WHILE an All India protest is planned on 19 November in Delhi on various demands of mid-day meal workers by left trade unions, the Rasoiya Sangh in Jharkhand has been protesting since 25 December for their 15-point demands. They have suffered brutal lathi charge during their gherao of the Chief Minister’s house, and jammed Ranchi roads for hours, but the Raghubar Das government has shown no positive attitude towards their demands. On 29 October the Rasoiya Sangh once again jammed the Kishori Yadav Chowk at Ratu Road, Ranchi from 9 am onwards. With a long line of vehicles being jammed in this busy section, the Education Minister gave assurance of talks and the agitating Rasoiyas returned to their dharna venue in front of Raj Bhawan.
Late in the evening, talks were held with the Education Minister, but he refused the Rasoiyas’ demand for appointment as Class IV employees as has been done in Tamil Nadu. As a result, the talks broke down and at 10.30 pm the mid-day meal workers once again jammed the Ratu Road at New Market Chowk. Heavy police personnel had been deployed. The police first fired water cannons. They then unleashed a lathi charge and brutally beat up the women. The Rasoiyas also dug their heels in and kept up their protest. It was past 11 pm. Many women including Meera Devi were seriously injured, but the women continued the protest. At about 12 pm, when the women were shivering in the cold night, wet from the drenching by the water cannons, the police (male police) stripped the women of their saris which they either took away or threw away. Even then, the women did not run away from the spot. For a long time, in their half-naked state, they blocked the road and raised slogans till the police had to go back. Finally, the women borrowed sheets etc from others and covered themselves and returned to the dharna venue. A long time after the incident, the unconscious and injured women were taken to hospital by government ambulance. Para teachers’ organizations, anganwadi, Sevika and other scheme workers’ organizations have expressed solidarity with the Rasoiyas’ agitation. The next day on 30 October, the CPI(ML), AIPWA, and AICCTU organized protest programs across Jharkhand in protest against this incident. So far, the two talks the Rasoiya Sangh has held (with the Deputy Commissioner and the Education Minister) have failed. The Rasoiya Sangh dharna in front of the Raj Bhawan is continuing.