Srinagar, Apr 7: Acting tough against the striking employees in Jammu and Kashmir, police Wednesday swooped on and detained around three dozen employees leaders including EJAC (K) and EJAC (Q) presidents Khursheed Alam and Abdul Qayoom Wani. However, undeterred by the arrests and invoking of Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), employees continued their strike across the state for the fifth consecutive day Wednesday.
In a strong step, 32 leaders representing different unions of government departments were arrested today from various parts of the state including Jammu, Srinagar, Samba, Kathua, Islamabad 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.
While the state government had invoked ESMA on Monday, police today detained Joint Consultative Committee member and EJAC (Q) president, Abdul Qayoom Wani. He was taken into custody outside Jhelum Valley College Hospital in Bemina here and shifted to sub-jail Varmul. Police sources said that Qayoom has been detained under section 107/151.
The police also raided the residence of senior JCC leader Muntazir Mohideen at Sanatnagar late this evening. However, Muntazir was not present at his house at the time of raid.
In Jammu region at least 26 employees' leaders were picked up by the police from various parts and booked them under Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA).
In south Kashmir's Islamabad district, three leaders of JCC, Syed Mukhtar, Mir Mohi-u-Din and Ishaq Beig were detained by the police when they were holding a meeting.
Sources said that all the district SPs had been directed to submit the report on the impact of strike to the Police Control Room in the evening on daily basis.
"We had directions to submit status report regarding the impact of strike. But after checking the attendance, we found most of the offices deserted as nobody had turned up," a senior police officer told Greater Kashmir on the condition of anonymity.
"We checked several schools, agriculture offices, animal husbandry offices, but no employee was present," he added. Highly placed police sources revealed that a list of more than 100 employee leaders has been short-listed who would be arrested in coming days. "The list has been sent to the district SPs for follow-up action. Government will act tough against the striking employees in coming days," they said. "Government has also sought report from police top brass regarding contingency plan in case employees go for indefinite strike," they added.
About 4.5 lakh employees are on strike since April 3, demanding among other things immediate release of arrears as recommended by the 6th Pay Commission and enhancement in the retirement age from 58 to 60 years.
KHALID GUL ADDS FROM ISLAMABAD
Police in various districts of South Kashmir raided several government offices and took away the list of absent employees.
In Islamabad, Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian districts, police raided and took away the list of the striking employees from almost all the government offices located at district and tehsil headquarters and other small towns.
Police parties headed by SHOs were seen visiting and taking away the attendance registers from the government offices in all the major and small towns in South Kashmir.
"We know that the strike of the employees is genuine and support it too but we have been strictly directed by our boss to check the attendance in the government offices of our jurisdiction and furnish it before 5 pm. So we are left with no option but to abide by the orders," said a police official after collecting the list of absentee employees from one of the offices in Islamabad.
UMER MAQBOOL ADDS FROM VARMUL
Like other parts of valley, the employees observed complete strike in the north Kashmir districts of Varmul, Kupwara and Bandipora.
All the government offices, schools remained closed in nook and corner of north Kashmir. A delegation of parents from Langate told Greater Kashmir that the government was ruining the career of the students. "They should make alternate arrangements for our kids as their precious time is getting wasted."
GKNN ADDS FROM JAMMU
While work in most of the government offices across Jammu region remained paralysed for the fifth consecutive day today due to the ongoing strike by the state government employees, police launched a massive crackdown on the agitating employees and arrested at least 26 of their leaders, from various parts of Jammu city, and booked them under Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), on Wednesday.
Sources said that more than 26 employee leaders were arrested under ESMA, invoked by the state government Monday.
Though officials refused to comment on the arrests, employees' union leaders and eyewitnesses revealed that a number of employees' leaders were arrested during raids at various places.
Police swung into action and raided Press Club Jammu where leaders of Employees Joint Action Committee (EJAC) were holding a press conference. A strong contingent of police led by senior police officers, arrested five leaders, who were addressing the press.
The arrested employees' leaders have been identified as Rashpal Singh, Darshan Kumar Mangotra, Yashpal Sharma and Pardeep Sharma.
Five persons, having affiliation with Civil Secretariat Non Gazetted Employees Union, were arrested by the police from Ustad Mohalla when they were peacefully protesting in support of their demands. As soon as employees resorted to protest demonstration a strong contingent of cops led by senior police officials swung into action and detained them. All of them were taken to unknown destination by the cops.
Nearly 7 employees, including 2 women, paramedics were detained by police from Government Medical College premises while they were staging protest demonstration. They were identified as Ajay Gupta, Mukesh, Surinder, Sat Pal, Neelam Khakar, Nelse and Milap Singh.
Sources said that 3 employees Vinod Kumar, Kulwant Singh and Joginder Lal were apprehended from outside the office of Director Health Service.
"Three more employees identified as Marks Gill, Santosh Kumar and Suresh Kumar were arrested from Gandhi Nagar Hospital," sources said.
Senior police officers refused to comment on the arrests. Inspector General of Police (IGP) Jammu Ashok Gupta, when contacted, asked this correspondent to meet personally and disconnected the phone, while Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Jammu BK Rath claimed that he was busy in a meeting and cannot talk.
OPD RESUMES IN JAMMU HOSPITALS
In Jammu officials said that amid tight security arrangements work resumed, after four days' of lockout, in the Out Patient Department (OPD) in Government Medical College Hospital Jammu and its associated hospitals.
"Over 320 patients suffering from different ailments were checked by the doctors at OPD Government Medical College in the absence of paramedical staff, who, are on 'pen down strike' since April 3 to press their demands," informed Deputy Superintendent Dr Dara Singh, adding, "We have send list of paramedics, who were absent from the duty, to the government for action."
The deputy superintendent said the emergency services in the hospital were functional without any disruption and patients were being getting medical facilities.