NHM employees’ ‘Secretariat Chalo’ march foiled

A police officer dragging female NHM employee during a clash at Shalamar Chowk in Jammu. — Excelsior/Rakesh
A police officer dragging female NHM employee during a clash at Shalamar Chowk in Jammu. — Excelsior/Rakesh

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Jan 3: About 15 employees of National Health Mission (NHM) got injured today when police resorted to lathi-charge and even used teargas shells and chilly bombs to prevent their march to Civil Secretariat, Jammu. Click here to watch video
Carrying placards and shouting slogans in support of their demand of regularization of their jobs, thousands of NHM employees including employees of Revised National Tubercul-osis Control Programme (RNTCP), J&K State AIDS Control Society (JKSACS) and other health schemes this afternoon took out a protest rally and marched towards the Civil Secretariat, where the district administration had already imposed Section 144 of CrPC as preventive measure.
As the protesting employees reached Shalamar Chowk, a strong contingent of police restricted them from going ahead but when they attempt to move forward forcefully, the police resorted to mild lathicharge and fired teargas shells as well as chilly bombs to disperse the protesters.
Around 15 NHM employees received injuries in the lathi-charge and resultant stampede. However, this did not deter the employees and amid anti-Government slogans they staged a sit-in protest at Shalamar Chowk, due to which vehicular traffic came to halt in old city area for over an hour.
While addressing the protesters as well as media persons at Shalamar Chowk, president of NHM Employees’ Association, Rohit Seth, said that they were peaceful protesting but on the instructions of their political masters, police brutally cane charged the innocent employees and even did not spare the women. He alleged that women protestors were hold from neck and dragged by the male police officials them. He further informed that about 15 employees including some women were injured in lathicharge by the police.
“We are on strike for last 15 days but Government is not paying any heed to our genuine demand and forcing us to take aggressive measures to project our demands, which will be not beneficial for anyone, especially the needy and poor patients”, he said, adding in past nine months they have been betrayed multiple times through hollow statements and empty promises by the Health Minister and higher authorities of Health Department and now they need concrete documentation and formal policy safeguarding interests of all categories of employees including doctors, paramedics and management.
Chief spokesperson, Joint Action Coordination Committee, Faizan A Tramboo, said that Government should consider the genuine demands of NHM employees on priority basis instead of giving them inhumane treatment otherwise the agitation will turn ugly faces in the coming days for which the State Government shall be held responsible.
“We are not going to suspend the strike unless and until our genuine demands are accepted by the State Government in writing with complete acceptance in a time bound manner”, he added.
Meanwhile, various organizations condemned the brutal lathi-charge and usage of teargas shells on peacefully protesting NHM workers. Expressing deep concern over the brutal lathicarge and usage of tear shells on the peacefully protesting NHM workers, Atul Sudan (vice president, JJSF) demanded strict action against the officials involved. He said that the NHM employees were on peaceful protest and were not damaging public property.
Tanveer Hussain (president All J&K PHE ITI Trained and CP Workers’ Association) termed the lathicharge on women NHM employees shameful. He said on one side Government is giving slogans of “Beti Bachao and Beti Padhao” and on the other hand it is beating the daughters of the State brutally on the road when they demand their basic rights.
The other organizations which condemned this brutal act of the Government include All J&K Handicap’s Welfare Association, Mazdoor and Dastkar Union, International Human Rights Organizations, JK Home Guards Welfare Association, District Rural Youth Welfare Association and Jeevan Sandesh Trust.