Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Com Har Charan Singh 

Com.Harcharan Singh was born on 06.06.1933 in West Punjab (now in Pakistan) as the eldest among the 5 children in a big and poor family. After independence, his family migrated to India.He completed his matriculation in 1950 and owing to his father's death and financial condition of his family, he couldn't study further. 






He joined Railways on 30.03.1952 as Shed Cleaner at Amrirsar. After clearing the necessary exam, he was selected as Fireman 'A' in 1965 in FZP division. He became a Goods Driver in 1970. 

In 1960, for participating in the strike, he was jailed for 15 days alongwith 400 people. 

In 1968, he was the Divisional Secretary of the Loco Running Staff Welfare Committee and participated in an one-day token strike in Ludhiana. And later in the same year, he participated in a big strike and was suspended for 1 and a half years from 19.09.1968. 

He also participated in the AILRSA strike of 1973. 

In 1974 General strike, he was suspended for more than 1 year. 

He also participated in the 1980 strike of Northern Railway. 

For participating in 1981 AILRSA strike, along with 16 other comrades in FZP division, he was dismissed from service. Even after his dismissal, he had collected Rs.500 per month from all the active members and distributed to all the dismissed employees till their reinstatement. 

In 1991, he attained superannuation in his dismissed period. 

On 05.08.1993, based on the verdict of the Supreme Court case against the victimisation, Railway Board released his reinstatement orders and compensated fully. 

In the BGM held at SBC, he was entrusted the laborious job writing the history of AILRSA by the central committee and he submitted an initial draft. 

During the preparation of the draft, he had travelled to Pakistan for researching some details and had narrowly escaped from arrest at Lahore. He was ably assisted by the Lahore Train Drivers group and so returned to India safely. 

He has 1 son and 2 daughters and now lives in Punjab. 

He attended AILRSA CWC held at Bengaluru on 24, 25 Sept 2019. 

He will be celebrating his 87th birthday , on 6th June. 

(.....Continue.) 

SOLIDARITY ACTION BY WORKERS OF OTHER ENTERPRISES 

All the above excess shows that democratic rights of the railway workers were completely taken away and the entire population was aghast at the torture. So the call for one day token strike all over the country on 15th of May 1974, by the central trade unions which received much support. This kinds of solidarity action was not seen in any action or strike after independence. As the repression on the workers and their families were going on. Some of the national leaders of the unions were of the opinion to prolong the solidarity action for one more day or two, but Com. S A Dange did not agree with the view that country will not bear it financially. After this the strike started to weaken and workers started to join duties. This was the result of the false propaganda by media and a section of press, who was compelled to and directed to publish only the official news bulletin, and the statements of a section of workers who had withdrawn. 

STRIKE WITHDRAWAL 

After 24th May there was very thin strike except Bombay Calcutta and some other places. Up to 26th the workers of Bombay had also resumed duty, and there was strike in SE R and ER only. But it is point of astonishment, that George Fernandes unilaterally withdrew the strike from inside of the Tehar Jail in spite of the fact that some of the arrested Action Committee Members were also there. It is also true that at many places where there was still strike going on the leadership of that places protested against the withdrawal. Majority of the Action Committee Members were also not in favour of the way by which the strike was withdrawn. 

Com. N.C. writes in his book under the heading, “A BRIEF ANALYSIS” without attempting to make a complete review of particular struggle it is necessary to put on record that this was perhaps the first time that railwaymen unitedly struck work on a country wise basis. The limitation of 1960 and 1968 strikes have already been noted. This time more than eleven lakh of workers joined strike initially, and figure came down to nine lakhs by 15th May 1974. Break in Service was imposed on these nine lakh workers. The second point which should be noted that the leadership mainly depended on spontaneity and was under the illusions that strike if successful for seven days would force the Govt. to come to a settlement. They never took into account the fact that authorities were equally prepared for holding out in any strike for about three weeks or even more. The third point that should be noted is that the Govt. had started unprecedented repression on the workers which surpassed what has taken place during the British regime. Fourth point which should be borne in mind is that the people had given unfettered support although they them self suffered from the effect of the railway strike. The press was also to some extent sympathetic, as with the Govt. news they also published the local situation which was known to them. Fifth point is that the railway workers were so over whelmed by the failure of the strike that they did not protest against the undemocratic manner in which the strike was called off. The last point is that all those who are interested in developing at least a militant movement of railwaymen must take into account the weaknesses which were revealed from the conduct of this historical struggle, which had started from the 2nd May 1974 at some places. They must also take note of the fact to what low the railway authorities and government could stoop to in order to break a strike in the railway, so that they could prepare the railwaymen for organising a strike in future”. 

AFTER WITHDRAWAL 

The strike left about a lakh of workers removed/ dismissed from service, and of whom about 50,000 were causal and temporary. About 30,000 were placed under suspension as a consequent of arrest, over nine Lakh workers were awarded break in service. The workers were extremely bitter about the Govt. due to this repressive policy. They demanded that the NCCRS should take necessary steps in this regard. Particularly those who were still continuing the strike till the end, when the strike was called off on 28th May 1974. They were of the view that NCCRS should adopt a programme of sustained activity so that they could secure not only the settlement but of victimisation and the demands, on the other hand the railway authorities and Govt. wanted to dismental this united platform (NCCRS) as soon as possible. They were very well knew that the danger was lurking behind this NCCRS organisation, and they would be able to regroup, and reorganise their rank and file and launch another struggle. So they contrary to the practice of withdrawing the recognition of the AIRF and its affiliated unions as was done in 1960 and 1968 strikes, suspended the recognition, and taken back all the facilities in consequence of the derecognition. In this way, they told the most of the apex leader ship that till such time they did not break with the unrecognised unions and categorical association the recognition will remain suspended and will not be restored. In the other word they were told to break and disband the NCCRS. 

MARTYRS OF MAY 1974 STRIKE 

1. V.R.MALGI Bombay Central Railway 

2. SRIPAL DIWVEDI Kanpur Northern Railway 

3. BHANWARIA Abu Road Western Railway 

4. S.RAMA SWAMI Madurai, CITU Worker Southern Railway 

ROLE OF AILRSA IN STRIKE­ 

The role of the AILRSA was unique one. Had AILRSA not gone two successful struggle in August and Dec. 1973, it would have not possible for the railwaymen to go on Historic May 1974 strike even. These strikes boosted the moral of the general railwaymen, which further pressurised the AIRF to take the decision of the strike. But it was very uphill tasks for the activists and the leadership to bring round the entire loco running staff to participate in the 1974 GENERAL STRIKE due to the past betrayal rolls of the AIRF in the struggle of other railway workers at local, branches or division levels in general and of loco running staff in 1967, and 1968 strikes of Firemen of southern and South central railways and afterward the strike of 1973 of AILRSA, and to oppose the agreement of August 1973 reached between the then Minister For Labour Sh. K.V. Raghu Nath Reddy, and the leaders of AILRSA in particular. Also its opposition to the formation of LRSGC.Com. Dutta Gupta who was the founding leader of the AILRSA (and per chance who unfortunately expired today when these lines were being written explained “ At the movement the NCCRS was already formed, and president of AIRF Com. George Fernandis elected convenor of the NCCRS, to go on Railway strike of May 1974 for the common demands of the railway employees, like revision of pay scales, bonus and some other vital demands, most of the organisations of Indian Railway joined in the said NCCRS and in all zones, divisions and Branch level NCCRS was formed to conduct and lead the proposed indefinite strike. There was Annual General Body Meeting (AGM) of AILRSA at Varanasi from where we had to take decision that whether the AILRSA will join in NCCRS and to go on strike along with the other railwaymen and their organisations for the attainment of common demands as stated above or not. We noticed that a section of loco running staff including M.R. Sabhapati the president not in favour of proposed united struggle, under the leadership of NCCRS, headed by AIRF. He also expressed his unwillingness in the CWC meeting held at Varanasi followed by AGM. He was of the view that he did not believe the AIRF and its leadership since their betrayal roll in the different railwaymen struggles including struggles of loco running staff in different zones since 1965 and onward. Com. Sabhapati further reminded the CWC members ‘that the leadership of AIRF also stood against 8 hours duty of Loco Running Staff and instead joined hand with the railway administration supported 14 hours duty along with NFIR. So all these activities were badly effected the minds and hearts of the Loco Running Staff. For these reasons a section of Loco Running Staff (LRSA) was bitterly against the participation in the Historical strike of May 1974.’ Even it was seen in the conference Hall (PANDAL) that some loco running staff may be of NER or Northern Railway dragging one dog with a card Board tied with its neck, with writing George Fernendes convenor NCCRS on it, which was objected to by most of the delegates. This action of some irresponsible elements influenced Com. Sabhapati on his stand for not participating in the strike” 

Com. Gupta Further said “ That Railway Minister also requested the AILRSA, not to participate in the proposed strike. Because of the Govt. of India has already reduced the duty hours, and the other demands are being negotiated in the LRSGC under the chairman ship of Sh. Mahamed Shafi Quresi - Time and again Com. MR. Sabhapati tried to convince the CWC members for not participating in the strike. But CWC did not agree with him specially envisaging the struggle of total railway workers on their common demands. In the CWC Com. K.P. Sarathi of CR Atarsi did a yeomanly service by advancing a very convincing argument through forceful selected words, in favour of united struggle on common demands of 20 Lakhs Railway employees and also expressed that loco running staff can sacrifice all its win demands, and achievement, but could not exists as strike breaker/ black sheep/betrayer or even oppose the struggle. Hence the whole house (Delegates) accepted the resolution of joining the strike unanimously. Com. Sahhapati also convinced and agreed to join strike. So the very difficult task to participate in the General railway men strike of May 1974 was win in the General House of Fourth Annual General Body Meeting in Varanasi in March 1974.

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