Not coming down without jobs, say Punjab protesters on tower in Chandigarh
More than 35 hours after the two unemployed men climbed a 100-feet telecom tower close to Punjab chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s official residence in Chandigarh, they threatened not to come down unless they get job letters from the state government.
Perched precariously atop a steel tower in the posh sector 3 since the wee hours of Thursday, the protesting duo braved a cold night with 13 degree Celsius and continued to keep the police authorities on the ground on tenterhooks for the second day. They haven’t got any signal of assurance from the state government so far.
“We have run out of food and have only left with some biscuits and water,” Rakesh Prashar (29), one of the two men, told HT on phone from the tower-top inside the Punjab Bhawan located in the VVIP area here. “We have had enough of assurances from the Punjab government but this time we wouldn’t budge unless we get jobs. We will immolate ourselves if the government doesn’t listen.”
Prashar claimed they have power backup for their mobile phones to last five days. He, however, refused to disclose how they managed to enter the Punjab Bhawan premises. “We are educated and we know ways to do that,” he said, adding that despite being qualified to become teachers, they were forced to work as labourers.
When the HT team reached there, the two were lying on that platform but soon got up.
Rakesh, who is from Gurdaspur, is accompanied by Deepak Kumar (35) from Fazilka. Both have passed the Elementary Teacher Training (ETT) and Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) and are members of Unemployed Teachers’ Union of Punjab which has been demanding jobs.
The police cordoned the area yesterday itself and restricted movement of the people. The cops and some others were wondering how the duo managed to survive the night when the temperature dipped to about 12 degrees. Some others were curious to know things how the two answered the call of nature and whether they could stay there for more days.
100 feet hight
The telecom employees working near the area said that the tower is about 120 feet high and the point where the duo had parked themselves was about 100 feet from the ground. This means somewhere around the seventh floor of a building, they said.
“They are stationed at a point where a platform has been installed for their technical staff to do repairs etc,” said one of them.
The incident has raised serious security concerns as there’s a round-the-clock security at the Punjab Bhawan, which is usually used for meetings of Punjab chief minister and other ministers, and for stay of VVIPs.
The official residence of Haryana chief minister is just about 300 metres while the Punjab CM’s residence is less than a kilometre from this place. The police station (north) is about 100 metres from the Punjab Bhawan.
‘Safety our main concern’
“The top priority at the moment is the safety of the duo,”said UT police chief Sukhchain Singh Gill. Asked whether any commando operation was possible to bring the two down, he said they were not thinking along those lines at the moment.
“We are negotiating with them and trying to convince them to come down,” he said.