At least fourteen policemen were among over 40 injured when police resorted to baton-charge to quell a protest by stone-pelting workers of a tunnel project in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir today.
The striking workers of Chenani-Nashri tunnel project clashed with the police on Jammu-Srinagar highway of the district.
The workers had gone on the strike on October 27 demanding reinstatement of ten employees, wages in lieu of overtime, weekly off and risk allowance.
Today, they came on highway at Chenani area and disrupted traffic, a senior police officer said.
They started pelting stones and damaged some vehicles, he said.
"We warned them to stop but they did not heed and finally they were pushed away and traffic was restored on the highway," he said.
Later, they also started pelting stones on the police prompting them to use canes and tear gas to disperse the workers, the officer said.
In the melee, at least 14 policemen including four deputy Superintendents of Police were injured, police said.
However, there was no official version on the number of workers injured in the police action.
Unofficial reports claim that at least 40 workers have suffered injuries and 120 of them are arrested.
Meanwhile, in Nashri belt of Ramban district, police have arrested 30 striking workers.The police said that no clashes took place the Nashri side of the tunnel project.
General Secretary of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) Om Prakash said that workers did not come on the highway or attacked vehicles.
"They were holding peaceful 'dharna' on two sides of tunnel project at Chenani and Nashri areas in Udhampur and Ramban districts when the police evicted them forcefully by use of baton and tear gas shells," he said.
"Over 70 workers were injured and over 200 arrested by the police," Prakash claimed.
CITU president and CPI(M) state secretary, M Y Tarigami criticising Jammu and Kashmir government for using "undemocratic methods" and force against striking workers.
"JK government is using undemocratic methods and force against striking labourers at Chenani-Nashri tunnel project. Police used tear gas shells and cane-charged striking workers resulting in injuries today," Tarigami told reporters here.
The Divisional Commissioner of Jammu had intervened and fixed a meeting between the management and the union at 3 PM today but authorities cancelled the meeting and police resorted to force in the morning, he said.
Police also picked up striking workers after using brute force against them, Tarigami said.
Divisional Commissioner of Jammu, Shant Manu told PTI that police had to resort to baton-charge on protesting workers after they resorted to stone pelting on police.