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The Great Mumbai Textile Strike... 25 Years On

'This city will be left only for rich people'

January 18, 2007
Salvi, Dalvi and Pawle have a common problem.

They have lost their jobs, are in their 50s, don't know what they can do, and there is no hope of employment either.

"We do nothing," says Salvi. "Whatever money we got in our provident fund and gratuity we are getting minimum returns on it. Worse, our children too don't know what to do with their lives as they too don't have regular incomes."

"We feel helpless when we see these five star hotels and malls coming up. No one bothers about that historic strike. Who cares today? We will be buried in the history pages and this city will be left only for rich people," adds Pawle.

Dr Samant was murdered on January 16 1997, but before his death he told in an interview that his life was a failure.

"The problem with workers in our country is that they are selfish. They are only concerned with their family. They are not interested in spreading the movement," Dr Samant had said then.

"I tell all my workers to spread the movement. But they are only interested in making more money, drinking all night, and enjoying themselves. So how then do you expect change in this country? India has no future. Sometimes I feel that my life is a failure," he added.

"These are my people," he said, "but they vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena. They empathise with me, but they never vote for me, they have become communal. Thousands of textile workers are begging on the streets of Mumbai and Thane, but they do not want to vote for me. People vote for thugs, pro-management people..."

Dr Samant died a disillusioned man.

His disillusioned former followers watch helplessly as Mumbai erases its past.

Image: All that remains of the once-busy Swan Mills

Also see: Who was Datta Samant?

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