Staff protest outside Himachal Assembly, Cart Road stifled : The Tribune India


Tribune press service

Bhanu P Lohumi

Shimla, March 3

Vehicular traffic came to an abrupt halt and the Cart Road was choked off as thousands of workers demanding the relaunch of the old pension scheme (OPS) marched to stage a protest outside the Vidhan Sabha. However, the police intercepted them near tunnel 103.

Refuse the government’s offer to send a team for talks

  • The protesting staff refused the government’s offer to send a 15-member delegation for talks.
  • Slogans like “cheen ke lenge, lad ke leenge OPS” praised the tune.
  • Police forcibly evicted the protesting employees around 10 p.m.

Police blocked the road by parking vehicles and buses and used water cannons to disperse workers. However, the employees broke through the barricades and managed to stage a protest in front of the Vidhan Sabha. Urban Development Minister Suresh Bhardwaj, who is also the MP for Shimla (Urban), tried to speak to the protesters, but the latter did not relent and shouted “go back”.

Employees under the banner of the New Pension Employees Federation gathered near the Tutikandi bypass and marched carrying slogans calling for the restoration of OPS. They accused the government of using repressive measures to crush unrest. About 8,000 to 10,000 employees participated in the protest.

Pradeep Thakur, chairman of the New Pension Scheme Employees Federation Himachal, called the government order banning rallies and demonstrations a brazen attack on their democratic rights. He said there was unprecedented enthusiasm among the employees to continue their fight until their request is granted.

The Shimla bypass from Tutikandi to Khalini was choked off and traffic moved at a snail’s pace. The vehicles were diverted off the route as NPS recipients had blocked the main highway. Traffic jams were observed on the link roads connecting the main road and the ring road. Commuters, including school children, were stuck in a traffic jam for hours.

Pradeep Thakur said they would stay put until Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur himself addresses the restless employees and clarifies PAHO’s position. However, the police forcibly evicted the protesting employees around 10 p.m. The protesters were dispersed, police sources said.

In view of the upcoming Assembly elections, the government is under pressure to restore the OPS, as was done in Rajasthan. Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur had announced a committee headed by the chief secretary to look into the matter, but it had no impact on the restless employees.