising contract workers and other workers in the informal sector who are amongst the
most exploited section of the country’s working people. The ban on MSS is not just in
violation of the Trade Unions Act but also an attack on the fundamental rights of MSS’
members in so far as the Government of Jharkhand’s action denies them their right to
freedom of association as provided under Article 19(1) c of the Indian Constitution.
The NTUI joins with all progressive forces in fighting this attack as it stands in solidarity
with Comrade Sudha Bharadwaj and the members of the Pragatisheel Cement Shramik Sangh
and Jan Aadharit Engineering Mazdoor Union who continue to face the gravest attack on
their rights and workers and citizens. Their fight is our fight and a fight we must win.
Gautam Mody
General Secretary

7th July 2018