Police in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday, February 2, started detaining leaders of the government employees’ and teachers' unions to foil the 'Chalo Vijayawada' protest called by PRC Sadhana Samiti (or Pay Revision Commission Struggle Committee) on Thursday, February 3. The employees' unions have been saying that implementation of the new PRC announced last month will lead to downward revision of salaries. They are demanding that the employees be paid salaries as per the previous pay scales, saying the interim relief was higher than the 23% pay revision announced by the Chief Minister.
Citing the denial of permission for the protest program in view of the COVID-19 pandemic situation, police detained leaders of various unions of government employees and teachers in various districts. Vijayawada Police Commissioner Kanti Rana Tata said there was no permission for 'Chalo Vijayawada'. He said the police received an application for permission but they denied the same as a huge congregation can't be allowed in view of the pandemic situation.
Meanwhile, state level leaders of the unions made it clear that they will go ahead with 'Chalo Vijayawada' despite arrests, detentions and other measures by the government to foil their program. PRC Sadhana Samiti, the joint action committee of all employees' associations, has already announced that employees will go on strike from February 7 in support of their demands.
The unions have been staging protests for the last couple of weeks, demanding scrapping of a Government Order (GO) fixing new pay scales as per the pay revision announced last month. They have alleged that implementation of the new pay scale will result in downward revision in their salaries.
The leaders were either placed under house arrest or summoned to police stations to serve notices, directing them not to leave for Vijayawada for the protest. They were being told that if they go ahead with the protest, action will be taken against them as per law. In some places leaders and members of the unions were stopped from proceeding towards Vijayawada.
Reports of detentions came in from Vizianagaram, Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam, Nellore, Anantapur and other districts, according to IANS. Police have also set up check posts on the highway near Tuni in East Godavari district to check the vehicles to stop employees heading for Vijayawada.
Vijayawada Police Commissioner Kanti Rana Tata said such a congregation could lead to further spread of the pandemic, and would violate the guidelines issued by the state government, which prohibits any program with a gathering of more than 200. The commissioner said since over 5,000 employees are likely to participate in 'Chalo Vijayawada' permission was not given for the same.
The police official said the section 30 of the Police Act and section 144 of CrPC are in force in Vijayawada and gathering of more than five persons will be a violation of law.
As part of the protest programme chalked out by the unions, the employees plan to stop running and maintaining various government apps from Wednesday, February 3. The unions have also called for setting fire to their pay slips and copies of the PRC (Pay Revision Commission) Government Order (GO).
The talks between the employees' unions and the ministerial committee on Tuesday, February 1, failed to end the deadlock as the government panel rejected the demands for rollback of GO and for providing a copy of Pay Revision Commission. The ministerial committee has also appealed to employees to call off the 'Chalo Vijayawada' programme and the strike.