Employees' strike: Govt mulls harsher measures, Kashmir grim for days
The showdown between state employees, protesting over a string of demands, and the government in Kashmir is heading towards a grave situation.india Updated: Apr 09, 2010 22:27 IST
The showdown between state employees, protesting over a string of demands, and the government in Kashmir is heading towards a grave situation.
The government has sought the help of the police and drafted a contingency plan before taking harsher measures against the protesting employees. The crackdown against the employees' leadership continued for third day on Friday.
In a major drill on Friday, the authorities sought help of the state police to ensure functioning of emergency departments and Out Patients Departments (OPDs) of all the major hospitals in Srinagar – which included the main Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital, Lal Ded hospital, which takes care of maternity health, Bones and Joints Hospital.
Around 10 am, a huge posse of police personnel took over the hospitals and unlocked OPDs and medical tests laboratories.
"The emergency has been working since the strike started but today we ensured that the OPDs work normally," said SHO Karan Nagar Ghulam Jeelani Masoodi told the Hindustan Times.
Masoodi said due to protesting orderlies and other lower-rung officials, the OPDs were not able to function properly.
"But today we opened them and provided staff to control patients' flow and got a lab operational by asking the employees not to leave the lab," said Masoodi.
Besides the OPDs, the main testing centres like CT Scan and MRI were functioning today though there was thin presence of patients.
The move by the police has come in the backdrop of two emergency meeting held by senior police official and authorities concerned in the last two days.
"We have been directed to protect those employees who want to work and see if there is any interference from the employees on the strike," said Masoodi.
The drill by the police has come a day before the employees are planning a 'Srinagar chalo' march and hold a rally at Sher-i-Kashmir Park to pressurize the government to meet the employees' demands, which included release of arrears due after the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations, increase of retirement age from 58 to 60 and uniform Housing Rent Allowance (HRA).
Dozens of deputy superintendents and SPs from armed and allied wings have been called in on special duty to restore order in Kashmir.
The police are planning similar kind of exercises for other essential services in the state like distribution of ration and maintaining the services of electricity.
Police sources said it is taking tough measures to stop Saturday's rally in the city centre in Srinagar.
"We are being harassed by the government. Police cordoned off our control room set up at the Food and Supplies and arrested several leaders but we managed to breakthrough the cordon," said Farooq Trali, a spokesman of Joint Consultative Committee.
Trali said all preparations have been made to make the Lal Chowk march a success on Saturday.
"We know the police will create hurdles but we will continue with the march tomorrow," said Trali.
Two main leaders arrested on Friday were Fayaz Andrabi and Haji Basheer.
"It's unfortunate that on one side Chief Minister Omar Abdullah says he empathises with employees and is ready for a dialogue but on the other employees are being arrested. The two things cannot go hand in hand," said Trali.
Employees Joint Action Committee president Khursheed Alam has denied receiving any dialogue offer from the government.
"The chief minister said it verbally but nothing has been offered in black and white," said Trali, EJAC spokesman.