Crackdown on striking employees in Kashmir, 37 arrested

ESMA was invoked in the state in view of the strike on Monday night "with no work no pay formula" but the agitationists extended their stir till April 13.

In a strong step, over 37 leaders representing different unions of government departments have been arrested today in various parts of the state including Jammu, Srinagar, Samba, Kathua, Anantnag and Pulwama, official sources said.
Heads of various other Unions in government departments and PSUs have gone underground in the wake of the police crackdown.

About 4.5 lakh employees are on strike since April three, demanding immediate release of arrears as recommended by the 6th Pay Commission and enhancement in retirement age from 58 to 60 years besides other things.

"The strike has been extended till April 13 and it may be further extended if the government continues to use harsh measures on employees," said an angry civil secretariat non-gazetted employees Union leader Nazir Ahmed Mir.The Civil Secretariat here wore a deserted look as employees continued to cease work even as reports pouring in from different districts in Jammu Division said attendance was thin in government offices.

Employees in several state-run educational institutions and hospitals are also on strike.The agitating employees held demonstrations at Railhead official complex, JMC complex, PHE-PDP head office, Dograhall, Canal road, GMC hospital, Gandhinagar and city chowk here.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had yesterday said "Their (employees') irresponsible attitude has forced the government to take appropriate action. Even now doors are open to settle the issues across the table".

Lashing out against Omar Abdullah government for use of force on strinking employees, several political parties including main opposition PDP and BJP condemned the imposition of Essential Services Maintainence Act and the arrests. "PDP condemns the crackdown on employees. The government is on war with itself - its employees. Government wants to sort out all issue through use of force", PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti told repoters.

Condemning invocation of ESMA, BJP Legislature Party leader Chaman Lal Gupta condemned the NC-led government for invoking ESMA and said, "This decision of the government will further complicate the situation."

Meanwhile, moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference headed by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq extended support to the ongoing strike by government employees in the state saying their demands are "genuine"."The demands of the government employees are genuine but they need to take into account the sufferings of people particularly the students and patients while pressing for their demands," hurriyat said in a statement after a joint meeting of Executive council and general council at the amalgam headquarters in Srinagar.

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