Sunday, December 3, 2006

Musclemen of Kerala

Musclemen of Kerala

Kerala is also a land of our own our own version of mini mafia. The pocket versions of Arnold rule the roads. They are either uniformed or not. The uniformed lot sporting either Saffron, blue or red shirts wield statutory rights for extortion. The non uniformed ones do not require any license. They are either sponsored or independent. One who is not familiar with the situation of Kerala may wonder “what nonsense all these are”.

In Kerala neo socialism has reached it its feverish pitch. Governments watch the violence committed by the organized “laborers” like a mother who enjoys the mischief of her little children. “The bloody laymen who deserve a thrashing are getting thrashed!” It is none of the duty of the Government to interfere in “labor problems”, is the official stand.

Politicians look upon the organized gangs as their own creation nurture them with legal supports. Every week more and more ordinances are issued by the government to protect and legalise this sort of extortion. The most surprising thing is that most of the high officials like Labor commissioners and even judges-whom people look upon as saviors- subscribe to the rule that these gangs are licensed to torture ordinary people.

After all without these muscle men how a democratic election can be fought? They are unavoidable in leading processions and handling anti party activists. When Compared to them, the laymen are of no political use. First, they do not join the processions, sponsored violence and agitations. Second to whom they vote also is not certain. Things being so why bother about them?

Each political party has its own musclemen. And the party go to any extend to protect their men. Occasionally they get engaged in inter gang wars, when the members of the ruling die the Government machinery wakes up. In other cases it goes as usual.

The word “transfer” itself is enough to terrorize employees of Kerala. A transfer means shifting of the house hold materials to the new location. They are to be loaded in a lorry and carried to the destination and then to be unloaded to the new house.

Here is the catch! Loading of the materials cannot be done by the house owner with the help of his neighbors. This particular job is the monopoly of these musclemen. They have the statutory rights for that. The unloading of these at the destination also is another issue as it is the monopolistic right of the organized gangs prevailing there.

Why it is taken as an issue at all may be the question. The problem is that these gangs get jobs only very rarely. They sit idle in improvised sheds by the road side. They have to heavily charge the unfortunate victim who happens to fall in their net. Doing one hour job should fetch them enough to live for a week.

This peculiar situation has compelled employees to leave their homes in the midnight like thieves. The entry in to the new house also is to be done in the wee hours of the day, without attracting the attention of the gangs which rules that area. Strange after effects of socialism!

These gangs often engage night watchmen to monitor whether any body gets engaged in loading material in a lorry or unloading by themselves. If the poor soul is caught red handed in doing the job he will get beaten black and blue, A real “treat” he will never forget in his life.

While he will be recovering in a hospital, his wife would have to negotiate the hefty compensation which would have to be paid to the gang. A great “crime” he has committed in the context of Kerala.

The attention of readers is invited to the ruling of the Hon. Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Monday, December 1 2006. This news got wide coverage in all local dailies. Some extracts is given below for refernce

“Compulsory exaction of “attimari”(loading and unloading work) and “nokku kooli” (on looking charge)by unions of head load workers, without actually doing any work, has no
Sanction of Law, and it has to be stopped.

Attimari was evolved by head load worker’s unions dehors the Kerala Head Load Woriers’ act. Rules, and the Kerala Head Load Workers (Regulation of Emplyment and Welfare) Scheme by use of their muscle power.”It is high time that the authorities put an end to such practice which is beyond the scope of the Act, Rules and the Scheme.”

The Hon. Court set aside the concurrent orders passed by the District Labor Officer and the Joint Labor Commissioner, Kollam, upholding the right of headload workers represented by CITU and INTUC unions to carry out the loading and unloading work at the District Depot of Kerala Civil Supplies Corporation.

The Hon. Court also stated that the unions have no right to demand that they are exclusively entitled to do the so called “attimari” work and claim wages for it. Attimari work is an artificial creation of certain unions having muscle power to extract money from hapless employers who are unable to resist the might of unions with political clout.

The Judgment also rules out the right of extracting “nokku kooli”, which means that job has to be done by workers engaged by the employers but under the “on looking” of the gang. To this strenuous job of “onlooking” the gangs can demand any sum as per their whims! In short the employers are forced to engage two sets of employees. One for doing work and the other for just a show! Complaining with the police is futile as police is strictly instructed not to interfere, as these are mere labor problems.

The strange thing is that the people of Kerala always react to injustice in every field and social activists with extra ordinary power to get provoked at the slightest signal are mute spectators to such extortions. The so called activists and the general public are all tied in an invisible chain, the iron chain of fear.

Those who strongly react to the American aggression in Iraq, turn a blind eye to the aggression on human rights taking place under their very own nose! Reason is that they are not afraid of the America, but that is not the case with the local politicians and their goons!

Response from readers are welcome.


Anonymous said...

"The so called activists and the general public are all tied in an invisible chain, the iron chain of fear."

More than fear, it is complacency. they feel they have money and are not affected.

abhishek said...

Excellent points. You should write for Save Kerala as well!

Anonymous said...

.. or.. are they musclemen of the political parties?