PHE daily wager’s suicide sparks protests in Poonch, Jammu

Protests after army men allegedly thrash shopkeeper, driver in Baramulla village
Protests after army men allegedly thrash shopkeeper, driver in Baramulla village

The death of a PHE daily wager sparked a protest in Poonch town late Monday evening as the members of his family, joined by locals and other relatives, took to street alleging that he had committed suicide due to financial stress on account of low wages.

The deceased has been identified as Fayaz Ahmed, son of Wali Mohammad, resident of Bandi Chechian in Poonch.

The protesters, who included the members of the deceased's family, relatives and some locals, said that Reyaz was working in the Jal Shakti department as a daily-wager for the last twenty years and was now getting Rs 6700 as monthly wage.

"Daily wagers are suffering from multiple issues and their demands like regularisation are being ignored putting them in further stress," said protesters.

They alleged that Reyaz, who was under stress due to low income and improper wage mechanism, committed suicide. "We demand financial aid and job to one member of his family," the protesters said.

Senior administrative officers were on spot trying to pacify the protesters, when last reports poured in.

Police on the other hand said that the deceased was admitted to Poonch hospital on Sunday as a case of poisoning and was referred to Jammu where he died on Monday.

"We have started an investigation into the matter," said police.

In the meanwhile, a similar protest erupted at the PHE office at BC Road, Jammu following Riyaz's death with the protesters alleging that he allegedly committed suicide in view of non-release of pending wages.

PHE daily wagers leader from Poonch, Maqbool Hussain said that Riyaz was waiting for his wages which were not released. "He made a phone call to someone who told him that the PHE department was brought under municipality and they had no future now. It disappointed Riyaz to an extent that he consumed poison and died while undergoing treatment," said Maqbool Hussain.

He said that Riyaz, father of five children, had taken out a loan and he was in debt. "Before consuming poison, he restored water supply for people by making the pump station Alla-Peer in Poonch operational," he added.

"We are getting Rs 1750 per month, and this wage is also not being released regularly. The wages of 2018 and 2019 are pending and only few month wages of 2020 so far have been released," said Maqbool.

He said that the deceased had been working in PHE since 2001. "You can assume our economic condition that he was shifted in an ambulance from Poonch to Jammu GMC i after collecting Rs 5500," said the disappointed colleague of the deceased PHE worker.

As soon as the news of his demise broke, PHE workers at BC Road staged a massive protest demonstration while keeping body in the ambulance.

"We have decided to start our agitation from March 15. If the government did not release pending wages, implement minimum wage act in J&K and frame no policy for their regularization, we will launch agitation in an intensified manner," president of PHE Daily Wagers Association, Tanveer Hussain, told Greater Kashmir.

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