Unsatisfied unemployed linemen are likely to create nervous moments for the local authorities during the scheduled visit of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to the city on Saturday.
On Thursday, the linemen had a staged a dharna outside the district administrative complex for the release of fellow agitators lodged in the central jail here. Passive response to their demand forced the group to begin indefinite fast outside the mini secretariat later that day.
The CM will be in the city to attend the Valmiki Jayanti celebrations. Known to gatecrash public functions of the Punjab government, the jobless army of linemen is ready to give a headache to the Bathinda police.
The recent agitation of the linemen is for the release of the men arrested for disturbing the rallies of the chief minister and deputy CM. The police have put 20 linemen in the Bathinda and Faridkot jails for the crime.
Four linemen are jailed in Faridkot for raising- slogans against the government at the rally of deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal at Guru Ki Dhab, Jaito, in Faridkot district on September 18. Another 16 are under arrest for interrupting the mega political rally of the Shromani Akali Dal at Maur (Bathinda) on September 27. The CM, deputy CM and member of parliament from Bathinda, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, were present at the rally.
The linemen have charging the local administration with not keepings its word over the release of the arrested protesters. "The Bathinda authorities had agreed to free our men on October 22 but they failed keep their word," said Bhola Singh Gagarpur, leader of the jobless linemen union. "It has forced us to begin this hunger strike."
"The recruitment of 5,000 linemen in Powercom is pending," said Gagarpur. "So far, the government has recruited only 1,000. Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has not taken any step to recruit the remaining."
Unwilling to give jobs to linemen, the government instead was sending them to jails, said the linemen union leader, adding that it would not help suppress the anger. Their programme during the CM's visit remains guarded.