The Maghi Mela protest at Muktsar on January 13 has landed 31 unemployed linemen and some members of their families in the modern jail here up to January 28.
Besides the 31 lineman, two family elders, 24 women, and two children are also in judicial custody under Sections 323 (causing injuries voluntarily), 353 (assault to deter public servant), 186 (obstructing public servants), 160 (committing affray), and 148 (armed riot) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The charges include tearing up police uniform.
"My mother, Sukhdev Kaur, is also in the jail," said Harpreet Madak, district president of the unemployed lineman union. "Two children are in the jail with their parents. Shivraj Singh, who is not yet 18, is with his mother; Harsirat Kaur, 5, is with her father, Harprteet Singh of Kotkapura, and mother, Amandeep Kaur."
On Thursday, the unemployed linemen protested outside the house of a chief parliamentary secretary at Kotkapura, demading appointment letters and the freedom of all arrested protesters.
In January 2011, the state government had advertised 5,000 posts of lineman, and in December 2011, issued appointment letters to only 1,000 candidates. "All formalities, including counselling, were complete but the government, later, did not release the merit list of the candidates counselled and finalised. Those were contract posts. We have been staging protests since then," said Harpreet Singh. "The case is also pending in the Supreme Court. Powercom has filed a special leave petition."
The unemployed lineman claim to have passed all the required tests and gone through training. "After matriculation, we all completed a two-year electrician's course in the Industrial Training Institute (ITI) and then apprenticeship with Powercom," said Harpreet Singh. "Powercom has neither pursued the matter in court not began appointing linemen," said Jagtar Singh Mahinangal, state general secretary of the unemployed linemen union.