Casual labourers of BDA without wages for 28 months, hold protest

Casual labourers of BDA protesting at Bhaderwah on Thursday. — Excelsior/Tilak Raj
Casual labourers of BDA protesting at Bhaderwah on Thursday. — Excelsior/Tilak Raj

Excelsior Correspondent

BHADARWAH, July 25: Demanding release of withheld wages, scores of causal labourers engaged by Bhadarwah Development Authority (BDA) held a strong protest here, today.
The causal labourers – both male and female – assembled at the lawns of Tourist Reception Centre (TRC) Sarna here under the banner of BDA Casual Labourers Union and Chenab Valley Workers Union (CVWU), demanding release of their wages, which have not been paid since 28 months at a stretch. They accused Chief Executive Officer, BDA of ignoring their plight.
Protestors while raising slogans against the authorities especially CEO, Dr Rajinder Prasad Khajuria for making false promises and even harassing them of dire consequences, whenever they demand wages. As per agitating labourers, they have not been paid wages since March 2017.
“We have not been paid since March 2017. We have been delivering our official duties with sincerity and honesty. Due to withholding of wages, the education of our wards has immensely suffered as we can’t pay their school fee,” said Mohd Hafeez, president of the Union.
He added that the some of the casual labourers have stopped sending their wards to schools as they were unable to pay monthly tuition fee.
The protestors said that the BDA is one of the most cash rich Authority of Jammu province and has sufficient funds but didn’t pay wages to workers.
They said that they have taken up their grievance with concerned authorities time and again but their pleas had fallen on deaf ears.
“Whenever we demand our hard earned wages, CEO disowns us saying that we are not even registered casual labourers., We have been pushed to the wall by his authoritarian attitude and compelled to start strike, which will continue till our wages are not paid,” said Mohd Ashraf another casual labourer.
“We are suffering a lot and could not even pay for the basic requirements of our children but the Department is in no mood to redress our problems. The Department spends huge amount on festivals and other recreational activities but is reluctant to release pending wages of poor labourers. Under given circumstances, we are left with no other option but to end our life by jumping into river Chenab,” a protesting labourer Iqbal Bhawani said.
Meanwhile president, CVWU, Tariq Zargar also joined the protesting labourers and said that they have extended their support to the poor labourers and will fight tooth and nail for their cause.
Tariq Zargar appealed to the Governor, Satya Pal Malik to intervene personally and direct concerned authorities to release all their pending wages.