Two agitations rocked the Jharkhand capital on Monday, one for service regularisation and the other over alleged non-abidance of reservation rules by the government, bringing traffic to a standstill in parts of the city, and inconveniencing numerous commuters on the first day of the week.
Hundreds of contractual employees of the Jharkhand health department, hailing from different districts of the state, took to Ranchi streets in the morning, demanding regularisation of service.
At Albert Ekka Chowk, members representing tribal organisations held a demonstration, alleging they have come to know that the state government was planning to regularise contractual employees without abiding by the reservation norms.
The health department employees, which included nurses, lab technicians and pharmacists, threatened to launch an indefinite hunger strike from Tuesday if the government does not pay heed.
The protesters, some of them claiming to have worked on contract for 15 years, assembled at Ranchi’s Morabadi area, and then took out a march to Chief Minister Hemant Soren’s residence to press for their demand.
They were, however, stopped by the police near Raj Bhavan, around 250 metres from the CM’s residence.
A minor scuffle ensued between the protesters and the policemen, who had put up barricades to stop them from moving forward.
According to a police officer, the situation was brought under control within minutes, and the demonstrators were not allowed to carry on with the march beyond Suchna Bhawan Chowk.
One of the protesters, Veena Kumari, said that she and several others have been working on meagre remuneration, ranging from ₹10,000 to ₹17,000, for past 15-16 years.
“Service regularisation is our only demand,” she said.
“If government did not pay heed, we will launch a fast-unto-death agitation, starting Tuesday,” she added.
Later in the day, in another part of the city, a rally was taken out by tribal organisations, claiming that the “reservation roster” was not being adhered to by the Hemant Soren-led dispensation in the process of service regularisation.
The demonstrators burnt an effigy of the state government in protest.
Bandhan Tigga, one of the representatives of a tribal organisation that launched the protest, said, “We are not against regularisation. We want it to be done following the reservation roster. If that doesn’t happen, hundreds of SC/STs would be deprived of their rights.” He said that the rally was taken out as a “token protest”.
“If government does not announce about the roster in process of regularization, we will decide a state-wide agitation plan,” he said.
Several officials, when contacted, refused to comment on the two agitations.