Displaying placard which reads- “Mr Conrad Sangma’s government constantly lies
- is apathetic to people’s distress
- only knows to govern for its rich and corrupt cronies
- denies people’s rights in the midst of pandemic hardships
- is unaccountable.”
Defying the incessant rain, Thma U Rangli-Juki (TUR) leader Angela Rangad sits alone outside Secretariat displaying placards and demanding the financial relieves for the daily wagers and the marginalized sections amid the lockdowns or containment restriction in view of COVID 19.
Yes, protest can be of different form, however, the protest by this activist for poor and marginalized people has pulled the attention of many.
Rangad calls it a yearlong saga of denial of people’s rights & lies of Mr. Conrad Sangma’s anti-people government.
Demanding, Immediate Release of All Pending Benefits, Immediate Announcement of a New Stimulus Package For people in Distress, Immediate Waiver Of All Farmer/Small Entrepreneur/ Hawker Loans and Immediate starting of MNREGA work with increasing days from 100 to 150.
TUR leader said, “We are being forced to protest against a government which constantly lies and is apathetic to people’s distress, a government which only knows to govern for its rich and corrupt cronies, a government which is actively seeking to deny people’s legitimate rights in the midst of pandemic hardships and a government which is unaccountable.”
Calling the incumbent Government as the Government of the rice people and corrupt cronies, Rangad said, “I will be here every day during office hours to remind the government of what it needs to do. The government has to immediately release that money that has been booked against the marginalised peoples’ names.”
Rangad has also demanded that the government should announce an economic stimulus package, because it doesn’t help to just unlock now.
While referring to the reason why she chose to hold this protest, Rangad said, “I have to sit here to remind the Government of its duty especially amidst pandemic when people are suffering, those who unfortunately had covid, their mounting medical bill and the Government is not taking it seriously.”
She also mentioned that in March 2020, Government of Meghalaya announces Income support scheme for Unorganised sector workers.
As part of the Chief Minister’s Relief Against Wage Loss (CMRAWL), an amount of Rs 2,100 was to be given to taxi drivers, hawkers and domestic workers.
Rangad alleged that after she followed up to see if the marginalised people received the financial assistance, she found out that they did not. She then filed an RTI which revealed that many people who had applied didn’t find their names on the list. Those whose names were on the list did not either get any money or received only Rs 700.
“The government is lying by saying that the account numbers were either incorrect or inactive,” said Rangad.
Secondly, under Meghalaya Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board the beneficiaries are all the workers registered with MBOCWWB through the Labour department where benefits of Rs 5000 were to be given to the labourers.
Rangad said, “The beneficiaries were supposed to call or sms or whatsapp their details to phone numbers announced by the Labour Department. Or, submit their particulars to District/Block labour offices or through locality dorbars.”
However, in July – September 2020, In a survey conducted amongst the Hawkers and Street Vendors of Shillong, Thma U Rangli-Juki (TUR) and Workers Power find that most of the people who had applied for the scheme, were not on the list, or did not receive any money or only partially received the benefit.
She further said, “In November 2020, TUR filed a RTI with the Labour Department seeking information regarding the implementation of the income support scheme. “
In May 2021TUR/WPM made the list of beneficiaries who were supposed to have received the benefit public and asked that people send them their grievances regarding the scheme.
“Based on various surveys and grievances TUR found that many who applied could not find their names on the list, many whose names appeared on the list did not receive the benefit and many names had ghost phone numbers,” the activist said.
Talking further on action taken by TUR, she said, “ On 1st June TUR/WPM submitted their first 1400 page long complaint with more than two thousand complaints to the Chief Minister with messages of grievance and on 14th June TUR/WPM submitted additional complaints.”
In the complain the organisation demanded, “Immediate emergency independent and timebound enquiry into the implementation of the schemes, Immediate release, within a week, of all pending dues in full to all beneficiaries which your office claims to have transferred, Transfer of support to those who had registered and yet did not find their names on the list if they fulfil the criterion, a dedicated helpline for people to lodge their complaint about non-receipt of funds. “
On 14th June 2021, the Laboour Department announced two phone numbers, where people could lodge their grievances.
“In July 2021, People kept calling up TUR/WPM to inform that the either the govt. phone numbers were not reachable and switched off or inspite of lodging their grievance, the transfer of income support had not happened,” she said.
“TUR/WPM did a random survey of all the people whose complaints had been lodged with the government and found that more than ninety percent of them have still not received their benefits,” the leader added.