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From pension to increase in wages: Coolies put forth their demand to Rahul Gandhi

Darpan News Desk IANS, 27 Sep, 2023 04:38 PM
  • From pension to increase in wages: Coolies put forth their demand to Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi, Sep 27 (IANS) Porters at the Anand Vihar Railway Station demanded an increase in wages, secure employment and post-retirement benefits like pension of Rs 4,000-Rs 5,000 per month, during their interaction with former Congress president Rahul Gandhi last week.

They told the Congress leader that they had to work despite having health issues as they had no job security.

Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday shared the video of his meeting and interaction with porters at Anand Vihar Railway Station and said that they were the most hardworking people.

In a Hindi post on X, Rahul Gandhi said, “Met the hardworking coolie brothers of India at Anand Vihar station in Delhi. Having a degree in engineering, but working as a porter, suffering from such unemployment. No salary, no pension, no health insurance and no government facilities from Railways! But they have hope, times will change, and I have full faith.”

The video starts with a few porters requesting the Congress leader to come and meet them.

A porter tells Rahul Gandhi that they saw him during the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ and know that he met truck drivers, vegetable vendors at Azadpur Mandi and also visited bike mechanics in Karol Bagh to listen to their problems.

One coolie then explains to Rahul Gandhi that porters have been providing their services since the British era.

Another coolie informs Rahul Gandhi that for carrying 40 kg weight the fixed rate is Rs 100 for 20 minutes, which is very low.

When Rahul Gandhi enquires where it hurts the most, the porters inform him that they feel the pain the most in their joints, knees and in the limbs.

“There is no other work for us, and if we don’t work then how will we feed our families and children,” one of the porters rues.

Rahul Gandhi asks them if they have “any insurance and medical facilities”, to which the porters respond that they have no facilities.

In the video the Congress leader also targets the media and says that they do not show the real issues of the poor and their voice is suppressed as “two or three rich men control the media”.

“Even this station will be sold in some time. They are getting ready to privatise railway stations,” the Congress leader tells the porters and assures them that he has come to help them.

A porter recalls Rahul Gandhi’s visit to New Delhi Railway Station and his interaction with them and says, “In 2014, Rahul Gandhi came to visit porters in New Delhi… otherwise no one bothers about us. Earlier, 10-12 years ago, the rate for porters was Rs 60, now it has been changed to Rs 100. Only that has changed, a mere Rs 40.”

The porters say that because of constant lifting of heavy weights, they start losing their sight as they grow older and they are unable to work.

Another porter says that he had undergone heart surgery and had to take a loan for his treatment.

One of the porters informs Rahul Gandhi that they have a union at Anand Vihar Railway Station, which collects money to arrange for tickets and expenses of runaway children to send them back to their homes and also for helping each other.

During the interaction, a porter tells the Congress leader that he had done engineering in textile designing and points at others who have studied at polytechnics and done electrical engineering.

Rahul Gandhi then asks the porter with a degree in electrical engineering if he ever worked as an electrical engineer, to which he replies that he could not get a job.

The leader then asks the coolie if he thinks that his engineering degree has been wasted and the porter responds that “it has been wasted.”

Rahul Gandhi, who listened to all their demands, says before leaving Anand Vihar, “The youth of India cannot find jobs… can't see a future. There’s fear in their hearts, which gives rise to hatred. To rectify this, we must protect the poor and carve a way out for them.”

In the video he can also be seen donning a red shirt, the uniform of coolies and carrying luggage on his head with them. “That badge on the arm of many people is not just an identity, it is also a legacy they have received. There is a share of responsibility, but there is little progress. Today, lakhs of educated youth in India are trying to earn their livelihood by working as porters at railway stations. Reason? Record unemployment. The literate citizen of the country is struggling to earn two meals a day,” he concludes.

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