Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, September 14
Congress workers staged a dharna outside the Municipal Corporation on Saturday to protest the exclusion of Punjabi among the list of official languages in Kashmir, while previous consecutive days saw a series of dharnas by the Akali Dal against minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot on the post-matric scholarship scheme (one of these, held by MLA Pawan Tinu even saw him being booked along with 25 of his supporters); the AAP party, too, held protests and separate press meets announcing its Oximetre drive in the state. In turn, the BJP held its set of protests against the post-matric scholarship scheme.
Simultaneously, various labour, health workers, ASHA workers, women groups, farm unions and employee unions have been holding repeated dharnas at the Desh Bhagat Yadgaar Hall, DC office and countless other spots in the district for the constantly precarious position they find themselves in during the pandemic.
Ever since restrictions were relaxed, dharnas and protests have become a regular thing and lately, it seems the intensity of protests and dharnas has risen as sharply as the numbers of the cases in the pandemic.
Amid Covid, at least a dozen protests have taken place in the district last week alone. On one single day last week the district saw as many as five dharnas in a single day. Activists (of both political and non-political outfits) are regularly flouting norms – holding dharnas without masks. However, there is also a rising sentiment especially among the underprivileged groups that Covid-19 is being used to snub dissent and deny the poor a platform, where they might raise their voices in support of genuine demands and issues.
While MLA Pawan Tinu termed the case against him as selective targeting of Akali workers, none of the Congress workers flouting similar norms were booked; last week, Pendu Mazdoor activists were also prevented by the police from marching to the DC office from the Desh Bhagat Yadgaar Hall to lodge their protest. BJP leader Manoranjan Kalia also similarly termed it “classic case of political and police vendetta” on Monday.
As the protests have risen so has politics over them. While AAP and SAD activists have been alleging that the law enforcement agencies target them, the administration in turn says those gathering in huge numbers shall be acted against if they violate norms and hold gatherings of more than five people.
Support extended to Harike stir against farm ordinances
Jalandhar: A huge congregation of farmers, under the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, on Monday extended their support to the protest at the Harike Head Works against the three farm ordinances passed by the Centre. Over 500 farmers from Jalandhar alone reached there in big numbers to register their protest. Farmers said their livelihood was under threat due to ordinances. They said they were forced to hold dharnas in scorching heat because their demands went unheard. While the same farmers also held protests in all district headquarters from September 7 to 12, they submitted demand letters to DCs and held ‘Jail Bharo’ morchas. Farmers said if any minister voted in favour of the bill in the Parliament in the coming days, they shall ban the entry of such a minister in the villages. They said the ministers should make their up minds about whether they wanted to support the ordinance or not. They said ordinances should be immediately withdrawn. Salwinder Singh Jania, district president of the union, said, “We are not getting up from here until our demands are met. The ordinances will destroy the farming community. The dharna will continue as long as the government does not relent.” TNS
‘Anti-employee’ policies of government flayed
Jalandhar: Members of the Punjab and UT Employees Sangharsh Morcha held a rally at the Desh Bhagat Yadgaar Hall on Monday condemning the ‘anti-employee policies’ of the state and Central governments. District convener Kanwaljit Sanghowal said in the name of restructuring various public establishments, the state and Central governments were selling them off at throwaway prices to private buyers, speeding up the process of privatisation in the country, when Covid was at its peak. ASHA workers and mid-day meal employees said they have not been paid a steady wage as per the Minimum Wages Act and State Salary Commission has also been stalled until December 31. They said the DA had been stalled since January 2018 and dues for 158 months also remained with the government. Thousands of temporary, contractual and society employees haven’t been regularised, they said. NPS implementation has also hit pensions and the meagre mobile allowances have been halved. They condemned dispensing away with 3,400 posts in Water Supply and Sanitation Department and 8,635 posts at the Water Resources Corporation. TNS
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