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Coolies protest in Jalandhar, demand inclusion in group D

“The title ‘sahayaks’ has not changed in our life,” voiced the coolies, who held a dharna outside the city railway station on Saturday.

punjab Updated: Mar 05, 2017 16:17 IST
Harvinder Kaur
Harvinder Kaur
Hindustan Times, Jalandhar
Coolies,British empire,Suresh Prabhu
Coolies protesting outside the railway station in Jalandhar on Saturday. Coolies say that the title of ‘sahaayak’ has not had any positive impact on their lives.(Pardeep Pandit/HT Photo)

“The title ‘sahayaks’ has not changed in our life,” voiced the coolies, who held a dharna outside the city railway station on Saturday.

With the aim to remove the legacy of the British empire, railway minister Suresh Prabhu, during the railway budget last year, had announced that the porters, popularly called ‘coolies’ will be called ‘sahayaks’.

The protesting coolies are demanding inclusion in Group D of railway services.

200 coolies, who gathered in the office adjacent to the city railway station, complained that the railway ministry had failed to fulfil the promises made to them during the time of recruitment.

Coolies from Amritsar, Bathinda, Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Pathankot cantonment extend their support to the demand.

Kashmiri Lal, Coolie Union Jalandhar president said 30 coolies in Jalandhar city railway station were recruited in 2009 and even after eight years, they had not received the benefits that are being given to other railway employees.

All coolies at the Jalandhar railway station are license-holders and have been demanding inclusion in Group D for the last few years.

“We get a railway pass for only two months in a year. That too covers only our spouse and not the children. We also get only 50 percent medical benefits,” Sarwan Singh, another coolie, said.

“At the time of recruitment, railways has made us sign an affidavit that stated that for three years, we won’t hold any protest or make any demand of promotion,” another protesting coolie said.

“We were promised that we will be included in Group D after some years but the ministry has not taken any steps to implement the same,” he added.

The union also protested the railways’ plan of outsourcing porters to a private firm.

“Our trade has already been affected with trolley bags, which have minimised our work on the stations,” the union member further said. “We will vanish if railway moves forward with their plan,” he added.

First Published: Mar 05, 2017 16:17 IST