Tension prevailed in Puducherry after 1,000 retrenched workers of various government departments and PSUs assembled near the PWD office on Bussy Street and staged a demonstration demanding their reinstatement. Police had to resort to lathi-charge to disperse the protesters after they blocked the road. Over 300 workers were taken into police custody after they refused to disperse.
According to sources, the retrenched workers from PWD, Puducherry Agro Services and Industries Corporation and Government Veterinary College gathered at their respective departments on Monday and submitted a list to the authorities and demanded their reinstatement. But the officials asked them to leave the premises stating that there was no communication from the government on the matter. The retrenched workers then assembled near the PWD office on Bussy Street and staged a demonstration after which they blocked the road. When the police asked them to disperse, the workers tried to force their way into the PWD office premises. The police then resorted to a lathi- charge. Three workers, Chandran, Mukundan and Vijayakumar, were injured in the melee and were taken to the Government Hospital.
Following the protest, the police took 309 workers into custody. The arrested workers, who were taken to Kalapet Police station, resorted to demonstration after rumours spread that one of the workers died in the police action. Angry over this, they alighted from the police vans on East Coast Road and damaged windshields of five police vehicles. They then marched towards Ashok Nagar, where they damaged an India Reserve battalion vehicle. Police used water cannon to keep them at bay.
To bring the situation under control, Revenue officials, Tahsildars Ramesh and Thillaivel, and top police officials arrived at the scene and held talks with the agitators. They informed the workers that the news about the death of their fellow man was only a rumour. Following this, they withdrew the protest.
Meanwhile, former Chief Minister and Leader of opposition V Vaithilingam, condemned the police action and demanded a judicial probe into the incident. He slammed the AINRC government for not fulfilling its promise of reinstating the workers.
Vaithilingam met the injured Mukundan and Vijayakumar at the hospital. He then, accompanied by the workers, marched to the Inspector General’s office demanding that the third worker, Chandran, who was taken to the Odiansalai police station, be admitted to the General Hospital. Deputy Inspector General of Police I D Shukla assured Vaithilingam that the worker would be brought to the GH.
GH sources said Chandran, Mukundan and Vijayakumar had undergone treatment at the hospital. They also confirmed that inspector Raghunayagam was also treated.
According to police sources, sub-inspector Jayagurunathan and constable Ambedkar were treated as outpatients.
Sub Inspector Nagaraj, when contacted on Monday evening, said 186 workers were arrested and cases under various sections pertaining to obstruction of duty and damage to public property were registered against them.
DMK convener Dr M A Subramanian and senior CPI leader Na Ra Kalainathan also visited the injured.
After the AINRC government came to power, over 4,000 daily-rated and part-time government employees were retrenched.