After meeting with top Punjab Government officials today, PCS officers retracted their protest and resumed their duties. It was an acid test for the Aam Aadmi Party government to resolve the issue of officers going on mass casual leave in protest.
This afternoon, several other unions of state government employees, including the Punjab Revenue Officers Union and Confederation of Associations of Excise and Taxation Department, withdrawn their strike and returned to work following the resumption of duty by the PCS officers. Since Monday, employees have been on mass casual leave in protest of the arrest and registration of a case against PCS officer Narinder Singh Dhaliwal.
The protest withdrawal, however, was not smooth. Despite the issue being almost resolved late last night, the PCS Officers Association was to discuss the issue with its members before withdrawing the protest.
However, with Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann tweeting that strict action would be taken against the striking employees if they failed to join duty by 2 pm, followed by a letter from the Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Janjua to all PCS officers warning them of strict disciplinary action and suspension from service, which could hamper their promotions, the protesting PCS officers felt the government had tried to “defame” them in order to build its own image.
Many officers expressed their displeasure during a meeting in the Chief Minister’s office, and openly aired their views that the protest should continue. If the CM listens to their grievances and assures them that no injustice will be done, why should they go on leave? The Chief Secretary warned that we would have to deal with them sternly.
PCS Officers Association president Rajat Oberoi, who was originally scheduled to meet A Venu Prasad, Additional Chief Secretary to the CM, at 10.30 am, met him at noon instead. Members of the association and the Revenue Officers Association requested time to discuss the issue with him and learn about the government’s proposal to end the stalemate. The government proposed that a committee of officers, both from the civil and police side, led by the Chief Secretary, would investigate the matter of PCS officers Tarsem Chand, Narinder Dhaliwal and Sandeep Kumar (Naib Tehsildar), who, these associations claim, were falsely implicated by the Vigilance Bureau.
Thereafter, Rajat Oberoi, Sukhpreet Sidhu, Ankur Mahendroo, Harjit Singh, Sakattar Singh Bal and Pooja Sayal met Prasad and Special Principal Secretary to the CM Ravi Bhagat to resolve the issue.