SRINAGAR: Police on Thursday used force against the protesting daily wagers of roads and buildings (R&B) department who were demanding release of their salaries pending since last eight months.
Scores of daily wagers of the department assembled in Lal Chowk claiming that their pleas for release of their wages have fallen on deaf ears.
Police swung into action when the protesters tried to march through the city centre. They were baton charged and many of their members were arrested.
“Whenever we sought release of our pending wages, we were threatened and, at times, pressure was mounted on us to keep mum, reasons better known to higher ups in the department,” said Saleem Ahmad, a protesting daily wager.
The daily wagers also said that when they went to the chief engineer R&B to ascertain as to why their wages were not being released they said that they were shocked with his response.
“He said ‘I do not require your services’ and said that he would hire workforce from outside the state on a less salary than the casual labourers,” Ahmad added.
Protesting employees sought action against the official for his alleged derogatory statement.
The protesters accused the R&B department of deliberately pushing their families to starvation.
“How do they sleep all night when our children sleep empty stomach in Ramadan,” said Sajad Parray, president Jammu Kashmir Casual Daily Wagers Forum (JKCDWF).
“We fail to pay school fee of our kids which has resulted in their expulsion from schools. We do not even have money to purchase medicines for our parents,” said Parray.
Raising slogans against the government and the R&B department, they threatened to launch an agitation if their wages were not paid and action against chief engineer was not taken.
“If government fails to take necessary action against the chief engineer within three days and release our wages within the given time, we will launch a collective program all over the division, the onus of which shall wholly and solely lie on the government,” they added.