Regularisation protest goes awry | Pakistan Today

Regularisation protest goes awry

One of the rare tipping points for the Punjab Civil Secretariat was observed, when the chief secretary’s turned into a battleground on Wednesday after hundreds of employees ransacked the office while it took hours for the police to remove them from the premises, raising serious questions on the security arrangement made at the seat of the provincial government and the negotiation skills of top provincial bureaucracy, Pakistan Today has learnt.
According to details, more than 1,000 employees from the Population Welfare Department, most of them women, reached the Punjab civil secretariat from across Punjab and started protesting for their demands.
They said they have been working for the past 14 years in the department but have not been regularised. They kept protesting against the administration for a long time outside the secretariat, as the administration kept the doors locked.
However, some women climbed over the main gate and unlocked it from inside, allowing the protestors to flood the secretariat immediately.
According to eyewitnesses, the protesters were carrying sticks and manhandled several officers who met them on the way, including the estate officer, Welfare DS Saghir and Cabinet SO Farooka, before moving on to the minister’s block. The demonstrators also broke the windows of three cars.
Further details state that Services Secretary Sikander Sultan Raja called the Lahore commissioner, DCO and other senior officials of the Lahore police along with top bureaucrats to handle the situation.
Later, the Home, Implementation and Coordination and Services secretaries held negotiations with the employees and assured them that the summary for their regularisation had already been sent to the Punjab CM. Sources revealed that the negotiations remained successful and the leaders of the protesters came out and communicated the update to the protesters.
However the female employees, who were present at the scene in large numbers, refused to disperse and kept raising slogans against the bureaucrats and the chief secretary.
They broke the windows of the chief secretary’s office after which the Lahore commissioner ordered the police to baton charge the unruly women, who refused to disperse despite successful negotiations.
This resulted in a ruthless conflict between the protesters holding sticks and police officials who finally became successful in removing them from the secretariat premises.
However the stakeholders have termed it a failure on the part of the top bureaucrats who could not manage a minor issue and let it ‘blow out of proportion’ in the absence of the chief secretary. Interestingly, the office of the additional chief secretary (ACS) has been vacant since the transfer of Nadeem Hassan Asif as the principal secretary to the CM. The Punjab government has given the additional charge of the ACS to Services Secretary Sikander Sultan Raja.
They also termed Wednesday’s event as a dark reminder of the conflict between the PCS and DMG officers under the same CS where an FIR was lodged against PCS officers and arrests were also made.
“This is the tipping point when people gather in large numbers to protest for their rights especially since a large majority of female workers have turned up for their rights. It should serve as a reality check for the bureaucrats to look at their employees’ issues properly to avoid such incidents,” an officer, seeking anonymity, said. Another officer said it has raised serious questions on how the security at the seat of the provincial government is being managed that a mob can come over and attack the chief secretary’s office and beat up senior officers.
According to further details, the Islampura Police station arrested five employees.
Services Secretary Sikander Raja was not available for comments despite repeated attempts.

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