High drama was witnessed at the residence of Punjab Education Minister Daljit Singh Cheema after a group of protesting teachers barged into his house and stayed put with police “failing” to evict them, prompting the Akali Dal leader to go on a dharna outside Raj Bhavan on New Years eve.
Cheema said a group of about 100 Elementary Teachers Training (ETT) teachers of Punjab, who were demanding permanent jobs despite “rules not permitting the same as they fall in low merit category” gathered at his Sector 39 residence here in the high-security Punjab Ministerial residential complex.
The teachers, who arrived in the afternoon yesterday, allegedly forced their entry by pushing the security staff on the pretext of meeting Cheema, but once they were inside they sat on a protest and refused to budge.
“Even on Sundays and other holidays, I listen to grievances of the people. The teachers who forced their entry were told that the appointment of ETT teachers had been made, but their case falls in low merit category and rules could not be bent to appoint them. However, they remained adamant demanding permanent jobs.
“They were politely told to vacate the premises, but they refused to budge. Later on, several calls were made to the Chandigarh Police to take action as the teachers refused to vacate the premises, but the police failed to take action,” Cheema alleged.
Angry at the alleged failure of the police to take any action despite a complaint, Cheema sat on a dharna outside Punjab Raj Bhawan at about 10 PM Saturday night.
“I waited till 9:30 PM for the police to take action. But the police showed its incompetence and failed to act in the matter. Left with no option, I was forced to sit on the dharna for about three hours. The Governor (V P Singh Badnore) was not present inside the Raj Bhawan when I sate on the protest.
“When the Governor (who is also UT Chandigarhs Administrator) arrived shortly after midnight, he took serious view of the matter and summoned Chandigarhs IG T S Luthra and asked him to get my premises immediately cleared of the protesters. The police finally took the protesters out at about 4 AM,” he said.
Dr Cheema said that he was forced to protest the alleged callous attitude of the Chandigarh Police and other officials concerned who failed to ensure that law and order was maintained.
“If a Cabinet Minister has to sit on a dharna like this, imagine the plight of the common man,” he said.
When asked to comment on the matter, IG Luthra declined to comment.
However, DSP (South) Deepak Yadav, under whose jurisdiction Dr Cheemas residence falls, denied that there was any delay or callousness shown by the Chandigarh police.
“We took action in the matter after receiving a complaint,” he said.
When asked to respond to the charge that police sat over the matter for a long time and did not initiate any action, Yadav said, “We took action and the teachers were vacated”.