Uprooted labours in the heydays of corona and lockdown

Tamal Sen

Many a appear to have been blessed by corona and subsequent prolonged lockdown when the rest of millions of Indian public suffer the worst of it. Many a have cropped the best of benefit of the time and the rest of millions the worst. Many have got the riches in their iron chests and the rest of others have got pauperised. It has been reported that after one and half a month since lockdown began, 33.33% people have got jobless and at the dawn of May, the number of jobless people of India has reached at 130 million. The numbers of jobless day-labours and small-shop-workers have in the meanwhile got reached awkwardly at 91.3 million. India is reported to have 240 million employees out of which 60 million are workers of unorganised sectors. The number of unorganised labours in India is stated to be 45 lacks.  A good many numbers of 40 million uprooted labours who have to maintain their livelihood in construction works in India—reports a Bengali Daily today.[1]

We do have no other way than to depend on the Judiciary.   We do have on the fore the symbol of a lady justice who is blindfolded and carrying a sword and a set of scales in the court rooms. This symbol epitomizes fair and equal justice of law sans corruption, favour, greed and prejudices. Her blindfold represents objectivity and impartiality that justice should be meted out with no fear or favour regardless of money, wealth or power. The scale represents the weighing of evidences which must be weighed on its own merit. And the sword represents punishment signifying that justice can be swift and final.[2]

But we fail to notice when this blind-symbol gets its eyesight for some time and spies in camera both the accuser and the accused. The smoke of democracy then begins winding into multiple rings. And then comes out the verdict which is always historical. Verdicts are always branded historical. The imagination of the poet that the judge sobs into tears when he reads his verdict of punishment to the accused evaporates into the blue angel of reel and falls on the stony real and cries out in public. Once the Judge lips out is final and true to the last of its periphery. This verdict may of course be challenged and if it is done once, the shuttling from the lower court to upper court, from upper court to high court, from high court to division bench and then to the uneven corridors of Supreme Court begins. He falls and saunters into a labyrinth. When the final curtain falls—and if justice is blessed with bliss— the poor justice-seeker is no more then on earth! And the Judiciary bursts out in laugh in beatitude accompanied by the state, government, administration and the ministers with their cadres. The giants of corporate and capital do not stand far behind rather come forth to follow the suit. The wheels of history begin rolling and the pages of text books of the would-be-citizens of India commence to have the best of print into being.

When the ruling-class terror reigns in the time of corona and when millions of uprooted labours (who are being called the migrated labours in   ruling class and corporate culture) are trotting miles with thirst and hunger accompanied by their wards and siblings just to reach their cots being their heaven of peace are often overlooked or unnoticed by the apathetic government in power. Rather they choose it the best of time to have the best of it and do in no way want to miss it. They are fond of declaring howling packages being just eyewash and to dupe the suffering people on the roofless roads. Their oratory and fascist practices go forth hand in hand.

Some sensitive folk suited the court seeking verdict to compel the government to afford food and water to these suffering millions, but the Supreme Court has dismissed this appeal and said that it is not the duty of the Court to think of the people on road, the government will do the needful as they consider fit. That the court must not interfere the business of the government is clear enough. The object of the Judiciary is clear, the motto is clear, the lesson remains nothing obscure. The suppress laugh of the government and the corporate is clear. But the other side of the moon is reverse. The rallies of corpses of the uprooted labours and their kin are getting bigger and bigger day by day. But neither the court nor the government cares it a bit. And yet it is the very door of the court we have to go for seeking justice! It is the custom, the tradition and the only doable duty under the rule of law in democracy! And to stand to contra is to stand against the government inviting the notorious UAPA against having brand bad names of anti national, touts of Pakistan and China and even the infamous  Maoists!

These millions of uprooted labours willing to back the nooks of their sweet homes are becoming the helpless prey of police atrocities. No rebuke can be able enough to refrain them from their misdeed. A few decades ago an honourable Judge of the Allahabad High Court stamped the police to be the organised anti-social pet by the government. But this stigma failed to chastise the police. It was not admitted. As being a state force, police, standing far from being a sensitive social element of human being, remains an insensitive organised group of anti-social! Because the state wants it so, the corporate and the capital want it so. The pictures of police atrocities on these suffering millions, during the heydays of corona, have come out by the print and social media in public erupting rage and anger of protesters. But no blemishes can stop a rogue. State itself pets its force and dabs on.

Now almost every day happens the occurrences of running the uprooted labours over by vehicles or cases of accidents on roads which causes sad deaths of the labours and their kin. Recurrences of such incidents almost every day cannot but be dubious. On the 8th May 16 uprooted labours had been run over by a train at Aurangabad. On the 16th again an accident has claimed 26 lives of the labours in Awaria in Uttar Pradesh. 30 labours are reported to have been wounded out of which 17 are serious. It is reported that up to 14th May since the commencement of lockdown 424 lives have gone.  Out of this 424, only accidents and run over cases have claimed 89 lives of uprooted labours. Financial crisis has taken 58 lives; police atrocities have taken 12 lives; continuous walking or standing long time in queue have claimed 29 lives; suicides have taken 91 lives; suicides during addictions have taken 46 lives; non-communal incidents have taken 14 lives; incidents of having no treatment have cost 42 lives; and deaths occurring with no specific causes found are 43. In UP, Bihar and Maharashtra 18 uprooted labours have lost their lives in accidents again on 19th instant. The death toll of 16th and 19th May get number raising   424 to 468 (424+26+18).  And this amount of deaths along with the uprooted labours is certainly not accurate and stands far from the real one. It appears from the National Herald of 15th May that 110 uprooted labours have lost their lives during this lockdown period.

In a report published in the Hindustan Times on the 7th May last it reveals that 600 incidents of road accidents have occurred during the lockdown period claiming 137 lives out of which uprooted labours have 42 lives gone. While on driving seat 78 drivers have lost their lives.

These piercing incidents of deaths specially that of the starving uprooted labours have failed to interrupt the siesta the government have to enjoy! And certainly the judiciary’s paying deaf ears to these sad deaths serve some vested interest. For whom the bell tolls need not be explained. Serving the interest of the Government an allurement prize might have been in store of the lucky one in future. Accountability to the vested interest as such gets judiciary cautious enough! Seldom of them dares to be bold enough to go forth with the emblems of the lady justice and cannot escape sudden death or sudden transfer.

Of late the Allahabad High Court has declared in their verdict that right to sleep is not only a fundamental right but it is to be conceded to be a basic human right.[3] No verdict can be fenced in a limited space; rather it becomes a considerable social and fundamental element for the cause of the human and human society. When the numberless abnormal deaths do have an endless corpses’ rally throughout the country, when the uprooted labours have stood between the wee moment of life and death, when the unemployment and joblessness do have its record awkwardly higher ever, when the atrocities of the police become a living terror before the public suffering worst in the lockdown—then this right to sleep tells a fairy tale told by the wise full of sound and fury signifying a hoax. It is the best of time the government, he state, the Judiciary do have their siesta to enjoy as it is their fundamental and human right! They must not be disturbed even by any fool. On the other hand, those suffering labours, on the open road under the roofless blue and dark, set in the lapse of deaths by accidents, police atrocities and of hunger and thirst and rest in the deepest sleep for ever—their right to sleep should certainly be considered being their fundamental and human rights too!

The renowned writer and politician Francis Bacon told that the prime and fundamental duty of the judiciary is to suppress the power (evil power) and unveil the mask of deception, because this power is terribly harmful and
open, and the deception runs its villainy behind a mask.[4] Bacon further said that the judiciary should not forget its limit; they should keep in their mind that they had been got assigned to a very responsible chair wherefrom they should do their duty so wisely in the periphery of the rule of law.[5] He called to remembrance: Judges ought to remember, that their office is jus dicere, and not jus dare; to interpret law, and not to make law, or give law.[6]

But power and lust for power brings down a man into to a ferocious wild animal. Power begets pride and prides invites the day of the last. But the ruling clique does ever get it into oblivion. And herein lays the tragedy. One day a ruling class goes behind the curtain, but the ruled ones stay. The day when they take up the state power in their own hands, the radical change of the society and the system comes into being.
Do this corona and the lockdown harbinger something other side of the visible sky in the future to come?

1. Ei Samay, May 25, 2020
3. The Times of India, 16th May 2020
4. ‘The principal duty of a judge, is to suppress force and fraud; whereof force is the more pernicious,
when it is open, and fraud, when it is close and disguised.’ —
5. ‘Let not judges also be ignorant of their own right, as to think there is not left to them, as a principal part
of their office, a wise use and application of laws.’— ibid
6. ibid

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May 26, 2020

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