NDTV News

On Video, Violent Crackdown On Punjab Teachers At Chief Minister’s Rally

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Cops were seen trying to pin one of the men down and kneeling on his chest

Chandigarh:

Senior Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s women-focused “Ladki hoon, lad sakti hoon (I’m a girl and can fight)” campaign in Uttar Pradesh faced a challenge in a state governed by her own party on Wednesday. Teachers including women demanding jobs in Punjab’s Sangrur were gagged, dragged, and loaded in police jeeps as they protested at Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi’s rally, disturbing visuals showed. Qualified teachers unable to find jobs had gathered at the scene to protest against the government, triggering the police action that turned into a display of highhandedness.

Hundreds of B.Ed TET (teacher eligibility test) qualified teachers were heard shouting “Charanjit Channi murdabad” and “Punjab sarkar murdabad” at the venue of the Chief Minister’s rally as the police tried to hold them back and put clothes on their mouths, gagging them.

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The police gagged women protesters at the venue

One officer was seen holding on to a woman protester’s clothes as she tried to wriggle out, all the while shouting slogans against the Congress government. The woman was then spotted inside a police bus with several other protesters. Unrelenting, she continued with her sloganeering as a woman cop tried to pull her back inside and shut the window. The bus then drove away with them.

Men protesting at the rally were heckled by supporters of the Chief Minister who held one of them in a chokehold, trying to cover his mouth to stop him from booing the government. He was then taken away from the area. Behind him, other men walked out with protesters gagging them and holding them by their necks. This as reporters and others film them. One of the men was herded onto a truck and taken away.

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The police action turned into a display of highhandedness

In one of the clips, three cops were seen trying to pin one of the men down to the ground and kneeling on his chest before hauling him away.

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The police dragging a protester away

The footage, in the end, shows Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on the stage ready for his address. He was in Sangrur to lay the foundation stone of a factory “to give boost to industrial and employment sector”. “The Clinker Grinding Unit will be set up at a cost of around Rs 700 crore and would provide employment opportunities to the youth of our state,” the Chief Minister later wrote on Twitter, sharing photos from the rally.

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Police tried to hold back one protester as it pinned another down to the ground

This is not the first time Punjab’s police efforts to shield Mr Channi from protesters have come under criticism. In a bizarre diktat earlier this month, the Punjab police had asked its officers to play hymns and religious songs on loudspeakers to ensure the voice of protesters at functions attended by Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi don’t reach him. Massive criticism over this directive prompted authorities to withdraw it citing “clerical mistake”.

Arvind Kejriwal, seeking to gain a foothold in the state in the upcoming Assembly elections, travelled to Mohali last month to reach out to unemployed teachers who have been protesting atop an overhead water tank.

In top gear of campaigning, Arvind Kejriwal gave eight guarantees to the teachers and promised sweeping reforms in the state’s education sector if voted to power.



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