Panchkula, February 19
A number of protesters were injured after hundreds of Haryana Government employees, led by the Pension Restoration Sangharsh Samiti (PRSS), who had gathered here seeking restoration of the old pension scheme (OPS), faced cane-charge, water cannons and teargas from the Haryana Police as they tried to move towards the Panchkula-Chandigarh border on Sunday.
Cops use water cannons near the Housing Board traffic lights, Panchkula. Nitin Mittal
Around 3 pm, the protesters assembled at the Sector 8-17 roundabout and as they tried to move towards Chandigarh, they clashed with the police. The cops tried to stop the protesters using water cannons, but seeing the situation get out of hand, they resorted to cane-charge and lobbed teargas shells.
3-hour stand-off near UT border
Around 3 pm, protesters assemble at Panchkula’s Sector 8-17 roundabout and start marching towards UT in support of OPSClash erupts as cops use water cannons; seeing things get out of hand, police resort to cane-charge and fire teargas shellsClash goes on for nearly three hours as protesters try to breach police cordon, making situation tense on Panchkula-UT border, many are hurtProtesters retreat after OSD to CM allows delegation of employees to meet CM after House session on Monday. Later, CM invites them for talks
Several protesters were injured in the melee that went on for nearly three hours. Despite use of force, the protesters tried to breach the cordon, making the situation tense at the Chandigarh-Panchkula border.
A policeman fires a teargas shell on protesters near the Chandigarh border in Panchkula on Sunday.
The employees wanted a representative from the Chief Minister’s Office to come and give them an assurance with regard to the OPS.
On the insistence of the employees, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s OSD Bhupeshwar Dayal reached the spot. After meeting employees, he said talks had been going on earlier as well. Since it was a larger issue, action had to be taken by involving the Centre, he said.
The protesters retreated after the OSD assured them that a delegation of employees would be allowed to meet the CM for half an hour after the House session on Monday.
After 2006, 1.74 lakh employees posted in various departments had been demanding the old pension scheme. The employees said they would continue their struggle to get the OPS as they were not interested in the National Pension Scheme of the Centre.
PRSS state general secretary Rishi Nain said the state government had been misleading the employees in the name of restoration of old pension. All MLAs and MPs were taking pension facilities, but employees who had worked for 35 years were forced to protest for pension.
Employees of various departments, including Education, Health, Public Works, Urban Development and Haryana Shahari Vikas Pradhikaran, participated in the demonstration, he added.
Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party led by senior leader Naveen Jaihind also lent support to the protesters. Jaihind, who also suffered injuries in the cane-charge, said they stood firm with the state employees.