Members of Elementary Teachers Training (ETT) Teachers Eligibility Test (TET) Pass Unemployed Teachers Union, Punjab, blocked traffic at Rupnagar head works on Sunday to protest against the failure of the government to recruit them for the posts advertised by it.
Catching the police off guard, hundreds of unemployed teachers from all over Punjab assembled at the Rupnagar head works at around 8 am and sat on a dharna, thus blocking the Rupnagar-Nawanshahr road.
Many of them, carrying bottles filled with petrol, also climbed on the roof top of the gates of the headworks and threatened to immolate themselves if their demand was not accepted by the government.
Protestors raised slogans against the state government and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal. One of the protestors fell unconscious during the protest and was taken to the local civil hospital.
Meanwhile, several union leaders, including state senior vice-president Joginder Singh Bareh, Patiala district president Hardeep Singh, Sangrur district president Gurmit Singh Cheem, addressed the protestors.
They said there were about 1,500 candidates, who had cleared the Teachers Eligibility Test (TET) conducted by the government since 2011.
They said the state government had advertised 4,901 vacant posts for elementary teachers in schools run under the zila parishad in February this year, but had failed to recruit the teachers who had passed the TET exams so far.
The blockade led to long queues of vehicles on both sides of the head works and caused inconvenience to commuters.
On receiving information, heavy police force, led by Rupnagar superintendent of police (detective) HS Hundal, reached the spot.
The police tried to persuade the protestors to lift the blockade, but the dead lock continued as the protestors were demanding a meeting with Badal regarding their demands.
When the situation became tense, the police force surrounded the protestors and called the fire brigade to take action against them.
The police also arranged wet blankets to douse fire in case any protestor standing on the roof of head works gate tried to immolate himself.Divers were also called in to save any protestor jumping into the river.
Meanwhile, Rupnagar sub divisional magistrate (SDM) Harsuhinder Pal Singh Nawanshahr and superintendent of police PS Bhandal also reached the spot and held negotiations with the protestors.
After a written assurance from the SDM that a meeting had been arranged with Punjab chief minister’s principal secretary SK Sandhu and Punjab rural development and panchayat minister Sikandar Singh Maluka on Monday, the protestors agreed to lift the blockade and come down from the roof of head works gates at around 1 pm.
Former Congress MLA Rana KP Singh, Rupnagar district Congress president Harbhag Singh Saini, former Punjab Youth Congress president Bhupesh Sharma, district Congress committee (SC department) president Tarsem Singh Gandhon and Congress leader Rajeshwar Lali also joined the dharna of the unemployed teachers for some time and extended support to their agitation.