Due to anti-labour recommendations of Second CPC, Joint Council of Action of All Central Govt. Employees led by Com. Peter Alvares, the General Secretary,AIRF decided to launch an indefinite strike from mid-night of 11th July, 1960. There was serious ethnic problem in Assam. The Joint Council of Action excluded Assam and Tripura from the preview of the strike. The Govt. promulgated Essential Service Maintenance Ordinance and let loose all forums of barbaric attack on the strikers and their family members. In N.F.Railway At Alipurduar Junction strike started in a dramatic manner with the dropping of fire of 4Dn Assam Mail and subsiquent immobalising all the locomotives on work in the yard, Loco shades etc. There was complete strike at Alipurduar Junction, Siliguri Junction, Katihar. Despite mass scale police repression and trouble created by Congress militia at Katihar the strike was total. Comrade Priya Gupta, Jagat Narayan Singh, Jang Bahadur Singh, Jubaraj, Lakhan Lal Kapoor, S.N.Mishra, Raghunath Singh, Balai Choudhury, Satyesh Bhatterjee, S.C. Pandey, Ramanand Tiwari, K.C.Ghosh, Shiben Roy and many other comrades were arrested at Katihar, Comrade Nabajyoti Choudhury and some other comrades were arrested at Siliguri Junction. Comrade Bimalendu Choudhury, Biswanath Bose and other comrades were arrested at Alipurduar Junction. Comrade Peter Alvares, Nathpai, MP, S.M.Joshi, Deven Sen, Ram Chakraborty and thousands were arrested, Comrade Haripada Ghosh, Convenor, Alipurduar Junction and host of other comrades were remove from services and thousands were charge sheeted. The strike was withdrawn on July 16 by the leaders of JCA those who were out side the jail. All victimized workers were ably defended by Com. Basanta Chandra Ghosh, Senior Advocate, then Vice-President of the union. All the removed workers were reinstated in services and punishment withdrawn.
The recognition of the union was withdrawn by the General Manager. But it was successfully fought before the High Court at Guwahati. Sarba Shri Basanta Ch. Ghosh, Hareswar Goswami, Bijoy Das, Purnendu Chowdhury, Saroj Sen and host of other advocates pleaded the case. The recognition of the union was restored at the High Court`s order.
The conference of the Union was held at Domohani in 1961. Comrade Peter Alvares and Com. Basanta Chandra Ghosh were elected President and Working President respectively, Com.Priya Gupta was re-elected as the General Secretary.
JCM has been setup after 1960 Strike. According to JCM Scheme pay and allowances, hours of work and leave are compulsorily arbitrable issues. The demand for need base minimum wage and full of neutilisation of price rise in the form of revised DA formula were raised, disagreement recorded, but govt. refused to refer the issues before board of arbitration. Joint council of action with Peter Alvares was revived. Decision for one day token strike on 19th September 1968 was taken. During the preparation Com. Priya Gupta and Basawan Sinha toured extensively. Com. Peter Alvares held meeting at dead of night at Bongaigaon Railway Station, Mariani and other places. The Government promulgated Essential Service Maintenance Ordinance and amended Railway Act and let loose oppression and terror. The Strike was total and peaceful in N.F.Railway, Com. Priya Gupta, Jagat Narayan Singh, Rajeswar Das, m. Gauri Sankar Ram, Ram Singh, S.N.Mishra and others were arrested at Katihar On 18th September Com. indibor Konwar, Rasamay Dutta and Dilip Mukherjee were arrested from Maligaon Railway Head Quarters. Biswanath Bose, Anil Paul, Binoy Adhikari, Ram Pada Das, Mrs. Sukla Das Gupta, Mrs. Basana Paul, Mrs Rita Chakraborty, Mrs. Khana Sengupta, Mrs. Maya Bose, Mrs. Kamala Dey, Rakhal Das Gupta and many others were arrested at Bongaigaon/ New Bongaigaon. Police opened fire on the peaceful demonstrators. Com. Paresh Sanyal, Prakash Barman and many others injured by bullet. On 22nd September Com. Paresh Sanyal breath his last at Guwahati Medical College. At New Guwahati, Lumding, Rangapara North police resorted Lathi Charge. At Rangapara North as many as 189 persons including Com. Barun Das, Ranjit Bose, B.N.Mandal, Ram Singhasan, Amal Chakraborty, Sarat Gogoi, Mrs. Mandal, Mrs Gupta were arrested on 20th September. Ms. Dayabati Basumatary, Sushil Das, Brajen Das, S.N.Goswami and some others were arrested at North Lakhimpur. Com. T.R.Giri at Tindharia, S.K.Neogi at Kurseong were arrested, Com. Arun Ganguly, Haren Majumder, Suresh Kar, P.C.Singh, B.G.Chakraborty, M.R.Dalal, Matasin Ali and many other comrades were arrested at Badarpur. Com. B.N.Thakur and many other comrades were arrested at Tinsukia. At Mariani Police opened fire. Com Ramen Acherjee was killed by bullet. Many other comrades, were arrested. Besides in many places comrades were arrested, removal from service, suspended and charge sheeted. Despite all these repressive measures the moral of the railwaymen and their family members were very high. Sharbashri Hem Barua, MP, Lakhan Lal Kapoor, MP, Vice President of the Union and Biswa Goswami toured all over N.F.Railway to boost up the moral of the railway men and their family members, Com. Basanta Chandra Ghose, Com. Peter Alvares and Com. Priya Gupta visited from place to place The recognition of the Union was again withdrawn but again the same was restored by an order of Hon`bl High Court, Guwahati. Com. Nathpai, MP, HemBarua, Lakhan Lal Kapoor, MPs rocked the parliament. Ultimately all victimisation were vacated and normalcy restored.
HISTORIC STRIKE OF 1974
Rakhal Dasgupta General Secretary
The All Indian Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) in its Annual Convention held at Secunderabad from 15th – 19th October,1974 expresses its serious concern on the rejection of demand for parity in wages of Railwaymen with other Public sector undertaking by the 3rd Central Pay Commission headed by Justice Reghubar Doyal and decided to call for a decisive action to achieve the demand along with demand for Bonus, decasualisation of casual labour , full neutralization in the cost of living by granting appropriate Dearness Allowance etc. The Convention took a programme of action. As follow up the General Council meeting of AIRF was held at Nagpur from 6-7 February ,1974. According to the decision of General Council meeting the National Convention of Railway was held at Delhi on 27-28 Feburary/1974 and National Coordination Committee For Railwaymen’s Struggle (NCCRS) was formed. All India Demand Week was observed from 2-8 April,1974. Finding no response of the Government a Convention of Representatives of All Central Government Employees were held at Delhi on 15th March,1974. The meeting decided to serve strike notice by all constituent organisation of NCCRS thorough out the Country on 23rd April, 1974. An Indefinite Strike was decided to be commenced from 06-00 hrs. of 8th May, 1974. Accordingly NCCRS was also formed at Zonal and Branch level in N.F. Railway. Thorough a massive demonstrations strike notice was handed over to Sri M.R.Reddy, General Manager, N.F. Railway on 23rd April’74. May Day was observed thorough out the Country as also in all important centers of N.F. Railway. thorough Massive participation of Railwaymen, their family members and members of public. Sri Basanta Ghosh, myself and others addressed a huge gathering in Rest camp Maidan, Pandu. We had decided to proceed to Malda Town by A.T Mail leaving Guwahati. on next day morning, as both President and Secretary of MLDT Branch of our Union were arrested in Court compound on 29th April. On our way huge numbers of Railwaymen greeted Basantada at Rangiya, Bongaigaon, New Bongaigaon, Fakiramgram & Alipurduar Junction. On reaching Alipurduar Junction. We had received a News that arrest of leaders already started from midnight of 1st May, 1974. On the advise of Basantada I got down at Alipurduar Junction and returned back by Up A.T Mail to Bongaigaon. On way back we met a huge gathering at Fakiragram. I could reach Bongaigaon at about 21.30 hrs. After a brief stayal at my home I left for a shelter in New colony, Bongaigaon. On 2nd May there was Assam Bandh, on 3rd may there were Massive procession all over N.F.Railway and also at Bongaigaon. On 4th May it was Saturday Mass meetings were organised at New Bongaigaon work Shop colony and Bongaigaon. While the meeting was to start huge police force appeared just by the side of the meeting place. We could get information that immediate after meeting we would be round up. I decided to be the 1st speaker of the meeting and after my speech the meeting was decided to be continued and in the meantime I left for Bongaigaon with Com. Rabin Sen. We could see that different points of New Bongaigaon leading toward Bongaigaon guarded by Police personnel. We could not reach Bongaigaon and stayed the night in the type-I Quarters of Com. Swaminath, Black Smith of C&W Depot, New Bongaigaon. However, Bongaigaon meeting was addressed by other Comrade. On the next day on 5th May Com. Ramji Upadhaya, Secretary of New Bongaigaon Work Shop Branch and others met me and we had a discussion regarding future planning. I was shifted from Sri Swaminath’s quarter to a Teachers’s Quarter at Dangtol Railway Colony. On 7th May I was again shifted to the quarter of Sri Haren Purukastya at Dangtol. It is nearer to New Bongaigaon Loco Shed. From Midnight of 7th May I could hear that the sound of Steam Engines were coming down gradually and on 8th May there was no body even to unlock the Workshop gates of New Bongaigaon and Bongaigaon. On 8th Morning I could hear the News that Com. K.C. Roy Karmakar was arrested from New Bongaigaon BG Colony. Prior to that Com. Biswa Goswami, Nandeswar Talukder, Com. Biru Chattarjee, Nandeswar Thakuria, J.N. Saikia, K.K. Gangully, Bimal Purakayastha, Biswanath Bose, S.C. Banerjee and many other leaders were arrested from different places of N.F. Railway. Com. Golap Barbora was arrested from Naharkatiya Rly. Station during the strike. Surprisingly charge of decoity was brought against a person like Golap Barbora. On the Night of 8th May I was shifted from Dangtol to North Bongaigaon in a civil area and I took shelter in the Private house of Com. Anjan Bhattacherjee. From there I could keep close contact with Com. Asish Biswas, Panchu Gopal Biswas Rabin Sen, Arjun Das and others. Kamana Saha, General Secretary of Bongaigaon College Students Union helped me to bring out leaflets. Some other Comrades were also lodged in the house of Com. Anjan Bhattacherjee and nearby people of the are most willingly provided food and shelter to the Railwaymen. Subsequently large number of Rlymen were rounded up by police from Railway colonies and they were asked either to resume duty or to face Jail custody. It was heartening that all of them had opted for jail custody instead of going to duty post. I had communication with Head Quarters leaders as well and could hear that Sri K.P.S. Gill who was then Superintendent of Police, Guwahati along with a particular leader of other Union make a havoc in Pandu, Maligaon area. Brave Sister of Pandu, Maligaon protested vehemently against police atrocities and braved jail but did not buckle. Com Rabin Sen was spotted while he was in underground a Civil area in the house of Com. Nawadip, Carpenter/New Bongaigaon Workshop. He was taken to custody and was mercilessly bitten by Sri Phukan, DSP/Bongaigaon. He was bitten to disclose my where abouts but inspite of serious torcher he did not divulge my where abouts although it was known to him. A group of ladies collected relief from different houses of Railway colony and distributed them to the needy house of Railwaymen, specially those who were already taken in to police custody. The strike was total in N.F. Railway and no train could move despite large scale arrest and rampant intimidation. Com. Priya Gupta went under ground to lead the struggle. He was in Vital Bhai Patel Complex. At midnight. He used to get call from different corners of the country and passed necessary guidance. He was also having contact with the leaders lodged in Tihar Jail, Delhi through Mrs. Laila Farnandes When signed proposal for withdrawal of Strike came from the Tihar Jail Com. Priya Gupta opposed the unconditional withdrawal. He could hear the voice of a lady worker stating that strike was complete in their area so the strike sould not be withdrawn. After withdrawal of strike when he visited Dibrugrah it was detected that the lady worker was Mrs. Dolna Chattarjee only. The Strike was however, withdrawn on 27th May’74. 10,329 permanent employees were dismissed/removed from services and services of 5629 temporary employees were terminated. N.F.Railway alone 2601 permanent staff were dismissed/removed and 733 temporary employees were removed from services In spite of so much of victimization the moral of the people were high and a few others who acted as stooge of the Government for breaking the strike were hiding themselves. It will be pertinent to point out that the P & T employees organisation also called for a indefinite Strike from 10th May. But the same was unconditionally withdrawn on 13th May. On 15thMay Bharat Bandh was called by Central Trade Union organisations except INTUC in support of Railwaymen’s strike and the strike was successful. After withdrawal of strike those people lodged in different jails were released from custody and reinstatement of employment started in a slow speed. There were number of meetings and discussions on the matters of reinstatement of dismissed/removed/discharged employees at different levels. I could not but point out last two occasions of such meetings of reinstatement. Once Guptada along with myself went to Sri B.D. Pandey, Cabinet Secretary to seek his intervention in the matter of reinstatement of dismissed/removed employees. He started talking that Strikers were anti-national. This was resorted by Guptada and I cited that person like R.D. Banerjee, Station Master, New Mainaguri had been dismissed from service for participation in strike and so far Com. Banerjee was concerned he was the man who brought Railway Cash of Rs. 26.00 Lakhs from Rangpara North and dropped 15 cash bags empty cash safe at Amingaoan & brought the same to PNO on 23rd November, when there was mass scale exodus of Civil Population, Tezpur district Jail was opened and criminals even freed and currency Notes were burnt by Deputy Commissioner, Tezpur (now Sonitpur). An another occasion when we met Sri Kamalapati Tripathi then Railway Minister in his chamber in connection with reinstatement of dismissed employees. Sri Tripathi said that “ Change your President.” Immediately Priya Gupta replied that “ Panditji if I tell you to change your leaders then how do you like it”. Tripathiji replied you people wanted it very much. Guptada replied back “ Your leader is choice of your party simultaneously our leader is our choice not yours. This reply silenced Tripathiji. ( At that President, AIRF was George Fernandes and immediate after declaration of Internal Emergency he went underground). However, on the formation of Janata Government Com. Madhu Dandavete took over as Railway Minister on 27th March, 1977 and very next Day on 28th March, 1977 while presenting the Vote-on-account on Railway budget on the floor of Lok Sabha he declared “ All the Railway employees who were either suspended or dismissal as a equal to their participation in the Railway strike in May, 1974 will be reinstated unconditionally”. Accordingly order was issued on 6th April/1977 fixing target 30th April/1977 for their implementation the entire instruction in toto and it was further advised to intimate its full compliance on 1st May ,1977. It was also mentioned in the said order that any clarification can be sought on telephone and any delay by any authority for its full implementation by 30th April/1977 would be viewed seriously and individual would be accountable for its compliance. Thus all the persons dismiss/removed/suspend were reinstated back in their former place of posting including these who were transfer after reinstatement before theissues of the order and all punishment were cancelled. Gradually demands were considered. When Indira Gandhi declared Internal Emergency she cited two reasons for the same – one J.P’s movement and the other situation created after 1974 strike of Rly. employees. So, the contribution of the sufferings of Rlymen and their family members during 1974 Rly. strike could bring a change in the monopoly of governing the country by the Congress.
Read And Let Read - SHRAMIK SANGBAD Voice of N.F. Rly Mazdoor Union/AIRF/HMS printed in English,Hindi,Assamese & Bengali