Jugaad Drivers’ Strike in Bhagalpur

AICCTU and the Jugaad Drivers’ Union in Bhagalpur held a protest demonstration and satyagraha on 8 May 2017 against the stopping of permits and licenses for jugaad vehicles and against police harassment of drivers. Hundreds of drivers participated in this protest held at the Bhagalpur district Collectorate. AICCTU state secretary Mukesh Mukt presided over the protest. Addressing the protestors, AICCTU national vice president SK Sharma pointed out that the government is converting cities into ‘loot zones’ in the name of the Smart City project. The poor and workers are being thrown out of cities, which are being made into exclusive zones for the rich and the privileged. Administrative officials as well as profiteering companies are colluding in this process. First, street vendors were targeted and now jugaad drivers Jugaad drivers have been out of jobs for the past 15 days, due to harassment and illegal detainment by the local police. A delegation, including AICCTU leaders Mukesh Mukt and SK Sharma as well as co-convener of the Jugaad Drivers’ Union Ramlakhan Ram submitted a memorandum addressed to the Governor, detailing the following demands:

1. Immediate end to the ban on jugaad vehicles. 2. End to harassment by the police, and release of all the detained drivers. 3. Issue of permits and licenses to all the drivers and vehicles, and regularization of the jugaad transport services. 4. Enquiry into all the incidents of harassment, beatings, abuses and extortion by the police. 5. Jugaad drivers should be recognized as unorganized workers, and should be provided with social security.

The officials refused to accede to the demands. Comrade Mukesh Mukt then announced that a protest on these demands would be organized in Patna on 18 May. He added that the state government had completely failed in ensuring employment and in stemming the widespread migration from the state, and is now cracking down on the few avenues of self-employment. In Bhagalpur alone, around 10,000 jobs and the lives of 50,000 people were at stake due to the crackdown on jugaad drivers.

Jugaad drivers have been running a sustained campaign against this crackdown on their livelihoods. A protest was organized in the Jayprakash gardens on 28 April 2017, and yet another protest took place at the district court premises on 8 May 2017. On 18 May, a massive protest was organized in Patna in front of the Chief Minister’s office. Jugaad drivers from several districts were present at this protest.