Chandigarh, Nov 20: This is one protest that has literally gone sky-high and is forcing authorities to look up to the protesters. In the high-security zone of Chandigarh’s upscale Sector 3, which has the bungalows of the Punjab and Harya Chief Ministers, ministers and other high-profile people, a bunch of protesters has become a nuisance for security agencies, having climbed atop mobile phone towers. While two protesters have been sitting atop the mobile tower of Punjab Bhawan in Sector 3 since November 3, two women and a man have trespassed into a private bungalow and climbed a mobile tower located inside the compound three days back. All the protesters are qualified teachers from Punjab who are seeking jobs from the Punjab government. The protesters are Elementary Teacher Training (ETT) and Teacher Eligibility Test (TET)-qualified teachers, who are seeking jobs under the banner of the Unemployed Teachers Union of Punjab. With assembly elections in Punjab just being over two months away, the protesters have chosen an opportune time and place to get their demand highlighted.
Despite the winter chill over the region and the night temperatures dropping to 8-9 degrees Celsius, the protesters are unyielding to pleas from local authorities, including the Chandigarh Police, to come down. “The protesters are perched high on the mobile towers. The landings, on which they are sitting and sleeping, are just 2-3 feet wide. At night, it must be quite cold up there,” a Chandigarh Police constable, who has been stationed at the Punjab Bhawan protest site for the past few days said. “They are refusing to come down until the Punjab Chief Minister (Parkash Singh Badal) meets them and gives them an assurance that they will get government jobs,” he said. Taking no chances, the local authorities have stationed police vehicles and personnel, fire brigade vehicles, ambulances and doctors at both sites round the clock. “We have tried to persuade the protesters to come down but they have refused,” Sector 3 police station chief Poom Dilawari said.
Security agencies are worried that the mobile tower protests were a security risk to VIPs living in the area, three of them being Z-plus category protectees. “This is a major nuisance and a big security breach. The Punjab Bhawan is visited by a number of high-profile protectees, including the Punjab Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister and other ministers,” a Chandigarh Police officer associated with the security wing said. “The second mobile tower (inside a private bungalow) directly looks into the official bungalow of the Harya Chief Minister (Manohar Lal Khattar),” he said. (IANS)