Even as the government employees went on strike throughout the State in protest against the non-fulfilment of their outstanding demands and police lathi charge on Thursday, the Uttar Pradesh Government on Friday suspended nineteen Class III and Class IV employees of Balrampur Hospital, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and Shyama Prasad Mukerjee Hospital.

As the state strike continued, the Lucknow District Magistrate, Amit Kumar Ghosh, on Friday allegedly slapped a employee leader of the State Agriculture Directorate here. The DM's action prompted strong reaction from the agitating employees and their leaders, who demanded his ouster. It is alleged that the district officials went to all the government offices located in Lucknow in a bid to break the strike.

When the Cabinet Secretary, Shashank Shekhar Singh was apprised of the alleged incident at a press conference here, he feigned ignorance. Mr. Singh said he would look into it the episode as he had come to know about it from journalists.

Regarding the coercive methods being used against the employees, Mr. Singh said the Government would function within the law and in accordance with the service rules.

While the offices reported sparse to normal attendance, health services were badly affected by the strike. The Director-General of Medical and Health Services, R. R. Bharti has claimed that the health services were unaffected by the strike. Mr. Bharti said the OPD services, emergency and indoor services were normal in all the hospitals in the state and the patients were being treated.

The strike is led by the joint action front of state employees and teachers. Fourteen employees' unions have joined the strike. Almost all the employees' leaders were rounded up by the police on Wednesday night. Some more leaders were arrested today. However, there was no official confirmation.

Meanwhile, the Congress has demanded a judicial inquiry by a sitting High Court judge into the police lathicharge on Thursday. The Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee president, Rita Bahuguna Joshi told reporters here that her party supported the employees' demands.

Dr. Joshi said if an inquiry is not ordered soon, the Congress will take out a march on January 24.