Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Weaver’s Struggle: Salute to Janab Siddiquilla

Siddiquilla has been died in morning of 8th February, 2009 at 2:00 am. He was at his nineties. He was a bonded labour and had been working as bonded labour in weaving industries more than fifteen years. In 2001, he met with Dr Lenin the convener of people’s vigilance committee of human right (PVCHR) and described him about his pitiable condition and showed his willingness not to be continued as bonded labour. He provided his full support with potential in his case. Recently on 23rd November, 2008 the ADM (Administration) Varanasi has provided him and his son Amirulla Release Certificate from Bonded Labour. After getting release certificate he had taken a sigh of relief and said I will not die as a bonded labour. He always showed his dedication and devotion in his struggle and his poverty and weakness had never causes hindrances.
He had also given his significant contribution to eradicate bonded labour and to improve the condition of weavers and to ensure the basic right of weavers. His valuable contribution can not be forgotten. In his sad demise many people have sent their tribute and many members along with convener of Forum for Right of Weaver & Artisan(Bunkar-Dastkar Adhikar Manch) had taken part in his funeral while he was buried in graveyard near Kamalgadha, RaMkatora, in Varanasi.
PVCHR has recently taken the testimony of Amirulla the son of deceased Siddiquella to provide him psychological healing, which is as follows:

Self suffering story of Amirulla

My name is Amirulla aged about 45 years. Sri Siddiquilla is my father. I live at house no. 35/40 Jalalipura, police station Jaitpura, District Varanasi. Apart from my wife I have four son and two daughters. I am a weaver and I adopted this profession when I was twelve years old. Thirty years ago I started this profession from the Gaddi of Badaruddin Hazi. I earned Rs 17 per sari and a sari was weaved within three or four days. I could manage for two meals a day easily. After two year when I developed skill in weaving, I started to work at the gaddi of Hazi Baqueridu. I earned there Rs 375 for each sari and sari was weaved within four to five days. The owner was honest and used to make payment regularly. I lived in his house. During that period I got married and five children had been begotten. I spent there fifteen years. Since the family of the owner growing larger, there was problem of accommodation. So I had to quit his services.
I approached to Altafurrahman resident of A-26/2 Hasanpura, police station Adampur, District Varanasi in search of work. There I started weaving at the rate of Rs 500/ per sari, but sari was weaved within twelve to fifteen days because silk saris were being weaved there. During that period my younger daughter was fallen ill and her condition was gradually deteriorating. So I borrowed total Rs 4600/ from the owner. He asked me to pay back the amount in wages. I paid Rs 50/ per sari to pay back his debt, and he noted down in the account kept for the purpose, but I did not have such account. Since I am illiterate so I can not tell the exact amount but I paid back to him large portion of the debt. I had to work from 6:30 am to 8:00 pm. There was one hour lunch from 12:30 pm to 1:00 pm. There was no holiday. Three days holidays for id-ul-juha and Baquerid and one day holiday for Sabebarat and Barawafat was allowed. If I became late by five minutes or go outside for tea/betel, he used to abuse and insult me in front of other worker and my elder son, Zia-ul-Islam, who came along with me to assist me. I had to go for work even at the time of illness.
In the mean time he made an agreement of a building adjacent to his house, and arranged my house hold articles in that house to express my rental position on behalf of him. I started to live in that house, but another person had made registry in his favour and compelled me to vacate the house, but Altafurrahman forced me to live in that house. It was a cold night when at 11:00 pm the policemen came in two jeep to vacate the house. Due to fear I returned the house in which I was living earlier leaving my all house hold and valuables the total cost of the articles and valuables is Rs 18000. On the next day Altafurrahman took me to court to file case against the person in whose favour the registry had been made. When I asked about my goods to Altafurrahman, he was feigning.
When I could not get my goods till three years I repeated him, he used abusive language and said I lost my house and you care for your goods. I beseeched him that I am very poor and how can I arrange these household and valuable again. At this he started to abuse indicating my mother and sister and slapped three or four times. Every slap spread darkness to my eyes and whistling in my year. I felt that if I were as powerful as he, I could reply for his slap and abuse. But I was helpless and compelled. I felt very insulting from inside. When he was slapping me, my elder son came and implored that “why are you beating my abba (father)?” At this he turned angry to my son and kicked three four times to my innocent son in his chest. He started groaning. Having seen it I was feeling extreme heartache and blood in form of tears was coming to my eyes. Even today I become terrified by assuming that scene that how a tall well build and muscle man is beating my lean child. I was feeling intolerable pain. I thought that my days are not helping me so this cruel man is insulting and beating me along with my son. I embraced my son and took him out of that place. The grief which I felt at that time can not be expressed in word and in this regard I can say that the weavers only know where the shoe pinches. I was feeling at that time that if I would have another option, I may escape from the jaws of this cruel man and I may save myself and my family from day to day insult. I was in great anguish but What could I do? I borrowed money from him, I could not save myself. In spite of this incident I worked for more than four years in his custody. I told the same to the other Grihastha (the owner of handloom), he became ready to pay my debt and I had to work for that Grihastha, but Altafurrahman was not ready for this. He said “if you will work, work for me only. You can not go anywhere.” I requested him to give my household and valuable and I will manage for your loan. But he was not agreeing for this. The honor and dignity of a man is nothing for him. Abusing daily is very common. I was feeling suffocation. The sun was distant dream for me.
When I was living like a slave, Dr Lenin came like God to Kargha (Handloom). He came in year 2000AD. I answered for his question that the Kargha (Handloom) and house belong to Altafurrahman and I am working as bonded labour. I had borrowed Rs 4600/ from him so I am working for him to pay back his debt. I also told him that my father Siddiqueulla is also working as bonded labour in the custody of Altafurrahman. My father had taken some debt from him for his medicine and for some domestic needs. Due to his old age my father was working slowly so Altafurrahman misbehaved, insulted and abused my father before me and other worker. I questioned Dr Lenin “why is he asking this to me?” with smiling face he answered that he would make release us from bonded labour. A ray of hope emerges in our dark life. We got courage form inside. Altafurrahman got notice from the court after two month. When the matter went to the court my father had given statement against Altafurrahman and I was also standing along with him.
In last the God paid attention and the effort of Dr Lenin brought color. On 23-11-2008 the SDM of Varanasi had given order to release us from bonded labour. I received a copy of order of court. A copy such order was sent to police station Adampur. So the SHO made a call for Altafurrahman. At this two men of Altafurrahman came to me and took me to his gaddi. By abusing me He forcefully made me to put my signature on stamp. He threatened me he will make me homeless and my family helpless. He also admonished me that I have teenage daughter. He warned me to think about my all family. Hearing this I became afraid and signed over stamp. My statement had been taken in the CO office in Kotwali and police station Adampur.
Today I am free. However he threatens me. Presently I am working according to my will. If I got rehabilitation compensation I will set up my own loom and bring raw material, so that I can start my traditional occupation. Now family is feeling very happy. I am feeling unlimited pleasure after telling you my story and I feel internal relief. Now I believe that there is someone who cares for deprived and poor people like me.

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