Staff Reporter

To go on mass cease work if their demands are not met by February 25

State not serious about its commitment, says union leader

Their demands include Central pay scale, special allowance for those in naxal-hit areas

BHUBANESWAR: Even as Union and State governments were gradually positioning themselves to launch an offensive against Left wing extremists, the ground level police personnel in Orissa on Thursday decided not to attend their duty from February 25 in protest against what they called apathy towards fulfilling their demands.

Naveen’s promise

Addressing a press conference here, president of the Orissa Police, Havildar, Constable and Sepoys Federation Padmanabha Behera said: “Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik himself assured us to address our grievances in 2009. Subsequently, he ordered constitution of a high-power committee headed by the Finance Secretary. The committee was supposed to give its report within two months. After one year we are still in the dark as to what is happening.”

“The federation is the largest body of ground level police personnel. We have never been invited by the committee to put forth our demands in past one year. This shows that the State government is not serious about its commitment,” Mr. Behera said.

The federation members said the State government had a last chance to come out with concrete proposals by February 20, after that there would be no reconciliatory meeting.

“Lower level police staff at the police station level and sepoys of special operation group, which are fighting Maoists, will boycott their duty from the morning of February 25,” said Mr. Behera. The federation claimed to have 45,000 members who were deployed in police stations and engaged in security of ministers and other high-profile persons. The threat of abstaining from duty was likely to have an impact on anti-Maoist operations, as 23 out of 30 districts of the State had presence of Left wing extremists.

“The fitment committee, which recommended salary structure in line with the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations, ignored our fraternity’s interests. The committee neither studied structure of the central police organisations nor took their salary into consideration before arriving at a decision. Some of the other cadres such as Revenue Inspectors got a better deal while lower level police personnel are left to suffer,” Mr. Behera said.

The federation demanded salary at Central pay scale, 30 per cent special allowances for personnel deployed in naxal-hit districts, filling of vacancies and revision of house rent allowance.

“We postponed our cease work agitation in view of the general elections. Now we realise that the State government is not serious. Bureaucracy is playing spoilsport. Time is running out and the State government should find a solution. Otherwise, we should not be held responsible for the mass cease work agitation,” he warned.