MP government slaps FIRs on protesting employees
The state government employees are protesting against the long pending issues of promotion, wage increment, and dearness allowance among others
The Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led Madhya Pradesh government is trying to crush democratic protests held by thousands of government employees of the JanpadPanchayat and rural development department by imposing punitive measures such as intra-district transfers, suspensions, dismissals and even FIRs.
Between July 19 to August 5, 2021 several government employees in the post of Assistant Engineer, Sub-Engineer, Clerk, Secretary, Employment Assistant at the Panchayat and Rural Development Department who raised various long pending demands and held protests have been slapped with criminal charges.
The government has invoked the Epidemic Diseases Act (EDA) against the employees. Although EDA has been in force since one and a half years,and assembly by-elections were held during this while in which thousands of people had gathered for the campaigns violating Covid protocols, but no action was taken against them. EDA was also not invoked against those involved in the ruling BJP’s Ashirwad Yatra in which thousands of people had gathered.
The state government also used excessive force against hundreds of selected teachers and unemployed youth who gathered in Bhopal on August 18 demanding employment.This is perhaps for the first time in the state when criminal cases have been filed against government employees holding peaceful protests to draw government’s attention towards their long pending demands.
Anger has been simmering among the employees for quite a few years now over the pending issues of promotion, wage increment, dearness allowance and so on. The employees have been vocal about their disappointment and raising their voice. The government has taken these disgruntled voices in a negative light. If it would have taken these protests in a positive stride and tried to listen to the employees and address their grievances, things would not have come to such a pass.
“I had never imagined that we would have to face the kind of barbarism used by the colonial government, but the unexpected has happened,” said Dinesh Singh (name changed),a Panchayat Secretary against whom an FIR has been lodged by the government. “They have vindictively hounded the protesters and filed criminal cases against them. We have made several requests to the government as well as departmental minister to take the cases back, but there is no response,” he added.
Devendra Kumar (name changed) who has been fighting for the rights of Panchayat Secretaries in Madhya Pradesh for the last 10 years said, “We started our protests on 19th July. There was no crowd at any of the block or district headquarters. We followed all the recommended Covid protocols and guidelines and used democratic means to register our protest. But the senior officers threatened us on the phone that if we do not end the strike they will take action, and soon the police initiated criminal actions against us. We were even beaten up and treated like criminals.”
Working at the post of Sub-Engineer as a contractual employee for the last four years, Rajendra Kashyap (name changed) said, “I have two children. The government has dismissed me from services without even giving me an opportunity to be heard. There was not even a single economic irregularities or criminal record against me. All I did was followed democratic process to register protests and had no intentions to malign the government. Yet the police came in the middle of the night and picked me up. They kept me for eight hours. Next day I heard I have been dismissed from job. I have made appeals to the government for a hearing. If they do not give that, I would approach the court.”
Similar treatment has been meted out to thousands of employees in the posts of Assistant Engineers, Sub Engineers, Clerks, Panchayat Secretaries and others in the districts of Neemach, Mandsaur, Ratlam, Rajgarh, Indore, Dhar, Seedhi, Tikamgarh, Katni, Bhind, Morena, Ashok Nagar, Panna, Rewa, Satna, Singrauli, Chhindwara, Umaria, Shahdol, and Damoh. They have been served with show cause notice, dismissed or suspended or slapped with criminal charges in various FIRs.
Jitendra Singh, the general secretary of Madhya Pradesh government employees union, has met state home minister Narottam Mishra and requested for reinstatement of those suspended or dismissed from their job.
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