Police got goons to beat up protesting teachers, the agitators at Rampura Phul have alleged. Since Friday night, 59 demonstrators charged with attacking the police and tearing up their uniform are under arrest.
For more than 24 hours now, they police are hunting other teachers who had tried to move towards the Deyalpura police station.
Ram Bhajan, state convener of the teacher union was part of the march. "We were moving towards the Deyalpura police station when the police came at us and drove us into fields," he said.
"It was like a war zone on the Bhagta-Deyalpura road, with the police and goons both trying to cordon, thrash, and arrest the teachers."
On Friday, teachers working in the government schools under the Sarav Shiksha Abhiyan and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, both Centre-sponsored schemes run with the help of the state, had planned to march into Maluka village and cordon the house of education minister Sikander Singh Maluka, who is also legislator from Rampura Phul. A police baton charge restricted them, and then came the detention.
"There is no law and order in Punjab," said Ram Bhajan, out of breath on telephone and claiming the police were after him. "We are shocked that the police deployed goons to suppress our protest."
After the clash, some teachers tried to climb atop a water tank at Dhapali village near Rampura Phul but the police anticipated that move and arrest some agitators, while the others fled.
The police claim they have 59 teachers in custody, 21 of them women. "We have charged them under Sections 148 (armed riot), 149 (unlawful assembly), 188 (defying public order), 186 (obstructing public servants), 332 (injuring public servants to deter them from duty), 333 (causing serious injuries to public servants), and 353 (criminal force to deter public servants) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for the crime of attacking the police and tearing up their uniform," said Sikander Singh, station house officer of Deyalpura. "The police were trying to stop teachers from moving towards the village of the education minister."
The police have come heavily on this particular union of serving teachers but made no attempt, so far, to clear the blockade of the Bathinda-Chandigarh highway that unemployed teachers took under control a week ago.