Jobless teachers on mobile tower near Punjab CM house, get no govt signal
Two teachers, demanding permanent jobs, climbed up a mobile tower near Punjab Bhawan in Chandigarh’s Sector 3 on Thursday.punjab Updated: Nov 04, 2016 00:09 IST
It was around 3.30 am on Thursday when two men — armed with two black backpacks with food and woollens, a petrol bottle, and a demand for regular employment as teachers with the Punjab government — climbed an around 80 feet high mobile tower in a high-security zone in Chandigarh’s Sector 3. Police reached after hearing their slogans, and the drama was on till the filing of this report close to midnight.
Even as the state government yet again rejected their demand, the UT police were mulling whether to book them, Deepak Kumar (35) from Fazilka and Rakesh Kumar (29) of Gurdaspur, members of the Elementary Teacher Training (ETT), Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) Pass Unemployed Teachers’ Union of Punjab; on charges of suicide attempt and trespass.
The tower is located near Punjab Bhawan, and is barely 100 feet from chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s official residence. They wanted the CM to give them an audience.
Watch, sport report from Thursday afternoon:
‘Set for days’
Sitting on a platform at about three-fourth of the tower, “they have five days’ worth of food with them,” said sources in the union and the police. This is their fourth time protesting this way; the latest before this was 10 days ago, atop a water tank at Badal, the CM’s native village, in Muktsar district.
With winter almost here, the night temperature was forecast at 13.7° Celsius, down from the daytime 31°, which could prove to be a challenge.
Security breach, survival strategy
Union members claimed the duo managed to sneak in easily. This raises questions on security measures in the sensitive area. Cops at the spot alerted the area station house officer (SHO), inspector Poonam Dilawari, who reached around 5am. Till the afternoon, the two protesters were in touch with the police who were persuading them to come down. As batteries of their phones drained, they continued to flash the petrol bottle, threatening self-immolation.
They also flashed biscuit packets at the cops in the morning. Besides water bottles, they are carrying dry fruits, some packaged foods, and fruits.
What they want
The two men have a banner, in Punjabi, that tells the government to at least fill vacancies in the reserved categories, which had already been ordered by Badal. As such, the union wants recruitment of all ETT holders who have cleared the eligibility test between 2011 and 2015, and claims the CM had promised jobs by October 25.
Union leader Amarjit Kamboj told HT over phone, “For 6,500 posts, there are 5,300 persons eligible. We have been protesting for last 164 days in different parts of Punjab.”
Education minister Daljit Singh Cheema, however, said, “We currently do not have vacancies and have told them this several times. The TET is an eligibility test, not a job guarantee. These protesters have not made it to the merit list.”