The protest, involving party members and workers from unorganised sectors, took place in districts across Karnataka.

Women standing with children carrying placards
Coronavirus Protest Tuesday, June 01, 2021 - 17:34

Left-wing parties in Karnataka organised a state-wide protest on Tuesday, June 1, demanding the state government ensure that the livelihoods of people are secured amid the lockdown. Many people, including party cadres and workers from the unorganised sector, protested across Karnataka. The protest, held under the slogan ‘Save Lives and Safeguard Livelihoods’, was held jointly by the CPI(ML) Liberation, CPI, CPI(M), SUCI(C), AIFB, Swaraj India and RPI parties.

“The state’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee on Monday had recommended that Karnataka continue the lockdown in a stricter form, thus 'placing lives before livelihoods'. While the state government has to strengthen public health systems and ensure the people of Karnataka overcome the toll that the pandemic is having, it is also equally important that livelihoods are protected. People should not be left at the mercy of the state and their dignity must be upheld,” CPI(M) Liberation said in a statement.

Workers from the unorganised sector, including street vendors, construction workers, pourakarmikas, sanitation workers, rural landless labourers and others took part in the protest from across Karnataka, including Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mangaluru and Ballari. According to the CPI(ML) Liberation’s statement, they demanded that treatment and medicines for COVID-19 should be free, along with the vaccine. They also demanded a direct cash transfer of Rs 10,000 and free rations, along with “special protection for frontline and healthcare workers” and an employment guarantee for 200 days in urban areas.

Apart from these, the protesters also demanded the repeal of the Union government’s new farm laws and labour code.

“The workers spoke of how their livelihoods have been heavily impacted since the first lockdown, with depleted savings, heavy loans at exorbitant rates, and lack of any income,” CPI(ML) Liberation said, adding that many are also concerned about malnutrition in their children.