Chandigarh: With Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann sternly declaring the strike of the Punjab Civil Service (PCS) and revenue officers illegal and that it would be dealt with iron hand, the latter joined work on Wednesday.
Announcing a five-day casual leave, the PCS Officers’ Association members had struck work since Monday in protest against the recent arrest of the Ludhiana Regional Transport Authority (RTA) Secretary Narinder Singh Dhaliwal, a PCS officer, by the vigilance bureau. They also sought action against vigilance officials who, they held, had framed another PCS officer Tarsem Chand in a false case.
However, taking a stern stand in the case, the Mr Mann wrote to chief secretary V K Janjua to suspend all the officers who did not join work by 2 pm on Wednesday.
The order read that it had been brought to his notice that some officers were not attending duties in the garb of strike. “They are protesting against strong action taken by the government against corrupt officers. The government has zero tolerance to corruption and such a strike amounts to blackmailing and arm-twisting. It cannot be tolerated by any responsible government,” it said, adding the period of absence of those who did not join duty by 2pm on Wednesday should be treated as “dies non (break in service)”.
Subsequent to the CM’s directives, a delegation of the PCS Officers’ Association held a meeting with Additional Chief Secretary to Chief Minister A Venu Prasad, and Special Principal Secretary to CM, Ravi Bhagat, following which the strike was called off. Subsequently, the Punjab Revenue Officers’ Association members also resumed work.
It is learnt that the PCS officers withdrew their stir with immediate effect after Prasad told them that the anti-corruption drive would continue but procedures as specified under the law will be complied with. A committee would be formed to ensure that the procedure was followed in the recent cases.
Pertinently, Mann’s firm stand on the PCS officers’ stir was also being seen as a signal to the IAS officers of the state who had recently aired their anguish against a police case lodged against 2008-batch IAS officer Neelima and others in a land transfer case.