"Hamein roti do, hum paani denge. Hamein roti do, hum swasthya-suvidha denge."
Hundreds of Mineral Area Development Authority (Mada) employees intensified their ongoing agitation in Dhanbad on Wednesday, shouting slogans and hitting the streets to press for pending salaries and promotions.
The Mada employees, who have earlier launched similar agitations, have been on strike since Monday, affecting the lives of more than 20 lakh people living in Digwadih, Patherdih, Lodna, Ghanudih, Dhansar, Bastacola, Loyabad, Putki, Katras, Kendua, Chatabad, Godhar, Sijua, Katras Bazar, Tetulmari and Bhatmurna areas of Dhanbad.
Wednesday's protest started around 9am with the employees staging simultaneous demonstrations in front of the water and health division offices of Topchanchi, Tetulmari, Kusunda, Jharia I, Jharia II, Jamadoba, Chirkunda, Nirsa, Govindpur, Katras and Chandkuian.
The protesting employee groups then undertook a march from MADA offices and reached the Luby Circular Road-based head office at Dhanbad where they staged a dharna and held a meeting.
Together, they pledged to step up their protests in the coming days.
The march from Jamadoba was led by Bisheshwar Mahto and Gopal Pandey, from Jharia I by Sukhram, from Jharia II by Janardhan Singh, from Kusunda by S.N. Dubey and Dasrath Singh, from Tetulmari Tetulmari by Nand Lal Prasad and Janardan Singh and from Topchanchi by Vinod Pramanik and Qayum Ansari.
Similarly, the protests from various health divisions were also led by employees _ from Chirkunda by Jamal Khan, from Nirsa by Chitranjan Singh, from Govindpur by Sitaram Sharma, from Katras by Anwarul Haque and from Chankuian by Kedar Sao.
During the march, some employees also begged for alms from people, claiming it was a symbolic attempt to draw attention of the administration towards their plight.
"We were compelled to beg due to the extreme poverty our families are going through. We have decided to court arrest in the coming days if the government fails to clear our dues," said Sudarshan Mahto, the convener of Pradhikar Karmachari Sangharsh Samanvaya Samiti that spearheaded Wednesday's protests.
Mahto said that while employees of the health department and those from Mada headquarters had not received their salaries for 21 months, water department staff had not been paid for 18 months.
General secretary of the water division of the samiti S.N. Dubey, on the other hand, appealed to people to support their agitation. "We are probably the only employees who have not received any provident fund benefits, deductions for which had been made from our salaries between 1992 and 2008," he claimed.