Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bhojpuri Workers Under Attack in Ludhiana Bomb Blast

The bomb blast in a Ludhiana cinema hall 14th October night caused the death of seven people and injury to some 40 people. The blast occurred inside the Shringar complex, housing three cinema halls, in the heart of city, where Bhojpuri film 'Janam Janam Ka Saath' was being screened. Six peole, including one child, were killed on the spot and 33 others injured in the blast. A majority of the victims were migrant labourers.

A representative of the Bihar government is likely to visit the families of the dead and injured. The multiplex has a capacity for 1,050 persons and being a festive Sunday evening, it was full.

Bhojpuri films were earlier shown only in a couple of Ludhiana movie halls, Swarn and Nirmal. Now they are also screened in theatres like Arora Palace, Basant, Society, Shingar, Deepak and many others. The Naulakha theatre strategically shifted to Bhojpuri films earlier this year.

Bihar and eastern UP’s migrant labour population is the primary audience for these films. Shingar, where the blast took place, is in the centre of the town’s famous hosiery industry where thousands of migrants work.

The audience was watching ‘‘Janam Janam Ke Saath’’ when the blast took place. The film has four of the hottest stars of Bhojpuri films: Manoj Tiwari, Ravi Kissen, Naghma and Bhagyashree. Industry sources say the film has done business worth Rs 2 lakh in the first three days since its Friday release.

These migrant labourers constitute the backbone of Punjab's farms and factories, have often been targeted by terrorists in the past too.

The first attacks were made against labourers working for the Satluj Yamuna Link canal project in the 80s, during the heydays of terrorism. But that was mostly to scare them away and destabilise the ambitious venture. Later, it got bloodier and more vengeful. In one of the biggest strikes against those Punjabis have learnt to call 'Purbiyas', 30 farmhands from Bihar were massacred in Majat village, Ropar district, in May 1988. Twelve others were injured in the strike.

Soon, this was followed with the killings of 19 Bihari migrants in Lakhowal, Ludhiana.
A clear attempt had begun to instill terror in the minds of the hungry hordes coming in from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the search of livelihood and dignity.

This blast once again shows that labourers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh continue to be soft targets sometimes to underscore misplaced regional nationalism.

Punjab Police has said that the Ludhiana multiplex blast could be the result of collaboration between jihadi groups and local Khalistani outfits like Babbar Khalsa International.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal denounced the bomb blast in a cinema hall here, and visited injured in the hospital. He also announced an ex-gratia grant of Rs two lakh each for the next of kin of those killed in the blast.

The Punjab Governor and Administrator, Union Territory, Chandigarh, Gen. (Retd.) S.F. Rodrigues, PVSM VSM, have also expressed profound grief and sorrow over the loss of lives in a blast incident in Ludhiana

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