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Srinagar cops cane striking government employees

By Mukhtar Ahmad
April 12, 2010 16:09 IST

The Jammu and Kashmir Police caned striking government employees who made repeated attempts to stage demonstrations in support of their demands at Lal chowk in Srinagar. A group of employees assembled at Sheikh Bagh and started marching in a procession in violation of prohibitory orders towards nearby Ghanta Ghar in Lal chowk, the nerve centre of the city, the sources said.

The strike by 4.5 lakh state government employees entered its second week on Monday with no hope of it ending soon.
After invoking the Essential Services Maintenance Act on April 5, the state government is now mulling the dismissal of around 50 employee leaders some of whom have already been detained for leading protests in parts of the state. Some middle rung officers have also been booked under ESMA and placed under suspension.

The government functioning across the state has come to a grinding halt with areas like civic amenities, medical services, public distribution system and education being the worst hit. Functioning in the civil secretariat, seat of the government has also been paralyzed in view of the ongoing strike.However, the state government says the secretariat is functioning normally.

The state government has now put in place contingency plans to deal with the consequences of the continued strike especially for handling garbage collections and disposal job by engaging casual labourers.

The strike triggered off by the employees demand of payment of pending Sixth Pay Commission arrears, and enhancement in the retirement age from the present 58 to 60 is stalemated as the government has made it clear it has no money to pay Rs. 4200 crores as arrears and that it cannot raise the retirement age given the number of educated unemployed youth in the state.

The employees on the other hand maintain that the government held out promises to them with regard to payment of the arrears and enhancement in retirement age.

Additional reportage: PTI

Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar