PHE workers take out protest march, over 108 detained

PHE workers being arrested and packed in buses by Police near Indira Chowk in Jammu on Thursday. -Excelsior/Rakesh
PHE workers being arrested and packed in buses by Police near Indira Chowk in Jammu on Thursday. -Excelsior/Rakesh

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Sept 8: At least 108 daily wagers including four women workers were arrested by police while taking out massive protest march towards Civil Secretariat from BC Road, PHE Complex here today.

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These Jal Shakti/PHE workers are on strike for the last 84 days, demanding release of their pending wages and regularization of their services. Despite three rounds of talks with higher authorities in the department, their dialogue remained inconclusive.
Today while intensifying their agitation, hundreds of PHE workers from various Divisions and Sub Divisions in Jammu district, assembled outside the office of Chief Engineer PHE Jammu, at BC Road, under the banner of PHE United Front and held strong protest demonstration. They were shouting slogans in support of their demands and also against LG’s Administration, BJP and other higher authorities in the J&K UT. Many of them were carrying banners and placards in their hands depicting slogans.
Later, they started protest march towards Civil Secretariat. They were stopped by strong contingent of police near Indira Chowk under fly over but they broke the barricades and tried to move ahead. During physical clash with police, four workers sustained minor injuries. At least, 108 protesting workers were arrested by police and shifted to District Police Lines Gandhinagar in police buses. Later, they were released in the evening.
The employees representatives including Ravi Hans, Hoshiar Singh, Navdeep Singh, Rajinder Singh Taj, Mohan Lal Sharma and others said that in the past, they had called off their strike merely on assurances several times but nothing happened after that. Therefore, they were not prepared to call off strike until an order from the Government is issued. They resolved to continue their strike.
Today was the 84th day of the strike, under the banner of PHE Employees United Front (Jammu province). The daily rated and consolidated workers of the PHE/ Jal Shakti department are on strike since June 22, 2022. These helpless workers are demanding regularization, enhancement of Minimum Wages as per Central norms in J&K UT and release of pending wages of 70 months of PHE workers.
Similar protest rallies were today held at Rajouri, Nowshera, Sunderbani, Akhnoor, Kathua, Samba, Udhampur , Doda, Ramban and Reasi, a United Front leader Ravi Hans said.