MUZAFFARABAD: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) capital on Tuesday saw three massive protest demonstrations by the serving and former ad-hoc, contractual and contingent paid employees who were either shown the door or feared termination by the present coalition government.

The demonstrators included around 900 contingent-paidbaildarsof the forest department who had been serving since 2011 but were relieved on December 31, 2023 reportedly for want of funds.

They marched through the main thoroughfare from the forest department office on Bank Road to Burhan Wani Chowk, where they staged a sit-in for a long time.

They chanted slogans against the government, and declared that they would stage a long march on the federal capital on March 8 if their jobs were not restored by then.

Separately, hundreds of employees of previously federal government funded Maternal New-born and Child Health (MNCH) programme, who included a sizable number of females, also staged protest demonstration on a green belt in Chattar neighbourhood, calling upon the government to fulfil its commitment to regularize their service and bring them on normal budget.

The third demonstration was held outside the deputy commissioner’s office by the serving and recently relieved ad-hoc employees calling for restoration and continuation of their services. A female member of the cabinet first met and assured them that a meeting between their five representatives and the prime minister would be arranged in the afternoon.

However, the meeting could not be held due to the allegedpreoccupationof the prime minister. Later, another minister met and assured the protestors that the government would adopt a sympathetic attitude towards them, but the ad-hoc employees would have to go through the competitive exams.

Meanwhile, in a fourth demonstration, a large number of serving non-gazetted employees of the civil secretariat continued their protest on the premises of the civil secretariat on the sixth consecutive day for acceptance of their demands, which included an increase in their allowances.

Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2024

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