Nine years after allotting flats, govt waits for proof

Families of mill workers martyred in the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement asked to furnish mill employment records from 1956, which don’t exist

Shruti Ganapatye

The fear of missing documents has not only gripped those worried about the CAA-NRC process, but also 21 families of martyrs of the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement. Nine years after the state government announced flats in Mumbai for families of textile-mill workers who died fighting for Maharashtra’s statehood in 1956, the families are struggling to provide the documents from over 60 years ago that the government wants as proof.

Housing authority MHADA built 2,417 dwellings for mill workers on former mill plots in Parel, Mazgaon, and Lower Parel, among other areas. Of these, 21 were reserved for families of mill employees who died during the 1956 movement. In 2011, the government issued an appeal asking the 21 employees’ heirs to claim the flats, as the government could not trace them. But even after they have come forward, the handover of the flats is stuck in red tape.

The Maharashtra government has asked the 21 families of martyrs to produce records from 1956 including payslip and employment documents from the mills. But these records don’t exist as the mills shut long ago and the martyrs died very young, some in their early 20s.

Fourteen families have been identified now, who have formed a group to fight for their claim. Jayaji Jogal, sarpanch of village Mitbav in Sindhudurg district of Konkan has been trying to knock the doors of the government with the proofs he has. “My uncle Govind Jogal died in the firing while protesting for the Samyukta Maharashtra movement. He was 21 years old then and was working for Swan Mill. He was not married so we are the only family members left. My grandparents also got a pension of Rs 250 sanctioned by the government for families of martyrs,” he said. Jogal has the certificate from the government recognising his uncle’s martyrdom but does not have any payslips or employment papers from the mill, which has shut long ago.

Another claimant Sumit Bhosale’s grandfather Sadashiv Bhosale was killed in the protest when he was just 22 years old. His grandmother went back to Saswad, their home town. “The only document we have is a certificate bearing his name issued by Bombay Insurance Company. He was working with Tikamdas Gandhi Mill then. We have receipts of the pension received by my grandmother. I have met a few officials in MHADA as they could not reach us initially. But the matter is stuck in red tape now,” Bhosale said.

The families are holding a protest on January 25 at Hutatma Chowk against the delay from the government to allot the flats. Asking the government to stop the mockery of the martyrs, Union Leader Uday Bhat said their martyrdom is the only proof. “The government has recognised them as martyrs then what more proof is required? How can the family members bring the payslip and employment papers from 1956? It’s ridiculous,” Bhat said.

Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad said that the martyrs should be given their due recognition. “I will look into the matter and ensure that the families get justice,” he told Mirror.

courtesy – Mumbai Mirror