Day 7: Deadlock Continues9 April 2010
Srinagar: The deadlock between the striking employees and the government in Jammu and Kashmir continued on the 7th consecutive day Friday with both the parties sticking to their stand. While the Joint Consultative Committee said that it would go ahead with its proposed Lal Chowk Chalo program on Saturday, the government made it clear that no such march would be allowed. Sources said that JCC will not go for indefinite strike and instead will extend it periodically. The Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Me’raj Ahmad Kakroo said that due to security reasons no procession would be allowed in Lal Chowk. “There is already section 144 in place and no permission has been sought for any rally.” Asked what arrangements have been made to stop the proposed rally, Kakroo said, “Law and order machinery is in place and there will be proper security arrangement to thwart any such move.” The DC said that the Public Health Engineering and Power Developments Departments were functioning normally and the work in colleges is also normal. “The sanitation work was outsourced to labourers and some NGOs today and situation has improved on this front,” he said. The IGP Kashmir Range, Farooq Ahmad told Greater Kashmir that it was for the district magistrates to decide whether to allow the march or not. Top police sources said that the final plan has been sent to the district SPs as how to stop the employees’ march. “All the entry points leading to the city will be blocked at Pantha Chowk, HMT Crossing, Pandach and Humhama. There would be heavy deployment of forces to prevent the employees from entering the city,” they said. “Instructions have been passed to do it subtly to avoid any confrontation,” they added. However, the JCC member and EJAC (K) president, Khursheed Alam said that they would go ahead with tomorrow’s programme “come what may.” “We will not succumb to any pressure from the government and assemble at SK Park at 11 am and go ahead with our march,” he said. He warned the government against any move to create division within the employees. “Government wants to divide JCC, but it will fail in its designs. We won’t succumb with such tactics.” On the recent advertisements published by the government in local newspapers terming employees demands unjustified, Alam said, “If government is really concerned about unemployed youth, we are ready to get retired at the age of 56. But the same should be implemented on IAS-IPS officers and government should give an assurance that all vacancies will be filled within a year. But on arrears we won’t budge even an inch as IAS-IPS officers have been already paid the same. Then why this discrimination with the poor employees”. Alam said the government wants to create division within the society by pitching the employees against the unemployed. The General Secretary of EJAC (Q), Haji Bashir Ahmad told Greater Kashmir late in the evening that 27 drivers of Srinagar Municipal Corporation were detained by the police. “Police and CRPF rounded up 27 drivers from Miskeen Bagh and Palapora areas of city in the evening. They were beaten up. Crackdown is continuing,” he alleged. Various employees unions have urged the employees to reach the SK Park and make the protest rally a success. The EJAC (K) and EJAC (Q) held separate meetings to finalize the programme. Reports said police raided the office of JCC in CAPD department in Shaheed Gunj here and detained six employee leaders. They included Fayaz Andrabi, G M Pandit, Rafiq Parvaiz and Tariq Dhobi. The police also raided the Srinagar Municipality Office. However, no arrests were made from there. Meanwhile, the strike disrupted normal life across the state aggravating the sufferings of general public. The J&K EJAC has given a “Secretariat Chalo” call in Jammu on April 12 and will court arrest on that day. The striking employees are demanding the release of arrears prescribed by the Sixth Pay Commission and enhancement of the retirement age from 58 to 60. With no end in sight to the ongoing strike, government today directed hospital authorities to ensure best possible medi-care following reports of patients leaving the hospitals in view of non-availability of staff. The hospital authorities were directed to ensure best possible medicare facilities in OPD as well in emergency and outsource the sanitation to maintain neat and clean atmosphere in and around the hospitals, a government spokesman said. About 4.50 lakh government employees went on a strike on April 3 in support of their demand for payment of arrears and hike in retirement age. Hospitals and educational institutions were hit the hardest due to strike and patients are leaving the hospitals in view of non-availability of staff and facilities. Emergency services have been exempted from the purview of the strike. 2 TOP EJAC LEADERS ARRESTED IN JAMMU Police has reportedly arrested at least 13 employees, including two top union leaders, from across the Jammu region from the last 24 hours. Sources said the police arrested at least three government employees including two senior leaders of Employees Joint Action Committee (EJAC) from two separate places. Ram Kumar Sharma and Pardeep Kumar, both from EJAC, were reportedly arrested from Akhnoor road, after they attended a meeting of the union. They have been taken to some unknown destination, an EJAC leader said. However, police refused to confirm the arrest. Sources said that the duo had a closed-door meeting, at some unknown destination for chalking out future course of action. “The duo had left on a motorbike and were picked up by the police”, they said. Another employee was reportedly arrested from GMC hospital, Jammu. At least seven employees were reportedly arrested from Reasi. Their identification could not be ascertained immediately. Divisional Commissioner Jammu Pawan Kotwal told Greater Kashmir that the attendance of the government offices was being checked by the team of officials constituted in all the government departments across the region. “The government employees who don’t attend the duties shall lose the right to claim the salary for the day”, he said. In case, he said, any one tries to instigate employees for holding protest demonstration or disrupt any official from performing his duty, shall be booked under ESMO. SN Hussain adds from Kishtwar: While work in almost all the government offices, across the district, remained paralysed due to the ongoing strike, employees of revenue department held protest demonstration outside the office of Deputy Commissioner Kishtwar against the police which allegedly had locked three of its employees in a room on Thursday. Meanwhile, police is tightening the grip around the agitating employees in Bhaderwah tehsil from where it arrested two government employees under ESMO. The arrested employees were identified as Ghulam Nabi Ganai and Ramesh Chander Khajuria. They were taken into custody after they were trying to lead a protest demonstration. Udhampur: Acting tough against the striking employees, the District Magistrate Udhampur has ordered arrest of three employees of the Health Department for violating provisions of the ESMA. One of them was reportedly arrested, while two others were absconding. The District Administration has also issued show cause notice for the suspension of 40 other employees who were present in their office premises but refrained from performing their normal duties. The arrested employee were identified as Julku Ram, while the search for other two employees Jag Dutt Sharma and Bal Krishan Sharma of District Hospital Udhampur and SDH Tikri respectively, was going on. The administration has issued detention orders of three employees of Health Department who were found absent from duty and actively involved in instigating other employees to observe strike thereby attempting to cripple essential services. Muhammad Taskeen adds from Banihal: The strike has lost its impact in Gool and Banihal areas of Ramban district from the last two days as most of the employees have returned to their work, fearing action by the government and police. However, in district headquarter Ramban and Batote town the strike has affected the working of some government institutions, including schools and hospitals. However, no arrest was reported from any part of the district.