PESHAWAR: The police broke up a protest rally of the officers of the provincial government’s 34 directorates and attached departments here on Tuesday by using tear gas and water cannon and held 16 protesters for more than six hours.
The detainees were released in the evening.
The Attached Departments Officers Associations (ADOA) had given the call for the rally to demand special allowance along the lines of the executive allowance paid to officers of the Pakistan Administrative Service, Police Service of Pakistan and Provincial Management Service.
The police took the action near the provincial assembly’s building as the officers were marching from the Nishtar Hall to the finance minister’s offices in the Civil Secretariat.
The police tried in vain to stop protesters before resorting to the firing of tear gas and water cannon.
Detain 16 for six hours over rally for special allowance
The officers had already announced that they would go on a strike until their allowance demand wasn’t met.
Attaullah Khan, an employee of the information department, who was detained for more than six hours at the Gulberg police station along with other officers, claimed that the police used violence against peaceful protesters.
He said the officers were held after the protesters cleared the road.
The detainee said the police manhandled some arrested officers and snatched their mobile phones.
“We’re kept in illegal custody for hours without the registration of any FIR or fulfilling any other legal formality. From the beginning, the police were inclined to the use of violence and initially tried to restrict them to the Nishtar Hall premises,” he said.
Sufian Haqqani, president of the Excise and Taxation Officers Welfare Association, said officers of his department were directly recruited through the same examination, which was held for the PMS and PAS officers.
He, however, said not only the promotion of his department’s officers was blocked by officers from those cadres, who held all major posts in the department.
“The excise officials are getting peanuts as salary and allowances compared to what is drawn by officers of these occupational groups,” he said.
Mr Haqqani said the PMS and PAS officers were allowed executive allowance in 2018.
He said the provincial government, in line with the federal government’s decision to grant 25 per cent disparity reduction allowance to its employees, had decided to give away 20 per cent of DRA to own employees.
“However, when it came to notify that allowance, the finance department didn’t issue the DRA allowance and instead, granted 150 per cent raise on the running basic pay to the PMS and PAS officers, who were already getting the executive allowance,” he said.
The association president said the decision had exacerbated pay disparity among different cadres.
“My batch mate, who is in the PMS, now gets Rs265,000 pay after the recent raise, while I’m drawing Rs72,000 only. We will not settle for anything less than 150 per cent raise on the running basic pay, which has been allowed to the PMS and PAS cadres,” he said.
Mr Haqqani said he and his colleagues would also continue boycotting duties until their demand was met.
ADOA president Amin Khan told Dawn that the leaders of protesters would meet the finance minister on the issue.
He condemned the use of force against what he called peaceful protesters and said it was unjustified.
“We tried to take up our demands with the chief secretary, finance minister and others, but to no avail, so they were left with no choice but to take to the streets,” he said.
Later in the day, the police booked 16 protesters for blocking roads and resisting the police’s bid to stop them from marching to the finance minister’s offices.
Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2021