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Demanding that the government pay them a monthly salary of Rs.15,000 and Rs.10,000 respectively, Anganwadi workers and ayahs in the district converged here on Monday and took out an impressive rally.

Beginning at the Rajiv Gandhi Auditorium, the rally culminated in a public meeting at the Collectorate. The agitators squatted on the District Sports Authority Ground when police foiled their attempts to barge into the Collectorate premises.

Other demands include recognising them as government employees, according them retirement benefits, unconditional payment of increased rentals for buildings, immediate release of all arrears, extension of the ‘Amruthahastam’ scheme to ICDS centres, desisting from any attempts at privatising the Anganwadis and payment of additional wages for additional work.

Speaking on the occasion, CITU general secretary A. Ramesh Babu said the government should issue food security cards (FSCs) to anganwadi workers too as they were getting meagre salaries. The Telangana Anganwadi Helpers and Workers Union district president Ch. Bharati and secretary Chukkamma and others also spoke.

A delegation of the AIFAWH West Bengal unit went to the village where Dipali Giri, an anganwadi worker was stripped, paraded naked, gang raped and hacked to death and her body hung on a tree in Sunia village, Kanthi, East Midnapur, West Bengal on 18 August 2014. The delegation included Ratna Dutta, Secretary CITU and AIFAWH and General Secretary WB state ICDS Workers Union (CITU), Manisha Chakraborty, Molina Ghosh members of the Working Committee of AIFAWH and leaders of the Union, Sabita Bhattacharjee, secretary, East Midnapur district committee of the union, Mita Ghosh, Hararama Manna, Sandhya Hazra, Gowri Guha and Nandita Sarkar, all state committee members of the union.

The delegation first visited her husband and son who have been forced to stay away from their home since 2011 and then went to Sunia village on 23 August 2014. There was an atmosphere of terror in the village, with the villagers terrorized by the local Trinamool goons. They met her aged father and mother-in-law, who were not allowed to even purchase food items.

The mother in law narrated the horrifying incident to the delegation. Dipali was dragged out of her room where she was doing some official work of the registers of her anganwadi centre. They had beaten her with a thick wooden stick demanding either an amount of Rs 15 lakhs or to produce her husband. When she could not do either of these they tortured her, pounding needles into her head and in her nails. Bleeding heavily, she ran out and jumped into a nearby pond. The goons dragged her out of the water, stripped her and paraded her naked around the village. Then she was gang raped, hacked to death and she was hung from a tree. There were around fifty people in that gang and none in the village dared to stop them.

The delegation went inside the room of Dipali. The anganwadi registers and a pen with which she was writing were still lying on her cot.

The delegation gave rice, pulses and other basic food items and some clothes to her in laws. After seeing a group of women some of the terror stricken village women came out and spoke to them. They expressed their helplessness and felt sorry that none of them could save her.

The Union sought the governor’s intervention to get justice for Dipali. Since nobody was arrested in the case, a CITU delegation met the Police Superintendant and demanded the arrest of the culprits. They also met the in laws of Dipali and the villagers. Later four of the accused were arrested.

AIFAWH had given a call for wide protest actions all over the country. Anganwadi Workers and Helpers all over the country were agitated and they took to the streets. In Karnataka, the state rally held on the occasion of the all India Workshop passed a resolution condemning the incident and demanded immediate arrest and exemplary punishment to the culprits and safe environment for work for the anganwadi employees in West Bengal.

In Kerala the state union organized protest demonstrations in 119 projects. In Assam the union sent a memorandum to the Chief Minister of West Bengal. In Tripura, the union and state CITU organized protest demonstration in Agartala. In Maharashtra, a protest demonstration was organized on 5th September in Mumbai. In Tamil Nadu demonstrations were organized in many districts. In Chattisgarh a dharna was organized on 24th Augufst in Rajnandgaon, in which around 200 anganwadi employees participated.

AIFAWH and WB state ICDS Union decided to continue the struggle for protection and a safe working environment for anganwadi workers and helpers in West Bengal.

A four day Workshop on ‘ICDS Mission’ and Organisational review of AIFAWH were held from 21-24 August 2014 at Gulbarga, Karnataka. Coming from 17 states – Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh(C), Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Pondicherry, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telengana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal- and the All India Centre, 94 comrades participated in the workshop and review meeting. 

An extended working committee meeting was held on 24th August 2014 which  adopted the recommendations of the Workshop and Review.

The Committee gave a call for the largest ever mobilization of the anganwadi workers and helpers in red uniform in a March to Parliament on 21th November 2014. As the culmination of the joint campaign to “Save ICDS” AIFAWH along with AIKS, AIAWU, AIDWA and CITU will submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister with 5 crore signatures collected from the employees and beneficiaries all over the country. State committees have taken a quota of fifty thousand anganwadi workers and helpers for the March to Parliament.  

A public meeting was organised in Gulbarga on 23rd August. Nearly five thousand anganwadi workers and helpers in red sarees participated in the rally and public meeting. The meeting was inaugurated by Neelima Maitra, President AIFAWH. A R Sindhu, General Secretary, AIFAWH, S Varalakshmi, President, Karnataka state anganwadi workers and helpers union, Maruti Manpede, President and Balakrishna   General Secretary state Kisan Sabha, Geeta, state General Secretary AIDWA, Shanta Ghante, Sunanda and other anganwadi state leaders addressed the gathering.

The workshop on ICDS Mission discussed the policy, administrative and financial aspects of the ICDS Mission in different sessions and on the basis of the experience of its implementation in various states made a clearer understanding on its implications and adopted policies and plan of action. 

The one year experience of the ICDS Mission has vindicated AIFAWH’s opposition to the ICDS Mission. Large scale privatization moves through PPP, privatization of SNP, training, pre-school education etc are going on in various states. Large scale corruption is also involved in many states. NGOs are intruding in ICDS in every state. The workshop reiterated its position to Save ICDS.

 In the ‘ICDS Mission’ mode, apart from a little increased financial allocation, the policy and the administrative measures will lead to the dismantling of ICDS

 Any move of privatization in any form will be opposed by the AIFAWH

 AIFAWH will boycott all Non- ICDS works to concentrate on the effective implementation of the services of ICDS

 Instead of appointing new contract, part time workers, convert  anganwadi centres to full time anganwadi cum crèches, functioning for eight hours with full time (eight hours) anganwadi workers and anganwadi helpers with recognition as employees with minimum wages and social security benefits including pension

 In most of the states, the increased financial allocations for various facilities such as rent, contingency, furniture etc. are not being implemented. AIFAWH unions will take up struggles for the immediate implementation of these.

The Organisational Review of earlier decisions taken was held in separate sessions on Problems in planning, district and project committee functioning, cadre development, financial discipline and joint movement. Some immediate tasks were adopted on the basis of discussions.

On the basis of the recommendations of the Workshop and Review, the extended working committee meeting adopted the following future tasks

1. Widest campaign on the backdoor privatization through ICDS mission, to reach all the anganwadi workers and helpers and also the beneficiaries

2. Oppose any move of privatization of ICDS in any form. Organise militant struggles wherever there are such moves

3. Intensify the efforts for Joint campaign on ‘Save ICDS’ along with CITU, AIKS, AIAWU and AIDWA. Take it to the lower levels

4. Most of the increased financial allocations and other benefits are not being implemented in most of the states. Organise state level and local struggles for the immediate implementation of existing benefits

5. Complete the collection of signatures as per quota on the memorandum to the Prime Minister to reach the state centre before 15 November 2014

6. Implement the immediate tasks on organization. Increase the membership in 2014 to cross six lakhs.  

7. Campaign and prepare for the March to Parliament with biggest ever mobilization of anganwadi employees with red uniform in November last week (21 November 2014) during the Winter Session of Parliament.

Page 5 of 5

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