|New Chhattisgarh in New India|
The labour movement initiated by Chhattisgarh Mines Shramik Sangh (CMSS) was led by Shankar Guha Niyogi. It evolved over the years to form Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (CMM). The Morcha linked exploitation of the region to the suppressed cultural identity of Chhattisgarh. Gradually the Morcha focussed its energies on the struggle of Chhattisgarh against the oppressive and exploitative mainstream.
Chhattisgarh Mines Shramik Sangh was formed on 3 March 1977 at Dalli Rajhara in southern Durg district. The Dalli Rajhara iron ore mines feed into the Bhillai Steel Plant. These mines work on the dual system of partial manual operations and partial mechanization. There were glaring disparities in the working condition and wage/benefits of the manual mine workers and the mechanized mine workers. The workers of mechanised mines were primarily drawn from middle and lower middle class families from outside Chhattisgarh. Whereas the labour of manual mines was predominantly drafted from landless and poor peasant families and tribals of Chhattisgarh. A regional contradiction was strongly present in the two categories of workers. In this context, CMSS represented the revolt against the traditional trade unions, particularly in the non-mechanised mines. CMSS soon realized that a trade union movement isolated from the problems of the society would soon find that the rest of the society does not stand by it. Therefore, it broke the traditional mould of trade union movement in India. As a result Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (CMM)) emerged on 22 June 1982; it combined labour movement with constructive work. The CMM has 17 wings touching different aspects of life. They have wings like, forestry, education, health, press etc. Through these departments CMM does constructive work CMM has already undertaken a successful anti liquor campaign, health program (established a 60 bad hospital, entirely funded by workers) education program, ecological consciousness efforts and other such work, Sangharsh aur Nirman (struggle and construct) has become the motto of Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha.
The demand for a new Chhattisgarh according to Niyogi is ' linked to a broader search for new development paths and new society based on justice, equality and human values. The demand for a separate Chhattisgarh for CMM is in essence a demand for a just mode of production, industrial and environmental development. CMM believes in Virodh Nahin Vikalp (alternative not opposition) and it suggests an alternative development paradigm and strategy for a new Chhattisgarh. Shankar Guha Niyogi was murdered on 28 September 1991, supposedly by people opposed to what CMM was doing. The Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha continues its progressive and constructive work in Chhattisgarh. The Morcha has also participated in the mainstream electoral process and its member Jhanaklal Thakur was elected to the State assembly.
Source - Lllina sen workers struggle in Chhattisgarh in lllina sen (ed)
A Space within the Struggle, kali for women Delhi 1990
Anil Sadgopal and Shyam Bahadur Namr (ed) Sangharsh aur Nirman, Rajkamal, Delhi 1993
Amitabh Behar, Indian Federation and Challenge of Ethnicity : A Comparative Study of Uttarakhand and
Chhattisgarh Movement unpublished, M.Phill dissertation JJNU, Delhi 1996.