Hundreds of employees working under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) from across the state were allegedly canecharged at Lambi when they tried to move towards Badal village in the afternoon. The police used water cannons to disperse the protesting employees. When the police forced them to stop, they sat on a dharna there which continued till Wednesday evening.
“There are about 10,000 workers working across the state in medical, paramedical and clerical categories for many years, but they are being paid only a fixed salary as per their contracts. But, we want regular pay-scales as others according to our services. But, despite all our efforts to awaken the state government, nobody has paid any heed towards our demands,” alleged Kiranjeet Kaur, state president of the NHRM Employees Union, Punjab.
The protesters alleged that the employees, who have been recruited on regular pay-scales, are withdrawing about `40,000 per month while the contractual employees are being paid only `10,000 per month, which is too small. "We want equal pay for equal work," they said.
“Though, we have been protesting since March 11, yet nobody has approached or assured us to accept our demands. Rather, we have received a letter from the health department warning us that our services would be terminated if we failed to join our duty, but we will not join till our demands are accepted. The police resorted to a lathicharge on the employees and even dragged women protesters getting hold of their hair,” said Kiranjeet.
“We wanted to convey a message to the chief minister by reaching his village that how we are suffering due to the indifferent attitude of the government. But, as soon as we moved towards Badal village, the police stopped us and lathicharged, used water cannons in which eight protesters were injured. Two boys suffered head injuries, one has a fracture and about three girls have been left seriously injured among others,” said Narinder Kumar, state convener of the union.
“After presenting a deficit budget, the Badal government doubled salaries of MLAs, ministers and the chief minister himself to double, while the government has turned a deaf ear to our demands,” alleged the protesters.
The protesters lifted the dharna in the evening after they were assured by the chief minister’s office of a meeting with the CM on March 27.
“We have lifted our protest after an assurance by the chief minister that a panel meeting to discuss the issue would be held on Friday to accept our demands. We will not join duty till our demands are accepted,” said Narinder Kumar, state convener of the union.
SSP DENIES LATHICHARGE
Kuldeep Singh Chahal, SSP, Muktsar, denied that the police resorted to any lathicharge. “There was no lathicharge on the protesters. The police had only stopped them and tried to get the road cleared by using mild force. The CM’s office has called them for a meeting with them on March 27,” Chahal said.