490 years jail sentences
in total to six labour leaders of Pakistan
By Farooq Tariq
Today, A protest demonstration and rally
was taken out in Lahore by Labour Party Pakistan to
denounce the 490 years of total jail sentences to the 6
labour leaders of Faisalabad. On average, every six of
one will be spending 81 years in jail. An anti terrorist
court judge announced last evening this long term
sentences top the six powers looms workers leaders who
led a strike in July 2010 in Faisalabad to demand better
wages. The judge has announced the jail sentences in
each of seven charges. The maximum sentence in one case
is ten years. All the jail sentences will begin at the
same time, so each one of the labour leader will spend
at least 10 years in jail.
Anti-Terrorist Courtís judge Mian
Muhammad Anwar Nazir sentenced six Labour Qaumi
Movementís leaders and they are Akbar Ali Kamboh, Babar
Shafiq Randhawa, Fazal Elahi, Rana Riaz Ahmed, Muhammad
Aslam Malik and Asghar Ali.
Four of them were arrested on 22nd July
2010 by Faisalabad police after a strike call by power
loom workers for 17% increase in wages as per
announcement of the government. Two other leaders Ansari
were also arrested under same charges four months
They have been accused of burning a
factory during the strike. This is a fabricated charge.
The fact are that on the day of strike on 20th July
2010, the factory owner in Thekri Wala started firing on
the workers who were leaving the factory to demand for
better wages. After hearing the firing by the gangsters
of the factory owner, some workers dared to go inside
the factory and forced the gangsters to stop firing.
After workers went to the city with the
main rally, the owner conspired to burn some old cloths
and fire in one room, posing that workers have burnt the
factory. During the trail, workers advocate raised the
point the if the why factory was burnt then how it was
able to function in two days time?
More than 100,000 workers of power loom
in Faisalabad district went on strike on July 20, 2020
for an increase of wages which had been announced by the
government during the presentation of budget 2010-11.
The government announced 17 % rise in the minimum wage
for the private sector workers. Labour Qaumi Movement (LQM),
an organization of the power loom workers in Faisalabad,
Jhang and other districts, had been in negotiation with
power loom owners for three weeks for wage increase.
The local police asked the workers leader
on the evening of the strike day to come to police
station for negotiation. All four leaders went to police
station of Thekri wala themselves and they were
arrested. Initially, they were not charged with anti
were included after few weeks after the bosses went all
out to crush the movement.
It was reported that during the strike
the workers remained peaceful but the owners of
factories and their henchmen and police remained violent
against the striking workers. The owners and their
henchmen resorted to violence by throwing stones and
bricks on the peaceful march of workers from one side of
the protest, while police used tear gas shells on the
workers from the other end. 25 workers were injured
including Tahir Rana, the president of LQM Faisalabad
district, who was critically injured.
On the day, around 100 workers were also
The print and electronic media reported that
thousands of workers from different areas of Faisalabad
district had marched despite a police ban on public
Labour Qaumi Movement leaders are members
of Labour Party Pakistan. In January 2010, they
organised a massive workers poeasant conference at
famous Dhobe Ghat of Faisalabad on the eve of the LPP
fifth congress in the city. Over 10,000 participated in
this massive gathering.
In April that year, the chairman of LQM
contested a bye election for Punjab assembly seat and
got reasonable votes of around 9 percent.
All this was not accepted by PMLN and the
law minister Rana Sana Ullah Khan. They decided to have
a go on the movement.
Sudhar is the suburb of Faisalabad where
a big number of power loom factories is located. This
area had been a scuffle ground between workers and
owners for the three years as the workers organized
themselves effectively in huge number there.
Appointments of Aftab Cheema as DPO and
Nasim Sadiq as DCO of Faisalabad last year by Mian
Shehbaz Sharif, the chief minister, was mainly to
control the rising movement of workers. These two
officers played clever shots and tried to pacify the
movement while making promises with LQM leadership to
re-investigate the case against arrested workers but did
not fulfill these promises.
Instead they have supported owners of the
power looms in their actions against workers.
It is now clear that the PMLN leadership
in Faisalabad alongside with police and judiciary is all
out to crush the labour movement. Never in history of
Pakistan such harsh sentences were announced to labour
leaders for an incident where they were not involved.
Everyone here in Pakistan from the labour
movement is shocked on these harsh jail sentences.
Anti terrorist laws are frequently used
against protesting industrial workers in Punjab. over 13
trade unions leaders are facing such charges of
terrorism in Punjab. their real crime is fight for
better life and demanding higher wages. The Punjab
government is all out to crush any trade union movement
in factories which is challenging their authority.
Police is very often used in such cases.
The Faisalabad workers are single out by
the Punjab government because they are political and
they are members of Labour Party Pakistan. We are not
Today, I spoke to Asma Jehanghir the
former chairperson of Supreme Court Bar association and
she promised to look into the file to take up the case
for bail in Lahore High Court. She participated in one
the protest rally on 1st march 2011, for the release of
the four labour leaders. She was also shocked to hear
Four of us will be leaving
for Faisalabad tomorrow to participate in the meeting of
LQM and chalk out the future course of action.
Please protest where ever you are, Please
take up the case with your organisation and pass a
resolution to condemn the jail sentences and issue press
releases to the newspapers.