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Protests by Chhattisgarh police threaten to boil over

The aggrieved policemen and their families are demanding better facilities, allowances, fixed duty hours and weekly offs, among other things.

india Updated: Jun 24, 2018 23:20 IST
Ritesh Mishra
Ritesh Mishra
Raipur, Hindustan Times
Chhattisgarh police,Chhattisgarh cops,Protests
Police reports from the districts say dissent is brewing across Chhattisgarh and now family members of the disgruntled policemen are coming out on the streets and many from the Bastar and Sarguja region are reportedly planning to attend Monday’s rally in the state capital. (HT Photo)

Senior police and state officials in Chhattisgarh are in a bind over a social media protest by lower-ranked police personnel that has now snowballed into a statewide agitation with the protesters and their families marching to Raipur’s Idgaah Bhata Maidan on Monday.

The aggrieved policemen and their families are demanding better facilities, allowances, fixed duty hours and weekly offs, among other things.

According to a senior police official familiar with developments and who did not want to be named, the protest was launched about 10 days ago by one constable Rakesh Yadav on social media. Subsequently, Yadav was arrested from Surajpur district on Friday and sacked.

Police reports from the districts say dissent is brewing across the state and now family members of the disgruntled policemen are coming out on the streets and many from the Bastar and Sarguja region are reportedly planning to attend Monday’s rally in the state capital.

Police are on their toes. As part of the crackdown, sources said many “trouble-makers” have been transferred from these regions.

“Indiscipline in the police force will not be tolerated. Strict action will be taken against the constables if they violate service rules. The DGP has instructed all the SPs to keep a tab on the police personnel and the family members attending protests and also provide counselling, if needed,” said additional director general (ADG) of police, RK Vij.

On Friday, the wife of a constable attempted suicide in Jagdalpur after her husband was allegedly sent to a core Maoist area as a punishment posting after his involvement in the ongoing agitation. Similarly, a constable in Janjgir Champa district was terminated after he threatened to join the Maoists when he was given a show cause notice for joining the protest, media reports said. Police sources say all superintendents of police (SPs) of the state has been directed to contain the protest and take strict action.

Chhattisgarh has about 70,000 police personnel.

According to reports in local media, which officials refused to verify, some 3,000 policemen have been served with show-cause notices in the past week, while eight have been sacked till now. Media reports also claimed that policemen in each district have contributed funds to make the agitation a success.

Senior police officials believe that the protest was fanned by disgruntled elements who were either dismissed from service or have been placed under disciplinary proceedings.

“The dissent among the constables started a week ago when Chhattisgarh government absorbed 1.8 lakh Shiksha Karmis (honorarium teachers ) by inducting them in regular services. These Karmis were protesting against the government and when their demands were met, some of the constables thought that they could also blackmail the government,” said a senior police officer on condition of anonymity.

He added that initially the protests started on social media with some cops complaining of “harassment” as they are denied weekly offs and get petty allowances. For instance, Rs100 for food, Rs81 as cycle allowance, Rs60 as monthly washing allowance, Rs200 medical allowance, and so on.

“We suffer from a financial crisis, our work hours are not fixed... we should be treated equally like other government employees are treated,” said a constable, not want to be named.

The opposition Congress latched on to the issue on Saturday. State Congress incharge PL Punia said any arrests ahead of the protest would be a violation of democratic rights.

“Congress backs the legitimate demand. Police personnel would get weekly offs, 8 hours of work and wage allowances and other related demands would be met, if Congress forms the government...” said Bhupesh Baghel, state Congress president.

First Published: Jun 24, 2018 23:19 IST