TEZPUR, Nov 12 - The Vartak Labour Union, which has been fighting over the years seeking their legitimate rights from the BRO authorities, has now decided to register their protest against the Central Government at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi for its alleged negligence towards their long-pending grievances.
Office-bearers of the union, Pranab Barthakur and Gyassuddin Mamud, said that during the recent Tezpur visit of the Union Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, received a memorandum submitted by the union. He promised them to solve the issues of regularisation of posts of about 350 CP labourers within three months and based on that, they had halted their various scheduled agitations, including self-immolation bid.
The office-bearers said, �We have submitted many representations to the concerned authorities, including the President and Prime Minister of the country seeking their direct intervention over the long-pending issues, but all in vein.�
They added that the Vartak labourers under the union have been providing their dedicated service to the agency under Project Vartak of BRO since its beginning, but they were deprived of their legitimate rights.
The further said that the union is registered under the Assam chapter of the INTUC on January 10, 1984. The union also filed a case in the Gauhati High Court in 1993 against the BRO seeking fulfilment of their demands, including regularisation of the posts of their CP labourers.
�The Gauhati High Court in three verdicts (in the case no.-WP (C) 1839/1993, August 27, 1996) has ruled in favour of the labourers and stated that along with other required facilities, the posts of the CP labourers should be regularised. But it was allegedly violated by the BRO authorities. We also approached the Supreme Court and registered a case. In its judgment on March 4, 2011, the apex court directed the BRO authorities to regularise the posts of the CP labourers. Despite these orders, instead of regularising the posts of the CP labourers, the BRO authorities dismissed many of the labourers creating an awkward situation,� they said.
�Following this, we again filed a case in the Gauhati High Court seeking an intervention against the dismissal of the working labourers. The court accordingly gave a verdict (case no.-WP (C) 639/2012) to adjust the working labourers under Project Vartak, which was also not followed. Based on these repeated violations, a contempt petition was filed in the Supreme Court in 2012 (case no.-142-143/ 2012) against Civil Appeal No.-2129-2130/04 against the Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma. In reply to it, the respondent committed to settle the issue with a final decision as early as possible. But that was also not executed.�
�Accordingly, as the concerned authorities failed to execute the same, another case was filed against the Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma in the Supreme Court (Contempt Petition No.-102-103/13) against Civil Appeal No.-2129-2130/04,� the duo added.
The two office-bearers of the labour union further said that unfortunately a letter (September, 2012) was forwarded to the Vartak Labour Union and a copy was given to the President of India by the BRO authorities showing �certain baseless� causes like inability to absorb the working labourers under the ongoing project.
�After this, we filed an RTI in the office of the Project Vartak (BRO), Tezpur, seeking a transparent report about the status of our issue. However, in reply to it, the central agency provided false reports to divert the issue, the details of which were submitted to the President of India, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highway�s Border Roads Development Board, Secretary, Ministry of Defence, etc., on November 6, 2013.�
�On February 24, this year, a representation was submitted to the Prime Minister seeking his intervention mentioning our long-pending problems, but all in vain. After being frustrated with the system, we even sought permission from the concerned agencies, including the BRO authorities, Sonitpur district administration and the Tezpur Judicial Court for a self-immolation bid,� they said.
�However, the agencies maintained silence, following which we tried to kill ourselves at a public place on April 17, this year. We were forced to refrain from committing suicide by locals present at the spot and later we postponed our protest. But till date noting has happened,� the duo said.
�Now, as many as 350 CP labourers under BRO are going to urge upon the Central Government to give us permission to kill ourselves by registering an agitation at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on November 18,� they added.