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Police lathicharge at anganwari workers in Patiala, 8 arrested

Many women protesters injured during the clash; sub-divisional magistrate Anmol Singh Dhaliwal sends the arrested protestors on two-day judicial custody

punjab Updated: Oct 25, 2017 16:08 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Patiala
Police lathicharge,lathicharge at anganwari workers,Patiala
Police officials taking away one of the anganwadi workers from the protest site in Patiala, late on Monday. (Bharat Bhushan/HT)

Police resorted to lathicharge and water cannons to disperse nearly 3,000 anganwari workers and helpers late on Monday night, while they were sitting on a dharna outside the city bus stand. They were protesting the merger of anganwari centres with primary schools in the state.

As many as eight of protesters including national president Usha Rani were arrested by the police, while other protesters were taken to gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib in the city.

The anganwari workers have been up in arms over merging of Anganwaris with primary schools and state government’s plan to sendbenefits of integrated child development services (ICDS) throughpostal services. They have also demanded increment in the monthly honorarium.

The protesters, however, claimed that they were staging a peaceful dharna outside the bus stand, when around 11.30pm, the police personnel citing imposition of Section 144 asked them to vacate the area.

The police including male and female personnel ‘attacked’ the workers, said Harjeet Kaur Panjola, state president of Anganwari Mulazam Union (AMU), Punjab.

“We requested the police to allow us to stay at the protest site as we were all women but they did not listen to us. They attacked us with lathis and started using water cannons. Many of the women protestors, including union cashier Amritpal Kaur suffered injuries during the onslaught. We were not allowed to stay at the nearby railway station and were forced to leave the city in the night only,” she said.

As many as eight leaders of the union including national president Usha Rani and leaders from Nabha, Sirhind and other places were arrested by the police and none of the members were released on bail on Tuesday, Panjola added.

The state president of the union said around 15,000 workers of the union protested across the state, including Fatehgarh Sahib, Patran, Rajpura, Nabha, Muktsar, Sangrur, Barnala, Nawan Sheher, and Amritsar and burned effigies of chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh.

Panjola further said they had been repeatedly given verbal assurances for meetings with various officials including the CM, but none of the meetings went through.

“We protested because we were verbally offered to meet the CM and other officers as well, but the meetings did not happen. Once we were asked to go back and the other time we were told that the CM was not available. We have been protesting since last month and nothing substantial has happened so far,” the state president said.

The anganwari workers said they would decide about the further strategy in a national-level meeting, to be held in the coming days.

Condemning the lathicharge by the police, member of Parliament Dharamveer Gandhi, on Tuesday, expressed sadness over the plight of these women.

Superintendent of police (city) Kesar Singh said the police have registered a case under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 283 (danger or obstruction in public way or line of navigation) against the workers of the union. He said the police arrested eight members of the union on preventive detention. Sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Anmol Singh Dhaliwal has sent the arrested protestors on two-day judicial custody.

First Published: Oct 25, 2017 16:08 IST