Haryana: Police use water cannons, tear gas shells to disperse govt employees demanding OPS, oppn condemns use of force

Haryana: Police use water cannons, tear gas shells to disperse govt employees demanding OPS, oppn condemns use of force


Chandigarh, February 19

The Haryana Police on Sunday used water cannons and tear gas shells to disperse a large group of state government employees holding a demonstration in Panchkula for the restoration of the Old Pension Scheme.

The police action, which included a baton charge, came after the demonstrators, who had gathered on the Panchkula-Chandigarh border, tried to cross over into the Union Territory and march towards the Haryana chief minister’s residence and ‘gherao’ it to press for their demand.

There was heavy police deployment at the site on the border, police said.

Following the incident, Opposition Congress attacked the BJP-JJP coalition government in Haryana, saying it wants to run the state with “sticks and bullets”, and assured that if voted to power in the 2024 state assembly polls, it will restore OPS. The demonstrators had gathered at the border under the banner of the ‘Old Pension Scheme (OPS) Restoration Struggle Committee’ and a representative of the panel, while speaking to reporters in Panchkula, claimed that a few employees had suffered injuries during the police action.

“Restoration of OPS is a legitimate demand. Governments of Rajasthan, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh have restored it. The Haryana government has given an excuse that the government will go bankrupt if OPS is restored, which is not correct,” the committee’s state president, Vijender Dhariwal, said.

He said that an employee gives 25 to 30 years of service to a department. “Politicians have in the past also been getting pensions for multiple terms…,” Dhariwal said.

He said employees from several government departments took part in the demonstration.

Sources said that the Haryana government has called the employees’ representatives for a meeting on Monday evening in Chandigarh — the joint capital of Haryana and Punjab.

The OPS, under which the entire pension amount was given by the government, was discontinued in the country from April 1, 2004. However, the pension amount is contributory under the National Pension System, which is in effect from that year.

Opposition Congress condemned the use of “lathicharge” on protesting employees.

“Lathi charge and use of tear gas on employees demanding OPS is condemnable,” said former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who is also the Leader of Opposition in the Haryana Assembly.

Senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said instead of listening to the demands of the employees, police used force and water cannons.

Democracy doesn’t run with “lathtantra”, but by being accountable to the people, Surjewala said hitting out at the BJP-JJP government in Haryana.

Hooda said that the OPS will be implemented in the very first cabinet meeting “once the Congress government is formed” after next year’s state assembly polls.

He was speaking to the media here after the Haryana Congress Legislature Party meeting, which was convened ahead of the state assembly’s budget session beginning here on Monday.

Hooda said that the employees were demonstrating for a legitimate demand.

“Lathi charge and use of tear gas on a peaceful protest is highly condemnable. In a democracy, the government runs through dialogue, but Haryana’s BJP-JJP alliance wants to run the government with sticks and bullets,” he said.

Hooda said the Congress supports the demand of the employees and promised to strongly raise the issue in the budget session.

“If the present government does not accept the demands of the employees, a decision will be taken to implement the OPS in the very first cabinet meeting then after the formation of the Congress government in the state. The OPS has already been implemented in Congress-ruled Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Himachal Pradesh. Employees in Haryana will also get its benefit on the same lines,” he said.  



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