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Ambulance Federation and opposition parties extend support to striking 108 staff in Himachal

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Shimla: The strike of the staff of 108 and 102 emergency services in Himachal Pradesh has entered its 7th day despite termination of about 63 striking employees by imposing of Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA).

This staff includes ambulance drivers and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) who provide pre-hospital care to patients.

The staff have been protesting at the State Secretariat in Chotta Shimla since 25 June over their complain of exploitation by the private company GVK -Emergency Management and Research Institute (EMRI).

They approached the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and had submitted a memorandum of their demands. However, so far the staff only received ESMA and termination in return.

Now, Jeewan Rakshak Bhartiya Ambulance Karamchari Federation also jumped in to support the striking staff in Himachal. Bikramjeet Singh Saini, the president of the Federation, has warned of a strike in all North-Indian States including Punjab, Uttarakhand, Chandigarh, Delhi, UP, and Rajasthan on 11 July if the demands of the employees were not met.

We have already submitted a memorandum to Union Health minister Jagat Prakash Nadda at his New Delhi residence on June 21 demanding to bring the ambulance employees in all the states under the purview of NHM,

Saini told PTI.

It would mean that the emergency services can fall on their face in North Indian states, causing huge inconvenience to the public. Further, Saini has warned that if the government still did not yield, a country-wide strike will follow the July 11 event.

Now, the opposition parties Congress and CPI (M) have also come out in support of the striking staff.

The GVK- EMRI company is exploiting the staff since the day the agreement was signed with the State government for the operation of the emergency services. The government has introduced a condition of 12 hours service per day, which is a complete violation of the labour laws, said Sanjay Chauhan, leader of CPI(M) and former Mayor of Shimla.

The corruption and exploitation are clearly visible in the view of the recent scam by the GVK company in Himachal that was unearthed by the Central Bureau of Investigation,

said Sanjay.

An FIR has lodged an FIR against a senior Employee’s Provident Fund Organization Officer and a middleman of GVK company for offering and accepting a bribe.

The middleman has paid a bribe of Rs. 80,000 to the officer of the EPF office in exchange for reducing EPF liabilities of the company. Taking notice of the tempering with the EPF of the employees, the state government should act immediately to terminate the contract signed with the company and bring the staff under the purview of the NHM, he added.

Congress has also termed it a complete failure on the part of the government to ignore the grievance of the striking employees.

Instead of inviting the striking staff for talks and accepting the genuine demands of the staff, the government has imposed ESMA to terrorize the staff, which is a highly oppressive step,

said Congress Spokesperson.

He said the government is lying to avert criticism for its failure to intervene and end the strike.

The public is facing huge inconvenience and forced to bear expenses of hiring private vehicles due to the partial operation of 108 and 102 services.

The government says it has roped in the staff of the Health Department and Homegaurd to drive the ambulances. Drivers from neighbouring state Uttarakhand were also roped in.

While the government says about 192 of the total 108 ambulances are on road, the head of the 108 workers’ union Puran Chand rubbished the claim by saying that several ambulances were already unfit, therefore, it is a lie that 192 vehicles are on road.

There are total 126 ambulances under 102 emergency services for the pregnant women, and the government claims over 60 of them are still serving.

Demands of the Staff

The company is not paying more than Rs.5,000 to 10,000 as a salary while they staff is made to work for 12 hours per day, said the head of the union Puran Chand. Sometimes, the staff is undertaking 24 hours shifts too but there is no provision of additional payment for overtime, he added.

Further, the staff is demanding cancellation of the MoU signed between the HP Government and GVK EMRI for the operation of the emergency services. The staff also demand to bring their service under the purview of National Health Mission (NHM), like it is done in Haryana.

By bringing it under the government, the working hours of the staff should be fixed at eight hours per day. The employees expect that this step would put check on the exploitation of the employees by the private company.

The employees are both shocked and scared after the company terminated 63 employees under the cover of ESMA.

But we will continue our strike despite these terminations till our demand of bringing the 108 ambulances service under the purview of the National Health Mission (NHM) is met

, said Puran Chand.

Feature Photo: Dalbeer Singh Negi, DNA

Misc News/Press Release

Left Out Eligible Voters in Himachal Can Enroll on 23rd and 24th Feb: HP CEO

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Left Out Voters in Himachal Pradesh can apply

Shimla-In view of the general election for the Lok Sabha 2019, special camps will be organised at every polling station on 23rd and 24th February 2019, for enrolment of left out eligible voters in the State, informed the Chief Electoral Officer of Himachal Pradesh, Devesh Kumar.

He asked all Booth Level Officers (BLOs) to remain present in the camps along with the copies of final electoral rolls 2019. A copy of the electoral rolls will be available in the polling station so that electors can check their names in the rolls. The electoral rolls would be read out publically during the camp to facilitate illiterate voters. BLOs were asked to keep adequate copies of Forms 6, 7, 8 and 8A with him/her to facilitate filling up forms by interested persons.

Devesh Kumar said that all recognized political parties should depute their Booth Level Agents (BLAs) to remain present in camps. In case their name does not exist in the roll for some reason, the Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC) holders must also check their name in electoral rolls and fill up Form 6. The EPIC is only identification document and does not guarantee franchise if the name of the person is not included in the electoral roll of the concerned polling station.

He said that all forms received during these campaign days would be disposed of by  March 7, 2019. BLOs were directed to immediately complete the physical verification and then submit a report to the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO). The ERO should complete the due process of law and dispose-off the forms received during the camps within 11 days.

 Devesh Kumar said that registration can also be made through NVSP Portal by visiting the link (www.nvsp.in.) For inquiries, he said, electoral can also call on Toll-free number 1950.

Assembly constituency-wise data in respect of forms received during camps would be uploaded on the website of the commission at CEO’s portal by February 25, 2019. Information about the disposal of forms would be given through the website by March 7, 2019.

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Mandi Police Warns Miscreants Promoting Malice Against Kashmiris, Urges People to Maintain Peace

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Kashmiri people in Himachal Pradesh

Mandi-The District Police, Mandi, on Tuesday, issued a warning to miscreants who were trying to incite violence against and promoting malice against Kashmiri people living in the State.

“The public is informed that following the suicide bombing in Pulwama of Jammu and Kashmir, some miscreants are making appeals to the people on social media to throw Kashmiri labourers, hawkers, lumberjacks etc. out of State’

said the notice issued by the district police.

The police has warned that a stringent action against will be taken against anyone who is found preaching malice towards Kashmiri citizens through such messages/comments on social media or causing any sort of vandalism.

The police urged the people to beware of such hatemongers and miscreants and maintain peace in the society.  

On Tuesday, tension mounted in a panchayat of Mandi district when the villagers passed a resolution to ban Kashmiri citizens in their area. The villagers reportedly told the Kashmiris living in rented quarters to leave the State by Wednesday. Meanwhile, some miscreants reportedly pelted stones on their quarters. Scared Kashmiris had to take shelter at local police station, said reports.

In another instance, an unverified video was doing rounds on social media, showing two groups of students clashing inside the campus of a private university in Mandi. To incite fear, it was rumoured that the scuffle took place between Kashmiri and local students.  

Earlier, the campus of the UHF, Nauni, in Solan district, witnessed tension after police booked two of its students for alleged anti-national activities on social media. The booked students were allegedly supporting the suicide bomber responsible for the ghastly Pulwama attack, in which 40 CRPF jawans were martyred.

Following this news, right-wing outfits in Himachal Pradesh had made calls for a boycott of Kashmiris. Similar tension was reported from other parts of the nation too. A large number of Kashmiri students, who were studying outside their home state, were returning home for fear of violence being incited by miscreants.

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Martyr Tilak Raj Cremated with State Honour, Crowd Throngs to Pay Last Respects

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HP CRPF Martyr tilak raj cremated in Kangra

Kangra-Today, Tilak Raj, one of the 40 CRPF jawans martyred in Pulwama terror act on February 14, 2019, was cremated with state honour in his native village Dhewa in Nauna panchayat of Jawali region in Kangra district.

A pall of gloom descended on the village after the mortal remains of the Shaheed Tilak Raj reached his native village draped in tricolour. Villagers surrounded the father Layak Ram and his family and extended moral support to them in this hour of great grief .

His brother, Baldev, lit the pyre while entire area echoed with slogans of “Shaheed Tilak Raj Amar Rahe (Long Live Martyr Tilak Raj)” and “Pakistan Murbdabad.

While the wife of Tilak was in a semi-conscious, inconsolable state, her 3-years-old son was unaware of the fact that he had lost his father. This pain is further aggravated with the mention of his newborn baby who is only 22 days old.

His mortal remains arrived at Nurpur today morning. Chief Minister Jairam Thakur also paid his last respects by laying a wreath on the coffin.  The Chief Minister also took part in the last journey of the martyr.

 The State Government has already announced financial assistance of Rs. 20 lakh to the kin of the martyr. Today, the Chief Minister assured that State would provide government employment to the wife of the martyr.

 The Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda, former CM and MP Shanta Kumar, Food and Civil supplies Minister Kishan Kapoor, Health Minister Vipin Singh Parmar, and MLAs Arun Mehta and  Rakesh Pathania also paid their last respects to the martyr and met his family.

Tilakraj was a talented man, a good singer, and an athlete. He had written, sung, and released some of the songs. Some songs like Neelam Gaddan, Pyari Monika, Apne Ghar are also available on his YouTube channel Tilak Shanu Productions.

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