Samar Bagchi
Dr Samar Bagchi, a science educator, environmentalist and people’s rights activist passed away on July 30, 2023. He began his career at the Birla Industrial &Technological Museum in Kolkata, where he served as the esteemed director until 1990. He had major contributions to the fields of People’s Science and Environmental Conservation. He was associated with the National Alliance of People’s Movements during the 1980s. His death leaves behind an irreparable void in the field of people’s science movement.
MASUM, Hooghly, WB

Rajasthan Platform Based Gig Workers Act
After the passage of the historic Rajasthan Minimum Guaranteed Income Law on 22nd July 2023,the Rajasthan Assembly has passed the Rajasthan Platform Based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare Act), 2023. In yet another series of firsts, this has become the first State in the country to pass a legislation ensuring social security of platform-based gig workers in the State. The key provisions of the Act include:

1.   Setting up of a tripartite board with the representation of aggregators, worker organizations and Government tasked with the powers to register platform-based gig workers in the State, notify and administer social security schemes for them and monitor the implementation of the Act.
2.   Introduction of a dedicated welfare cess fee on each bill generated by the aggregator to the customer. The fee collected from individual transactions will be credited to a social security fund which shall be used towards financing schemes meant for the welfare of platform-based gig workers.
3.   Automatic registration of all platform-based gig workers operating in the state as soon as they ‘onboard’ aggregator platforms, irrespective of the duration of their association with the platform.
4.   Presence of a centralized tracking and management system that shall function as a common portal for all financial transactions taking place on the aggregator’s platform. The breakdown of individual bills into its constituent parts i.e. fare charged/service costs for the customer, payment made to the platform worker, cess fee deducted etc will be reflected in the centralised tracking and management system at the transaction level.
5.   Making Department of Labour and the Tripartite Board responsible for registering, acknowledging and redressing grievances faced by platform based gig workers in a time bound manner.
The SR Abhiyan which has been involved with the advocacy and drafting of the Bill welcomes this critical breakthrough that ensures the rights of a class of extremely vulnerable workers in present times.
Nikhil Dey
Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS)
Village Devdungri, Post Barar, District Rajsamand, Rajasthan-313341

Killing by BSF
In the night between 1st and 2nd August. Mithu Hoque, S/o Abdul Rahim, aged 35, a resident of Vill: Tutiyar Kuthi, GP: Nayarhat, P.S. Sahebganj, Dinhata II block, was killed by BSF firing. He was killed by BSF personnel attached to 179 Bn BSF posted at Chongar Khata BOP in Mathabhanga I block, which comes under the jurisdiction of Mathabhanga PS, Cooch Behar. Through some primary investigation MASUM has come to know that the victim sustained three rounds of firing by the said BSF personnel. The BSF said that Hoque was associated with cross border smuggling.

The victim could have been apprehended by the BSF personnel and could have been brought to the court of law for his alleged involvement in the said crime. But, instead the BSF personnel involved took the brutal path of summary execution and creation of a fictitious story about self defence. When the Chief Minister of West Bengal is repeatedly condemning violence in the Indo-Bangladesh border area and the prime minister of India is pledging to bring down border killings to zero, why does the Border Security Force involve in such act repeatedly? Has the BSF gone rogue? Does the State have no control over the actions of this agency? How are they repeatedly going against the words of the prime minister and adhering to their heinous “Shoot to kill” policy? The victim may have been involved with smuggling, but that doesn’t mean he can be subjected to summary execution..
Kirity Roy
Secretary, MASUM &
National Convenor (PACTI)

VB Suspends a Student
A Dalit student of the Visva-Bharati, who was suspended recently for a semester on disciplinary grounds, said he would move the National Commission for Scheduled Castes against the order of the central university.

Somnath Sow, an SFI leader, has been at the forefront of demonstrations against Vice Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty on different issues since the VC had taken over in 2018. The university had suspended the student for “violating” campus discipline in 2020 also.

 Action was taken against him on July 27 ostensibly for his Facebook post on January 28 in which he had made some comments on the land ownership issue between Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and Visva-Bharati.

In the show-cause notice to Sow, the university had said that his Facebook post in support of the renowned economist was “full of false/misleading information, contrary to official records and official position of Visva-Bharati, aimed at denigrating, defaming and derogating Visva-Bharati as an institution and also its functionaries/officials and staff”.

The central university in a statement said that Sow was suspended following recommendations of a students’ disciplinary committee and the institute “is morally committed to carve out a course of correction for the deviant students and learners.” Sow added he would also move the Calcutta High Court against the university’s decision.
A Reader, Visva Bharati

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Vol 56, No. 8, Aug 20 - 26, 2023