Teachers in POJK end strike as government responds to their demands

Teachers' Protest in PoK
Teachers' protest in PoJK (Photo: news Intervention)

Rawalkot: The government of Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir has set up a committee of six ministers to accept the demands of the teachers. This committee will be empowered to implement their demands by negotiating with the teachers, the Secretary of Education will support the schools, and the government will implement the recommendations of the committee. Central President Tasif Shaheen announced the end of the long march in a video message while in custody.

Hundreds of male and female teachers were arrested by the government on Sunday and Monday in a widespread crackdown against the school teachers’ organization’s protest that had been going on for several days. On Monday, thousands of teachers held protest sit-ins and took out processions in various districts. Hundreds of teachers were arrested on Sunday and Monday in several cities including Bagh, Hajira, Abbaspur, Baloch, Sahansa, Rawalakot, and Dhirkot.

These teachers were protesting against the non-implementation of the scale upgradation demand approved 11 years ago. The teachers had announced a long protest march towards the capital Muzaffarabad on Monday. To stop the long march, the government canceled the registration of the school teachers organization. Efforts were made to prevent the movement of teachers by imposing Section 144 in all cities. Dismissal proceedings were begun under the Special Powers Act, suspending the President and Secretary General of the Teachers’ Organization. Apart from this, lists of more than 300 male and female teachers were compiled, and the process of dismissing them from their jobs was also started.

However, the teachers took to the streets on Monday to protest despite all state repression and restrictions. Political and social organizations, trade unions, and student organizations supported the teachers’ protest, while condemning the arrests and state repression.

The Pakistan Trade Union Defense Campaign (PTUDC), People’s Revolutionary Front (PRF), and Jammu and Kashmir National Students Federation (JKNSF) as well as unions of labor organizations in Pakistan, All Pakistan Employees, Pensioners Labor Movement supported the demands of the teachers, condemned the state crackdown against them, and expressed solidarity with the teachers.

Leaders of PTUDC, PRF, and JKNSF actively participated in the teachers’ protests and expressed their solidarity with the teachers and expressed their commitment to fight alongside them in this struggle.

Meanwhile, in order to break the protest, apart from arrests, the government put pressure on various teacher leaders and made them declare their detachment from the protest. In the past, officials of the Jamaat-e-Islami-backed Teachers Organization’s pen panel announced their withdrawal from the strike after conniving with the state. The protest was first restricted to Poonch division by arresting the leaders who did not end the protest and finally the central president announced the end of the protest in a short video message while in custody.

Later, after his release, he along with other teachers said in a video conference that a committee of ministers has been formed to accept their demands. All demands will be implemented after negotiations with them. An assurance has been given to restore the organization’s registration and release the captives.

However, on the other hand, the government has proposed further amendments in the Employees’ Association Regulation and Registration Act, 2016, and imposed stricter restrictions on employee protests. Now the employee will be dismissed from the job even for inciting protest. Recording the protest on social media will also lead to dismissal. Strikes, office lockouts, and protests will also lead to dismissal. The right to appeal against terminations will also be given departmentally.

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