Police on Monday lathicharged the protesting Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) teachers here on Sunday.
The hundreds of SSA and RMSA teachers, including women teachers from all parts of the state, gathered at local Maharaja Ranjit Singh Bagh and held a protest regarding their demands.
After the protest, they started marching towards the main city. When they reached local Bela Chowk, they tried to move forward by removing the barricades. However, police resorted to cane charging to disperse them.
Police also took a number of teachers, including women teachers, in custody. Addressing the rally, various leaders including SSA/RMSA Teachers Union state convener Dawood Alam, Ram Bhajan Chaudhary, Sarabdeep Singh and others criticised the government for not accepting their demands, which include regularisation of their services in the education department; increase of maternity leave from three months to six months; and withdrawal of police cases against the SSA, RMSA teachers. Senior superintendent of police (SSP) Varinder Paul Singh said police allowed the rally and protest on the assurance by the union leaders that it will be a peaceful rally.
“However, after reaching Bela Chowk, the teachers tried to jump over the barricades put up by police. The union leaders also called for blocking of traffic on the Rupnagar-Jalandhar road. So, in order to protect public from inconvenience, police dispersed the mob using “mild lathicharge”,”he said.
Refuting the allegations, union convener Dawood Alam said, “We had met Punjab education minister and local member legislative assembly (MLA) Daljit Singh Cheema in December. However, Cheema refused to accept the demands, which was the reason we held a rally in his constituency.”
He also said that they had asked police to arrange a meeting with chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, while they resorted to lathicharge.
Meanwhile, Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Punjab, general secretary Raghunath Singh and district president Gurdev Singh Bagi have also condemned the lathicharge, and have demanded immediate acceptance of teachers’ demands.