Several labour organisations across Chhattisgarh hit the streets on Saturday, protesting the house arrest of Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (CMM) leader and Bilaspur High Court advocate Sudha Bharadwaj.
About 20km away from steel city Bhilai, in Kumari where CMM is headquartered, several labour unions affiliated to left parties and municipal workers of Kumhari municipality joined together to protest the arrest of Bharadwaj and four other activists—Gautam Navlakha, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira and P. Varavara Rao
This was the sixth such protest meeting in a row in the state. Earlier, advocates of Bilaspur held a protest meeting. Similarly, labour unions in Dalli Rajhara, Rajnandgaon, Raipur, Bhilai and Dhamtari had organised protests.
Speaking on the occasion, Kaladas Dehariya of CMM said the arrest of Sudha Bharadwaj was being planned for a long time as she has been fighting against powerful corporate houses having business interests in the state.
Labour union leader Surendra Mohanty of Bhilai Steel Plant said this arrest is part of an effort to curb the freedom of speech of citizens.
Sudha Bharadwaj is an important pillar of CMM after the murder of its founder Shankar Guha Niyogi in 1991. Niyogi was a labour leader in Dalli Rajhara iron ore mines in Chhattisgarh. The mines used to supply iron ore to Bhilai Steel Plant.
Niyogi was murdered in September 1991 at Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha office in Bhilai at the behest of an industrialist. After the demise of Nirogi, Sudha Bharadwaj took over the affairs of the labourers in the region.
She studied law from a local college in Bhilai to fight for the poor people of the region, especially the labourers.
Born in the US, Sudha Bharadwaj received an Indian citizenship. She studied in IIT but chose to spend her life among labourers of Chhattisgarh.