More than 200 teachers, including 150 women, were arrested on Saturday after the local police foiled a state-level protest march by the Sikhya Providers Union in the city.
Around 300 teachers were rounded up from Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall, Pathankot road, Maqsudan and PAP Chowk and were taken to different police stations in the city.
A heavy police force deployed in these areas barricaded the roads to keep the protesters at the bay. The police tried to stop the teachers from gathering and stopped some buses carrying the protesters near Pathankot chowk.
The protesting teachers had planned a state-level rally demanding regularisation of their jobs and better salaries from the state government.
The union had announced the protest on Thursday and threatened to block the road at PAP chowk if the government did not meet their demands.
Deputy commissioner of police (DCP) Naveen Singla said more than 200 teachers have been arrested under section 107/151 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) apprehending breach for public peace.
“The teachers have been produced in the court. The woman teachers who were pregnant or with children were let off on personal bond,” he added.
The police also arrested midday meal workers travelling to Ludhiana at Pathankot bypass. They were going to Ludhiana to join a state-level protest.
Manjinder Singh, brother of one of the woman teacher from Jandiala, said, “I am searching for my sister Jasleen at all police stations. She is getting married next month and the police have arrested her. My parents are worried about her. No police official is cooperating with us.”
Police personnel were seen keeping vigil on the union members entering the city the entire day. All district presidents of the union were also arrested.
Sandeep, a union member, said they were lending their services to the education department for the past 10 years, for which they are being paid low wages.
He said even as the authorities had promised them to hold a meeting on their long-pending demands, they failed to find a solution to their problems.
The teachers were protesting against the discrimination the state government meted out to contractual employees and demanded for regularisation of their jobs.
Around 30 women teachers were arrested from police division number 8, six from division number-4, as many as 52 from cantonment and 21 from Baradari police station jurisdiction.
The union members put the arrest figure at 2000 teachers. They also demanded cancellation of cases against their arrested colleagues.
Meanwhile, members of the Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall Committee condemned the the local police for creating chaos in the vicinity.
Committee president Darbara Singh said, “The police created nuisance by forcibly arresting the protesting teachers. They hurt our sentiments creating nuisance at such a sacred place.”
Raghbir Kaur, general secretary of the committee, said the police should have taken them in the loop before arresting the protesters who were demonstrating peacefully.